The Four R’s are the foundation of our philosophy at Camp Champions.
Responsibility at camp starts with campers learning to care for themselves and their living areas. Campers must clean their cabins and meal areas. They can win Inspection and Clean Table Awards for their dedication to these duties, but responsibility at camp goes beyond concerns for cleanliness.
We stress taking responsibility for actions.
We provide clear rules with fair and understandable consequences. We stress fairness and sportsmanship in our activities. These are excellent starting points for younger campers, and as the campers get older, our message becomes more nuanced.
Ultimately, we want to teach campers that by taking responsibility they can, to a degree, control what happens to them.
For example, if a camper is struggling with a cabinmate, we might ask her what she can do to improve the relationship instead of dwelling on what the other camper is doing wrong. Working with the campers this way reminds each of us that we need to be personally accountable and responsible in all we do.
We want our campers to respect each other, their surroundings, and themselves. We begin by teaching them our tradition of saying "sir” and “ma’am”. Every camper and counselor is referred to by his or her first name with “sir” or “ma’am” tacked on. For example, our directors are Leah Ma’am and Erec Sir. This sometimes strikes parents as an excessively formal or military approach, but our intention is simply to build the habit of respect by verbally expressing it throughout the day.
Respect might start with our language, but it continues in all we do. We teach our campers to appreciate and respect the world around them. We help them with their listening skills (which is important when you are in a cabin of 12). We emphasize respect for competitors.
We believe that each of us is glorious and has a special life to lead.
We hope that by believing this about each camper, they will begin to believe it about themselves. When this occurs, they learn to respect themselves.
In noted child psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Ponton’s excellent book, The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do What They Do, she asserts that teenagers are “wired” to take risks and that this is a natural part of developing risk assessment skills.
The challenge for parents and educators is to encourage “healthy risks.” Dr. Ponton distinguishes between healthy risks (e.g., trying out for a team, performing music in front of an audience) and unhealthy risks (drinking, extreme dieting, teen pregnancies). We recognize that camp is an ideal environment for taking healthy, reasonable risks.
At camp, we provide challenging but safe risks for all ages of campers. For a first time camper, simply coming to camp and having fun away from home is taking a risk. Scaling our climbing wall is another great example. Being 30 feet up can be a little scary, but it’s perfectly safe.
For older campers, we focus even more on these challenges. Our senior high program is designed to challenge and stretch our campers. We want them to spend time out of their comfort zone, but to do so in a safe and healthy way.
Reaching out is one of the cornerstones of the community we have built at camp. We encourage our campers to help and encourage each other throughout the day. A boy who knows how to ride a horse or a girl who knows how to ski can do a lot to pass on that skill to a cabinmate. Campers can also help each other with the cabin’s responsibilities during inspection and meal cleanups. Our senior camper program is designed to teach the older campers (those going into 10th-12th grade) to work with younger campers as mentors and leaders.
We also want our counselors to model reaching out for our campers. Our counselors work together in pairs in each cabin and as instructors in activities. They also work as mentors to our senior campers to teach them counselor skills. Finally, during orientation we choose a day to dedicate all of our staff for a Service Day in the surrounding community.
We believe in the power of reaching out to others—it is our observation that people who give readily to others are also those who live the fullest and most joyous lives.
At Champions, you’ll see campers grow while they are almost having too much fun to notice. In a kid’s mind, camp is simply a blast!!!