Resilience, Adaptability, Healthy Risk Taking & CreativityJuly 2, 2013
I know that I’m a very positive person. It goes with being a camp director. That said, today was a spectacular day at Camp, particularly in terms of our goals of teaching our campers non-cognitive skills like resilience, adaptability, collaboration, healthy risk taking and creativity. Where to begin…
The sun was shining when we woke up, which put us all in a great mood. After a delicious breakfast of homemade French toast and fresh fruit we moved out to activities. Our photography counselor set up a studio in one of our basements, and blocked out all of windows so that no natural light could come in. Then she taught the kids how to extend the exposure of an image, and then use light to “draw” on an image. Here is one of the results. As you can imagine, the kids loved this very creative project!
Our Film Making counselor spent the day teaching small groups how to read an actual movie script, and then write their own. I watched as our young auteurs held intense discussions on potential stories, plot lines, and narratives. So many exciting new projects have begun, and it’s incredible to see how many of them involve new and veteran campers working together. I have a feeling that the Film Festival in August is going to be very impressive.
In the afternoon Deena and Adventure Dave, our Nature Counselor, took a group of Inter girls to a local farm to pick fresh strawberries. After a giggling good time (and sampling about half of what they picked) they noticed a nearby creek full of frogs. So, being adventuresome Evergreen girls, they all leapt in with their clothes on and started splashing around. After that — and no one is quite sure who came up with this idea – the girls decided to try kissing the frogs to see if any of them would turn into a prince. Healthy risk taking and creativity were clearly on display here!
While some of our girls were out making friends with the frogs our Evergreen 13-and-Unders were at another camp winning a Softball tournament. They came back to campus to a chorus of cheers and hugs. We were so proud of our girls for working as a team and seeing this challenge through all the way to the very end. Great resilience and collaboration, girls!
In Kenwood our junior campers spent their Rest Period working on crafting their bunk Social Contracts. This was a group-oriented project where each bunk was asked to define what it means to be a member of the K&E community. With our bunk counselors facilitating, our campers voiced their own answers and ideas, and after achieving consensus wrote them onto large pieces of poster board that are now hanging in their bunks. At the end of the discussion, to signify everyone’s commitment to trying to live the values of our community, each member of the bunk (including the counselors) signed the document. One group of Kenwood Freshmen were very creative and made colorful finger prints, instead of actual signatures. Tomorrow our Evergreen campers will take part in this same, exciting exercise. We are so proud of how well our campers are able to collaborate on this important discussion of our shared values!
Some of our efforts today were successful, even though we didn’t take home a trophy. Our Kenwood 12’s traveled to another camp for a baseball tournament. Scott was there to cheer on our boys, and throughout the game he was sending text message reports back to the rest of us at Camp. By the 5th inning Kenwood was up 4-2, after a terrific triple by one of our batters. Sadly, the other guys came back in the 6th to make it 6-4, and in the end we lost. By all accounts the Kenwood team played their best, and we celebrated their efforts when they returned home this evening. They walked into Camp with their heads held high, proud of how hard they had played. Tonight we celebrated their determination and resilience!
In Evergreen the evening activity was run by Mia Walsh. Gathering in the theater, each bunk took part in a K&E version of the game show “Minute to Win It”. Teams were given all sorts of tasks to complete in under a minute. Some initially appeared easy while others seemed impossible. Stack three granny smith apples on top of each other without them falling. Bounce a ping pong ball into a cup perched on top of someone else’s head. Balance six dice on a Popsicle stick held in your mouth. With each task the campers had to test out theories and develop strategies, experiment with new ideas, and become comfortable with taking healthy (and often silly) risks. As you can imagine, the theater was filled with laughter, team spirit and cheering all night long, while our kids worked on creative problem solving and collaboration!
Tonight was supposed to be Kenwood’s Opening Campfire. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon, Head Counselor David Walsh and the Unit Leaders lit their ceremonial torches and lined up their campers for the processional. Just as they reached the camp fire area the wind shifted and a rain storm appeared. Without missing a beat our Unit Leaders lead their kids and staff to our enormous gym, where we held an indoor campfire. Our boys sat in a tight group, circling around center court. I turned off all but one of the lights. First I spoke about the importance of learning to adapt to sudden changes in life, like a rainstorm during a campfire. Then Scott talked about the power of our community, of our shared brotherhood, and of how people in the Kenwood & Evergreen family learn how to make the best of any situation. Bob stood up and talked about how much he loved sports, but also how he loved that when K&E campers play sports they always take care of and support the other players (even when they are on the opposing team). Scott and I both played guitar and sang, and one of our new counselors sang a gorgeous, powerful song that he wrote about finding a place of comfort in new situations. Lastly, we introduced all of our youngest campers to their Kenwood Big Brothers. Tomorrow, just after lunch, our 15-year old Big Brothers will board a bus with their Little Brothers and head out for a day of bonding, bowling and ice cream.
Now it is dark, and all of our campers are asleep in their beds. This is only the fourth day of our summer, and already I can see how quickly and deeply connected our boys, girls, and counselors are to one another. I love how strong our community is, and how readily it welcomes in its newest members.
Today was a spectacular day of highlighting some of our most important outcomes: resilience, adaptability, collaboration, healthy risk taking and creativity. It was also tremendous fun, start to finish.