A few summers ago at the conclusion of session 1, the Inty Unit held a ceremony in which every community member shared with the group an achievement that they are proud of. This is one of several examples of how campers can discuss or celebrate their time at camp each summer. Campers shared moments of shooting their first bulls-eye, swimming a lap with no assistance and hitting hiking or canoeing mile benchmarks with the tripping program. Other individuals told stories of overcoming fears, making new friends, immersing themselves in a new and unknown culture and learning how to accept and celebrate their unique differences.

In celebrating these moments, we all need to recognize that these accomplishments did not happen instantaneously. Whether it was practicing all week at the archery range or repeatedly reaching out to connect with new people, campers worked hard to achieve these accomplishments. Undoubtedly, these moments that filled campers with pride did not come effortlessly without hard work, dedication, guidance and possibly some frustration and tears.

What amazes me each summer is how much grit and resilience Wyo girls have and how they develop these characteristics throughout the summer. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back, to stick with “it”, and to dust oneself off and try again. It is “the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress” (American Psychological Association). It is a mixture of internal characteristics such as a person’s strength, flexibility and sense of autonomy. Resiliency also encompasses the ability to see and understand a bigger picture and attribute success or failure to elements in and out of one’s control.

Resiliency answers the question: how will a child respond or react when faced with hardships, whether large or small, physical or emotional?

Fortunately, resiliency is a characteristic that can be developed and built upon. Several sources (Psychology Today, Healthy Children) believe that key experiences can promote resiliency in children. These experiences include creating new relationships, developing a sense of identity, learning self-efficacy skills, feeling a sense of belonging, creating an understanding of culture and being treated fairly.

Wyonegonic provides opportunities to engage in all of these experiences. Camp, by its simple design, builds resiliency. Being away from home and school and in an environment that affords safe challenges both physically and emotionally provides endless opportunities to develop this characteristic. Camp makes time for creative exploration, balances unstructured and structured time and embraces fun without the stress of achievement. As, Joel D. Hager (clinical psychologist specializing in resiliency) states in the American Camp Association’s Camping Magazine, “The bottom line: Camp offers what youth need to build resilience as they are facing fewer opportunities to get this at home or school.”

It is certain that at camp, your child learned something, made new friends and advocated for themselves. Your child challenged themselves beyond what they previously thought was possible as they climbed up the ropes course, summited a mountain, or sailed in a regatta. They turned inward and gained a deeper understanding of themselves, their place in camp and in the greater world. Undoubtedly, at camp, your child persevered, bounced back, developed a sense of self, and become resilient.

Want to learn more about developing Grit?

View this Ted Talk: Grit the power of passion and perseverance – Angela Lee Duckworth
Relevant Article: Want an Independent, Confident, Resilient Kid? Camp Can Help! – Audrey Monke

Rachel Kelly, Wyonegonic camper 94,95,97-99, Staff 03-08, Unit Director 14,15

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