Allison Kieley of Minneapolis was first introduced to Key Log Rolling the way many people are — at summer camp! But as Program Director for YMCA Camp Warren, her insights into the benefits of log rolling were heightened while facilitating the water front activity for staff and campers. Now she’s sharing those insights with the greater camp community.
Summer camp is a breeding ground for exploration. Campers are able to safely step outside of their comfort zone while meeting new people and trying new things without the distractions or pressures of everyday life. I’ve seen kids grow from shy, homesick seven year olds to brave and adventurous teenagers throughout my years working at camp.
Knowing that summer camp plays a role in that development, I take a step back and think, why? Why does spending one, two, eight weeks away from home without a cell phone or a parent or the internet ignite that flicker of a lightbulb in kids to realize what it takes to be their best selves? I dig a little bit deeper to think about what it really means for a child to be away from the comforts of their own home and their own sense of normalcy and I’ve come to learn that the magic of summer camp comes from giving campers opportunities to safely fail, learn, and grow.
Adding log rolling to a summer camp’s waterfront creates an alchemy of empowerment and resilience that campers and staff alike are naturally drawn to. Because log rolling is still a relatively new addition to popular water sports, people are unfamiliar with the sport and do not have expectations of what being great looks like. This means that everyone is a beginner - there is a level playing field that allows an unexpected underdog to shine, and a varsity quarterback to humbly persevere. By celebrating campers efforts to take a risk (instead of how good they are at something) we are teaching them that it is okay fail. And guess what? New log rollers will fail. Experienced log rollers will fail. Fortunately, failing in log rolling is still pretty fun.
Log rolling is a unique and memorable waterfront experience that is easily celebrated (who knew staying on a floating log for 10 seconds could cause so much joy!), incredibly engaging (it draws a crowd!), and is so much fun. With little maintenance and effortless portability, your waterfront can transform from an empty beach to a lively tournament in moments by throwing a log in the water and telling the campers “okay, let’s go!”. Log rolling lets campers and staff fail together, learn together, and grow together which sets them up for success in knowing that trying new things is a risk that is okay to take.
Check out Allison's mad log rolling skills during practice at the Minneapolis Log Rolling Club. Next rolling goal for Allison? Teaching her beloved, Penny, the ropes. Penny could be the first Key Log Dog!
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Generous supporters and donors of your camp may be interested in funding a new program activity, such as log rolling. We've come up with a few ideas on why and how to propose the concept of a log rolling program donation to your donors!