Making the Effort

IMG_9975 A summer camp experience holds so many powerful and important moments of great accomplishment. Camp teaches kids independence, self-confidence, team work, empathy, and the true meaning of friendship. Camp life is packed with activities and events that build these skills and traits in an atmosphere of fun, laughter, and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. Camp allows kids to take on challenges they never thought possible, with the drive to do their very best. So what is it about the camp environment that lends itself to kids giving it their all and doing things they never thought possible?

It may be all about applauding and embracing the effort. Camp teaches kids to put in their best effort, work hard, and enjoy the challenges they take on. Campers are praised for their efforts and just not the end result. For so many kids, the school year is filled with activities where they compete to be number one. To be the best team, the best student, the best performer. The score or grade at the end of the journey is often the goal. But at camp, the moments of learning, trying, enjoying and discovering are the best part of the journey. Camp allows kids to try new things, while being supported and encouraged from fellow campers and staff, and build confidence and resilience. And no matter what the outcome, the effort is the reward.

Carol Dweck, Ph.D., world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, has done extensive research showing how the process and effort kids put forth help them grow. These studies on Growth-Mindset show that when kids are praised for effort they work harder than those who are praised for intelligence or ability. Dweck believes that praising effort fosters self-esteem and creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Campers are consistently praised for their effort, their hard work, and comIMG_9680mitment to trying something new. They don’t have to play it safe because they don’t always have to be the best, they just have to try.

Electives and clubs at Iroquois Springs provide the perfect opportunity for campers to challenge themselves and participate in activities that might be outside of their comfort zone. In addition to participating in all program areas throughout the morning with their bunk, afternoon electives allow campers extra time and focus on programs they are interested in learning more about. Campers may choose to make a film in digital media, participate in a lacrosse clinic, or try out for the camp play. No matter what the activity, they are learning new skills, having fun, and putting in their best effort. And that is what the summer camp experience is all about. When the effort is there, success and self-esteem are not far behind.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”

Winston Churchhill