July 7, 2017
We all have so much to be deeply grateful for. We live in the most comfortable and healthy age in history. We have personal liberties and access to great entertainment.
But I find that I am not as grateful as I should be. In fact, I think most of us are not as grateful as we should be.
Knowing this, we have added traditions and habits to camp designed to reinforce gratitude.
Some are really simple. As early as orientation, we practice saying thank you. When cabins pass inspection, that “thank their inspectors” by cheering “thank you [name of inspector]”.
Once a week at vespers, we have a session we call Grateful Deeds, during which campers publicly thank someone who has made their day or week better. During this time, the camper will stand, introduce him or herself, say who they are thanking and then explain what that person did.
The campers really get into it and surprise me with their thoughtfulness. They are not just thanking their friends or their counselors, but also the maintenance team, the housekeepers and the kitchen staff. They are quick to recognize the Senior Campers’ efforts to fill the hydration stations or paint the backdrops for the dances.
We up the ante when we talk with the Senior Campers. We share information on the power of gratitude and positive outlooks. We share the research about listing things to be grateful for. We even explain the neurology behind why it matters . [Note: we do not go into great detail, but we do explain the basics enough so that they do not think we are making anything up.]
We even talk about parents. At a time when teens are often inclined to complain about their parents, we strive to humanize them. After all, Susie Ma’am and I are parents ourselves. We help them bridge the gap between any struggles they might have at home with the actual reality of their lives (which is not all that bad).
Like I said above, I am working on being a more grateful person. I especially admire people who take the time to write notes of appreciation. SO I was thrilled when we got this email this morning:
Dear Susie and Steve:
Our 10 year old son attended the first session this year. Although he had been twice to a one week camp, this June was his first at Champions and by far the longest stretch he had been away from home. Mandy and I experienced much trepidation leading up to this new adventure for Henry.
Well, we could not be more pleased with the outcome. The amount of feedback we received, from website pictures to counselor reports to reports from the First Timers guides, was excellent and helped to ease any concerns we had.
But even more important is the impact the experience had on Henry. By all accounts he had a great time, albeit with a few episodes of homesickness. He clearly feels a part of something in a very positive way and is very excited to return next Summer.
Henry also grew up in ways we hadn’t expected. We have noticed a more positive outlook, greater self-confidence, greater sense of appreciation and overall better manners. Y’all are clearly doing things right and we for that we thank you both.
I attended Camp Champions in 1977-78. Unfortunately I just missed Hondo, but Pete, Horton and DKR were part of my experience. They all would be proud of what y’all are doing to keep the spirit of the flame alive and thriving.
Thanks again and kind regards,
I guess we are never too old to learn better habits.
So please let us thank you for believing in us and sharing your children with our camp family. We are blessed to do what we do and we deeply appreciate your trust and your children!