Messages

We have been having a great summer at camp. It’s hard to believe our first session campers will be going home in a few days. A group of campers and I were talking yesterday about how people really seem to listen to one another at camp. They expressed their fascination with being able to listen better, communicate their thoughts and feelings, and get along with siblings, friends, and cousins better at camp than anywhere else.

We spend a lot of time and effort creating an environment where our campers can learn the lost art of face-to-face communication. At home our campers are exposed to so many messages through their cell phones, TV, the Internet, magazines, and social media. At camp, it’s just words. The messages our campers hear are through face-to-face interactions. I love walking around camp hearing friends talk to one another, without the distractions of technology.

We help set the tone with our weekly campfires and services. To learn more about our campfires and services please click here to read our previous blogs. These bi weekly events help our campers learn what is okay and what is not okay in our community, as well as the appropriate ways to communicate those messages. Teaching When you … , I feel … statements help our campers to express their feelings in a non-confrontational way.

Even with a carefully controlled message to our camp community, living in a cabin with seven other campers can be difficult. At times we need to help the campers work through issues that may be occurring in their cabin. At the end of the day, it all comes down to communication. At Birch Trail we want it to be about kind, honest, and clear communication. We hold cabin check-ins or cabin meetings where girls get the chance to talk about what is happening in their cabin and solve the issues they are facing. What makes this process so amazing is that the girls are able to see how their words make someone feel. These days it’s way too easy to send a text message or email without any concern for what that person may feel upon reading it. A facilitated conversation where campers can verbalize their feelings and experience the positive and negative results of their interactions is a valuable life skill and a crucial part of growing up. Of course these meetings result in a more harmonious cabin, but the best result is what comes from the campers.   In the end, our campers give thoughtful attention to what they say to each other and how they say it.

Once we have this momentum going we want to reinforce it just as the advertising agencies do with the messages our campers are bombarded with at home. We spend a lot of time and energy during the winter months selecting the messages we want our campers to see during their time at Birch Trail. The only advertisements our girls see at camp are the signs we post. For those of you who have not yet seen our latest sign, here it is:

beauty

 

This morning’s Sunday Services were about individuality and uniqueness. The service focused on the many different definitions of beauty. Barbara began by sharing the idea behind the You Are Beautiful message then and moved into the notion of beauty. Her belief is that beauty is about kindness and helping others. From there the campers were invited to share their definitions of beauty. It was a moving experience for us all. Some examples of our camper’s definitions of beauty were:

Giving back to others.

Standing up for a friend.

Sharing.

Being kind.

Being true to yourself.

 This week’s Sunday Service was one of those camp moments that I wish you were all here to see. Hearing our campers communicate their broad definitions of beauty, acceptance and uniqueness is something I am proud of, and I know you would be too.

While we are on the subject of kindness and appreciation I would like to express our appreciation for our first session camp doctors and their families.  The Malone Family, Canel Family, Lebensburger Family and Finer Family have all been amazing.  We are so lucky to have them with us at camp;the care and dedication they show our campers and staff is truly amazing.  Thank you for all that you do.

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