Grateful Campers are Happy Campers

“Each day comes bearing it’s own gifts.  Untie the ribbons.”
-Ruth Ann Schaback

grat•i•tude:  a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or
benefits received; thankfulness

            Our theme for summer, 2012, is gratitude.  All campers and staff will practice being thankful for both big and little things at camp and in our lives.   Why are we focusing on gratitude?  Because, in addition to our goals of helping campers have fun and make friends at camp, we also have the goal of helping campers grow in some way while they’re with us.  Strengthening gratitude muscles is a great way to grow campers’ happiness and is a skill we feel will benefit them far beyond camp.

We’ve learned through Dr. Christine Carter’s research on gratitude that “people who consciously practice gratitude are happier, more satisfied with their lives, and have fewer health complaints.” According to Dr. Carter, who is the author of Raising Happiness as well as a camp parent, “people who practice gratitude are also more enthusiastic, interested, determined, are more likely to be kind and helpful to others, and sleep better.”  Wow!  With a list like that, how could we not focus on teaching campers some gratitude skills?

Carter, who works at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center,  kicked off our summer of gratitude by coming to camp and training our counselors about the benefits of practicing and teaching kids gratitude.  She led our counselors in a brainstorming session of daily gratitude practices they can put into place this summer in their cabin groups and activities.   She also spoke about creating a culture of kindness and helping campers learn about the many different forms kindness takes.

Dr. Christine Carter, Author of Raising Happiness

“Difficulty and scarcity inspire gratitude,” says Dr. Carter.   Those are not things that most GAC campers have experienced.   But camp does offer a unique opportunity for us all to step away from our “stuff” and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for.   At camp, without being surrounded by expensive electronics and feeling pressured to have the latest clothing styles, campers have time to think about and discuss deeper topics of greater value and importance, like the people in our lives we love and appreciate.

We’re thrilled with the many activities our counselors came up with to teach and lead campers in gratitude practices this the summer, and we can’t wait to hear if they “stick” with campers after they head home.  I’ll be posting our “gratitude practices” here later this summer.    If you have any gratitude ideas, quotes, or resources, please pass them along by sending me an email or commenting here.

Have a GRATE(ful) Summer!


Raising Happiness: Christine Carter’s Blog/Book/Parenting Classes

Teaching Kids Gratitude Instead of Entitlement: Interview with Christine Carter

Teaching Children to Be Grateful (

Teaching Kids Gratitude (Family Circle)


I'm blessed to have five great kids (ages 13-23) call me “Mom.” As a summer camp director for the past 30 years, I've also had the privilege of working with thousands of kids, college-age counselors, and parents. I follow the latest research and trends on parenting, education, and children’s development and love to share what I learn!

  1. I am very THANKFUL I have a community of people helping me teach my son the importance of gratefulness. It is something we stress at home and it is wonderful for him to hear this message in other places.

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