Integrity at a Glance
So just what is “integrity?” It’s a word we hear frequently, though nailing down a definition for “integrity” is not necessarily easy. Go ahead, think about it for a minute.
We can dig a little bit and look to the dictionary. Good ol’ Webster describes integrity as, “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” That’s still vague. How firm? What’s a code? Good morals? Bad? Can someone still have integrity if they are adhering to “bad” morals? To use the standard test when considering whether something or someone is good or bad, does Webster’s definition mean that Hitler had integrity?
Let’s try looking at the root of the word. It stems from the Latin adjective integer, which means whole, or complete. In this light, integrity would arise from a person’s “wholeness,” meaning consistency and congruency, or being ‘complete.’
Though vague at first glance, with a bit of effort and discussion it’s relatively easy to come up with some themes common to integrity. Ask folks at camp, friends and family from outside Augusta, and even strangers on the street, and you’ll likely hear things like: honesty; following through on what you say you’re going to do; responsibility; accountability; keeping your word.
And perhaps even more relevant, why even care about what integrity is? After all, plenty of people get along just fine without reflecting on, or acting in, integrity.
The path that this document follows is based on the assumption that living with integrity will allow you to fully create your life in alignment with your values, giving you freedom, power, and possibility in each moment.
Integrity: Camp Augustified
Distilling down some of the common themes from the previous section, a working definition of integrity has been established at Camp Augusta:
Whole. Complete. People of integrity act consistently across many situations and among many different people. They are maskless. This definition of integrity-as-wholeness encompasses three components, or subsections:
Integrity at Camp Augusta:
Whole and Complete
Whole. Complete. People of integrity act consistently across many situations and among many different people. They are maskless. This definition of integrity-as-wholeness encompasses three components, or subsections:
1) Honor Agreements
2) Act in Accordance with Principles and Values
3) Word as Self
These subsections are organized in an order of development, which will likely provide you with understanding and perspective, and maybe some motivation on your integrity journey. For example, when a child learns to read they generally follow a path, with more structure and tangible concepts at the beginning (learning how to read by gaining knowledge), which lead to internalization and more intuitive skills further down the path (at some point, the child surpasses the learned knowledge and simply reads). That path might look something like: 1) Learn and memorize the letters, 2) Sound out words and sentences, letter by letter, and 3) Be able to read fluidly and intuitively, without thinking about the individual letters.
Another way to consider the path is in terms of knowledge and being. For example, when you know something, you can likely talk about it, converse with others about it, and have a sense of it. Yet that may not mean that you actually live, or act, from that knowledge in a way that is internalized. We can use a musical example to further illustrate this. You might know how to read music, might be able to talk about reading music, might even be able to teach people about music, and perhaps you know enough about the trombone to be able to take your knowledge of music and the trombone to play some sweet songs. Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a musician, where the music flows out of the trombone as an expression of you, no longer thinking about hitting the notes, not thinking about reading each line…it simply happens.
Regarding integrity, ideally you will be moving from knowledge and awareness of your values, to seamlessly integrating those values into all of your actions and communications. Here’s what the path may look like, and we’ll walk the path using an example of meeting a new friend, Pat.
- Honor agreements. This is the most structured and basic element: following through with your agreements. Making agreements, and observing whether or not you follow through on them, will give you some very quick indications as to what some of your values are! Simply being aware of your values (if you aren’t already) is the first step towards an integrated life.
- For example, you meet a cool person, Pat, at the Camp Conference in San Francisco, and you agree to stay in touch. Pat lives about an hour away from you, and so you need to make quite a few plans to keep in touch. You set times to talk on the phone, agree to write a couple emails, tell Pat that you’re going to send him some links to some camp websites that are the bomb, and tell him you’ll send a few photos from the conference via snail mail. What agreements did you keep, and which did you miss? Did you alter any? Did you do any grudgingly? How come? This step is about getting in touch with what’s important to you…the first step towards knowledge and awareness.
- Act in Accordance with Principles and Values. This step follows from the first section of honoring agreements, where the agreements that you enter into follow from, and continue to develop, shape, and bring knowledge about your principles and values. Through your experiences and interactions, you become aware of, and continue to develop, personal principles and values; these are beliefs/stories of how you live your life, and can be influenced by relationship (spouse, parent, friend), family, group (church, club), community (geographic, cultural), organization (Camp Augusta), society (laws), world. They are the stories you live by.
- Back to Pat: the friendship is continuing to build, and so is your awareness and knowledge of yourself and your values. Sure, there were a few rocky patches with Pat; he was pretty pissed that you didn’t mail over those photos you promised him, as he was really looking forward to them. But as you kept putting it off, and putting it off, you looked a bit deeper at why you were putting it off, and found that you really do not like the Postal Service! They’d fired your grandpa many years ago, and you also think that the prices they charge—a government agency no less—to send something a few miles away are really quite outrageous; as you see it, their personnel policies and stamp prices are completely ridiculous. You and Pat chat it out, and you realize that you’ll not be making agreements with him (or likely anyone) that requires you to use the Postal Service anymore. You also realize how much your grandpa’s situation influenced you, and are more aware of what motivates you when it comes to money and the government. You and Pat reach some comfortable and enjoyable rhythms in your friendship, and you also are acting with more intentionality in all of your agreements as you increase your knowledge and awareness around your values and motivations.
- Word as Self This section follows from the first two, where, through your experiences, you learn and recognize that every word you speak, your word, has the power to create your reality in line with your agreements, principles, and values. You directly create through the power of your word; the context in which you exist, in which you live, is created by your words and your language. Your integrity flows from within you, and is intuitive; you know immediately if something in you is out of integrity. When your word is your self, you become consistent across groups and environments; external influences do not change how you act. Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” comes to mind here.
- Pat, again. You are now in rhythm with friendship. It is in some ways difficult to describe the quality of your interactions…they simply are. In the first two stages, you were in the process of becoming friends. In those stages, you were finding things out about each other and your selves; there was knowledge gained and used, and you likely even gave meaning to your interactions by referring to each other as friends. Now, you have moved past becoming friends, and are friends. The way you interact moves fluidly and in integrity with your values, principles and agreements. And now, if you act in some way that is not in integrity with you and/or the friendship you have created with Pat, it is immediately recognizable within you. You do not need to look for it, or try to know it or understand it or see it. You simply know it…you feel it within you.
A (Crude) Picture of Integrity
Think of “wholeness” as a sphere, portrayed crudely above. At the center, agreements are more rigid and defined, shown “boxed in,” as knowledge is gained and understood. To think of Pat again, this would be represented in the initial getting-to-know-you phase, as you make agreements and learn more about yourself and each other.
As those agreements are kept, or not kept, you begin to notice a range of principles and values; needs are also intertwined here. We’ve been using Pat as one small example, but think of how many times you make agreements throughout a day, either with yourself or others, and how many values and principles are implicit in each of those agreements. As you become more aware of what kinds of agreements you make, you’ll begin to notice, over time, what kinds of values are more important to you than others. Likewise, with agreements that are not made, or not kept, you will notice what values are less important. We can think of our encounters with these values and principles as a sort of training ground (represented by the sphere above) where we learn about our integrity. We bounce around the inside of the sphere, bumping up against our values and principles through the agreements we enter into. (Side note: Teens and children often reside in the section of the sphere. They aren’t ignorant or stupid [Jackal]; they’re learning.)
Some values/principles we encounter in this training ground may be really fun and easy (Hey, I loved chatting with Pat!), while others may present challenges that we’d like to improve and work on. Still others may present pitfalls, which end up hurting us or others (I can’t stand the Postal Service!). As we walk our agreements through this training ground of values and principles, a more complete picture of what is important to us emerges. This picture is where we act from to create our reality, and is the ground we stand on to be the change. The squishiness of that ground (represented as the outer edge of the circle) is the degree to which there are firm values and agreements scaffolding its shape.
This is not to say that all of these elements interact in a completely linear way. One doesn’t proceed from Agreements to Values to Self and never look back. Even with a rather firm, defined sphere, interaction with the world will, hopefully, frequently lead us back to the training ground to make sense of what we are learning and experiencing. This helps us to further define and understand our values, even if that means changing them to meet up with what we’ve been learning and observing, or need shifting.
Getting Deeper: Honor Agreements
Committing to honor agreements sounds nice, and easy enough. But what are agreements?
Agreements are tools to meet a need, often via specific strategies. We use these tools to store information, and that information guides our future actions. For example, when you agree to work at Camp Augusta, you store information (agree) from something as concrete as when you will arrive at camp, to something as complex as agreeing to use Success Counseling as your primary way of interacting in challenging moments with campers.
Agreements can be entered into in many ways. To name a few: signatures, blood brothers, money exchange, pinky swear, head nod, law, social norms/constructs, not opposing, treaties, contracts, handshakes, and words.
It is important to note that honoring agreements also includes those which are implicit, and those which have not been definitively stated outright. At Camp Augusta, we are defining and designing a world – a place that is different from anywhere else, and that will most likely have elements and philosophies that are unfamiliar to anyone who arrives at Augusta, both staff and campers alike. This process of defining and designing remains just that: a process. This document on integrity also fits within that process.
Within that process, many things are still unsaid, and many things will likely remain unsaid. For example, there is not a Staff Manual page about doing your dishes in the staff house. There is an understanding that there is not a maid picking up after us, and that we have the responsibility to each do our part to manage our common spaces. Or, if you’re unsure whether Camp Augusta has a staff house maid, it is expected that you will ask someone to find out.
On a more serious level, there are always things that will be unsaid regarding the foundational aspects and philosophies of our community…things like consensus and flat hierarchy, success counseling, clean communication, nonviolent communication, and community living. While there are documents that detail our processes and guidelines for each of those areas (we even have documents on how to make documents), they can never be fully defined for every applicable situation, as they will be responding to the shifting needs and dynamics that our community enjoys (a training ground of dynamics, perhaps). Yet they maintain a spirit and a sense which provide our community with a moral compass. Honoring the agreements implicit in those philosophies are a part of integrity at Camp Augusta.
Getting Deeper: Acting in Accordance with Principles and Values
By becoming more aware of the agreements we enter into, those we don’t, and those we choose not to keep, we start to develop a better sense of the things that are important to us. The things we value which guide us influence our actions. The degree to which we are aware of our principles and values holds great power over how intentional we are with our words, thoughts, and actions.
Awareness around our principles and values may be new territory. It is common for us to act in ways, perhaps even in consistent ways, without being aware of the values that underlie those actions. It’s also worth considering our orientation to certain values as we continue to navigate agreements
Letter vs. Spirit/Keeping vs. Honoring
Our values and principles take on more depth when we consider how we navigate our agreements. Simply because we keep an agreement, doesn’t mean that we honor that agreement. Similarly, thinking of agreements in a light of letter vs. spirit gives greater insight into our values. As in, what is the SPIRIT (Your Word; honor) of an agreement, and how might that differ from the LETTER (the words; keep) of an agreement?
Here are some indicators that can help to distinguish between the letter and the spirit of an agreement:
Spirit (The Word)
The letter of the agreement likely exists more within the Agreements Box on the Picture of Integrity: more straightforward and defined. The spirit of the agreement exists more within the values and principles sphere, which are the guidelines you’ll use to determine what spirit you take to be in those agreements. The interaction between the letter and the spirit will determine how you then interact with those you’ve entered into the agreement with.
Some examples of how the letter might differ from the spirit; keeping the agreement or honoring the agreement:
Work Projects: Fixing Mountain Boards on Saturday for 2 Hours
You might work for two hours, but you take lots of breaks, and even though there are 12 boards that need fixing, you figure you can only get through 6 in the time you’ve got; besides, that means you’ll be able to get out of a less-desirable work project next weekend, because the other mountain boards will still need to be fixed.
You know there are lots of boards to get fixed, and you’re pretty sure you won’t have time to get through all of them. You try your hardest, and also let the Program Directors know that you might not get them all done, in case they can get someone else over to help you, so that all the boards are functional for the children in the coming week.
Session Three Parent Letters
Staff manual says that the average parent letter is two pages? Well, I’ve got more I could say about these girls that would likely be helpful for the parents to know, but man, the Yuba is calling my name.
This cabin had some really interesting dynamics, and the parents might really benefit from knowing how the girls interacted. I’m already at 3 pages, but I think it’d be a great service to the parents and children to really detail what happened.
Tuesday Special Wake-Up
It’s Tuesday. My go-to special wake-up is to sing them the Tuesday Song and play guitar. The campers always love it, so why change?
It’s Tuesday. The campers always love it when I sing the Tuesday Song and play guitar, but I’d like to spice it up a bit more this week to make it even more special. I’ll work to pull in some of the HEROES so we can have a full band, in-costume, perform for them.
As noted on the Augusta website, here are some things that we value, and implicitly do not value, at Camp Augusta.
Non-hectic pace available
Ideally, each of these values will be present in most areas of camp life, and they will provide a firm foundation to actualize other documents, philosophies, and programs. These values are not, however, the law of the land, and some folks may disagree that all of those values are present and integrated at Camp Augusta. We often explore them in new lights and different ways to serve specific goals, or meet other needs (see Need Shifting document). Examples include using technology in certain parts of camp (Capture the Flag music) and having non-skill-based activities (Hammock Village).
To say that, while many Augustan values are clear and defined, they interact with each other in fluid ways, while, hopefully, still maintaining integrity. This example is deliberately put in section two (Acting in Accordance with Principles and Values), as in many ways the Augustan culture is still young and figuring out some of its principles and values. Some core pillars of Augusta are solid (no punishment; challenge by choice; etc.), yet many others are still up for debate, discussion, and exploration. This very document is a part of this values-clarification process…the Integrity document has undergone numerous revisions, and likely will continue to do so. Other large discussions currently, and in recent past, have included competition, resource use, and music philosophy. While the Augustan culture acts from a space of integrity and consistency on very core values, we continue clarifying others. Ideally, these clarification-discussions represent evidence of a strong foundation, and provide reinforcement for a community that is secure in the knowledge that the Augustan values see questioning and challenge as healthy…and not a threat.
Continuing Down the Path
As you reflect on the agreements you make and don’t make, and on how you act on those agreements (in and out of Augusta), what values and principles become clear to you? Which are firmer, and which are more malleable/questionable? Are there any surprises? The awareness of, and interaction with, one’s values and principles can be both empowering and scary. Perhaps you thought you valued certain things, yet those don’t bear out when you look at the actions that accompany those values. Stories meet reality. Words like “just, should, fudge, yes but, a little…” are likely indicators of conflicts between values, principles, and agreements.
What you choose to do with the observations and knowledge is directly related to your integrity.
Getting Deeper: Word As Self
So when we are in integrity, what are we actually putting out there? Words, thoughts, and actions that are whole. Complete. Consistent. People of integrity act consistently across many situations and among many different people. Your values and principles remain the same regardless of what the external situation is. Think back to Pat: when you have reached this third ‘stage’ of integrity-in-friendship, the elements of your friendship likely remain the same, irrespective of any external situation; and if they change based on your external situation, either you or Pat likely feels it.
Many folks feel that it is okay to act differently, with different people, in different situations…that, of course, you’ll act differently with old high school friends than with your boss and his executive team. But consider what it is that might be different? Perhaps the level of conversation will be different. Take 5 levels of conversation:
- The Weather: Passing conversation. Small talk. Can be amusing or entertaining, but rarely very interesting.
- Let’s Talk About “Blank”: The lawn needs to be mowed. This project is due on this date. I find this interesting. Conversation, but no real insight.
- Energetic: Conversations with people with whom you easily align yourself. Spirited agreements or disagreements.
- Kitchen Table: Meaningful talk about life, love, work, etc. Serious decisions are made.
- Deep Conversation: You’re out camping with your closest friends. You’re all around a campfire at 2AM talking about the meaning of life.
Do your core values and principles change across these levels of conversation? Even though your physical actions and interactions may be different with different people, do your actions, as representations of your values and principles, change? Do you allow yourself to drop sexist jokes with your high school friends that you’d call people out on at camp? Even though situations and circumstances may change, and the needs and strategies of both you and others change, do YOU change simply because of who’s around you? (Note that context here is still important. In more extraordinary cases, such as life-threatening situations, what you might normally think would be out of integrity [yelling at a child] may serve a purpose that is more important [preventing them from running in front of a car])
A Meditation on Integrity
Let’s consider “being in integrity” as a wise, old, stately, oak tree. This tree stands on solid ground, its roots (values and principles) plunging deep into the earth, providing a solid and nurturing platform to meet the world from. Sure, the tree had some trials and tribulations in its early days. A few droughts, attacks by oak tree borers, rocky soil, and competition for sunlight among other young oaks. Yet the oak made it, having figured out along the way what it needed, and what was important to it.
Now the oak stands tall and proud, and maintains its strength and presence no matter the circumstances. Firmly rooted, it is able to bend and flex with the great thunderstorms, endure the heavy snows, and open its buds to the bright sunshine. Sometimes the oak chats with the squirrels, and shivers with laughter as the ants tickle its bark. Once in a while the oak has to have a sit-down chat with the woodpeckers about needs, and usually these chats go quite well, because the oak is able to see the forest and the trees. The oak maintains its presence, its self, its spirit, whole and consistent, across these many situations and experiences.
That’s not to say the oak is rigid and unmoving. Quite the contrary, as it dances with the breezes and the creatures who visit the oak. And even though the roots provide the oak’s source of strength and support, its roots occasionally still run into rocks, or less fertile ground. The oak is able to take these challenges and, rather than continuing to drive its roots against a rock, adjust and change to meet new needs and circumstances.
Whole and complete. Many folks never get here. Knowing something (think about the first two stages of the integrity path) does not mean that your interactions with the world will reflect that knowing. You might know what you value, but that doesn’t mean your actions will reflect that knowledge. You might know how to read music, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a musician. You might know how to paint, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are an artist. You might know how to run, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a runner
When you become something, when you are something, all of your actions and communications reflect that. You don’t think about it, you just do it. If you’re an artist, nearly everything you see in the world will be seen as potential for art. If you are a runner, nearly anywhere you go you’ll be scoping out the spots to run. It is at these points of being when you are not just applying something you know, but rather you are doing what you are; you don’t have to think about it or remember it, rather you are used by it. When you are in integrity, your world is created and lived out of you.
This is not to suggest that there is a true self you are getting back to or uncovering. Nor is it to suggest that you are locked into an identity, or that your values and principles are unchanging. Rather, acting in integrity is about looking forward, intentionally creating your life in alignment with your values, full of freedom, possibility, and creativity.
Falling Out of Integrity: Dis-integration
So what happens when we do not honor agreements? Breaking agreements takes us out of integrity with the person or people that the agreement was with. Being out of integrity = dis-integrity. Disintegrate.
Things tend to disintegrate when our integrity is compromised. Agreements are the glue that binds our interpersonal relationships, and our community. They glue together our shared values and visions, and create the foundations for us to carry out the mission of Camp Augusta. Sometimes there may be small, seemingly meaningless agreements that are broken. Yet over time, those broken agreements form patterns and create relationships that are far from being whole and complete.
Remember that agreements are both written and verbal. The Staff Manual and the Secret Page documents are all written, and considered community agreements. Not stating where one does not agree with what is in those documents, despite that explicit request (clean communication!), is also to be out of integrity.
When we break our agreements, we experience the challenging aspects of conflict and confusion and remorse. So what do we do when our agreements disintegrate? What happens when we fall out of integrity, either with ourselves or the community? We work to re-integrate!
Guidelines for Re-integration
When agreements are broken, below are some considerations for getting back into integrity. These may be questions that you go over with yourself, with whomever the broken agreement was with, and perhaps both. Keep in mind balance and self-empathy when considering these questions, as raw emotions and feelings can sometimes warp the responses. (See NVC need shifting and mourning for more on this)
- What’s the agreement, letter and spirit, and who was it with?
- Did you keep that agreement, both letter and spirit?
- Did you make something more important than honoring that agreement?
- Is there a shadow in this for you? (“shadow” as a part of yourself you want to hide, repress, not look at; perhaps it is a pattern of behavior that has caused you to break other agreements in the past)
- What are the impacts/consequences of your choice?
- How can you get back into integrity? (What new agreements might you make with the person/community you have fallen out from?)
- Do you feel complete?
A note on “feeling complete:” When people peacefully contemplate their integrity, they generally know where they stand. To contemplate your integrity, try maintaining eye contact with someone for a full minute, and then discuss the area you are considering around your integrity. It would be very difficult to be disingenuous with yourself (and the other) in this circumstance.
There are some resources in the Staff Manual that may be helpful to consider when thinking through the above questions. The Four Agreements, Getting Real, Spectrum of Consciousness, I’m Sorry, Success Counseling yourself, Stories, and Rackets.
Re-integration: Forgiveness and Trust
When you have fallen out of integrity with your word and/or the community, and then re-integrated in a way that is agreeable both for you and the community, there is an important distinction to be made between forgiveness and trust. Trust and forgiveness are related, but are not the same.
Those with whom you have fallen out of integrity with can forgive the missed agreement, and be free from any enemy images towards you. Yet that also doesn’t mean that trust will be immediately re-established. The history that precedes disintegration is not forgotten, nor is it often wise to. There can be a clean slate in one’s intention and interactions with a person who has missed an agreement, with an understanding that that history is not useless and that it provides information which is useful. One can hold compassion, be free of enemy images, and not hold trust either, which changes both the landscape and direction of the relationship.
In many ways, one’s behavior towards another is teaching them how to interact with you. Can those patterns change? Absolutely, and forgiveness is an essential part of allowing that change to move forward. Yet that history, which includes things like frequency (how many times?) and seriousness (was someone in danger? Was a core philosophy of the community breached?), has a place in the discussions and process that move towards re-integration.
It will likely take a longer time to regain trust than to be forgiven. Trust is lost when a person acts differently that was agreed upon or expected. Regaining that trust will likely require initiation (words and action showing that you intend to act differently in the future) and consistency (the old cliché “walking the talk” comes to mind here). Side note: much of this section deals with re-integration with those whom you have fallen out with. It’s also important to note that you may fall out of integrity with yourself, and that similar processes of trust and forgiveness can be a solo act as well.
It may not be the most enjoyable experience as one works back into integrity and trust, and falling out of integrity may leave one with a sense of loss and sadness. The Needs/Wants document in the Staff Manual provides perspective on these feelings, specifically the section on “Mourning.”
Common Areas at Camp Augusta to be Aware of Integrity
Here are some common agreements at Camp Augusta to be aware of in regards to your integrity:
- Timeliness. Showing up where you’ve agreed to be, at the agreed-upon time. If there is something that comes up that means that that agreement cannot be honored, then it is expected that you will check in with the person(s) that the agreement is with. Being late is disruptive, and also intrudes upon the experiences of those who have shown up on time. Timeliness is almost always a matter of choice, and what one chooses to make important.
- Clean communication. Agreeing to be a part of the Camp Augusta community is also agreeing to cleanly communicate (from the get-go, and not simply cleaning up dirty communication). Choosing to dirty communicate is a leading cause of disintegration within communities…and our community is no different in this respect. It is also part of the community agreement to call dirty communication when you hear/see it, and facilitate that cleaning-up as needed.
- Nonviolent communication. This “empathy tool” helps us to connect to ourselves and others to understand one another, and to explore ways we can willingly and naturally contribute to on another’s well-being. Being aware of whether your thoughts, words, and actions are intended to “correct” or to “connect” are good indicators of integrity within your communication at camp.
- Success counseling. Punishment, rewards, guilt, and buddy approach are not child development in any sense. At Camp Augusta we all agree to support children in creating their own solutions through success counseling.
- Consistency. Being consistent across contexts is a good indicator of integrity. Changing who you are based on the people around you or the situation you're in compromises one’s integrity.
- Degrees of integrity. Letter and spirit. For example, one could work 2 hours on work projects on Saturday and be working, but not with full effort. You’ve kept your agreement (Level 1, to the letter) to work projects and hours, yet the spirit with which you engaged the tasks in would not stand up to scrutiny. Another example is speaking the truth, but not the whole truth. Sometimes people answer questions, yet don't provide all the information requested.
- Being tragically common. Explaining one’s own actions by saying, “others are doing it too,” is out of integrity.
- Awareness. We may be aware of an area that we are out of integrity, yet awareness does not necessarily represent action. For example, someone might really be irritating you, and you are aware of it and you know that your clean communication agreements compel you to talk to that person…but it’s going to be such an uncomfortable conversation! So you don’t do anything. Awareness can be a wonderful first step, but awareness without action remains simply that: aware but dis-integrated.
Failing Forward and Integrity
As already discussed briefly, one can still be in integrity with their agreements and still ‘fail’. Failing forward is encouraged at Camp Augusta, and failure still allows one to remain in integrity with their agreements. To continue using the Success Counseling example, you may use all resources available to you, and give everything you’ve got to find the needs behind a child’s behavior. Yet, you still may ‘lose’ the child, and end up resorting to the monitor approach. Or you may mix up some feelings and needs while learning the principles of nonviolent communication, and you might even slip in some ‘faux feelings’ in a conversation you are having with someone. Or, you or the person you are interacting with may still find jackal language/intention creeping into the conversation.
Yet, it is the intention behind these mistakes that is important. Things like Success Counseling and nonviolent communication will likely be unfamiliar concepts, and your skills and proficiency in those areas, and many areas at camp, will increase as a result of failure. If the intention behind your actions is to uphold your agreements, and you still fall short, you will remain in integrity with your agreements. If, however, you knowingly bring in a little buddy approach, or let the jackal into your conversation because it feels good to really win that argument, your integrity will have been compromised. (Note that on issues of trust or core community values, intention may have a narrower interpretation; failing forward while on high ropes, or punishing campers, will not be met with “Oh well, keep trying!” Great compassion and support does not equal trust.)
As noted in the “Getting Real” document in the Staff Manual, a good question to examine the intention of your actions is: “What do I really hope to accomplish here?” If it begins with something like, “To make someone realize…” then your intention is likely going to be compromised and self-serving.
The Power of Integrity
So, hopefully by this point it is abundantly clear as to why integrity and agreements are important! And not just at Camp Augusta, but beyond. Before you go, please consider one last point, and think about it for a couple minutes:
Power of Agreements = Revolution
A group of people can come together, describe what they want to see in accordance with principles and values, agree to make it so, and act to make it exist. At Camp Augusta we have wonderful opportunities everyday to design, define, and create a world that can change our lives, as well as the lives of the children who come through our community. Our agreements, in every moment, and the integrity with which we uphold them, determine the degree to which our dreams and our visions are actualized. Let’s continue the revolution.