18 Feb The Keys to Perseverance and Developing it at Camp Susquehannock

The Keys to Perseverance and Developing it at Camp Susquehannock

One of the key traits we pride ourselves on developing at Susquehannock is perseverance. This year has required a great deal of perseverance by us all. That said, I want to share with you just how this development takes place at camp and what makes it happen.

Opportunities to roll over and quit present themselves every day in our lives – especially in today’s COVID-19 world – and those of us who learn to persevere will do well when faced with challenges.

So why do some people quit and others persevere? What makes some people push through formidable challenges, and how can you become one of them?

Here are the keys to perseverance and how it is cultivated at Susquehannock…


You must have a purpose. Athletes, for example, dig far deeper when there is a real purpose motivating them forward – the purpose must be intrinsically real! It must be felt from within. External rewards won’t do the job – participation trophies or ribbons won’t help to overcome the tough times. Those types of rewards are easy to give up on when confronted with real challenges. But if you have a real, heartfelt deep drive or purpose behind what you are doing the temptation to quit is easily pushed aside!

Let me give you a great example. Each summer children arrive at Susquehannock and we encourage them to swim their 20 laps (the equivalent of 500 meters) and then the entire length of the lake. I have seen campers attempt to swim their 20 laps four, five or six times before they finally do it. This summer I witnessed a young girl attempt to swim the lake three times before she did it. Why did these children persevere? What motivated them to not give up? Each one of them had an intrinsic purpose

When the campers arrived at camp, we could have told them that in order to compete in the Regatta and potentially win a medal they would have to to swim their 20 laps first. But we don’t tell them that! Winning a medal at the Regatta is not going to motivate a beginner to swim 500 meters or the full length of the lake. However, when a child sees his or her friends going off the diving board, hanging out on the float, or kayaking — they develop a real purpose and are motivated to join their friends. It’s this type of motivation that will push a child past the temptation to quit.

Purpose is what drives us. Olympic athletes don’t train their entire life for the medal. They train because they want to be the best or they want the opportunity to compete against the best. It is this purpose that compels athletes to get up at 5:00 am to train. It’s the purpose that compels an artist or a musician to hone their craft day after day. Money, trophies, and fame is just a bi-product of their purpose.


If you want to be successful in any endeavor, you must start with the mindset that nothing will stop you from achieving your intended outcome. And just like your purpose, the mindset must be real. It can’t be made up or faked. Simply telling yourself you can do something or receiving false accolades from friends, parents or coaches is not going to help you persevere through a challenge.

If you look closely at how we develop perseverance and confidence at Susquehannock you will see we introduce new concepts and skills gradually over the course of the summer. Our staff does an incredible job designing a series – a progression of clinics, activities, competition, and exposure to new things (combined with constructive feedback!) – which helps campers build true self-belief and confidence in themselves.


Experience is what determines how hardy your walls of perseverance will become. Each time you want to quit and do not, your wall gets thicker and thicker. Every time you do something you thought or imagined to be too difficult or that almost defeated you, you have just added one more skill to your repertoire that you can do again.

This happens every day at Susquehannock: it happens when a camper arrives and must spend their first night away from home… it happens when a camper must learn to share with others… it happens when a camper is put in a group with no one he or she knows …it happens when a camper plays a sport they have never tried before …it happens when a camper is homesick and learns their new friends will help them get through it …it happens when they swim their 20 laps and the length of the lake!

The culmination of all these experiences help build the walls of perseverance, and this will stay with them. Every time they do something new – academically, athletically, professionally – something they thought too difficult, they will gain a greater outlook on life!


Hollywood loves to tell the story of the individual who came from nothing and climbed the ladder of success all by themselves. While this sounds great, most people who rise to success through sheer perseverance have some support behind them. Very few people, if any, can overcome challenges alone!

To develop perseverance, one must be humble enough to ask for and then accept help. Your family, friends, and teammates are the ones who will keep you going through tough times. At Susquehannock we introduce new sports and activities to children every day. Campers learn the power of a support group, the power of a team and the value of teamwork. I have seen children arrive at Susquehannock who were fantastic Basketball players, but had little skill in Soccer. When the time came to play Soccer, they lacked the confidence to go on the field and in some cases were on the verge of refusing to play. However, they persevered and played anyway because they had the support of their team.

As you go through life their will inevitably be setbacks, challenges and fear. Don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help. We all need support!

In life, as in sports, you are not going to win all the time. The best hitters in Baseball succeed less than 30% of the time but they continue to persevere. Things don’t always turn out the way we envisioned – that is part of life. Just don’t quit!

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