Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Week of Competition

Last week I couldn't possibly have blogged, because I was suffering from pure exhaustion - and, instead of my usual business casual, I was in ATHLETIC APPAREL. I'm not talking little Soffe shorts and a tank top either - I'm talking my long, black PE shorts from 8th grade (they used to have my name on the left leg, but it washed out), and a short-sleeved "athletic-style" (read "the kind you paint in") shirt, with my second-least-favorite kind of footwear (after flats): tennis shoes. Why, you ask, did I sacrifice my energy, blog, and business casual for this mildly butch work-out look? Because it was Super Kids Sports Kamp, and I was an archery clinician!

For those of you who don't know, Super Kids Sports Kamp (SKSK) is a week-long sports camp my church puts on for elementary-school kids. In the mornings they play Capture the Flag and run around the gym, then we have a skit and clinics in the morning (we have sports from All-Rec to Tennis to Archery to Football to Dance). Then it's lunch-time, followed by singing, another skit, and a lesson, then afternoon games! The whole time there are cheers for special words (like awesome, so, and okay) and a giant competition between the McCoys (red) and Hatfields (blue). Everything from clinic drills to dressing up crazy to afternoon games earns points for the two feuding families, and the winner of each day gets fruit snacks. The winner of the whole week (determined by a nail-biting "Great Race") wins "Icee-juicees" (you might know them by their colloquial name: Otter Pops).

Having been a kamper and huddle leader (counselor) for years, I love SKSK. While I can't sum up a whole week in one blog post, I'll share a few thoughts - because I still had economic adventures and theme days at Kamp!

One of our special cheer words is for "Competition." Since the Hatfields and McCoys are in a giant COMPETITION all week, the word gets thrown around frequently. When you hear this word, everyone stands up, makes giants "Cs" with their arms, and yells "Cooooo-mpetition, Competition, Competition, Com-Pa-Ti-Tion!" This makes my free-market-loving heart almost as happy as a Rockies fan tonight!

See, at SKSK kids do a lot of awesome stuff and have a lot of crazy fun that they wouldn't have if it weren't for the competition. Points motivate kids to jump higher, run faster, shoot straighter, and twirl longer than if they were just practicing to practice. Do you think we could have kids screaming for their family while playing a game of Giant Twister if we told them it was because they had nothing better to do? How about if we told them that Hatfields and McCoys are basically the same, and competitions can lead to hurt feelings, and so it's better if we all just do whatever we're capable of and that effort doesn't matter in the end? Well, that's basically what we're telling businesses in the "free" market and basically what we tell kids in school.

With the corporate bailouts, our government has sent a strong message that there are no winners, and that effort doesn't matter. That competitions hurt feelings - and that no one is allowed to lose. If the government tries to make the finish line "fair" instead of the starting line, everything ends in a draw - which is boring at SKSK, and lethal in the free market. If Total and Special K cereals were exactly the same, there would be no need for both of them - one would die. While Obama claims that the bailouts will create more jobs, in the long run they eliminate competition, which kills jobs.

We feed our kids this drabble every day though - I graduated second in my class, and our valedictorian, one of my dearest friends in the whole world, was not allowed to give a speech at graduation - or at any other senior event. When she talked to the principal about it, she was told "Graduation isn't about you. It's about the kid who barely graduated, who just squeaked by." Sorry, but graduation is about YOU and YOUR accomplishments. And if we have to pick one graduate who it's really about, my vote goes to the valedictorian. Unfortunately, for fear of hurting someone's feelings (someone who didn't try very hard, I might add), our valedictorian was not allowed to say anything to the class she led. This imaginary kid had no idea what a blessing he received by not having to be aware of someone with a higher GPA.

Competition is a crucial part of life. It creates better products, better services, and better people. Every winner has lost at some point - and somehow they survived. Without bailouts, without silent valedictorians. So, as a proud Hatfield, I say, "How about a little 'Cooooo-mpetition, Competition, Competition, Com-Pa-Ti-Tion!'?"

During SKSK week, we had theme days. So, I fostered competition while in:
Black gym shorts, SKSK baseball-style t-shirt, and tennis shoes (First Day).
Black gym shorts, hot pink tights, neon green "Navigators" big t-shirt (from my sister!), orange pom-pom earrings, neon bangles, and tennis shoes (Neon Day).
Black gym shorts, tie-dye shirt, tie-dye socks, and tennis shoes (Scrubs/Tie-Dye Day).
Black gym shorts, purple Rockies t-shirt, purple wool socks, purple frog earrings, and tennis shoes (Purple Day).
Black gym shorts, SKSK baseball-style t-shirt, and tennis shoes (Camp Shirt Day).

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