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Life Changing Moment at Summer Camp

It’s almost here. The BEST time of the year. Summer is about PLAY. Any kind and every kind you can imagine. Sports, drama, dance, activities, paint, water and just watching our kids in the midst of  non-stop happiness and fun.

These days us parents are battling technology –getting our kids off the iPod, computer or Xbox and each day that battle grows more difficult with these games getting ‘cooler’ by the millisecond. Camp is the best way to encourage our kids to use their imagination and  create healthy habits in life.

It’s knowing that while we’re at work that our kids are developing their minds, building new friendships and getting their physical activity. It’s through camp that our kids learn outside the classroom setting of  ‘put your hand up and sit down’. It’s life. They  discover more about themselves each day surprising themselves as they  find new limits to what they can do. It’s fantastic watching them.  Whether we choose a professional gymnastics camp or improv camp – it’s all  contributing to their memories which will last a lifetime.

I want to share one of the best memories of camp that actually confirmed to me that kids actually GET IT more than we realize and they have something to teach us all.

At CampZone we teach our kids about being flexible in life. Our curriculum is about building the future visionary leaders by allowing them to take part in sports, dance, drama and art. Emotional Intelligence is also part of our day with the campers. Each day, we guide our campers to set goals and work to help them reach their success.  It’s thrilling watching our young campers self-confidence grow in different areas including: patience, perseverance and friendship. Last year one of our subjects was ‘courage’. We talked to the campers about courage and told them the different avenues where they could discover their courage. We mentioned that courage could be trying a new sport, taking on the lead in a play and even discovering new food. As each camper went around the circle they all declared their goal around courage for the week.    One of our campers, an 8-year-old girl, I noticed was particularly shy. She was sweet, participated in all the activities, but wasn’t’ one of those campers who was always running to be first in line.  Her name was Salma (not her real name).

As Salma’s turn came she said: ‘my goal is to get to know every camper here.’ Wow, I thought. That was an ambitious goal for this little girl. I was proud of her courage already as we had about 35 campers at the time.

After 3 days, we checked in on each camper to see how they were doing with their goals of courage. We went around and campers were excited to share their achievements in serving over the net in volleyball, memorizing their lines for our theatre production and taking their time to create their favourite oil pastel art piece. When it came to Salma I asked: “Salma, how are you doing getting to know everyone in the camp?” She looked pleased and said: ‘good, I’m almost done.’ A rambunctious little boy immediately shouted out: ‘No! You didn’t get to know me yet!” She smiled, looked at him and said: ‘Yes I have.” ‘NO! he said, you haven’t asked me anything!” Everyone went quiet.  “But that’s not how I do it.” All eyes and hears were now on Salma. So I had to ask: ‘How do you do it Salma? How did you get to know Conner?” You could feel the anticipation in the room from the campers and counsellors, just waiting to hear the answer! What was the answer? Was she a mind reader? Did she perhaps follow the boy home? How can you possibly get to know someone without ASKING THEM QUESTIONS? I was so curious. Salma smiled peacefully, looked at Conner with such confidence and said: ‘When you speak, I LISTEN to what you have to say.’

I carry this story with me always – a powerful  life lesson from a beautiful 8-year-old camper who taught us through her actions that you don’t always need to speak to know someone. Listening, REALLY listening, is just as powerful. Words of wisdom from a child expressing tolerance, courage, acceptance and imagination all in one.  Aren’t kids just remarkable? I can’t wait to experience what lies ahead this summer with our campers, and I’ll be sure to share it here.


Written by Dana Ben Halim
Heart Learning Centre & CampZone Founder/Director
B.A. Economics; B.Ed (Hons.)


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My Child Won’t Let Me Teach Them!

Father and son arguing

Today I had an interesting conversation with a dad as I watched my daughter’s volleyball game. It’s a conversation I have with so many moms and dads: that when it comes to us parents teaching our own kids (especially academics), they don’t seem to want to take the information from us. Hire someone to teach them the exact same task and they will be all ears and ready to learn!

Another parent once told me that even though his profession (and business) is teaching kids with special needs how to ski,  when it came to teaching his own kids how to ski, they didn’t want to learn from him. He had to hire a ski instructor to do it!

So why the resistance from our kids?

From many years of teaching experience  and working with families, here are a few of my thoughts on the subject:

1. Parents are Life Coaches.  If you think about it, as parents, our days are really made up mainly of  life- coaching our kids. Whether  it’s about healthy eating or the proper tooth-brushing technique, our kids are continuously listening to our advice, guidance and counseling all day/ everyday. This need for direction never goes away, no matter how old they are and no matter how much resistance they put up. This parental guidance gives our kids reassurance,  a sense of security and makes  them feel  loved and cared for. It doesn’t take away from the fact that our kids also see us more as their ‘life coaches’ rather than ‘academic’ or ‘professional sports’ instructors.

2. Kids are Protective Of Their Learning. Although they know you have been through school, they still may feel they want their teacher/coach to teach them how to do math, soccer or drawing. If you attempt to teach them ‘your way’ you may hear : ‘that’s not how Ms. Talent showed us!’ They get worried that you’re going to confuse them because your way is the ‘old way’ and you haven’t been in the class with them to know what is going on.

3. Sense of Achievement. Just as we adults love to feel that sense of success and achievement, so do our kids! They want to feel that they didn’t need anyone (meaning YOU MOM & DAD) to figure it out on their own.

4. Judgment and Opinion . This may be true especially if you have a perfectionist child or an  over-achiever.  Such children may feel that if you are explaining something to them, that they are ‘not good enough’ in your eyes. You will hear words like ” I know that already!”  or perhaps as soon as you start to explain a concept: frustration tears appear or even a temper tantrum erupts.  Perfectionist kids are embarrassed to let you ‘down’ because they attach how much you love them, to their high performance.

So what do we do now?

Parenting is a continuous learning curve, because we are ALL unique. You can only do your best, but know that by you reading this far, you are a wonderful parent and your not alone!

Here are a few ideas that may let you in as your kid’s TEACHER:

1. ASK THEM. Before you teach your child ask them a simple question: Could you choose me as your teacher/coach  today?  I would love to help you. I want to share where I think you’re doing great and how I think you can improve on a few things. Is that okay? (if it’s a no, say: Okay, walk away and keep reading.)

2. TELL THEM a life story about how you struggled in math/soccer/drawing/French when you were a kid. Kids LOVE life stories and your connection will be more human once they figure out that you’re actually  NOT a Super Hero! Tell them a story about how your mom/dad/grandparent once helped you get ahead. Give them that reassurance that they are still a winner in your eyes and always will be, even when they ask for help.

3. It’s One and the Same. This part may be a bit time-consuming however, we do need to invest some time for our kids to trust our teaching methods for them to slowly accept us in their ‘teacher’ category. If  you find your child resisting ‘your way’ of solving a math problem, reassure them that you’re not taking away their learning in school but showing them a new route. Encourage them by giving the following example of getting to school each morning: “Hey Jack, how do we get to school every day? Is there only one route to school or many? (wait for the answer). Your right, there are many roads that lead to school, and all the roads will get you to the same destination. Some  roads may be a shorter route, while  others more scenic and pretty. It all depends on what your comfortable with. The more roads you know of, the more choices you have to reach your destination. That’s what I would like to show you here with long-division, that there is more than one way to find the answer.” Then see if they will accept you showing them a ‘new route’ to the math problem.

4. No Matter What. Some children have very high expectations of themselves and will associate ‘not knowing’ with being ‘dumb’ so they will resist asking for help or they will tell you “I know it already!’. The best method for this is to keep repeating what Henry Ford said:  ‘mistakes are opportunities to try again.’ Help your child understand that just as we wouldn’t know what happiness is without sadness, we can’t know what success is without having bumps along the way and that you will always love them; no matter what.







Written by Dana Ben Halim
CampZone Founder/Director
B.A. Economics; B.Ed (Hons.)

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