Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we will soon be gathering with family and friends to eat, enjoy, and of course express our gratitude.  Gratitude is more than being thankful for something, it is a deeper appreciation for someone or something.  With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.  Studies show that being grateful is key for happiness and life satisfaction.  Even when times are hard, feeling grateful for what we have can help us get through the more difficult times. Gratitude shifts our focus from what our life lacks to all that is already present.  Gratitude strengthens relationships, improves sleep and health, makes people more resilient, reduces stress, makes us happier, and improves our overall well-being.  Practicing the skills of gratitude is a great way to help children develop the tools that will allow them to grow into empathic, confident, and happy adults.

Summer camp gives kids the opportunity to strengthen their feelings of gratitude.  Living together and belonging to the camp community gives campers a true appreciation for the friendships, traditions, values, and meaningful moments experienced at camp.  Campers pursue new challenges with a sense of independence and ownership of their efforts, and for the friends and counselors who support and encourage them through their journey.  Campers appreciate the fun they are having with camp friends and staff, and express their gratitude all summer long.

Gratitude is practiced at camp when…

  • A camper says “thank you” to an activity specialist who taught them a new skill.
  • A camper makes a “fuzzy” nomination for a bunkmate, whose act of kindness or bravery was admired.
  • Campers create and display written quotes of inspiration, kindness and appreciation on painted rocks scattered about camp, reminding people to be mindful.
  • A camper hugs his/her counselor, who believed in them when they didn’t yet have the confidence to believe in themselves.
  • A phone call or letter is mailed home expressing thanks for the gift of camp.
  • The tears flow when camp is coming to an end, and campers just can’t bear to leave their summer home and their forever friends.

Gratitude is present at camp because camp is a place where kids take on challenges, leadership opportunities, and traditions they can reflect on and appreciate.  The entire camp community constantly expresses thankfulness and appreciation for one another, and these wonderful camp moments foster a culture of gratitude that campers experience all year long.

The benefits of practicing gratitude are compelling and worth every moment we take to appreciate the things and people around us.  This holiday season is the perfect time to practice gratitude.  Give thanks for all that you have, and give back by volunteering at a local food drive or animal shelter.  Practice random acts of kindness with a simple thank you note or helping a person in need.  Strengthening gratitude is a great way to increase happiness all year long.  As always, everyone at Iroquois Springs is thankful for each and every camper and camp family that chooses to spend their summers at IS.  We are grateful for your trust, support, and belief in the value of a summer camp experience.