Eco Challenge: Competition and Community
Last night marked the opening ceremonies of Camp North Star’s annual Eco Challenge. Eco Challenge is a camp-wide event that takes place over the course of two days during Sessions 1 and 2. Four teams, Earth, Water, Air and Fire, compete in a series of contests from silly obstacle courses, to fire building to banner making. At the end of competition, one team is named the year’s winner.
Eco challenge is not your typical color war. Spirit earns top points throughout the competition, so even if your team doesn’t run the fastest your team can wind up taking the cup. This is intentional—Eco Challenge is not just about winning or losing, it’s about coming together as a whole camp community.
How is camp community forged through competition? Different levels of community are layered throughout the Eco Challenge. First, this is one of the only events at camp in which everyone participates. This common experience gives everyone something to look forward to, to talk about—it builds shared language and memories.
Second, each camper and counselor is assigned a team. The team transcends the usual separations of gender, cabin, age or activity preference. Kids that might not other wise connect at camp are given the opportunity to make strong bonds. Once joining a team, a camper is a member for life. Campers feel accepted on their teams—win lose or draw, kids know that their team will always cheer them on.
Third, though Eco Challenge is highly competitive, an emphasis is placed on sportsmanship. Eco Challenge provides a safe atmosphere to help kids understand that losing is part of any competition. Did you have fun? Did you try hard? Those are the questions our counselors ask to help our campers explore how they feel after a tough race, relay or basketball game. On the flip side, winning is celebrated, but never at the expense of another team’s feelings.
At the end of the day, the whole camp community shares in the celebration of the day’s successes. The positive camp energy radiates through cheers, high fives and hugs. Through friendly competition, our community grows stronger.