Imagine you’re camping — car camping, not intense backpacking with all your survival necessities and selfie stick strapped to your back. Imagine you’re up on the beautiful slopes of Mount Pisgah just outside Asheville, North Carolina.
After setting up your tent and hammock, you’re chopping up nearby trees with a machete – harder than it looks when it’s rained recently while your wife lays out twigs and small branches as kindling for a fire.
She lights one side of the rain-soaked twigs. Nothing happens. She lights the other side of the pile. The tiniest flame appears but quickly flickers out.
Imagine you’re simultaneously plugging your phone into a portable battery used primarily for jumping cars. You connect the USB cord from your phone to the port on the battery. The “charging” symbol appears on your phone.
And then it’s gone. You repeat this process four times, but to no avail. Then you try connecting the USB cord to the cigarette lighter in your car. Same result.
The camping trip is off to a great start.
Soon, after tossing the battery into your trunk in frustration, you’re fanning the twigs with a Frisbee while your wife circles the pile, lighting different spots and hoping the flame will catch.
Frustrations mounting, your wife and you begin to wonder whether you’ll be able to cook dinner or not.
At this point, you now have two options. You could just give up on the fire, eat your hot dogs cold and check into the nearest hotel with phone chargers.
Or you can survive your first attempt, learn from it and adjust your plan of attack for next time.
Starting a new campus rec program can feel like car camping — starting a fire in the woods with small twigs and a lighter, while trying to charge everything with a small, portable battery. The effort and resources you’ve used could amount to nothing.
Your first attempt at anything could fail miserably the first time. That’s just part of life.
But how you respond to adversity that speaks volume. It might seem like an impossible situation as you’re wearing your arms out fanning a flame intent on staying as cool as the mountain breeze, but your perseverance will pay off.
Imagine you manage to keep the flame alive enough that first night to cook four hot dogs. Not exactly a feast, but more than satisfying enough to set up a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, you discover a nearby campsite store that sells firewood and lighter fluid. There’s also a shower building in the vicinity with a wall outlet — just like that, your phones are charged again.
All the concerns of the previous night seem like a distant memory as your breakfast cooks over a roaring fire that took 0.8 seconds to ignite. And your reward is hiking your well-fed body up to the Mount Pisgah summit and snapping some Instagram-worthy photos of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains with your fully-charged phone.
Perseverance is necessary in car camping and in campus recreation. There will be days when seemingly everything goes wrong, but those are not the times to give up.
Fight through the hard days — find some lighter fluid and get a fire going, because just beyond those moments of frustrations are the moments you get to admire the view.
Up in the mountains, you get to look out across a beautiful landscape that isn’t really done justice by pictures. In your rec center, you get to see students living healthier lifestyles, finding a community and achieving well-being.
Getting to see that view makes it worth the work.