During Division Night, our 7th and 8th grade girls enjoyed an activity that I thought was both fun and uplifting.


Their Division Leader Zoe Ma’am handed each girl a piece of cardboard with a mirror in the middle. She then asked the girls to write their name on the cardboard and pass it around to different girls.


The girls then wrote positive and validating comments about their cabinmates and friends around the mirror portion of the cardboard:


  • “Uplifting and excited for everything, can always find good in situations.”
  • “Beautiful inside and out!”
  • “Strong, positive, funny, loving”
  • “Positive and radiant”
  • “You are always happy! I have much fun with you!”
  • “A gr8 person to be woken up by!”

I love the idea of the girls looking at themselves and seeing how others see them. Our young people, particularly our teen girls, are too hard on themselves. Chasing an unrealistic dream of perfection, they search for self-critiques and personal shortcomings. The same girls are often incredibly forgiving of the faults in their friends, but they are slow to apply the same grace to themselves.


This simple exercise is an effort to change that habit of self-criticism.   We want our campers to see what makes them lovable and to celebrate that. This particular exercise is a very overt effort to do this, but we strive to teach this lesson in subtle ways every day.


One of the most powerful ways to help campers know that they are lovable is the cabin experience itself. Typically, young people, particularly teens, wear “masks” or assume roles when they navigate junior high and high school. By not revealing their true selves, they protect themselves from the pain of rejection.


But when you are in a one-room cabin all day, it is very hard to wear a mask. So campers end up revealing their authentic selves and making strong friendships with people who appreciate the real deal.


This experience is even better than a mirror!


Steve Sir