Posts Tagged ‘building character at camp’

How Camp Taught Me to be Humble

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Camp is a lot of things. It’s fun and it’s gorgeous and it’s exciting. But it’s also very big. It’s acres and acres of land, its gigantic trees and sprawling landscapes and giant lakes. It is set against giant mountains and has a unique way of quickly reminding everyone who enters about how small they are in the grand scheme of things.

Camp has a funny way of putting things into perspective for both campers and staff, and it can be a humbling experience. It’s interesting how one camper who is considered “popular” at school enters the camp experience completely equal to the quiet and reserved student who doesn’t say much at school. Status at school and at home means nothing here and puts everyone on the same playing field from day one.

Take Max for example: Being the star athlete was how he defined himself at home. He was the fastest and strongest on his team, and everyone knew it. But when he got to camp, he met some other guys who were equally as talented, some even more so, and it challenged Max to find other ways to define himself. He did a lot of soul-searching that summer, and learned about the deep and foundation character traits that defined him, and learned that being a great athlete was just a part of who he was, not all of who he was.

Life lessons like this are learned all the time at camp. Campers can learn humility in other ways as well. One of the best ways to learn to be humble is by serving others. Campers see first hand how to serve others selflessly every day as they watch counselors and staff work hard for them. Campers also act as Big Brothers and Big Sisters and learn quickly what a big responsibly it is to have people look up to you.

Camp is such a unique experience, and many campers leave with a deep appreciation of the experience they were gifted. They understand that so many kids across the country don’t have access to such an innovative, hands-on, safe, fun and diverse camp experience, and they leave camp truly humbled and grateful for what they have.

Character building and life lessons are built into the foundation of Camp Weequahic. Campers learn a lot about themselves here and develop a deeper and more genuine understanding of themselves and the world around them, all while they jump, dive, sing, run, play, act, create, dance and swim the days away.

Building Character at Camp Weequahic

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

One of the great leaders of our time once said, “The main ingredient in good leadership is good character. This is because leadership involves conduct and conduct is determined by values.” I’m sure Gen. Schwartzkopf did not have camp in mind when he said this. However, camp plays an active role in establishing enduring values children use as they grow, learn, and lead.

Camp Weequahic promotes three main values to each community member: Gratitude, Attitude, and Courage. We believe a gracious heart is a happy one. We believe that attitude is the only thing a person has complete control of in their life. And, we believe that confronting the fear one feels and doing the right thing anyway builds courage.

While we talk about these values at our weekly campfire, there is not a lot of overt GAC ‘speak’ each day. Rather, we take Oscar Wilde’s comment to heart: “Every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character.”

Those ‘every little’ actions involve the campers who play, laugh, and learn at Camp Weequahic and, just as importantly, the staff who care for, teach, and guide them.

At Weequahic, we are mindful about the families who join our community. Surrounding our campers with other children interested in being at camp for the right reasons (grateful for the experience, excited to meet new friends, and open to building a great community) is enormously important.

Even more, it is critical for us to identify and hire staff members who already leading their lives in a GAC way. Why? While our nine day orientation is very effective in preparing our staff for campers, it cannot change their nature.

Our staff members’ character is nearly formed by the time they reach us. Therefore, we spend a great deal of time determining their values and learning about their daily conduct with and away from young people through the interview process. Once we have identified staff members who fit our culture, we then train and support them in the daily adventure of building children of strong character through playful mentorship.

Researchers have identified that a large portion of our young people do not place any value on ‘Values.’ Rather, they simply do what they have to in order to get what they want. At Camp Weequahic, we are proud to take an active role in combating this problem in our youth by teaching, in very fun little and daily ways, the GAC values.