At Widjiitiwin, campers and staff often get scrapes, bumps and bruises. Sometimes they get sick for a day or two. Sometimes they fall and hit their head, arm or butt.
Camp is far and away the safest place for these things to happen to children. Because children are away from home, they adapt and learn the skills needed to deal with relatively minor adversities of life. Of course, they do this with the warm and thoughtful assistance of caring staff.
When children at camp face a bit of diversity, the staff at camp – cabin leaders, the chiefs, program staff, directors, even kitchen and service staff – are all here to pick them up, help with their adaptation skills and move on.
What better place to learn to handle the trials and tribulations of daily life is there than camp? We can’t think of any.
Camp has this incredible way of impacting so many people in so many different ways. When campers think they are spending the summer simply having fun, they often have no idea the character, social skills and self-confidence they are building at the same time. Camp helps foster empathy toward others. It can make them responsible, kind and brave. It also makes them resilient.
Campers are pushed (gently) out of their comfort zones every day when they are at camp. They are encouraged to try new things. Sometimes they make mistakes, but campers are taught that the only time you fail is when you stop trying. Because of this attitude, campers learn to pick themselves up and brush themselves off. They learn to face adversity — a skill they carry with them for the rest of their lives. At SALT we call it “failing with dignity“.
Cabin leaders teach campers that being tough doesn’t mean you’re void of emotions. You can be brave and scared at the same time. It’s okay to cry, feel frustrated, even walk away if you need a break (as long as the cabin leader knows where they are). It’s okay to ask for help. Campers face different kinds of challenges very day, all summer, from attempting the ropes course, swimming for the first time, conquering stage fright or just introducing themselves to new people. But every time they face a fear, even if they struggle, they become a little more resilient each time. They learn to embrace stepping out of their comfort zone.
Self-confidence is not something that comes naturally to all campers, but it is something they develop after a summer at camp. They naturally begin to see themselves as capable, smart, brave, athletic, kind, interesting and strong. It sets a solid foundation for the people they are becoming.
Camp helps mold campers into confident and resilient individuals, all disguised as the best summer they’ve ever had.
Borrowed in part from Camp Laurel