A Summer Camp Where Everybody Knows Your Name
In a world where it’s easy to feel like a number, we think it’s important for kids to experience being part of a small, nurturing summer campÂ community.Â At Maine Arts Camp we make it a priority to get to know all of our campers, starting with learning their names. Think of how powerful it can be when someone knows your name.Â Ever walk into a restaurant or a store where the owner says, “Nice to see you again, Mr. Smith?”Â You feel pretty special, don’t you?
As many people know, it can be difficult to remember names, especially shortly after you meet someone. For some people it comes naturally; for others it takes work.Â I have to admit, I fall into the latter group.Â Â However, I am willing to put in theÂ effort, and it’s always gratifying when I learn new ways toÂ do this.Â Â OneÂ tool that has always workedÂ for me atÂ camp, is the one we use to help campers and staff learn each other’s names the first night. We play nameÂ games! There are so many versions of these games, and there’s a good reason they’re used atÂ all kinds of team building events worldwide: they work!Â Usually you’re in a circle, and you take turns individually saying your nameÂ along with a word and maybe an action orÂ objectÂ thatÂ people can associateÂ with you.Â As silly and corny as it may seem, the next time you see those people, you’re more likely to remember their names.
The problem for me at camp is that I can usually only get to one group’s name game. We’re a small camp, but we do divide up into dorm groups the first night to do ice breaker games. So, I might get a group of names under my belt the first night, but then what do I do? Well, there are always the name tags our campers wear around their necks on a lanyard so I can discreetly try to look at that when I’m talking to a camper, or when I see them from a short distance away. Another good method I’ve learnedÂ is to take the class rosters with me the first few days of camp asÂ I check in onÂ the activities.Â That way if I go into an art class or a dance, theatre or cookingÂ class,Â I canÂ connect the names with the faces in small groups, which is alwaysÂ easier to digest thanÂ when everyone is together.
As camp director, Rick, and I both proceed with our methods of learning campers’ names in the early days of each camp session, we try to have fun with it, too. When we’re in those larger group situations, such as in the dining hall or at free time, we start to quiz each other to see who knows which name.Â Sometimes we can even share some great hints to associate a camper with their name.Â Other staff who we eat meals with can be very helpful to us during these times since they see the campers in their activities every day and learn those groups of kids’ names quickly.
A greatÂ reinforcement for learning and remembering camperÂ names happens on the days when all our campers have to hand in a letter they’ve written to their parents asÂ their ticket to get into dinner. Rick and I sit outside the dining hall with a completeÂ list of camper names, and we check them off as they hand in their letters.Â We try to remember their names without peaking at their nametag or the address on theÂ envelope they’re handing us.Â Â It’s very satisfying when we can successfully do this!
Of course, learning the campers’ names is just the tip of the iceburg.Â Truly getting to know each child and teen as a person is what counts, and that happensÂ on so many levels at Maine Arts Camp.Â Our staff get to know our campers very well, especially if they live in their dorm or teach them in activities.Â Parents can attest to this by the very personalÂ letters they receive from a counselor, telling all about their child’s experience at camp.Â Getting to know everyone isÂ an intentionalÂ part of the culture at Maine Arts Camp.Â Because we limit ourÂ enrollment to a maximum of 115 campers per session,Â each oneÂ receivesÂ a lot ofÂ personal attention.Â This mightÂ meanÂ improved skills in painting, pottery or dance class, or it mightÂ mean success in working through an issue with making friends.Â Regardless, it means improved self-esteem and a successful summer camp experience.
To see our 2012 rates and dates, please visit our website: www.maineartscamp.com. To find out if we might be a good fit for your child or teen, please give us a call!Â (561) 865-4330.
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