I just read a great article by Jeff Yalden. At camp, we often talk about campers figuring out who they are without the social pressures of trying to fit into a certain group by changing who they are. We encourage campers to explore new activities, learn to accept others for who they are, get to know other campers who may seem quirky, and learning to communicate with other campers and staff in a positive way. Overnight camp can be a wonderful experience for those trying to find their place in the world. We even suggest that campers come to camp on their own (without friends) so that they can make their own place at camp. We love to hear from parents who tell us that their children loved the activities and learned a lot, but, more importantly, came home more confident in themselves, independent and willing to try new things. Here are some words from Jeff that resonate and that may help all camp counselors and directors work with their campers, especially teens.
One of the biggest things I seen teens worrying about is being accepted and liked by their peers. You hear so much from teachers and parents about not getting into risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, and violence. But this often misses the point. Because the things that get kids in trouble more than anything is being totally focused on what other people are thinking, saying and feeling about them. The problem is this: You can get so caught up in wanting to be liked, wanting to be accepted, to have a cool reputation, whatever, that you start trying to shape yourself so that you'll measure up in other people's eyes. And when you do that, you lose yourself. You lose sight of your character. You forget who you really are.
Jeff goes on to recommend to teens that should try to create the person they want to be and surround themselves with people who have a positive influence on them. These are great thoughts that we as educators, camp counselors and camp directors should all be sharing with our campers. You can find more about Jeff at his web site.
Owner & director of Maine Arts Camp
Owner of Camp Finders & MySummers