This past week, a group of Runoia staff attended the American Camp Association New England Conference. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn and network with camp professionals who all share the core belief in the positive power of the camp experience. It can be interesting telling people you are going to a camp conference. I have been asked if the sessions are mostly things like firebuilding, songleading, and crafts. Indeed, they are not. While there are some workshops for counselors focused in hard skills that they use in their day-to-day work at camp, our young leaders can hear from many presenters about behavior management, learning styles, leadership, and communication skills. For directors, topics include risk management, systems thinking, best business practices, youth development, human resources, marketing, and more. So many interesting choices all geared to helping camp professionals do their best work.
I went to many great workshops and one I found particularly compelling and affirming, titled, “Motivating Campers with a growth mindset: What psychology research tells us about inspiration” presented by Andrew Watson. Andrew is a teacher, speaker, and “camp guy” who earned his undergraduate and graduate degree from Harvard. His specialty is connecting brain research to the work that is done in schools and camps and has published a well-regarded book, Learning Begins. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for success. Andrew spoke about how camp is a perfect place to nurture a growth mindset as it’s an environment that is supportive of children moving out of their comfort zones, trying new things, making mistakes, and being excited about getting better at something. Camp is a place where “The Power of Yet” exists so instead of children taking a “I can’t do this” stance, they can develop the orientation of, “I can’t do this YET”.
Our girls have the opportunity every day to practice growth mindset and we see the power of YET happening whether it is in archery, swimming, riding or whatever experience a girl wants to learn and master. I encourage us all to actively add “yet” to our outlook on the world – just imagine all the things we can learn!