Developing Balanced Youth

Any given year, our individual coaches could probably summarize their perspective on JUGHEADS (JH) in a single word. For one, the word might be “Fun.” For another, “Discipline” or “Focus.” For yet another, “Teamwork” or “Friendships.” For me, one of the key words to describe this company is “Balanced.”

When asked about our summer, Wendy & I have responded about how balanced it was: juggling camps, parades, and IJA; extended family time, such as our annual DeGroot clan campout and my unique trip to the Boundary Waters with eight Arneberg men & boys; a marriage getaway to Chicago; and a backyard patio project which gives Wendy a new “canvas” for her gardening while opening a new dimension for hospitality. On top of this, we had “forced” down time for half the summer due to Wendy’s heart surgery and recovery, which was a welcome opportunity to simplify our schedule and slow down our pace.

The lesson I take away from my summer as applicable to JH is that the heart of this company is balance. Unlike football or cross country teams with their August two-a-days, even our most intense juggling clubs and camps are offset by a generous amount of time for open juggling, snack, and recreation. Unlike the classroom, our kids are free to move about at will, save for our meetings, warm-ups, and rehearsals later in the year. And unlike theatre productions or basketball play-calling, our students (especially our leaders) are invited to give their opinions regarding company policies, Juggle Jam themes, club workshops, and even what equipment and snacks we buy.

As a natural Type-A person, I have experienced all of the above (two-a-days, theatre, basketball, etc.). I’m grateful for that, and I believe that such intense discipline, immersion, and “learning to follow” is necessary for every kid to experience. However, now in our 20th year, I believe that because JH is different is precisely why kids keep coming back. I don’t claim to have a corner on child psychology or recreational expertise, but I can say this: our Jughead members like challenges, the freedom to choose, the ability to contribute, opportunities to work with a wide age range of both boys and girls, and the guidance of a team of role models ranging from teenaged leaders to middle-aged “life coaches.” That represents the balance that makes up our company, and if the Lord wills, we’ll keep exploring new ways to develop balanced kids through juggling for another 20 years.