A summer like no other.
Hello from Ghostlight! I am sitting in the office right now, with a breeze blowing through the window, and thinking of the inspiring sound of campers running through camp that will happen in 17 days. This summer is going to be thrilling for our staff and campers alike and we have been planning all year for how we will meet the challenge of sending our campers home more independent, more confident, and more self-expressive.
On a recent call with our leadership team, we asked the question, “What are the valuable things about Ghostlight that are different from school?” Their answers included:
- More outdoor time than indoor
- Common purpose of JOY
- Living with friends (It’s a constant sleepover!)
- More freedom of self-expression and comfort in being your authentic self
- More focus on soft skills like empathy and communication
- Time away from circles that support current behavior
- No grades, no sense this is for “another” purpose
- A sense of continuity rather than completion
- Different structure of time in day, of learning
- The rules at camp are about health and safety, less about “decorum”
- Away from family members (Sorry, folks, it’s true! Camp is a great chance to fly free and see how it feels!)
- More freedom of choice in what you do
- Different relationships to adults
- Being around a more diverse group with differing perspectives
- You can challenge yourself without risks of losing support or of embarassment
- Your teachers can be your friends
- You are around people who are doing the thing you are love doing or are considering doing (perhaps professionally)
- Opportunity to expand your world view and learn about other places and types of people
Pretty great list, huh? We then asked our leadership how we could maximize on this potential at Ghostlight this year. You see, when we hire our staff, we are looking for people who will invest their own purpose for the summer into camp. We are asking them to make our campers’ growth their personal mission. So we wanted to know from our leadership just how we can support all of our staff in accomplishing our collective mission. This is what they said:
- Asking questions of the campers, rather than giving the answers
- Saying Yes to the campers
- Centering the campers’ experience
- Equally emphasizing all parts of our program, from flag raising to pool time to rehearsal
- Leaning into the spirit of camp more than ever! (That’s Joy, Creativity, Gratitude and Community!)
- Encourage campers as much as possible.
- Creating a set of agreements, rather than rules, to engage campers as active members of the cabin and whole community
- Modeling kindness and generosity at every opportunity
- Bringing the intensity of the last four or five days (tech week at Ghostlight) to everything. “This is the big day!”
There is so much good in what our leadership developed through this exercise. But this last one really stuck with me. What if we treat every day, from Arrival Day to Show Day, like it is the big day?!
“Today is the day I sang a solo for the first time.”
“Today is the day I tried a cannonball in the pool.”
“Today is the I felt like I belonged.”
“Today is the day I saw the best sunset of the summer.”
Whether your camper is coming for our 10-day Emerging Artists Program, a 3-week session, or the full summer, our goal is to give every camper their big day this year. What a great way to spend a summer!