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Not every child looks forward to camp in the same way. Some kids anticipate the bright summer camp traditions that bring us all together each day. Others can hardly wait to ride their favorite horse again or get back to the great outdoors. One of the best things about summer camp is when kids get to imagine their own camp journeys. That’s the case here at Kennolyn; our camp culture and programming is what it is because the kids actually help to shape it. For introverted kids to find belonging, they need to first find a personal connection. The shape of our camp programs supports those early connections because we invite kids to come and be exactly who they are.
There isn’t a universal comfort zone that we expect kids to push beyond. Instead, camp offers opportunities for kids to challenge themselves individually. Our counselors are all trained to listen and observe with compassionate and open minds, so kids feel comfortable to be themselves and empowered to pursue the activities that they are authentically drawn to. Plus, our camp has a pretty narrow counselor-to-camper ratio, so children experience a smaller group feeling. Introverted kids can sometimes feel lost among the crowds, but with more counselors around, kids will get more individualized attention. It is from that individualized place that we challenge kids to test the boundaries of their own comfort zones. As leaders and counselors, we set active examples for the kids to embrace each other’s differences and support their peers’ special journeys.
Just as everyone faces their own particular challenges, so does everyone have their own version of confidence and self-esteem. It isn’t everyone’s goal to brave the trapeze or to be the star act in the talent show because those feats don’t appeal to everyone’s interest and temperament. At Kennolyn, kids actually get to design their own activity schedule, selecting from our huge list of offerings.
I started to list some of our activities here that I think are particularly welcoming to introverted children, but I found that I wanted to include almost all of them. So many of our activities offer a chance for kids to set personal goals and to work individually, even in the midst of a friendly community. These are just a handful of the diverse activities we offer:
|> Horse and other animal care||> Fashion Design|
|> Culinary arts and outdoor cooking||> Swimming and diving|
|> Ceramics and other crafts||> Gardening|
|> Guitar||> Chess|
|> Fun science||> Rock climbing|
|> Carpentry||> LEGO builders and robotics|
We had one rather quiet camper in the Forest Explorers activity who was determined to collect leaves and needles from all the tree and plant species in our forest, do crayon rubbings to preserve their shape and characteristics, and label them all in a book of her creation. Through that very distinct passion, she was also able to connect with other kids who shared her interests in science, in detective work, and in the craft of bookmaking. Those friendly connections early in her camp session helped her to open up and engage actively, even in our biggest camp-wide gatherings.
Let’s acknowledge and celebrate the fact that every single child is unique and uniquely motivated. I can’t pretend to anticipate what activities an introverted child will be drawn to any more than I can predict the journey of an extrovert or an ambivert. Hence, we’ve landed on the model wherein campers choose for themselves. And we have a community full of engaged and inspired campers who feel a true sense of belonging. In this environment, every camper is valued for the original strengths they bring to the community.
One of the best ways you can help your introverted child warm up to the camp idea is to let them help choose the camp. This really will be a big part of their success. As you’re considering different options, be sure to visit each one in person, so your child can begin to connect with the real details—where are they going to be setting up their home away from home and will the camp leaders help them feel comfortable? When kids can begin to imagine the actual experience, it becomes less and less intimidating. They can begin to understand their own place in the mix.
We encourage kids to set up their bunk area in a way that helps it feel like home. It helps when kids bring photos, stuffed animals, and other items that inspire a sense of familiarity and comfort. Check out our blog post about ways to support a camper who is nervous to go to sleepaway camp for the first time. If your child is still unsure whether they’re ready to dive into a one- or two-week session, our Intro Camp may be the way to go. In this program, campers will stay with us for just two nights and it is specifically designed for first time campers.
Summer camp is a unique experience on all fronts and allows kids to begin from scratch. While it’s worth discussing any considerations about your child’s preferences and boundaries with us behind-the-scenes, when it comes time for camp, we prefer to set denominators like “introverted” and “extroverted” aside, getting to know kids as unique and brilliant beings, each with their own version of the summer camp journey.
Are you and your child ready to explore Kennolyn Camps further? Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to get a really colorful look at what we’re all about. And we’re available year-round, so you can give us a call to talk more about how Kennolyn might be the place for your child.