April 27th | 2023 Leadership & The ACA
Please take a moment to upload a photo to your Staff Dashboard and fill out the Social Media Form. Staff introductions for campers and families are coming soon!
"I wanted to thank you for taking such good care of my kid at camp this summer. On Show Day, [they] showed me a rock and said, 'On my second night here, [we] sat and talked and they told me I could talk about whatever I wanted.'" (continued below)
Hi First name,
We are less than two months away from welcoming campers to Ghostlight. Since joining Ghostlight in 2009, and certainly, since my first summer as a camp counselor in 1996, I have seen a change in the role summer camps play in the lives of young people. What was a chance for me as a camper to let loose, unwind, and shake off the shackles of the school desk has somewhat become a time to detox from social media, complete with anxiety and frustration. Don't get me wrong; campers are still eager to let loose, dance in the rain, and forget about term papers if even for a few weeks, and unchangeable from even 30 years ago is the potential for the impact we will have on our campers' lives.
It may be daunting for you to think we are asking you to have an outsized impact this summer. "We may only engage with these campers for 3% of their year!" "Do we have the time, budget, bouncy castles, and icy pops aplenty to make such a difference?" Let me share an excerpt from a staff member's letter from a parent last summer who graciously agreed to let us share it here.
"They also told me that you helped them work through one particularly anxious moment by encouraging them to notice where they were feeling the anxiety in their body - That was a really important breakthrough for. To go from Day 1 with a kid who was really terrified and angry - to show day where [they] got to shine on stage, introduce us to new friends, and immediately beg to return next year - it's miraculous." - 2022 Parent
You read that right. A rock and a talk. A rock where two people sat, and one was told they could talk about anything they wanted and an adult would listen. That is what made the difference to this camper. A difference so profound that their family wrote an old-fashioned card and sent it through snail mail to say, "Thank you." I need not tell you, First name, how much letters like this represent the numerous occasions that a staff member let a camper know their value at Ghostlight.
So, as you dream about your summer ahead, dream of the small ways you might take moments of your day to focus on a camper, affirm them, and make an outsized, miraculous impact, you will.
Getting in the Mindset
I am often asked, "What are you looking forward to this summer? What's your focus going to be?" It's easy to respond with nitty-gritty details like, "Better supporting gluten-free diners." (That's a really good answer too!) But I also love thinking about the big picture and have responded more often with, "I'm curious about HOW we create the best circumstances for growth in our campers."
I'm excited by what I have read in Dacher Keltner's book, Awe, and have been pondering how to apply it to what we do at camp and notice where some of his principles have appeared in previous summers.
I invite you all to find a copy of the book at your library (digital copies are around via the Libby App) or look into buying a used or new copy from Bookshop or your local bookseller. Throughout the summer, I would love to discuss the book with you and how we see awe transforming our campers and us!
Inclusivity at Camp
We strive to welcome the whole camper to camp. Whereas the default world may ask campers to hide or shield a part of themselves to "fit in," we set out to create an environment where campers can allow all of themselves to be seen and affirmed. This is no easy task, as it often asks us to reflect on our growth and upbringing. Whether in rehearsal or class, in the cabin, or activities, the call to inclusivity is a challenge we accept daily.
Ghostlight's culture of incusivity works when ideas and practices are honed from within our communtiy. We encourage you to bring your reflections and questions to us before camp or to Staff Training.
Did you miss last week's email? Just joining the Weekly Call? Check out the Staff Updates page to catch up anytime!