“I’m a dude,” he said. Lessons from a Transgender Summer Camper. 0

“I’m a dude,” he said. Lessons from a Transgender Summer Camper.

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in featured, Summer Camp Culture Ideas

What I learned about kids, camp, and myself from a camper who “came out” as transgender. All names changed to ensure privacy. This summer we had the pleasure of working with a young man who has spent his whole life being called a girl. You can’t blame people, I suppose. After all, he was born with female anatomy. But that inner voice inside his head? It had been telling him something else. His birth certificate says, “Christine,” but he prefers Chris. He preferred Chris last summer, too, but never told us why. You see, until this summer, only a few people knew that Chris identifies as a male. When he came to camp this summer, he told his counselor on the first day that he was a male, but asked that counselor not to share. On the second day of camp, the counselors in Chris’ lodge had all the campers seated, and were asking the campers if there was anything they thought the group should know about them to help everyone have the best time possible. You know – pet peeves, stuff that grosses them out, or to warn other people that they snore. That’s when Chris piped up. “I’m a dude,” he began, “And I don’t care if...

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Helping Kids Realize They’re Good 0

Helping Kids Realize They’re Good

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in featured, Summer Camp Culture Ideas

The 5 Silver Bullets to Ending Bullying Part 3: Growth Mindset Acknowledgement When we talk about bullying, we so frequently get bogged down in dealing with it once it’s already happened. And even a lot of the preventative measures that are suggested seem to be “band-aid” measures. Let me explain what I mean. I recently spoke with Dr. Randall Grayson (the director of the magical Camp Augusta) regarding different counseling techniques, and he emailed me the following: “There is nothing wrong with one’s self-expression of beliefs, as long as it is not offered OR heard with the idea that following such a belief is to be done BECAUSE of who I am, or someone else is, or some power structure. A change in behavior due to respect and rapport is quite different than one due to desiring/contingent relationship or favor, or blind obedience.” In other words: We don’t want kids to behave because they’re worried about what we think of them. A powerful statement, and contrary to a lot of what I’ve read (and taught!). But as I worked the idea over in my mind, I realized it was very much in line with a lot of what I already believed. A person’s behaviors are only modified in the...

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How do summer camps avoid becoming stagnant? 0

How do summer camps avoid becoming stagnant?

Posted by on May 18, 2014 in featured, Summer Camp Culture Ideas

The real keys to a dynamic summer camp culture If you’ve been a part of any camp for long enough, you’ve inevitably seen someone bristle at the idea of changing something about that camp. Sometimes it’s a big thing (should we do small group camping, or large group camping?). Sometimes, it’s a smaller thing (should we hold swim checks on Sunday, or Monday?). Either way, change at camp is hard. We love our camps, and we don’t want to lose who we are, and what has made our camp something special. But how do we keep being “us” while not growing stagnant? The answer may just be found in developmental psychology. Changing our mindsets In 2006, Carol Dweck wrote a book called Mindset, which has fueled no shortage of discussions at camps and other institutions across the country. If you haven’t read the book, a great summary can be found here. Essentially, she puts forth that there are two ways of conceiving of ourselves – via the lens of having a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset.” Fixed mindset folks tend to view human beings as static. In other words, they believe that people are born with a certain amount of intelligence, or creativity, or work ethic, and that...

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