This summer, we have introduced a new special evening event for the oldest campers (those finishing 7th and 8th grade). We do not yet have a fun name for these gatherings, but this is OK because they are a surprise when they happen. Internally, we call them “disruptive moments”.I invite you to read the blog called Disruptive Moments (http://blog.campchampions.com/disruptive-moments) to see why we are so excited about these events. The short version is this – whenever we experience something completely unfamiliar, we are stirred from our comfortable and somewhat numb state of consciousness and we become incredibly focused. We also are more likely to remember what happens in these moments and retain any lessons we learn.
For young campers, these moments happen all the time at overnight camp. For a first time camper, everything is new. As campers get older, they get an opportunity to add new activities (like the zip line off the climbing wall). Our Senior Campers (those in the high school leadership program) have many challenges and experiences that are unique to that program.
But as we looked at it, the 7th and 8th graders tend to be incredibly familiar with all aspects of camp. They know the punch lines to recurring camp jokes and they know every song.
We wanted to create experiences that will take them a little out of their comfort zone and help make important lessons “stick”.
One such activity is the overnight. Each division will have one night where they sleep and eat outside. Each of our Division Leaders has chosen to make this a time of great intentionality.
But we wanted at least one more of the oldest campers.
Last night, we did our first experiment. At the end of Torchlight, members of the girls Leadership Team told girls cabins 2 and 3 to stay back.
“You have three instructions. Meet at the flagpole in exactly 30 minutes, wear closed-toed shoes and ask no questions.”
When they arrived, they were told to follow and remain perfectly silent. At different times during the walk, the leaders had different exercises. In one, they stopped and shared something that they like about themselves. At another, they shifted around to walk next to someone new.
Upon arrival, they came to a structure in the middle of the woods. The team has asked that I not be too specific so that future campers do not know exactly what will be coming.
What is important is that it was strange and mysterious. It was disruptive, and so we know the campers will remember each detail and each of the following lessons.
The leaders then spent time “processing” the experience. Basically, this is where the leader facilitates a conversation with the campers and they frame the experience. In this case, they talked about trust, choosing their own path and being true to themselves. It's a clear way to teach independence and build self-confidence in a positive way.
I was not sure whether this experience would work.
I learned very quickly that it did. One of the campers arrived at breakfast the next day and handed the following note to Craw Ma’am (one of the leaders of the exercise).
"Last night I felt
a part of something
volnerable (I think I spelled this right) [not quite, but who cares?]
So thank you for an experience that I will remember forever and for another piece that will shape my life into what its supposed to be."
I could not have dreamed of a better response. We are thrilled.
If you are a first time camper parent, I bet that this summer has been a disruptive moment for you. I also hope that you are having some fun. When the session ends, you will soon see how camp improves self-esteem and can further improve confidence in your child.
If you are a returning family, I hope you create your own disruptive moments while we are here at camp. Have an evening picnic in your backyard or drive to where you can see the stars.
We all deserve to have life disrupted every now and then.
Want more like this? See: http://blog.campchampions.com/summer-camp-and-disruptive-moments