“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”
In this competitive, self-focused era, learning to be part of a team is a valuable skill that is not often taught to children (or adults!). Kids participate on many sports teams, but often that experience does not end up being a lesson in teamwork. Instead, sports teams often become a competitive experience of trying to get the position or play time they want as an individual.
One reason for our focus on non-competitive programs is so that kids can learn new skills without feeling the pressure to win or be the best. We also want kids to learn to be part of a team (their cabin group) and be better team members. The experience of living with a group of diverse people in a cabin group is the first lesson in teamwork that campers learn. Campers learn to work together to keep their living area organized, do daily clean up, and get to where they need to be (meals, activities, etc.). They also learn to support and encourage each other and help each cabin member do their best at each activity.
During the first few days of camp, each of our cabin groups goes through a “Team Building” program led by our trained ropes course staff. During a variety of games and activities, the campers learn to work together to accomplish tasks that they can only complete by working together as a team. They learn about listening, communication, leadership, and how to work through conflicts. The communication skills they learn at Team Building are used throughout their camp session. Lessons like taking turns when talking, sharing leadership, and planning before doing are all teamwork skills that campers can take home with them.
Counselors work with campers throughout their session to:
• Help them see how they contribute and what special skills they bring to the group.
• Teach them to communicate well as a team, including how to brainstorm without judgment, listen to others’ ideas, and work through conflicts.
• Focus on how they can be good friends to their cabin mates.
And that’s how we practice teamwork at GAC!