Parent Resources: How camp encourages your child to feel brave

Last summer I worked with a child who was incredibly homesick. Everything was new, she didn’t know anyone, and she quickly made up her mind that she couldn’t do camp. And that was her verbiage, “I just can’t do this!”.

I listened and empathized with her, and slowly I started to challenge her to try just one thing between our meetings (breakfast, lunch, free time, and dinner). Through our conversations, I was able to help her recognize all the incredible small accomplishments she was making like

  • feeling more comfortable in a new environment,
  • asking a cabinmate how their morning was,
  • smiling because she tried something new and liked it.

And… she in turn was able to start letting herself have fun and feel confident in her new space.

While this is a unique story to this child, it is also a version of every child’s story when they come to camp.

So….what is it about camp that makes kids be brave and do all of this? What is special about camp that gives kids the nerve to jump in and try something new?

What I consistently point to over and over again is our camp community and our values as a source to inspire this bravery. The culture we create of respect and encouraging one another versus competing, allows everyone this freedom to try new and or uncertain things and feel less worrisome. There is less to be afraid of when creativity is valued over perfection, when your friends and mentors are by your side, and when you are celebrated for trying (for one person that might be getting five feet off the climbing tower and another that might be making it to the top). It takes courage to just try an activity at camp!

I can go on and on about how we witness little acts of bravery everyday at camp, but I think our campers say it best. Check out this great video and hear from our community of how camp helps them feel BRAVE.