Friends that last a lifetime!
Above all else, the relationships created and reinforced each summer at Camp Winnebago are what make the camp experience so profound. At campfires each summer boys state that the friendships forged at camp are where boys feel most comfortable being themselves. The friendships built at Camp Winnebago are honest, compassionate and long lasting!
Learning and Innovation Skills for your Son
In our previous blog we discussed our plan to explore P21′s plan to help children become competitive in the global marketplace.
P21 divides the skills into what they call the 3 R’s and the 4 C’s. The 3 R’s are core subjects which include English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government and civics. We assume the majority of work in these disciplines is concentrated in school and other more traditional modes of education.
Learning and innovation skills, or the 4C’s, is the area in which Camp Winnebago intentionally helps prepare boys to be happy and successful young men. According to P21, “learning and innovation skills are what separates students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in today’s world and those who are not.”
- Creativity and Innovation
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Communication and Collaboration
We begin by examining the first bullet point, creativity and innovation, and talk about Camp Winnebago’s ethos and programming that helps foster creative and innovative thinking among the campers.
Camp Winnebago offers a broad experience for campers: sports, swimming, overnight wilderness camping, and a cache of other non-athletic activities including Selected Activities. Campers choose 8 selected activities over the course of the summer focusing on them for 10 days at a time.
This allows campers to build an appreciation, a base of skills, and an expertise in each of the activities that they can return to each successive summer. There are more than a dozen choices including archery, canoeing, sailing, theater, video production, radio, photography, newspaper, woodworking, and pottery.
As in other areas of camp, campers learn through active instruction, by doing and by following the example of fellow campers and staff.
Many of the selected activities intentionally allow campers the opportunity to foster, realize and express their unique perspectives on the world . The staff, a diverse group with experience both in the activities they lead and working with children, focus on helping campers develop these new skills while encouraging them to use new found skills in a creative manner. By learning multiple methods of expression through various mediums, campers hone in and clarify their own perceptions of the world and use creative ways to express it.
Fostering children’s confidence in their unique perception of the world and reinforcing the value of finding ways to express those perceptions paves the way for campers to transmute into innovative young thinkers. Like any skill, innovative thinking must be role modeled and reinforced, which is done by the counselors who campers look up to and lionize.
Camp Winnebago counselors are creative positive individuals who express themselves in many ways other than simply the individual activity they teach. For example, an athletic counselor may sing a song at a campfire or a swimming counselor will teach a Sunday workshop on rocket building.
Campers quickly notice the creative diversity of their role models and strive to copy this admirable and engaging quality.
The development of creativity and innovation in campers is an organic process. Winnebago’s administration and staff are intentional in creating an environment that fosters these qualities, and campers develop these skills through exciting and engaged learning and fun, mostly unaware of their transformation.
The broad range of activities offered at Camp Winnebago coupled with talented creative and caring counselors is a perfect breeding ground to develop key skills for your son(s) long-term success!
A New Challenge Every Year
Campers have two separate trips each summer at Camp Winnebago. One trip takes them hiking, the other canoeing. As campers return from summer to summer, the trips become more challenging. Campers begin as 8 or 9 year olds camping for 2 nights, becoming comfortable and confident in the outdoors and gradually progress to their final year as 15 year olds hiking the highest peak in Maine, Mt. Katahdin and canoeing 9 days on the Allagash River! Many a young man has returned to camp as an alumnus noting the confidence built within them through Camp Winnebago’s trip program!
Camp, Preparing Boys for a Successful Life
Increasingly, parents make decisions for their children in an effort to boost chances for their children’s success in both the short and longer term. Over ten years ago the U.S. Department of Education and a number of industry leading businesses (Apple, AOL/Time Warner, Cisco, Dell, among others) came together to form the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). P21 identified a comprehensive set of skills, which all sectors of business recognize as essential for success in the global marketplace. These skills include what they call the 3Rs and the 4Cs. They are as follows.
· The 3Rs include: English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; civics; government; economics; arts; history; and geography.
· The 4Cs include: critical thinking and problem solving; communication, collaboration; and creativity and innovation.
As the 3Rs serve as an umbrella for other subjects and core content, the 4Cs are shorthand for all the skills needed for success in college, career, and life.
In our next few blogs we will examine how Camp Winnebago intentionally cultivates the 4Cs (critical thinking/communication/collaboration/creativity) and will explore how both the ethos of camp and specific activities are aligned with P21 to help children “successfully face rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges and a globally competitive workforce. “ We will examine how camp creates and reinforces skills needed for boys to become intellectually agile independent young men prepared for the challenges of entering college and eventually the work place and discuss how both the skill sets and social aspects of the camp experience are aligned with what industry leaders and policy makers have identified as essential.
The Vibrant Waterfront at Camp Winnebago
Camp Winnebago occupies a portion of shore along beautiful Echo Lake. Our waterfront is an exciting and vibrant hot bed of activity each and every day throughout the summer. Campers swim twice daily, one period of instructional swim and one period of free swim. Our docks are an explosion of activity, campers receive instruction in paddling both rowboats and canoes as well as kayaks. In addition boy’s receive expert instruction in sailing and windsurfing.
Camp Winnebago takes bullying very seriously. Because we are a relatively small camp, and a community that is open and trusting, there is not much that we do not find out about fairly quickly. When a conflict arises between campers, we strive to nip it in the bud through honest direct communication. Campers are encouraged in various manners to communicate with staff or administration any time they feel unsafe. Emotional and physical safeties are our #1 priorities!
Check out more Frequently Asked Questions for Parents at http://campwinnebago.com/parent-faqs/
Pride and responsibility are two qualities Camp Winnebago counselors role model to the campers in their bunk. Each morning campers make their beds and clean and sweep out their living space. This is a time of community building where counselors, through their actions and words, role model the importance of taking pride in keeping a clean living area. Because campers participate along with the rest of the campers in their bunk, they develop a sense of responsibility in being a contributing member of their living community.
How We Handle Building Grit at Boys Summer Camp
In our previous blog we looked at the concept of resilience; “the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress”. The ability to bounce back is an essential quality many parents view as paramount for their children to possess as they develop through adolescence into early adulthood. Being at camp is often the first opportunity children have to face adversity and resolve issues outside the protection and guidance of their parents. In our last blog we highlighted ways in which Camp Winnebago intentionally fosters and promotes the building of resilience in campers. We used the American Psychological Associations (APA) 10 tips for building resilience in children as a guideline. In this blog we will revisit these tips in building resilience examining the ways in which parents can help their children develop the ability to face and overcome adversity.
Beyond making connections it is important to continue to develop and maintain relationships. Encourage your child to be aware of the role they play in maintaining positive relationships right in front of them (school friends) and in those relationships created during the summer at camp or in other activities. In the age of social media it is easier to maintain superficial relationships through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media outlets. Encourage your children to remain connected on a deeper level by encouraging direct email or snail mail correspondences and notice the valued connections your child will begin to become aware of and enjoy.
Help your child by having him or her help others
Find ways in which your child can step into the role of supporter and foster a sense of confidence. This is also a way to recognize their strengths. By pointing out the unique qualities your child has that they may share with others you can draw attention to and exploit their strength/interest and your child can gain confidence in their abilities and self-worth.
Maintain a daily routine
There will come a time in early adulthood when your child will need to impose structure on them-selves. As your child progresses through adolescence it is important to begin to hand over some of the responsibility in the creation and implementation of their daily routine. As your child’s life becomes more complex including school, sports and other extra-curricular activities, begin to include them in deciding how their day will flow. Help them make a schedule for their upcoming weekend and how they will fulfill all their responsibilities and include rest and leisure time. One of the hardest jobs as a parent is to know when to step back and release control and scheduling is one area where often time children have no input.
Take a break
Oftentimes, parents feel their ultimate measuring stick is their children’s success in being accepted into the “right school” for college. Due to the competitive nature of this process, children’s schedules get packed with school, tutors, sports, philanthropic endeavors and more. Stress can cause a breakdown in resilience and developing the ability to know when down time is essential is a skill your child will value for the rest of their life. As you begin to notice the signs when your child is reaching their limit help them begin to notice these indicators and guide them towards restful activities that allow them to recharge and avoid physical or mental overloads.
Teach your child self-care
Similar to the previous bullet point, no one knows your child like you do. It is important that you take this deep understanding and help your child become aware of them-selves. Self-care, in a world that seems hyper focused on output and results, is often minimized. By role modeling the importance of self-care and helping your child develop an awareness of their physical and emotional wellness and ways in which they can promote both is an invaluable lesson. By making exercise, nutrition and emotional expression a topic of discussion you can increase your child’s internal awareness and development of healthy coping skills.
Move toward your goals
It is important for parents and their children to make sure they are on the same page with goals. As parents, with a developed frontal cortex, you are much more aware of the long term goals that are important for your child. Unfortunately, your child does not share your perspective (nor your fully developed brain) and what may seem important to you may be less so for your child. Helping your child develop and move towards more short-term goals can eliminate some common conflicts. Staying hyper focused on your own goals for your child can lower their confidence due to their inability to see the “long game”.
Nurture a positive self-view
Self-confidence is one of the most important qualities in facing adversity. You may see your child as the most amazing person in the world, but that is not necessarily an indicator of his or her own self-perception. Just as a teacher looks for mistakes on a test instead of correct answers, oftentimes parents become focused on areas of improvement instead of strengths. Strive to find a balance between the two.
Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook
Children have a very short time line in comparison to their parents. Their tendency can be to create mountains out of molehills and catastrophize events their parents may perceive as inconsequential. It is important to help your child keep events in perspective while at the same time not minimizing their experience. Oftentimes a child can benefit from merely being listened to instead of having their problem solved for them.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery
parent’s profound understanding of their child can create barriers in their child’s own self-discovery. A parent may feel as if they know the perfect sport or activity for their child, but it is important for children to have the ability to explore on their own. By becoming familiar with trial and error in his or her own life as an adolescent, your child then becomes more adept with this process as an adult.
Accept that change is part of living
The ability to become comfortable with change is one of the most important life skills that can be passed down to your child. Change is inevitable and often it is a stressor humans struggle with the most. Acquaint your child with the changes you have faced in your own life and the positives and negatives, which resulted from the change. Stay aware of minor and major changes your child is going through and open up a dialogue. Help your child develop a deeper awareness of how they are adapting. Again, stay out of judgment and merely guide them through a deeper awareness of their own process.
There are clearly a broad range of qualities that help a child develop into a resilient adult. But, a common theme which seems to tie all of these tips together is building of self-awareness and being intentional in decision making. Children all have natural tendencies both positive and challenging. By helping your child become more self-aware you afford them the opportunity to use their strengths to help them achieve goals set before them and lead a more happy healthy life.
At Camp Winnebago we look for counselors who have expertise in a skill set and are able to teach it well, but more importantly we look for individuals who are interested in being role models to boys and young men. We ask prospective counselors to articulate who their role models were, why they were drawn to them and how they think they might connect with our campers!
As children grow up, parents recognize they will face adversity. Parents recognize their children cannot be raised in a bubble, but instead hope to provide them with an environment in which they begin to develop the ability to face and overcome the inevitable obstacles they will face. This quality is referred to as resilience. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as, “the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress”. Furthermore, the APA reports resilience is a skill, which can be cultivated in children. The APA recommends “10 Tips for Building Resilience in Children and Teens” the structure of our program at Camp Winnebago follows each of the following tips.
- · Make connections
Camp focuses on relationship and community above all. There are both micro and macro communities where campers develop the ability to connect with others. Campers navigate interpersonal relationships with campers in their division (age group), their sections (where they sleep) and with adults (counselors). This layered approach to community offers campers the chance to learn to create and foster relationships with a broad range of age groups. Older peers, counselors and the administration of Camp Winnebago support campers in navigating these relationships.
- · Help your child by having him or her help others
Campers must learn to be supported and offer support. With the broad range of activities at camp, it is inevitable campers will need to offer support to another camper. The ability to support another individual is key in developing self-confidence.
- · Maintain a daily routine
From the moment campers arrive at camp there is a schedule of events each day, keeping campers busy from the moment they wake up until their bedtime. Within that time, there are highly structured times, as well as periods of time where campers experience free play, allowing them to develop imagination and initiative.
· Take a break
Within the structure of the day at camp, there is a rest hour each afternoon at lunch. During this time campers shower or write a letter to their parents. This teaches campers the importance of self-care and connecting with those outside of our immediate sphere.
- · Teach your child self-care
Camp offers your child the opportunity to navigate self-care outside the influence of their parents. A counselor sleeps in each bunk; making sure campers are showering, brushing teeth, taking showers and cleaning their bunk area. This supervision is meant to give campers the opportunity to begin to take personal responsibility for their own self-care.
- · Move toward your goals
Campers earn patches in a variety of activities (archery, canoeing, sailing, etc.). There are tiers of patches in each activity. The skills, which must be mastered to earn each patch, are concrete and clearly explained, allowing campers to set goals (each summer and longitudinally over years) and work towards these goals, with the assistance of counselors offering them expert tutelage.
- · Nurture a positive self-view
We employ 70 counselors each summer who role model a host of positive attributes to campers. Positive self-esteem is one of the qualities we look for in counselors. We role model a balance between high self-esteem and humility. Campers are coached, in their weeklong training before campers arrive, to focus on camper’s strength by offering positive feedback when campers exhibit their strengths.
- · Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook
Athletic activities are an area at camp which demands campers to learn from their mistakes without dwelling. One of the guiding ethos at Camp Winnebago is that the strength of the effort is most important. A culture has been created that rewards positivity in the face of adversity, a skill essential in overcoming adversity.
- · Look for opportunities for self-discovery
Campers have the opportunity to sample a broad range of activities. In addition to in camp activities, campers each summer are pushed beyond their comfort zone in our Trip Program. We consistently receive feedback from alumni, that their trips were incredibly profound experiences where they discovered their capabilities exceeded their expectations of themselves.
- · Accept that change is part of living
Camp, by nature, is full of adjustment to change. Campers adapt to leaving their home and develop confidence in their ability to be an independent entity outside their family unit. They shed the social structure they have established within their family and school and adjust quickly to the multi-layered community of camp. This transition is supported by counselors and administration, camper’s innate strengths and capabilities are highlighted in this process.
In our next blog we will examine how parents can continue to follow these 10 tips, which APA recognizes, build greater resilience in children and teenagers.