June 11, 2014
Today, both Susie Ma’am and I had 4 cabin meetings each in the morning in addition to our general meetings. Our cabin meetings are called Friendship Games when Susie meets with girl cabins and Man Cave when I meet with the guys.
These are our moments each day to get to know our wonderful campers. One of the sad realities of being a camp director is that you are not there when the truly wonderful things happen. When a girl overcomes her fear of heights and reaches the top of the climbing wall, we are rarely there. When a cabin of boys swaps jokes until they laugh so hard they can barely breath, we are not in the cabin.
Typically, camp directors end up like principals – dealing with campers or counselors that are struggling or cabins that are not functioning as well as they should This job is important and we do not shrug from it, but it can make the days less fun than they should be.
Knowing this, the Wise One (Susie Ma’am) decided 5 years ago to host every girls’ cabin in the house for a one hour chat. It was such a success that I followed suit. In both cases, we gather the campers in a circle and give them a chance to share something about themselves and have some treats. [Note: this is one of the few times that we serve non-healthy food. The menu includes slushees, Doritos and Oreos. If you suspect that we are stooping to junk food to assure that the campers like spending time with us – you might be right.] In this way, we get to celebrate every camper and cabin in a relaxed and fun environment.
We have had a few nice moments already.
One girl camper shared her “Delta” from the night before. A “Delta” is the moment from the previous day that a camper wishes she (or he) had done differently. We love this ritual (which we generally have for campers 10 and up in their Nightly Rituals) because it helps campers realize that they do have control over their reactions. In essence, it trains the brain to believe that it has control and is not simply a reaction machine.
Anyway, here is what am 11 year old shared. “I want to Delta my reaction to my cabin assignment. I got my main request, but I was hoping that I would have several of my cabinmates from the previous year. When that did not happen, I let myself get upset. I know LOVE my cabin and would not want to change at all. I wish I had seen the new cabin as an opportunity from the start.”
Wow – I love that.
In my Man Cave, I asked boys to use Legos to build a model of “the ideal cabin”. I was so pleased with the insight of the campers. One built a racecar with a pit crew. “The car is our cabin. The crew is us. The driver is the counselor sometimes, but sometimes it is one of us. But the car only wins when we are all working together.”
Another had a group of people surrounding a cargo net with skeletons underneath it. “The people are us. Together, we can beat any challenge or difficulty. The skeletons represent fear of new things and bad attitudes. We have teamed up to trap them and put them under this net.”
We also had a little silliness. I like to explain to the boys that Man Cave is nothing like Friendship Games. Here is the explanation.
The girls come to the house, sit on blankies, have snacks and drinks and chit chat. That is Friendship Games. What we do is entirely different.
We do not sit on blankies. We sit on animal skins cleverly disguised as blankets. That one (pointing to a tie dyed Camp Champions sweatshirt blanket) is from the tie-dyed wildebeest of Lower Tanzania.
We do not have snacks. We have munchies.
We do not have drinks. We have beverages.
We do not chit chat. We talk [this is said with the lowest voice I can conjure).
And it is not Friendship Games. It is [all boys respond] Man Cave.
I am completely tickled that they see this as evidence of our difference.