Attention: Please note that all UNF Camps and Programs have been postponed until 2021.

Time for the Oven Mitts! Here Come the Teen Years!

Nov 29, 2019

“I don’t know how you do this every summer…”

I laugh every time a parent tells me that I am brave for taking on sixty teens each summer. Their pitying eyes and shaking heads tell me that they are not enjoying this part of their parenting journey. But I do honestly love teen camp. It is where I develop more humility, compassion and understanding. It is where I get to watch teens grow and rise and it is where I become a better baker with each passing year.


Parents are Like Good Bakers:

Parents usually have children because they want to leave something beautiful and better in the world after they are gone. These potentially beautiful creatures have different variants, but have the same basic ingredients. Principles such as honesty, loyalty, respect, compassion, generosity, integrity should be mixed together with good habits and good role modeling. We knead them into shape during childhood, and by the time they stop sticking to our fingers, they should somewhat resemble a good human being.

But then comes the oven – TEENAGE-HOOD.


Good Bakers are Patient:

Teenage-hood is when things get really heated for both teens and parents. It is the test of baker and of the dough. Choices now have real life consequences that can burn badly. Of course, you must watch your bread to ensure it doesn’t get burned to a crisp, but if you stare at it for the entire bake time, of course you will feel irritated that it is not ready yet.

If they make a silly choice once, we think it is because they should know better because we taught them better. However, should we be judging them so harshly so soon? I know Teen Campers who were still wearing Spiderman and Cinderella T-shirts not so long ago.

Remember, you can’t eat half-baked bread.


Good Bakers Only Bake When Calm

My mother-in-law is an amazing baker. She pulls out fantastic cakes, cookies, tortes, you name it. She once told me her secret. She never bakes upset. “If you bake upset, the cake will fail.” And it is true. I love baking, and if I bake when I am angry or upset, it always flops. Always. It is true with teens too. I have dealt with a lot of “interesting” choices that teens have made at camp. I care about every camper and want them to grow and be happy in a safe environment. Sometimes they push back a little. Sometimes they push back a lot. Teens can make silly choices, but they usually have a reason. I have spoken to teens when upset and I have spoken to teens when calm. I can guarantee that it is easier to see when you are not seeing red.

I tell myself constantly that my mother-in-law is an excellent baker, and parent, for a very good reason.


Good Bakers Rise to the Occasion

I remember how scared I was when I was about to give birth. I was afraid of messing up, of failing in my duty to raise a good and healthy human being. The reality was, however, I had to face being a parent, head and hands on, whether I was afraid or not. Sheet music never made good musicians, calm seas never made good captains, and good parents remind themselves daily that their children are a gift. I am determined to face the whole package with enthusiasm, squeaky notes, stormy seas and all.

They no longer frighten me; I am too busy being grateful.


Good Bakers Love to Bake

If you mind shift, you will life shift. The teen years can be just as enjoyable as the childhood years. It is simply a different stage in the process. I choose to embrace this beautiful transitional time every summer with sixty teens, who test, try and change me forever. It is exhausting, and sometimes exasperating, but I know I am better person after it. I enjoy witnessing the final stages of the “baking” of beautiful people. I love being part of their growth and their crust. I love teen camp because nothing is as magical as seeing something grow, rise and turn out beautifully. To have the opportunity to witness this, over and over each year, is the best gift a baker could ask for. Love your work and it is no longer work.

Enjoy the process fellow bakers. Be confident that you have made some pretty amazing dough. Give it your patience and your level headedness; be grateful for the opportunity and revel in the process! Your results so far are pretty amazing, and I can’t wait to see how they will change the world in the very near future.

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