Words that Guide Us

Last year, we set out to clarify just what the term “Winnebegan” means and strove to identify the values that we feel most important at camp while intentionally cultivating them both among the staff and campers.

By identifying respect, empathy, resilience, leadership, integrity, community, effort and creativity as the 8 key values at Camp Winnebago we hoped to be more specific in how we teach and form community.

Director of Camp Winnebago  teaching fishing to campers

Director of Camp Winnebago teaching fishing to campers

Our guiding principle in training staff is intentionally creating a safe and healthy environment for campers to connect with positive role models. By clarifying the Winnebago values, counselors more easily understand that with each interaction they have with campers, whether it is in the bunk or teaching an activity, they have an opportunity to instill positive values and attributes. We want our staff, both returning and new, to explore their relationship with these values and how they can internalize them as part of being exemplary role models for the campers.

Throughout our staff training counselors engaged in thoughtful conversations regarding each of these values and shared their personal relationship with them.  In small groups, and as an entire staff, we developed a deeper understanding of the words and then began the process of integrating values into activities.

Each counselor had the dual task of becoming prepared to teach a skill while also understanding the more subtle lessons, which may be taught in the process. For example, the athletics staff pondered how to help campers learn how empathy and effort are two key pieces of competition; how treating a teammate who is struggling respectfully instead of negatively brings cohesiveness to a team. Boating and Canoeing counselors developed communication strategies to help a camper understand the resilience they are developing and how such an effort will aid them when out on their trips.

Throughout the summer we returned to these core values to keep our staff focused. In various staff meetings we explored camper’s experiences through the lens of respect, community and effort. Counselors shared ways in which campers were struggling and succeeding and received support from fellow staff members.

These words also helped provide an awareness of the depth of the Winnebegan experience and by continually focusing on teaching skills and values in unison, our staff gained a broader and deeper insight into the impactful role that they play while maintaining strong motivation to succeed.

We are dedicated to our core values in every phase of camp and are excited to continue to examine and hone in on the perfect set of words that best reflect the Winnebago experience. Please take a look at these 8 words: respect, empathy, resilience, leadership, integrity, community, effort and creativity.

Feel free to let us know which words seem most integral to you and if there are values you believe we are missing? With your thoughts and input, we will continue to drill down into the Winnebago values and implement them in every facet of camp.