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.
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.
Through free play and daily chores for example, girls build character of the type that is vital to future success.
Christopher Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, identified seven critical character traits that children need to develop into successful adults.
For example, when girls live together at resident camp or spend all day together at day camp, character issues are bound to arise. How girls handle these situations (with the support of their counselors), is how character is built.
Counselors not only point out when girls express one of the seven traits but also consciously spend time reflecting on them. Imagine the grit it takes a camper to face a 35-foot-tall climbing tower for a 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 witnesses a loon with babies riding on its back. Then, imagine each girl reflecting on these experiences at the end of the day, and expressing what she was most grateful for during that day.
Here are some examples of how campers have expressed their character growth on their end-of-camp evaluations:
The mission of Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. At Girl Scout camp, we are committed not only to the highest levels of excellence in safety, programming, leadership development, and fun, and work hard to ensure that girls experience opportunities for the kind of character development that is essential for children.