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.