Learning About Respect at ASYMCA Camp Hero
Blog Series written by: Kristen Mihalko, Family & Youth Program Leader
August 20, 2013 San Diego- At the Armed Services YMCA’s Camp Hero, campers enjoy a week of team building activities, arts and crafts, and adventures in beautiful San Diego. Young military kids attend camp with the hope of meeting new friends, exploring new places and going home with new experiences. Camp curriculum is designed around the core values of the Armed Services YMCA: Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility. These values are shared and taught through fun and unique activities. Respect is the first value that is introduced. When counselors present the core value, they ask campers their thoughts on respect and all campers respond in the same way: “Treat others how you would like to be treated.” Over the course of the week, campers demonstrate respect by helping counselors with supplies, respecting each other’s spaces, and maintaining good sportsmanship when playing team games.
One of the activities that campers enjoy is our recycled picture frame craft that goes home with them at the end of the day on Friday. This picture frame not only represents the value of caring for our planet by reusing something that would otherwise be thrown away, but it also gives them a group picture to take home with some kind words written by their friends. A paper with the name of each camper is passed around the group. On it, their peers write a personal compliment for that child. This activity allows our campers to think about the power words they learn throughout the week and also practice the core value of respect. They learn to respect their fellow campers and find qualities they appreciate in one another. At the end of the activity, each person receives their card back to read what was written by their peers. It is such a pleasure to see the smiles that pop up on faces throughout the room. Some students even thank their friends out loud, “Thanks for saying that!”
At the end of the day during Camp Hero, our campers are able to share highlights and give “shout outs” to their friends. Matthew Herron was especially excited about his picture frame. His “shout out” went to everyone in the room, “There are fourteen people who gave me a compliment! Someone thought I was brave and funny.” It is moments like this that Camp Hero is built on – inclusion of military children and helping them discover positive qualities in themselves. Matthew’s joy over receiving compliments summed up the week first week of Camp Hero: a place to make new friends and experience what it feels like to be respected.