Every summer we arrive at Bryn Mawr with our own “backpack” made up of the experiences we have had over the past year. Some of those experiences have been happy and others may be sad, yet they have all shaped us in some way. As we told our leadership and general staff last summer, regardless of the number of years each one of us has been at Bryn Mawr, at the beginning of camp, everybody is new.
While we all live in similar types of communities, we all have different perspectives based on our own family dynamics, school environments and groups of friends. These factors have a direct impact on how each one of us behaves and responds to others.
Try this activity: Think of a childhood memory in which you misbehaved in some way. What was the response from an adult? How did it make you feel? And what was the reason that you engaged in that behavior? Then reflect on how this incident may have influenced how you now manage behavior in your daily life.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend an all-day seminar at Columbia School of Social Work: Understanding and Managing Behaviors in Children and Adolescents. Throughout the day, we were led through discussions and exercises that focused on why kids act out, how we should respond and ways in which we can support them. Whether through our use of language, physical cues or positive reinforcement, we strive to continuously model appropriate behavior for our girls.
At Bryn Mawr, we spend two weeks before our campers arrive training our leadership and general staff. Of course, we can’t anticipate every scenario that we will experience during the summer (these girls can really keep us on our toes!) yet through workshops and conferences in the winter months, we can bring fresh ideas and new strategies to ease the transition to camp life and the challenges of a summer away from home. I am grateful to work with Jane and Dan who believe that professional development is critical to our success. Through my training, I have become less reactive, more mindful and acutely aware of how actions can have an impact.
In light of Thanksgiving, here are some inspirational words from our lecturer, Dr. Rick Greenberg: the next time you talk with your daughter, actively listen. In fact, try to listen so closely that you are not even thinking about what you will say in response. You will be grateful that you gave her that time…those are the moments that she will remember!
Enjoy the Holidays!