Bunk One Weekend and Traditions

We recently got back from a fantastic weekend at camp.

You might be wondering: Camp? In March?

Absolutely! One weekend every March, we mark an incredibly important event at camp: The Bunk One March Meeting. Jane, Dan, Britton, Drew, Pilar and Ty gather at camp for a special weekend with the ninth grade girls who will be our oldest campers — our Bunk One campers. The March Meeting is the very first official event of their Bunk One summer, and the girls have looked forward to it for years — some of them since they were tiny Manor House campers, or even before they started at camp, if they came to see older sisters and cousins on Visiting Day!

The March Meeting is an important milestone for our “Super Seniors.” Not only do the girls take care of some major business like picking special Bunk One uniform and selecting the top-secret themes for their Color War teams, but we take that time to help them start thinking about what it means to be the leaders at camp.

Bunk One is a special experience not just because it’s the final summer as a camper, but because our Bunk One campers serve as peer leaders for the rest of camp. They captain the teams in our annual Color War, lead cheers in the dining hall and the nightly singing of the Alma Mater, and help out with younger girls’ cabins during weekly leadership evenings and during special events. During the March Meeting, we talk to the girls about their leadership role in camp and what will be expected of them as leaders, but the truth is that they’ve been preparing to take the leadership mantle for years.

While Bunk One campers are the most visible leaders among our campers, those leadership skills don’t just magically materialize when campers finish the ninth grade. They’ve been learning leadership skills throughout their summers at camp, both by seeing them modeled by counselors and older campers and by learning how to be good leaders on the playing field and in program areas. We teach campers that being a leader means being kind to one another, and it means knowing how to “do the right thing” even when it doesn’t seem like the easy thing.

By the time they get to Bunk One, campers have been developing leadership skills for many summers, and one of the reasons campers look forward to their Bunk One summer — in fact, maybe the biggest reason — is that Bunk One plays an important leadership role in many of the girls’ favorite camp traditions. From secrecy-shrouded Chocolate Banana Night and the excitement of the weeklong Color War that caps off the summer to routine events like mealtime cheers and Friday night talent shows, Bunk One campers take the lead, getting camp spirit high and helping younger girls learn how camp traditions work. By watching them and following their example, younger girls learn that being a leader is something that’s fun and something to look forward to — and an important part of growing up at camp.

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National Bullying Prevention Week

Bullying occurs when someone gets hurt or scared by another person.  Bullying can be calling someone hurtful names, spreading rumors, being mean, physically hurting someone, excluding others, sending mean texts or photos electronically, or being threatened.  Bullying and cyber-bullying are at an all time high and affects millions of students across the country.  Bullying has no boundaries, but no one deserves, nor should tolerate being bullied.  We must all stand together and speak out against bullying.

Today ends National Bullying Prevention Week.  Across our country everyone has been coming together to heighten awareness, in order to help others.  Dateline aired a segment called “My Kid Would Never Bully” on March 6th (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032600/).   President Obama hosted the first White House conference on bullying and reflected on his own personal experience with bullying.  Celebrities are joining forces to speak out – Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Jay Z, just to name a few.

LBMC works diligently not only during the summer, but throughout the year to enforce our no bullying policy.  Here are just a few of the ways in which we work to keep Bryn Mawr a safe haven for all of our campers and staff:

  • Staff Training: This is a crucial piece of successful bullying prevention.  Not only do we address bullying during several sessions at Orientation, but there is on- going training and discussion throughout the summer.  We give staff the tools they need to recognize bullying behaviors and train them to set clear expectations with their campers. Conflict Resolution is taught in order to be pro-active.  We help girls to be able to communicate with one another in a safe, comfortable, and non-judgmental environment.   Most importantly, our directors and leadership staff model appropriate behavior by being present on cabin row, at programs, and in the dining room everyday.
  • Girls Circle: This is a nationally recognized model for support groups for girls.  It provides a forum for girls to express themselves and their ideas in a safe environment.  Several members of our leadership team are certified trainers, and this program is offered to girls ages 8-14.  (http://www.girlscircle.com/)
  • Conferences: Directors attend conferences to keep up on the latest research and theories on girl’s development, relationships, and aggression.  (Girl Meets World Training with Rachel Simmons, Ophelia Project conferences, American Camping Association conferences, etc.)
  • Hands on Directors: We are hands on in cabins working with individual campers and are developing relationships so that girls feel comfortable to speak up and to ask for help if they need it.  Daily meetings are held with Division Heads and Group Leaders to check on each camper and how they are doing at camp.
  • Random Acts of Kindness: Every Friday night, girls come up on stage to acknowledge someone who has done something nice for them.
  • Outside Resources: Bob Ditter is a senior level clinical social worker who has worked with over 400 camps.  Bob is a year round consultant for Bryn Mawr and works with our leadership team year round.  He is also an integral part of staff orientation as well as staff training during the summer. (www.bobditter.com)

We go to great lengths to protect our campers while at camp.  The following links might be helpful in recognizing the signs of bullying and in learning about what parents can do to help:

  • Joel Haber is a Clinical Psychologist.  For 20 years he has worked on the prevention of bullying behaviors in children and adults. For more information please visit http://www.respectu.com/.
  • The government has recently launched a website that can be a useful tool for kids, teens, young adults, parents, educators and the community.  http://www.stopbullying.gov/.
  • The mission of The Ophelia Project is to serve “youth and adults who are affected by relational and other non-physical forms of aggression by providing them with a unique combination of tools, strategies and solutions.” Please visit them at http://www.opheliaproject.org.

Seven-Week All Girls Camping

A while back, we posted about “summer sisters” and the friendships that are formed at camp. Friendship is the number one reason campers love Bryn Mawr and come back summer after summer, but it’s only part of the picture. Seven-week camping — particularly in a girls-only atmosphere — offers a huge range of opportunities, advantages, and experiences campers just couldn’t have in any other setting.

We always like to say that “a day at camp is like a week in the real world.” That’s because we pack more into a single day than could ever fit into one 24-hour period back home. In one single day, a camper can literally go from the pool to the climbing wall to the riding ring to a tennis lesson to a soccer game to a play rehearsal, all before dinner, and then fit in a game of tennis at campus time before performing in an all-camp talent show. Multiply that by seven days a week, and then by seven weeks, and you can start to see just how much instruction and activity we pack into every summer at camp.

A seven-week session gives campers the opportunity to make incredible strides in skill development. Camp alone can’t make your child a great dancer, soccer player, rider, actor, artist or gymnast, but we do provide high-level instruction on a daily basis to help her learn, grow and build lifelong skills in all the activities she enjoys. Younger campers experience a taste of everything camp has to offer, and as girls get older they can choose to spend more time focusing on and improving in the activities they enjoy the most.

Seven-week sessions also let campers see long-term projects through from beginning to end. In our glass fusing program, for example, campers start out at the beginning of the summer with a blank piece of paper and a pencil; over the course of seven weeks, those projects go all the way from an idea and a sketch to a fully-realized, completed work of art. And at the same time, they’re also improving their jump shots, perfecting their serves, and taking first steps toward learning completely new activities, like weight training, field hockey or stagecraft.

We think there’s something particularly special about single-sex camps that helps amplify all the benefits of full-season camping. One of the best things about Bryn Mawr is that, in the all-girls environment, campers feel completely comfortable and free to try new things. The camp uniform policy means campers aren’t wrapped up in appearances, and with no boys around, the focus is really on camp activities. When girls aren’t worried about impressing anyone else, they’re much less reluctant to try something new, and consequently they’re far more willing to take on new experiences. That willingness to try new things translates quickly to building new skills, learning new activities — and taking advantage of all the opportunities they’re offered, all summer long.

Most of all (and we just can’t say this enough), a seven-week, all-girls environment is an incubator for lifelong friendships. Campers are encouraged to compete in healthy ways — not over clothes or boys, but on the playing field, with good sportsmanship (or should we say sportswomanship?) — and, after the game is over, they walk back to their cabins with their arms around each other, confident in themselves and in friendships that have formed over many games, many meals, many shared achievements, and many, many days at camp. Our campers talk about “living ten months for two” — spending the year waiting to get back to their summer home at Bryn Mawr, where they can grow and try new things, surrounded by staff and fellow campers they know want them to succeed and feel good about themselves.