Monthly Archives: June 2011
Bullying is not something new within the sphere of education and youth. As time goes on, it seems we come up with more effective ways to combat it, however it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. Addressed in popular shows such as Glee, bullying is something that children are taught to look past, to turn a cold shoulder to and soldier on. However, not all children are this type. Not all children have a friend base to return to, like the Gleeks. As much as we’d like to think that traditional anti-bullying techniques will work for any child, that isn’t always the case.
Bullying doesn’t just come in the standard ‘jock vs. nerd’ format; anyone can be a bully. Bullying can even come from someone a child considers to be his or her ‘friend’. A new challenge that today’s youth are facing is cyber bullying. The frightening aspect of this is adults don’t always have the opportunity to step in and help. Facebook comments, instant messages, texts and emails are all ways that children can be targeted. It’s important for parents to be aware of these more modern vehicles of bullying. Luckily for us here at Camp North Star, cyber bullying is not something that is accessible. Computers and personal phones are not a part of camp, and therefore children are disconnected from the possibility of being bullied or harassed by hometown schoolmates.
Why, might you ask, are we reaching out about bullying? Because we too are educators and youth advisors, and the affects of bullying can often times reverberate from the school year and affect campers here at CNS. However, at camp, bullying is something we rarely experience. When children come here, they are comfortable being themselves. The needs to be stronger, more popular or superior all tend to disappear at camp. Counselors are trained to keep an eye for behaviors like cliquing and exclusion, and campers are encouraged to focus on the community aspect of being at camp. When something like bullying is unacceptable on every level, by every member of a community, it becomes that much more engrained in a child’s mind.
Though camp may be a safe haven from bullying, children can still face it back at school. At camp, we can teach them that there is always a safe place for them; there is always a helping hand, and always someone to listen to their fears. We hope they can trust in these truths outside of camp, but as parents, we encourage you to educate yourself about your child’s life, and what they may be facing at school. There are many online resources that can help children and parents better understand, and possibly work through bullying. Also, we at camp are always available to give advice or support on situations that happen outside the summer.
Bullying is something that most people experience; whether they witness it, inflict it, or are a victim of it, it affects lives. Has camp affected how your child responds to bullying?
Today John Allen and Dogzy, two of camp’s directors, were kind enough to whip up a version of “The Wednesday Warrior.”
This delightful little bit of reporting included:
+ A riddle
+ The weather forecast
+ The top headlines in the news (surprisingly enough, without the corresponding story, these headlines left the reader with many questions)
+ A daily dose of “How Ben Smith Continues to Impress Himself”
Despite what John Allen and Dogzy may think if they read this, this blog is not a mockery, but a celebration! At camp, the real world can easily be forgotten. News goes unread, and the weather is simply acknowledged as it happens. Yes, most people here are equipped with a smart phone of sorts, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s easy for the days to blend and the news to feel like it’s happening in another world.
Though this is a somewhat strange feeling, it’s something that we can embrace. The point of summer camp is to escape the realities and trivialities of the “real world.” At summer camp, school doesn’t matter. Your friends in another part of the world will just have to wait. Snail mail is a commonality.
So though the daily news report can be a nice reality check, it’s also great to simply embrace the chirping birds and dirt roads of summer camp. There will always be time for the real world, but time at camp should be cherished, as it only comes once a year.
Growing up in rural Maine, I attended a small high school. My graduating class of 67 students was a normal size, and the overall population of the school was under 300 students. Though this created a tight-knit community of “everyone knows everyone”, it also presented problems: little range of classes, dwindling extra-curricular activities, and hardly any perspective of a “well rounded” education. If any budgets were to be cut or any programs were to be discontinued, they were always the ones that fleshed out the standard education. The arts (whether music, fine arts or theater) and sports were always the programs to suffer.
This seems to be a common theme throughout the US in that the main emphasis is on science, math, and reading. In many schools, there is a budget to equally support the arts and sports, and that is fantastic. However, there are still many struggling districts scattered across the US where the means just do not exist to support each program equally. Fortunately, though, what’s being cut from schools is what you’ll find an abundance of at summer camps.
At camp you’ll find every sport imaginable. Team-building activities and arts programs aren’t underfunded, and each activity is equally supported and embraced. This is one of the defining differences about camp. Also, though children may only have time for either lacrosse or band while in school, at camp they are encouraged to try as many activities as they want. Where a child goes to school may be limiting to their opportunities. However, at camp, children from all different educational backgrounds are given equal chance to succeed in a multitude of programs.
Camp was not started to fill in the gaps of the education system, but that is the role it has adopted. Sending a child to summer camp isn’t just a way to fill up their summer, it’s a way to open them up to possibilities they may not otherwise have. Discovering things like video production, theatre, cricket, or cooking are every day possibilities at camp, whereas not every junior high school can or does offer such programming. What opportunities have been the most beneficial in the case of your child?
Our dear Michelle G. has been tirelessly working on her résumé and cover letter for upcoming job applications. The “Skills” portion of her résumé has been the talk of camp over the past week. Though we’ve joked with her about skills such as being “Friendly” and “Nice”, the truth is that camp really does help counselors develop a wide array of skills that they may not otherwise have.
I was inspired by another camp blog in which they also discuss the benefits of being a counselor. A chat with Michelle revealed a whole host of camp-learned skills that will give her a leg up in today’s work force.
The first thing that Michelle highlighted as a skill she’ll take away from camp is teamwork: being able to work with someone else, to set aside differences and tolerate other people for who they are. “You have to put your prejudgments aside,” she said.
“It’s all about effective communication,” and she proceeded to explain her point with stories of working with each camper on an individual basis. She talked about how in each situation she tailored her approach to fit each camper’s unique needs.
When Michelle first came to camp, she didn’t know anyone here. It was imperative that she step out of her comfort zone, engage in activities and meet new people. She said learning to go with the flow, while being confident in yourself, is key.
Whether it’s setting goals in an art class or in the cabins as a group, “we want them to get something out of the camp; we want them to grow, to conquer a fear, to master something, to grow as a person, and to become confident in themselves.” It all starts with setting and meeting attainable goals.
Michelle has gained the confidence to tackle problems out of camp, by her experiences during camp. Not every child can be approached in the same way, you won’t get along with every single counselor, activities don’t always go as planned: these are all scenarios that build strong problem solving abilities.
“Camp makes you aware of other people’s feelings, body language, and social cues.” Michelle pointed out the importance of being conscious of and familiar with different signs that campers give off. A camper won’t always approach you about a problem, and Michelle knows the importance of being able to detect when something is going on. This is a skill that can be applied to all walks of life. Being aware of things going unsaid is something that anyone will face in any job.
Having the energy to get up and go every day is something that every counselor struggles with at one point or another. Matching the energy of the kids, keeping a smile on, and being enthusiastic are all a result of the personal motivation found in each dedicated counselor. This motivation doesn’t start and stop when camp does, but is something that counselors like Michelle develop, and use in all aspects of life.
Enforcing Rules and Policy
Michelle brought up the importance in finding the right balance between being a friend and being a superior. It’s key for counselors to set a responsible boundary between the two, and maintain a level of professionalism. “You have to be able to put rules and policies into perspective so campers understand.”
Skills like these will be invaluable in any work setting, and have certainly made Michelle a more well-rounded, aware, and developed person. Have you been a counselor in the past? If so, what skills did you take away from camp?
This morning at camp we heard an abrupt clap of thunder, and realized that the storm forecasted for today was possibly closer than we thought. The internet and phones were turned off, and computers were all shut down, as lightening and storms have presented problems in the past. But almost as quickly as the thunder rolled in, it rolled back on out.
That’s Maine weather for you, and so I’ve decided to write a small guide to dealing with the unpredictability of summer weather here in Maine.
1. Always have: bug spray, sunscreen, and an umbrella. You’ll quite likely use two out of the three on a daily basis.
2. Don’t pack your jeans away: 66-degrees may seem summery, but when you walk outside to a cloudy sky and a brisk breeze, jeans somehow seem more fitting than shorts.
3. Bring a bit of everything: it never hurts to carry around a wool sweater, even in the summer. The nights are buggy and cool, and wool wards off even the deepest of summer chills.
4. Have a good book: whether it’s a blistering 90-degree day or a weekend of spontaneous downpours, you never know when you’ll want or need to be cooped up inside.
5. Don’t always cancel: rain may seem like a cancel worthy catastrophe, but you may not always be able to reschedule. And who knows, maybe you’ll show up to hike and the rain will blow on by. Besides, who says you can’t hike in the rain?
What are some of the ways you survive crazy Maine weather?