Learning to Lose

Anyone who’s ever had a child in kindergarten soccer knows the sweetest thing about it (aside from those tiny little uniforms and shin guards and nets you could fold up and put in your purse) is that everybody wins. To ensure that everybody wins, goalies are not a thing. Both of my kids loved kindergarten soccer. They couldn’t wait to get their trophies at the end, which was an inevitability, because everyone gets a trophy at the end.

I did start to notice pretty early on in the season that although the coaches weren’t keeping score, the kids certainly were. After every game, as the team sat on the grass with their drippy popsicles, they’d review. They were rarely accurate; after all, it’s not so easy for a five-year-old to run up and down a field kicking a ball while remembering how to add. But that didn’t stop them from trying. Not surprisingly, the score was only worth acknowledging when they’d won, which made losing a non-issue. It’s why kindergarten is such a wonderful time to learn to play a team sport. It seems like a lifetime ago.

Now my kids’ games are on fields and in rinks under giant scoreboards. And while they may not always want to acknowledge it, it’s there, up in lights for everyone to see. Every win. Every loss. Every single time.

But the scoreboard doesn’t measure everything. It doesn’t measure how much a team has improved throughout the season, or how hard they’ve worked to get where they are. It doesn’t measure how much each player has sacrificed to be at every practice and every game. It doesn’t measure passion and spirit and unwavering support from families, friends and coaches. It doesn’t measure sportsmanship. It doesn’t measure FUN.

The scoreboard doesn’t measure everything. In fact, it only measures one thing: The score. It’s what we do with it that defines us as athletes, as parents, as coaches, and as fans.

It’s pretty safe to say there were a lot of disappointed football fans in New England last Sunday night. It’s only natural. We love our Patriots, and they’ve been very, very good to us. When they lost, it seemed to result in some confusion. I read a post from a mom who said she didn’t know what to tell her little boy the next morning. I have to assume he’s still too little to be participating in competitive sports, because my takeaway was vastly different. While I was hoping for #6 like everyone else, I quickly realized that it was just as important for my boys to see this incredible team, led by this incredible captain, lose. Nobody goes into any competition hoping to lose. But it happens. Even to the Greatest Of All Time.

The only way to guarantee you won’t lose is not to play. And then look at what you’d lose.

I can’t help but see here, in the midst of our crazy busy recruiting season, a glaring metaphor for camp. Ken and I have spoken to so many families who’ve enrolled or are about to enroll a camper at Bauercrest for the first time. We sit with them and answer their questions and share anecdotes and speak to their fears. The one thing we won’t tell them is that everything about their child’s experience will be perfect. Because like goalies in kindergarten soccer, that’s not a thing.

What we do tell them is that we will be there for them every step of the way. We’ll help them celebrate their wins and learn from their losses. We’ll take care of them… really take care of them. And we will do everything in our power to make every camper wish summer never had to come to an end.

That’s gotta be a win, right?

Have a great weekend… Shabbat Shalom!


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Stacy Pollack

Stacy writes our popular Dear Camp Mom blog and works year-round to ensure that Bauercrest creates memorable experiences for parents and campers alike. She also creates photo montages inspired by songs most of our campers have never heard before but make the parents very nostalgic.

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