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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