Camp as a “Friend Maker”
Camp programs are magical in so many ways; we teach campers new skills, we build confidence through progressive programming, we explore other cultures, and we facilitate making new friends. Perhaps the biggest thing on this list we do for campers, is help them find and make new friends.
It is tough today, so much technology to distract children (and adults) from making real connections. Camp is one of the few places left that really pushes social interaction without the influence of technology.
You may be asking, how does Camp Chief Ouray do this? Our programs are intentionally designed to allow children to explore, learn and connect. If we only look at the cabin structure; we have eight campers sleeping in one building with two counselors.
Campers arrive to claim their bunk and are instantly greeted upon arrival by the counselors. This sets the stage of the first connection for the camper and can help set their minds at ease. As more and more campers arrive, the counselors introduce those who don’t know the others. Again, our staff are being intentional about how quickly this happens. By dinner the first night, everyone in the cabin should know the names of their cabin mates.
What about those campers with friends joining them? When it is two campers out of eight, this is not a problem. When we are talking half the cabin or more of friends wanting to be together, this can allow a clique to form and could leave the ‘new’ campers out of immediate, somewhat easy connections.
With the cabin as the core group, and an intentional push to introduce campers to each other, what does this do to those four friends who wanted to be together but are not? Camp Chief Ouray allows for activity time where these friends can sign up together, or even a structured free time where they will be able to connect during the week and just hang out or catch up. The big thing is that they will be making new friends over the course of the week with the help of the staff. Who knows, these new friends could become lifetime members of the family.
Michael D. Ohl
Executive of Camp Chief Ouray