When the calendar turns to spring, my mind turns full steam into counselor training mode. I can’t help it. After 31 years of preparing counselors for their summer working with kids at camp, I can’t help but be über-focused on gathering tools to help prepare them to be engaged with campers, thrive at camp, and grow as leaders.
Social Skills Checklist
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If I had to sum up the most important thing—besides safety—that I want our counselors to learn, it comes down to one word.
Building a relationship and connecting with our campers—while also helping campers connect with each other and form friendships—is what camp is all about. So that’s one of the most important things we focus on during counselor training.
How do people connect?
• By asking questions
• By listening
• By showing interest in the person and their answers and asking follow-up questions
• By “reading” nonverbal cues (facial and body expressions)
I’ve created a Questions for Connection PDF for counselors to use around the campfire, at meals, and while walking around camp to help build connections with campers and facilitate campers connecting with each other. Parents, too, can use these same questions to connect with kids!
At camp, we talk about “REALationships.” That’s how we like to spell it so the focus is on the “real” part of relationships. Adults and kids alike are getting so accustomed to the fake connections they find online, so at camp we focus on helping campers form real, face-to-face connections.
We’re unplugged at camp with no screens in sight, so there are no “likes” or comments to check. At camp, there are real people and real opportunities to connect. And it’s those deep connections that create the magical, unique experience of summer camp.
Why not unplug and take some time to connect with your kids through asking questions? Ask a question at family dinner, during a walk together, or while driving around in the car. I bet you’ll be able to create some camp magic at home!
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