A New Camper Party For Making New Friendships And Easing AnxietyMay 21, 2015
Preparing for your first summer away from home can be a little anxiety provoking. As excited as you may be, there’s a good chance you’re nervous, too. Each spring new campers often start asking themselves questions like “will I make friends easily?”, “will the counselors be nice?” and “how will I know if I’m going to fit in?” Well, we have a very easy way to get answers to those questions: come to one of our incredible new camper parties!
This past Sunday almost 50 new campers in the NY, NJ and CT area joined us for a morning of rock climbing, playing gaga, friendship making, and more! And because our staff are so dedicated to the growth and happiness of our campers, almost 40 of our counselors spent the morning with us as well.
We pack a lot into one of our new camper parties: we begin by playing gaga in small groups. Experience has shown us that a game like this lessens the anxiety of meeting new people, and puts everyone into a good mood by having some fun. Once everyone has started laughing and getting out their nervous energy we work on making sure that each camper meets feels connected to the community as fast as possible. Our counselors introduce themsleves, talk about why our overnight camp has been such an important, safe place for them, and then they introduce campers to everyone in his/her age group. They teach them camp chants and songs, and go over them repeatedly until everyone is able to cheer together. It’s so much easier (and less stressful) to make new friends when you know what you all have in common with each other. It also helps to feel like you have insider information that will demonstrate to others that you are a full member of our overnight camp community.
From there it’s off to rock climbing. We want our new campers to see how friendly our camp community is, and how much we support each other…so we put name tags on the front and backs of everyone’s shirts. As campers begin climbing the rocks our new friends can still see each other’s names, and together we cheer until each camper lands safely back on the ground. Hearing that unconditional support from people you just met really reinforces that K&E is going to be a special place to spend a summer (and likely many summers).
And then we play more games. We have developed many, many games that help put new campers at ease, and help them get silly as quickly as possible. There’s a lot of joke telling and giggling throughout the entire event. Our counselors also use their time at the party to answer all of the questions our campers have about life at our 7-week overnight camp in NH. We talk about bunk life, the food, our amazing sports and arts activities, about bedtime rituals, and even what types of treats are served each day at Milk & Cookie time.
As you can see from our pictures this Sunday’s new camper party was a ton of fun, and every one of our new campers returned home more excited and a whole lot less nervous about their upcoming summer adventure. They also now have many camp friends (even though they only met hours before)…and yet for many it feels like they’ve known each other a really long time.
That’s the power of camp friends, and camp friends made at Camps Kenwood and Evergreen!