Helping Campers Explore Values
Camp Winnebago has long been a place where boys are supported by positive role models and encouraged to explore their own developing world-view and personal value systems. For many, our weekly campfires are ground zero for that type of introspection and thought. Each campfire is based on a theme such as truth or friendship or other more playful topics like laughter, which last summer resulted last summer in a camp fire full of funny personal stories and jokes. Other themes can be more complicated such as peace or perseverance.
The purpose of introducing these concepts to campers is multi fold. For younger campers, we introduce these themes and help them understand their meaning and why they may be important. It is an amazing moment when a young camper comes to understand a concept like truth and then hears an older camper discussing the theme and perhaps how it relates to their camp experience while becoming role models for perhaps the first time because of what they think.
On a deeper level, intellectual and verbal exploration of themes gives our older campers a platform to use critical thinking in an abstract manner. Often times, children have an innate understanding of right and wrong but lack a deeper cognitive connection to the value system. By exploring a concept and finding the words to express their beliefs around it, we are helping campers clarify their thoughts. Campers who are not as comfortable with this process often reap the benefits of listening to their peers and internalizing the thoughts of others.
Exploration and verbal expression of values is an essential component that children should use to better understand their own belief system. By helping children become more deeply connected with their sense of right and wrong, we increase the possibility that when they reach a moral crossroad they will act more intentionally and less instinctively. By doing so we increase the chance of wise decisions and the development of a strong and healthy self-concept.