Summer Camp Builds ResiliencePosted by on April 12, 2020

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress, failure, and other difficulties experienced throughout life.  During this turbulent time resilience and grit are more important than ever. Resilience isn’t something that you have or don’t have.  It is something that is developed. Luckily summer camp builds resilience in campers, CITs, and camp counselors.  

While resilience is likely an innate trait in humans.  It is something that must be continually developed. Especially throughout childhood.  As parents and camp directors we try to focus on empowering our children and campers when they struggle.  This article from Big Life Journal explains the importance that learning through struggle.  It is vital in the development of resilience and grit.  If we rush to fix the problem we are actually shortchanging our children (and campers).  We are removing the opportunity for them to develop valuable skills.  

Summer Camp Develops A Resiliency Reservoir

One of the first steps in helping children develop resilience is allowing them to problem solve independently.  Another is providing supportive and consistent relationships with parents or other adults.  Opportunities for healthy risk taking are a critical component as well.  Embracing mistakes and modeling resilience are also key factors.  Fortunately, sleepaway camp is an extraordinary opportunity for campers to experience each of these things.  This is how summer camp develops a resiliency reservoir that helps campers thrive in life’s challenges. 

Each day of camp in Maine Fernwood Cove girls face new challenges and experience new adventures.  Day after day, week after week, summer after summer. This continuous cycle of challenge, experience, learn, and reflect is how summer camp builds resilience.  Consequently, sleepaway camp provides the ideal environment for campers to develop resilience to face life’s stresses and challenges.  

Maintain Resilience With Something You Enjoy

As with any natural resource, there needs to be strategies in place to maintain the reservoir.  One of the key ways to maintain your resilience reservoir is to reduce the stress and anxiety in life.  Self-care, mindfulness, and simply taking a break to rest are great ways to do this.  More importantly, we need to model this for our children.  Maintain and develop resilience with activities that help you and your child disconnect from the stress of life.  Yes, you can maintain resilience with something you enjoy doing each day.  

Our children are always watching us.  Especially now as we are spending more time together as we work and complete school work from home.  Now is a great time to model self-care and other stress reducing practices.  It can be physical activity or reconnecting with an old hobby.  It is important to take personal time to recharge each day.  For Beigette, it’s doing yoga, listening to guided meditation, reading, and spending quality time with Sylvie and Perrin.  Share what you enjoy with your children.  And share time together doing what you enjoy.  Strengthen your connections and disconnect from life’s stresses.  This will help refuel your child’s resiliency reservoir, and yours too!

Resilience During Challenging Times

Filling up our resiliency reservoir while we remain home with stay-at-home orders is challenging. It is important to remember some key factors to maintain our resilience during challenging times.

  • Focus on what you can control and work to let go of what you can’t control.
  • Utilize a growth mindset.  Embrace challenges, learn from setbacks, and seek inspiration from others.
  • Practice mindfulness and take time to reflect.
  • Find joy in each day.

Sometimes it can be difficult for children to connect with these ideas because they don’t feel like they have had personal experience with them.  Reflecting on your daughter’s personal experiences in these different areas can help her recognize and build her own resilience.  Reflect upon her past camp experiences.  What challenged her and what did she learn from those challenges?  Then discuss the moments and memories that bring her joy and happiness.  Additionally, talk about her counselors and CITs. Who was there to support her?  Who inspires her?  

Campers may not recognize how their summer camp experiences have helped them build resilience.  Taking the time to reflect about camp is a great way for campers to recognize they have the resilience needed during challenging times. 

The Three R’s in Today’s World

When we were growing up the “three R’s” were reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Life has changed significantly since our days of elementary and middle school.  And the current realities of the COVID-19 pandemic creates new changes almost daily.  These changes likely mean we should also shift what we think of when we think of the three R’s in today’s world. For us at Fernwood Cove they are Reflection, Re-energize, Resilience.  We certainly acknowledge the importance of academics. However, the development of valuable life skills that help our campers succeed today and everyday are just as vital.  

Maintaining Resilience Is Lifelong

Building resilience is important during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, developing and maintaining resilience is lifelong. Take the time now to develop new habits and new routines to ensure your and your child’s resiliency reservoirs last for months and years to come.  Here is our challenge to you and your family:

  • Create a list of as many items as possible that you can do during this time that will bring you joy and do one each day. If you are able to find joy in the simple things and create a long list the more opportunities you will have to find joy in your daily life.
  • Take time for yourself daily.  Physical exercise is good for both your physical health and mental health.  Both are key to longevity.
  • Reflect upon each day.  Practice gratitude, especially for the little things.  
  • Disconnect from the stresses of life.  Often this means disconnecting from our devices and the news.  
  • Reconnect with family and friends- virtually right now.  Share stories, have virtual social events, and make plans for in-person connections once we are able to do so.
  • Seek new challenges for learning and growth.  Whether online or dusting off a hobby book that’s been on the bookshelf for way too long- there are a multitude of ways to learn and grow while at home.
  • Nurture your body.  If your family is anything like Alicia’s, there’s a lot of baking going on.  Make sure you’re eating well. And as always, drink three glasses of water with every meal!
  • Stay extraordinary.  Continue to be the best version of yourself.  Find new and exciting ways to help others.  
  • Have fun!  

Do Something You Enjoy Everyday

We encourage you to create the intention of “Do something you enjoy everyday.”  And make sure you have fun every day.  Additionally, do it whether you feel like it or not.  Just like exercise, how you feel at the start isn’t as important as how you feel at the end.  Having fun on purpose will increase your energy and positivity.   Just like a good workout does. It’s all about how you feel in the end.  Increased energy and positivity will help reduce your stress and anxiety.  Additionally, it will help you meet the end goal of maintaining your resiliency reservoir.  Summer camp builds resilience and you can do it at home too!