When you were a kid, did you go to camp? If so, you probably remember having lots of fun, making new friends, sleeping in a tent or cabin, swimming or canoeing, performing silly skits, singing songs, and telling stories around a campfire at night.
|Girls enjoying s'mores at Camp Togowoods near Wasilla.|
There's no question, camp is fun.
But, for girls who attend Girl Scout camp in Alaska, there's also important work happening – the work of character development.
Although program activities like canoeing, conquering the climbing wall, and learning to build a fire certainly contribute to a camper’s confidence and growth, often it is the small, seemingly insignificant events that can most impact a child's development.
|At Camp Togowoods, girls not only learn how to paddle but also how to right an overturned canoe.|
Through free play and daily chores for example, girls build character of the type that is vital to future success.
|Helping plant a garden during a Day Camp session in Angoon.|
Christopher Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, identified seven critical character traits that children need to develop into successful adults.
· Grit: The ability to hang in there, to tough it out, persevere and recover from a setback.
· Self-control: The ability to regulate feelings and impulses; to recognize and manage them, edit them, and not be run by them.
· Gratitude: An essential feeling of recognizing and being appreciative of what we have been given; Gratitude is key to a positive outlook on life.
For example, when girls live together at resident camp or spend all day together at day camp, character issues are bound to arise. Imagine the grit it takes a camper to face a 35-foot-tall climbing tower for the first time. Picture the self-control a camper develops when trying to light a fire in the rain. Consider the zest/love of life a camper experiences when she canoes across the lake and sees a loon with babies riding on its back.
How girls experience these situations (with the support of their counselors), is how character is built.
|A new friendship develops at Girl Scout's Camp Togowoods.|
Girl Scout camp counselors not only point out when girls express one of the seven traits but also spend time reflecting on them at the end of each day. For example, girls may be asked to think about one thing they are grateful for, or give an example of a time they or another camper showed self-control.
Here are some examples of how campers have expressed their character growth:
At Girl Scout camp, we are committed to the highest levels of excellence in health, safety, and programming. We hire staff that are great with kids and know how to make camp fun. But, we also work hard to ensure that in the course of each day, girls experience opportunities for the kind of character development that is essential for children. We want girls to leave our camps having had not just fun, but having developed the character traits that will help her succeed in life, and do great things!
|A young camper on a hiking trip during Girl Scout camp on Prince of Wales Island.|
The mission of Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Through our series, events, camps, and troop activities, we promise every girl the chance to discover the leader she can be.
Girl Scouts is available to any girl in Kindergarten through High School. Scholarships and financial assistance is available.