Your Camp Family Builds Long Term Happiness

The New York Times recently published an article by Bruce Feiler (author of The Secrets of Happy Families) titled The Stories that Bind Us. In it, he talks about what holds a family together and helps them work more efficiently.  Mr. Feiler stresses what researchers have found, that knowing about family history is the biggest predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.  “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative” says Feiler.  Research by two Emory University psychology professors, Robin Fivush and Marshall Duke, also back up this idea.  They found that the more children know about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.  They concluded that this outcome has to do with a child’s sense of being a part of a larger family.  Dr Duke and Dr Fivush call it a strong “intergenerational self”.  They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.
So if research shows that knowing family history is central to one’s overall happiness and well-being….what about the “camp family”?  The camp family is rich in history and traditions and mimics one’s home life in many ways.  We eat, sleep, play and share our lives with our camp family.  We gather around the dining table and get to know each other, and we sit around the camp fire and listen to stories of camp long ago.  Camp traditions bring a sense of belonging to past generations and the knowledge that we are creating history for future campers.  Traditions like the Rope Burn during color week, and the Order of the Blue and Gold (given to campers who have been at camp for 3, 5 and 8 years), are just a couple of examples of the strong traditions that take place at camp.  Camp history can also be seen on the plaques that line our theatre from color weeks of years past.  Camp may be limited in time, but there is no limit to the power of the history that is part of the camp experience.  A sense of belonging to something bigger definitely holds true when it comes to camp! And that hopefully translates to campers’ happiness and emotional well-being year round.  We can’t wait for the summer to start, so we can begin a whole new season of creating history and happy campers.