Campfire Notes

Filling Buckets: Our 2019 Theme

Filling Buckets: Our 2019 Theme

This year’s summer theme, chosen to help guide campers to be the best versions of themselves, is “Filling Buckets.”

Our first summer theme was in 2012 when we chose the theme of gratitude. We followed that theme with kindness (Cool 2B Kind), relationship building (Creating Connections), helpfulness (Give a Hand), grit (Growing Grit), positivity (The Energy Bus), and 2018’s focus on friendship (Find-a-Friend).

One thing that makes life at camp special is that we live in a community where our shared experience is full of face-to-face, positive interactions with each other.  At camp, we are shielded from input and news from life outside of GAC and we take a break from the pressures of social media. This unique setting provides us the privilege and responsibility of maintaining our own positive and encouraging atmosphere.

Writing encouraging notes, or “WOWs” to each other is one of our “bucket filling” GAC traditions.

Every interaction we have with another person is an opportunity to have a positive, negative, or neutral impact. It is easy to be too self-focused and worry about our own agenda and needs. Encouraging others and actively seeking opportunities to have a positive impact are noble challenges we are excited to embrace in our community.

Tom Rath and Donald Clifton of Gallup Strengthsfinders introduced “The Theory of the Bucket and the Dipper” in their bestselling 2004 book, How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life.

From How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton

Carol McCloud’s 2015 children’s book Have You Filled A Bucket Today? presents Rath and Clifton’s concept in a simplified version and is our inspiration for this year’s theme.

Here are some of the 2019 GAC staff reading Have You Filled a Bucket Today?:

We’re thrilled to make our GAC community stronger by helping campers understand that encouragement makes others feel valued. Together, we will experience the joy that comes from making others our focus.There are many opportunities at camp to fill other people’s buckets through kindness and encouragement. Filling Buckets means using our words and actions to show how much we care:

  • Sharing a heartfelt smile
  • Greeting each other by name
  • Helping others without being asked
  • Giving sincere compliments
  • Recognizing others for bravery and achievements
  • Encouraging others when they succeed and also when they’re struggling
  • Elevating the needs of others above our own
  • Seeking opportunities to have a positive impact on others

Filling Buckets builds on the work we’ve done in the areas of positivity, friendship, and kindness. The friendships we forge at camp are special for many reasons, and we know that keeping the focus on lifting each other up will add depth and richness to our connections. It is our sincere hope that 2019’s GAC campers will take this theme home and continue to make positive changes in their communities by being kind and encouraging with everyone they encounter. Everyone deserves a full bucket!

 

2019 Theme: Filling Buckets

How Full is Your Bucket, Tom Rath & Donald Clifton

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? Carol McCloud

The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket

 

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What to Say to a Nervous Camper

What to Say to a Nervous Camper

This post is for those of you who have decided that your child is going to camp, and especially for those of you who had a previously excited camper who is now having last-minute camp anxiety.   Here are some messages you can give prior to dropping your camper at the bus or at camp.  Pick and choose, and of course use your own words, but acknowledge your child’s feelings and empathize with them while holding firm in your confidence in their ability to succeed and your belief that camp will be good for them.

One thing I’ve learned after close to three decades at camp is that the same kids who are anxious and hesitant about going to camp when they’re nine or ten will still be anxious when they’re 13.  And they may not be interested in going away to college when they’re 18, either.   So, as a parent, you need to decide how to approach your child’s separation anxiety, as well as your own.  You can avoid it and not send them to camp and hope that they develop independence in other ways, which is definitely possible.  Or, you can bite the bullet, give them these positive messages, and send them off to camp with a smile, knowing that it may be hard for them, but they will grow from the experience.

Words to say

“It may seem like a long way off, but in a few years, you’ll be ready for college.  I want you to feel confident in your ability to live away from me, so that you can choose any school you like, even if it’s far away from home.  Think of camp like your practice time for when you’re older and ready to move away for school or a job.  You’ll get better at being independent by starting now, when you’re young, with short spurts of time away.  Some kids aren’t doing well when they start college because they don’t have any experience being away from home.  I want you to feel great when you go to college, because you’ll know that you’ve already been successful with short camp stays.”

“You may feel homesick, and that’s okay.  A lot of kids feel that way. That just means that you love us and you love home.   I feel homesick when I’m on trips, too.  Missing home is part of life.  But I know you can still have fun at camp, even if you feel sad sometimes.”

“There are adults at camp (counselors, directors) who are there to take care of you and help you with anything you need.  They can help with things you normally come to me about.  Let them know if you are feeling sad, and they can help you.  They have lots of experience working with kids who are away from home for the first time.”

“Many good things in life aren’t easy at first.  Learning a new sport or trying something new is really hard.   Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to discover something you really love.  If you never go through anything hard, you’re going to miss out on some great experiences.  The first few days of camp may be hard, and that’s okay.  I know you’ll work through it and figure out what makes you feel better.  I have confidence in you, and I am so proud of you for going to camp and trying this new adventure!”

“Every day comes with its good and bad parts.  When you’re at camp, I want you to write me letters and tell me all of the stuff that you’re doing and feeling.  If you feel homesick at rest time, tell me about it, and also tell me what you did to help yourself.  Did you talk to your counselor?  Keep yourself busy playing cards with friends?  Write me a letter?  I also want you to share good stuff.  Did you get your favorite food for lunch?  Try rock climbing?  Get up on a knee board?  I want to hear both the good and bad things about camp in your letters.”

“I am so excited that you get to go to camp this year.  I know it’s going to be such a great experience for you and that you are ready for this.”

“Even if you’re a little homesick for the whole time you’re at camp, you’re going to feel so much better about the experience if you stick it out and make the best of it.  Most kids feel better after a few days of getting settled in and adjusted, and I know you’ll feel great once you let yourself relax and just start enjoying all the fun things at camp.  I’m not going to pick you up early, no matter what, because I know you will feel really proud of yourself for making it through camp, even if you have some hard days.”

Read the original post from which these quotes are excerpted, Messages for an Anxious Camper, at Sunshine Parenting.

Watch a video

More Resources

10 Messages for a Homesick Camper

First-Year Families

Homesick and Happy

When Your Camper Doesn’t Want to go Back to Camp

How to Prepare for Overnight Summer Camp (Video or Podcast)

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