i-RQNSSc3-XLWe hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween. The weather was perfect and having a Saturday to trick-or-treat made a lot of kids very happy. Hopefully by now, the bowls of candy have been put on the shelf, and we can start preparing for the upcoming holiday season. It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks, the turkey will be served and we will once again be gathering with friends and family to celebrate and give thanks.

Thanksgiving is an ideal time to talk to kids about gratitude. The vast research regarding the benefits of being grateful all points to the same conclusion…gratitude is good for us. People who practice gratitude feel happier, are more optimistic, more empathic, kinder, more helpful and more determined. Grateful people are less stressed and have a higher sense of self-worth. The positive emotions that come from being grateful are good for our bodies and minds. Gratitude also connects us to others. When we express genuine gratitude and appreciation, we create relationships.

Feeling and expressing gratitude does not always come naturally and needs to be taught and reinforced throughout childhood. Gratitude is recognizing the contributions that others do each and every day. Reinforcing gratitude is even more important during the holiday season as kids can easily get caught up wanting the “latest and greatest” gifts on the market, often losing sight of all they have and all that is done for them. What parent has not expressed frustration at times when their kids are expecting too much and appreciating too little? A quick reminder of showing gratitude can go a long way.

Learning to be grateful is important and easier than you think. One of the most powerful ways to show appreciation is to just say “thank you”. Letting someone know that you appreciate the things they do, or the efforts they make is a great way to show gratitude. Thank the person who helped you bag your groceries or held the door open for you. Thank family members for setting the table, walking the dog, or helping with homework. Letting them know their contributions did not go unnoticed instills a feeling of gratitude for the entire family. i-pVdCqdb-XLIf you can’t be there, write a thank you note, an actual handwritten note to send through the mail. A written note is a wonderful surprise in this day of emailing and texting. Donate items you no longer have use for. Go through your closets for items of clothing and toys to donate to families that are in need. During a season of getting so much, it feels great to give. Volunteer your time to someone who could use the help.   Rake a neighbors leaves, or drive them to an appointment. Help put together care packages for holiday meals. All of these actions show appreciation for all of the blessings in your life, both big and small. And don’t forget to role model gratitude whenever you get a chance.  Simple acts of appreciation go a long way. They may even be contagious.

This Thanksgiving, and all year long, express thanks. Not just for all the good, but for the challenging times as well, they help you grow. And for us at camp, our appreciation and gratitude goes out to our wonderful camp families that have chosen Iroquois Springs as their summer home, our campers that make each and every camp day exciting and memorable, and our outstanding staff that work tirelessly to ensure that campers have the best summer experience year after year. We give thanks and wish you all a wonderful start to the holiday season.