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Birch Trail Idol

Last night’s evening program was so much fun (and not just because M-2 asked me to be a surprise guest in their dance).

At Birch Trail, fun is everywhere, but it’s not even close to the most important part of our program. Growth and practice are what makes an evening program great.  For this evening program, each cabin choses a song, choses a costume and then creates a dance routine. The campers came up with amazing dances, and there is always positive encouragement and wild applause.

What really mattered though, was what happened before the dancing. That was the preparation and practice. Common in the process of preparing for BT Idol, for all cabins, is some form of conflict. As a camp director I am a fan of conflict, and I’ll tell you why.

Whether it’s a group of eight, or a group of forty-eight, there are always different ideas about dance moves, costumes and songs. Everyone voices their opinions, and in the process of deciding what they as a group will do, disagreements ensue. (This planning always takes place with the counselors present). These disagreements lead to the cabin sitting down with their counselors and working out a blueprint for how they solve conflicts in the future. In this way, BT Idol is really about conflict resolution- just cleverly disguised as a dance competition.

The Maples had the typical age-appropriate arguments about songs; their counselors stepped in and helped them work through their conflicts. The Lindens had age-appropriate arguments about dance moves and costumes and their counselors mediated their conflicts, albeit a little less so than when the girls were Maples.

The Tamaracks have been through this a few times and needed no help from their counselors. They picked songs, costumes, and dance moves with no fights and no arguments. They were capable of making a dance for large groups of girls all by themselves with small group and whole group roles. Each girl had a role and felt represented. On top of that, their dances were amazing!

Although some campers may think these conflicts will never get sorted out, their cabin performances are inevitably be met with wild cheers and applause. As cabin groups watch other groups perform, they discover that every cabin experienced the same process of working through conflict to the point or resolution. As the girls travel through this process of brainstorming with their cabins and counselors, eventually choosing one idea, and making that idea come alive on stage, they learn both the fun of meeting a challenge and the bonding that happens when a group becomes a team working toward the same goal. If you had a chance to look at the photos from last night you will see that there were a wide assortment of dances, outfits, and acceptable forms of success.

The girls practice this dance over many days.  They are willing to practice so hard because it’s fun.  And the repetition is incredibly important because to learn a new skill (conflict resolution) you need to practice, practice, practice. It’s this practice in conflict resolution that allows them to work together so well as a team. It was just about a dance this time, but in real life, there are real problems. Our goal is to give your girls life skills to last a lifetime. Conflict resolution and working as part of a team are two great life skills.

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