Ever since I was little my parents have supported my summer Keener trip partly because they believe that river skills taught at Keeners are life skills. This includes everything from blog writing, to public speaking, to packing and planning, to on-river risk mitigation, to traveling in the midst of pandemics, airline debacles, and most recently country-wide telecom meltdowns. One of the most important life skill that I have learned though is how to show up every day as part of the community – to “give more than I take.” This is a phrase that is used at the time at Keeners. At Keeners this manifests in many ways, both on and off the river.
There are obvious examples of giving more than you take when you see dishes in the cabin sink and just do them, without wondering whose they are or checking who did them last. Or picking up trash at the lunch spot, even if it’s not yours. Or when a cabin mate forgot some gear and you offer yours even if that means you will go without. There are also the more subtle examples of giving more than you take.
The ones that are about how you choose to make other people feel. Like when you take the high road in a dispute or misunderstanding. Or when you stand up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves. You also give more than you take when you are inclusive and create a sense of belonging for everyone. Or when you refrain from judging other people and when you empathize with them, even when their decisions and perhaps even mistakes create problems for you. Another example of giving more than you take is when you encourage others to try something that they are ready for but apprehensive about (like surfing a big wave or going for a beat down), cheer them on, and celebrate their successes.
Giving more than you take is an approach to life, a quality of character, that we should strive for in all situations. I have found that when I approach a situation that way, others quickly do as well, and together we create a community that we love being a part of. And that’s part of what we all love about Keeners.