It is often true that the things we value most in life are the ones we have to work the hardest to get. In high school, I participated in Air Force Junior ROTC. During the summer, several of us attended rigorous leadership schools—long, hot days filled with a variety of physical and mental challenges. The camp at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was particularly grueling. The days began at 6am with calisthenics and running laps followed by marching across the base for tedious lectures and hurried meals—all under the watchful eye of a cranky squad leader. I hadn’t done the prep work to reach the level of physical fitness I needed. By the third day I had blisters on my feet and wanted desperately to go home. But I knew I couldn’t give up. The mini-boot camp took every ounce of determination and endurance I had. And at the end of the week, I received a small trophy for completing the course—it became one of my most prized possessions.
Endurance is the inward strength to withstand stress while giving a full effort.
In our society filled with instant gratification, endurance to stay the course and work toward a goal often falls by the wayside, but it is one of the most important things we can teach our children.
Camels illustrate endurance through their ability to travel great distances across hot deserts with little food or water, carrying more than 300 pounds. The camel’s hump is actually a large lump of fat that can act as a source of energy when water and food are scarce. Dromedary camels have a single hump while Bactrian camels have two. Camels are still used today in parts of Asia and Africa to pull ploughs, turn water wheels, and carry riders and supplies. Camels need less water than other animals because they make the most of the water they consume. To stay cool, most animals sweat and the evaporation of water from their skin lowers their temperature. Not camels—they can tolerate dramatic increases in body temperature. A camel can heat up as much as 42 degrees with no ill effects. If our body temperature rises more than a few degrees, we have a serious fever.
I Will Statements
- I will not be a quitter.
- I will accept both instruction and correction.
- I will not waste my time, energy, and talent on meaningless pursuits.
- I will bend instead of break.
- I will put my whole heart into everything I do.
Teachable MomentsEndurance is a trait that benefits all of us, not just athletes or those facing extraordinary challenges. Look for opportunities to praise your child for his or her endurance—whether the job is finishing homework, doing chores, or practicing the piano.
A fun endurance exercise could be the library’s summer reading program. With incremental prizes for students of all ages, the program offers rewards for accomplishing goals with the added bonus of the joy of reading.
Developing endurance may seem like a daunting task, especially during the summer when the hardest things you want to tackle are how often to apply sunscreen and whether the watermelon should be sliced or cubed. But with a little creativity, you can find numerous opportunities to incorporate discussions on endurance into your family conversations this month. Here are a few questions to get you started: How did the character in the movie you watched together display endurance? Do you think he or she ever thought about quitting? Are there times when you’ve quit something? How did that make you feel?
I’ll bet that once you start looking, it won’t take long for you and your children to find multiple examples of endurance in your lives every day.
Perhaps the most well-known tale of endurance is that of the tortoise and the hare. Although the rabbit certainly had the advantage in speed, the tortoise possessed the trait of endurance. He stayed the course and pressed on, beating the hare who allowed his overconfidence to defeat him.
For adults: As Independence Day approaches, take a closer look at the men who made our freedom possible. Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis provides a lively look at seven of the well-known founders including Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin. Their endurance is truly something worth celebrating.
For middle readers: Pushing the Limits by Melissa McDaniel explores the lives of four athletes—a marathoner, a dogsledder, a weightlifter, and a triathaloner—and the endurance they needed to excel in their respective sports. In Wanda’s Roses by Pat Brisson, a young girl is determined to transform the trash-filled vacant lot in her neighborhood into a rose garden. She endures and gets her neighbors involved to make their street a nicer place.
Beginning readers will enjoy Mailbox Magic by Nancy Poydar. In this lighthearted story, Will the Great shows endurance by doing whatever it takes to receive his very own cereal bowl through the mail.