In the Asking

By Ian Anderson

Yesterday morning I watched as my sons played Chutes and Ladders. All seemed well in their world: they laughed at the thought of doing the “naughty” things that made them slide, counted how many more spaces they needed to win, and argued about whose turn was up. And then the youngest screamed the scream that makes his oldest brother cover his ears and look at me like, “Are you going to do something here?”

Right before the scream to end all screams, I heard their conversation, which was quickly urgent on all fronts. The older brothers were making the little one understand, in gentle tones of course, that he needed to move his piece to a certain spot on the board. I heard something like, “No! Give me that! It goes here!”

Then, as previously stated, the scream happened.

I talked quickly and simply, and the game resumed. Because of the frequency of this kind of situation, I knew what the little one needed — he had to be asked.

It took me a long time to realize that to ask is to create relationship, to draw another person toward me. The opposite of asking is demanding, and it is the same as pushing away; when I demand, I step on the personhood of whomever I demand from.

Both asking and demanding are powerful, and it may be that our demands are often granted, but we should know the price. Implicitly, we bind one to another or we cast away.

I’ve observed the power of the request in the classroom, too. I talk openly with my students about the authority I’ve been given as their teacher, especially about how easily that power could go to my head. And it’s because of that authority that my requests, my genuine pleases and thank yous, are even more powerful. By asking instead of demanding, I silently acknowledge the independence and personhood of my students, and I have seen in their eyes a willingness to listen — even when they disagree or would rather resist.

Foolproof? Not even close. Yet, if we really respect the people around us, we give them room to carry out their resistance, to say no. As a teacher, I explain the consequences simply.

And what about more intimate relationships? We’ve all seen marriages in which it’s common for the request to be absent. Inserted is the demand, and with it the attitude that each should know the other so well that asking becomes a sort of an insult — or the idea that each has the right to demand what is due. Maybe too many requests went unfulfilled and demanding was the only way to carry on. Maybe.

However, earnest requests are hard to deny, no matter the situation. This is why we instinctively avoid the friend or neighbor who we know will ask to borrow from us. How can we say no? Asking is so powerful, we are often angry that we’ve been asked because the pull of the request is so strong, even from someone who “over-asks.”

As a parent, it’s difficult to balance my authority with a clear eye on building up my sons. But with an understanding that relationship is more important than getting my way, even as a dad, I’m at least headed in the best direction.

Chutes and Ladders continued without bloodshed because I explained — over the ear-splitting, tongue-wagging, scream — that instead of trying to rip his piece from his hand while forcing their way on him, their brother needed to be talked to like one of them. Once they drew him closer with a request, he gleefully accepted their help.

Perhaps before we learn anything about relationships, we must first learn how to ask.

Ian Anderson is a teacher, a husband, and a dad. He lives with his family in Central Kansas. Occasionally, he tweets here: @ian_writes.

Benton receives Red Carpet Award for customer service

Benton Elementary received the Red Carpet Award for Excellent Customer Service.
Benton Elementary received the Red Carpet Award for Excellent Customer Service.

Benton Elementary received the Fall 2015 Red Carpet Award for Excellent Customer Service, presented by the Parent and Community Support Office. Benton received the award for committing to great customer service beyond the front office. They believe it is shown through relationships with parents and staff, how the custodians keep the school clean, and how all students are treated with respect.

Benton was presented a check for $1,000 from Midwest Single Source, who partners with the district on the award. Midwest Single Source has given schools $19,000 over their eleven-year sponsorship of the Red Carpet Award.

‘Is my child ready for overnight camp?’

By Shay Robbins

Kanakuk-wakeboard-teen-boy-01-6431For many kids, summer camp is a right of passage to the first taste of sweet independence. For many parents, summer camp is a sign that a child is growing up. Camp gives kids an opportunity for growth in a new but safe place where they can make their own decisions.

First-time camp families can question when the best age is to begin sending little ones to camp. Although there is no exact science to it, at Kanakuk we have learned a few key ways to tell a child is ready.

Let’s start with the telltale sign—he or she asks to go!

As we raise our children there is a short timeframe in which we are the overwhelming voice in their lives. At some point, the voices and influence of others begin to increase and, seemingly, infringe on our territory! This when the old adage, “it takes a village to raise a child” becomes real. I believe this is the best indicator that a child is ready to go to summer camp. If your child is beginning to reach for others through slumber parties or extracurricular activities, it is important to find external influences that reinforce our faith and family values.

While every child is unique, there are some things they all have in common. Kids love to laugh. Kids love friendship. Kids long to know God. Kanakuk is built to invest in these commonalities while celebrating campers’ unique talents and personalities. It does this through life-changing experiences that are fun and help kids grow in faith and community.

When a child has 360-degree accountability like they do at summer camp, “iron sharpens iron,” meaning they experience growth through community. Kids and staff come to Kanakuk and go home more confident, humble and com- passionate because others challenge and encourage them.

So, if your kid needs friends, summer camp can provide laughter, memories and opportunities to overcome new challenges alongside peers. We believe this is a recipe for lasting friendships—that’s why we say, “Camp friends are the best friends!”

If your kid needs a mentor, summer camps like Kanakuk travel the country to meet, interview and select the most loving and servant-hearted college students around. These humble leaders help campers develop into dynamic Christian leaders themselves. They are eager to passionate about investing in the next generation.

Camp is a place for incredible growth—and unrivaled fun. All of the anticipation can build a long list of questions. There are a few things you can do during the countdown to camp to help build excitement and prevent homesickness. First, involve your camper in the preparation process! Let them help pack trunks and pick out swimsuits and theme party costumes. Most importantly, follow along with your camp on social media to see all the fun!

Make use of the months leading to camp by preparing yourself, especially if this is the first time your camper is leaving home. Learn how you can communicate with your camper while he or she is gone. Write letters and plan to send a fun package. Get to know their schedules beforehand and approach the week with a game plan.

Summer camp can also be a gift of quality time for you and your spouse or close friends. Plan a vacation or date nights that are more difficult to make time for when kids’ schedules dominate the week.

Finally, make it a point to get to know the mission and leadership of the camp before you send your child. Is there a child protection plan? Do the camp’s foundational principles align with yours? Do they have a track record of success? Since 1926, we’ve seen campers walk away with the life-changing experiences, Godly relationships and spiritual training needed to become dynamic Christian leaders.

Camp season is almost here—get ready for the best weeks of summer!