Cheese Please! - by Randi
My family and I recently visited a Farmer’s Market and upon arrival noticed a cheese stand with a large crowd around it. Why was this stand so popular…free samples of course! We began to compare and choose our favorites and noticed that everyone had their own opinion! My son had a favorite different than my daughter’s, whose favorite was different than my husband’s, whose favorite was different than mine. My other son, who isn’t a fan of cheese had to be coaxed to take part in the fun. While he disliked 4 of the 5 cheeses he tasted, he ended up liking one he had never tried before and bought a piece to take home.
By this point, you might be asking, ‘what in the world does a cheese tasting have to do with day camp?’ Let me try to explain…my family’s cheese tasting reminded me that everyone’s likes, dislikes, interests, and perspectives are uniquely their own. We all might be eating that same exact piece of cheese, but what I might love, another might like, and another might dislike.
Shibley’s campers have these unique likes, dislikes, interests, and perspectives. They come from different backgrounds, have had different levels of exposure to our various activities, and have different interests. Some campers are interested in team sports, others in theatre…and many enjoy crafts…you get the idea. To make things more complicated, two campers might want to spend time at the same activity, but have completely different levels of interest based on previous experiences. Two campers might like team sports, but one might want to dedicate a half hour a day to them, while another never wants to put down the basketball.
Our staff at Shibley Day Camp is made up of mostly educators and parents who understand that every child is unique. We celebrate and encourage this by providing a wide range of activities for them to participate in. At the beginning of each Summer, our group leaders make phone calls to each family. Aside from getting general family info and asking what they want their children to get out of the Shibley experience, a main priority during these calls is to understand the campers’ interest levels in the various activities we offer at camp. Throughout the summer, we encourage them to take part in those activities they expressed interest in…that’s the easy part! We also intentionally encourage them to try new activities with new friends so that they have the opportunity to discover new interests…in the same way that my son discovered a new cheese he likes with just a little encouragement.
We are still 6 months away from another magical Shibley summer but we are already hard at work creating intentional programs that develop life-long skills, create strong friendships, and build self-confidence. We can’t wait to see these programs in action and watch your children develop interests they didn’t know they had. It’s just around the corner, and it cannot come soon enough!