Partnering With Parents Through Love and Logic

By Andy Johnsrud

Four years ago, a woman called me from an organization in Ohio. Said she ran a wilderness camp for girls on Rainy Lake in Minnesota. Called

Ogichi or something. She wanted me to train her staff in a philosophy I share with caregivers called Love and Logic.

At that first summer training three years ago, I was taken aback—and taken in—by the power and presence of the women in the room. One simply doesn’t find a collection of humans of this caliber in everyday life.

Their dedication to Ogichi is clear, their hearts are wide open, and they are the vital energy of the Ogichi experience. These are the women we want mentoring our daughters. They’re hilarious and gracious in their simple dedication to our girls.

Love and Logic, a philosophy born in the 1970s, teaches parents, teachers and other adults how to hold kids to high standards, while also giving them great latitude to develop into people who create meaning and contribute to their communities.

Far from being permissive or punitive, Love and Logic is about upping the odds that kids act with both self- interest and respect for others. Jim Fay and Foster Cline brought the phrase “helicopter parent” into the national conversation. But their most lasting contribution is a practical approach to raising strong kids.

Love and Logic teaches that adults are always somewhere between helicopter parents and drill sergeants. Since the 1970s, fear-based cultural messages have tricked us into “rescuing” kids at the first signs of danger or discomfort—or, alternately, barking orders and manufacturing success based on achievements predetermined and limited by adults.

Both approaches weaken and negatively affect a child’s sense of agency and efficacy in a world where very little is actually under our control. The most powerful and challenging form of empathy hands problems back to kids, over and over again, in the most empowering act of love: “What do you think you’re going to do about that?”

My daughters—Poppy, 13, and Olive, 10—started at Ogichi as Chickadees and will be second-session campers this summer. I wish I could say that they wait for camp to come around with positivity oozing from every pore. They don’t, I guess, because they’re our kids! They grouse about bugs, a lack of distraction devices and homesickness, then quickly turn around and laugh about a fond memory or adventure at camp.

Then they come home different and more whole. Bug bites aren’t even a thing, life without electronic distraction brightens their eyes, and they walk taller—with an air of competence realized in the joy of struggle and connection to their Ogichi family. Less worrier, more warrior.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Songs of the Paddle.

Ogichi, StaffBen Woods