Every year, it seems like the first day of camp will never come — and every year, it feels like a dream to see the buses roll onto Main Campus and hear the sound of hundreds of girls coming “home” for the summer. But today the dream was reality, and we are so excited to welcome all our campers, new and returning, for the best summer yet!
Here at camp, we start right into a regular routine in order to help the girls get settled, so first thing tomorrow morning we’ll jump into activities and instruction. Camp is about fun and friendship, and it’s also about learning new things, from sports to leadership to life skills. One of our favorite camp experts, Bob Ditter, talks about the three basic psychological needs all people have:
- Relationships – a connection to someone else
- Mastery/competence – feeling good about what we do
- Sense of autonomy – being who we really are
What we love about camp is that it’s a place where girls can fulfill all three of those needs and learn new things at the same time… all while they just think they’re having fun! In fact, sometimes the summer goes by so quickly that girls don’t really have time to reflect on what they’ve learned and how much they’ve grown.
One way you might help your daughter get the most out of camp is to help her set some goals for the summer. By this time tomorrow, she’ll be well into her first full day of activities, and she will already be thinking about all the different things she’ll get to try this summer. Now that she’s at camp and the summer feels real, what will she want to try and do? What will she learn along the way? And when she looks back on the summer, will she be able to appreciate everything she’s accomplished? By going through the process of setting goals, working toward them, and evaluating progress, your daughter will be able to look back at the end of the summer and not only remember all the good times she had but appreciate all the ways in which she grew and learned.
When you write to your daughter this week, consider encouraging her to think about her goals for the summer. These goals might be skills-focused (learn an overhand serve; move up a level in riding; land a back tuck), meeting her need for a sense of mastery. They might be relationship-focused (make friends with someone in every age group; go to three intercamps and introduce new friends at each one; room with someone new on an overnight trip and learn three new things you like about her), helping her forge connections to others. Or they might be self-focused (count to 10 before losing your temper; try five new foods; pick a characteristic you like, such as friendliness or patience, and try to do something every day that embodies that word), helping her develop a sense of autonomy.
Check in with your camper about her goals throughout the summer to see how she’s progressing. You could also suggest she share them with her counselor or group leader and ask for their support — our staff members love to help campers set and achieve goals, whether athletic, creative or personal! Through praise, encouragement, instruction and problem-solving, counselors are always there to help their campers strive for success.
Tonight, your camper spends the first night of the summer sleeping under a starry Pennsylvania sky. Tomorrow, she’ll jump headfirst into a summer of fun, friendship and learning. We can’t wait to see what the summer brings… and to help your daughter achieve her goals, whatever they may be!