A Camp Friendship Circle – The Sense of Belonging and Comradery
Camp Lee Mar has an amazing speech, social skills and academic program. It is such a strong program that many parents feel that their camper learns more in the seven weeks at Camp Lee Mar than they do during the school year!
The best part about camp is that we teach so many skills to our campers, and we do it so well that most of the time our campers don’t even know that they are learning. On a daily basis our campers learn communications skills, resilience, problem solving and flexible thinking. These skills are not only “taught” in classroom speech and social skills groups, but are also reinforced in natural social settings across all activities; art, sports, swim, drama, free time, etc.
The social community at Camp Lee Mar allows our campers to develop self-confidence knowing that they are accepted for who they are and that they will be respected and have friends.
The Camp Lee Mar connection
There is such a strong sense of community in a camp setting. Our staff and campers share their interests and experiences, a common sense of growth and purpose, and a true understanding of each other’s needs. This sense of belonging and community builds our campers’ social-emotional health and creates a genuine friendship circle and a sense of well-being. It is from this strong base that so many new skills can be developed as our campers grow in independence, self-confidence and self-awareness.
Belonging to the Camp Lee Mar community
As a community, Camp Lee Mar is very welcoming and understanding of our campers needs. Many of our campers have not had a sincere sense of belonging in their school or after-school programs and, as a result, have become very guarded and resistant to trying new things out of fear or failure of ridicule. The comradery that is built during the summers at camp allows our campers to feel loved and supported in pushing themselves outside their comfort zone. Our campers know that everyone has areas of need and will happily cheer on their bunkmates as they attempt new things.
This growth continues after the summer as well, with our campers displaying the ability to
- Have the self-confidence to try new things both at school and at home
- Display resilience in the face of adversity and be flexible with change
- Demonstrate respect for others and themselves
- Show growing social skills by showing empathy toward their family and peers
Having a strong sense of belonging also helps our campers with transitional periods/times of change. The ability to adapt to the camp program and develop a friendship circle can carry over to home and school. Our campers have an easier time adapting to a new grade, new teacher, or a new therapist. The sense of belonging at camp is created by the director and staff by modeling, coaching, and reinforcing behaviors that support inclusivity, kindness to others, respect for our differences, and empathy toward others.
At Camp Lee Mar each child knows that they belong and are also given the opportunity to practice the skills necessary to make others feel the same. This creates amazing friendships and friendship circles.
The Camp Lee Mar growth mindset
Helping a child develop a positive growth mindset has been a topic of educational development over the past few years. In the growth mindset model children are taught to believe in themselves, and that their talents, abilities, and intelligence can all be developed through effort, persistence, and learning. At Camp Lee Mar we could not agree more!
Many of our campers have struggled with fixed beliefs and ridged thoughts that have held them back from trying new things. Camp is an opportunity to break some of these negative thought patterns in a supportive environment. Our campers learn to push themselves outside their comfort zone, to make new friends and try things that are new. Our campers also learn that it is okay to make mistakes and work on the ability to persevere when things don’t go their way. During their summer at Camp Lee Mar our campers have so much fun while learning that being resilient leads to success, and it is okay to ask for help from others.
Written by Lynsey Trohoske
My name is Lynsey Trohoske, I am the assistant director at Camp Lee Mar. I have three amazing children, my middle child happens to be on the autism spectrum and is a camper at Lee Mar. I joined camp as a counselor in 1998 and loved the campers and their families so much that Camp Lee Mar became my second home!