Sunshine and Michael Thompson

Episode 62.

For this very special episode of the POG-Cast we were joined by long time parenting and camp guru Michael Thompson, Ph.D. to talk about independence, life success,  raising children in the modern world, and how camp can help with all of that. Dr. Thompson is the author of Homesick and Happy, which we send to all of our first-year camp families.

This interview was originally recorded for Sunshine’s podcast, the Sunshine Parenting Podcast. You can find all of Dr. Thompson’s books at michaelthompson-phd.com/books/

 

Be You: Be your Best Self

BE YOU Week 10: Be your Best Self

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.”
-Oprah Winfrey

For many years we have heard both campers and staff say that camp is where they can be their most true, authentic selves. Being your true self is an important value and we want you to celebrate your differences and what makes you exactly who you are.

We want to encourage you to continue focusing on being your best self all year long. Depending on where you are in life, the focus might be something different. Let’s take a look back at our deeper questions from each week of our Be You series, to help you find an area that applies to where you are in life right now.

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question: 

What are you going to do to be the best, most authentic version of you? You can take something we talked about over the course of this series or you can find another area of your life that you want to focus on. By focusing on being your best self, you are going to be giving the world and those around you something special. Everyone and everything will benefit from who you are and what you have to share.

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Assign a family member, friend, and yourself to each day of the week to be the focus of that day. For example, your mom could be assigned to Monday, assign yourself to Tuesday, your best friend can be Wednesday, your sister on Thursday, etc. Whoever is the focus of the day, make sure you are doing something to help them see the best version of themselves. By bringing out their best qualities, you are, in turn, bringing out yours!

We are so glad that you have joined us on this journey of discovering how to truly be you!

Resources

Be You!

BE YOU: Change the World

BE YOU Week 9: Change the World

“This world needs somebody like you.”
– Anthem Lights

At GAC, we believe in bringing positive changes to the world. In fact, it’s one of our core values that our campers and staff leave GAC ready to be leaders by bringing positive changes to the world.

There is a lot going on in the world today. We can choose to complain about what we don’t like about the world (what many adults do) OR we can take a small action ourselves to help bring a positive change.

What bothers you most about the world? What’s something you’d like to change or help fix? Instead of complaining about it, do some research about how YOU can contribute your time or skills to make a positive impact. 

Change starts with one person believing in something and being willing to take action.

Adults need to stop asking kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “Where do you want to go to college?” Instead, let’s start asking, “How will YOU bring positive changes to the world?”

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

How will you use your unique combination of strengths, skills, and interests to make this world a better place?

Examples of bringing positive change:

Make a list of ways you will bring positive changes to the world and reflect back on them from time to time!

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Create a world-changing calendar for yourself! At GAC, we have monthly kindness calendars and we want to encourage you to create monthly calendars with ways to bring positive changes to the world. Think of daily or weekly tasks where you can do something nice for a neighbor, your community, or a friend. Create the calendar and print it for easy viewing!

Resources

Be You!

30 Days of Kindness

7 Ways You Can Change the World

BE YOU: Get Stronger

BE YOU Week 8: Get Stronger

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.”
– Tony Robbins

There are many ways to get stronger. We get stronger physically by exercising or playing sports, but we can also get stronger mentally or emotionally by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Sometimes we need to test the waters and see how our bodies and minds react to trying something new. We might start to climb the ladder at high ropes and realize that our heart is racing and our body is tensing. That’s okay. You tried and now you can create a goal to try again. Maybe next time you will push yourself to finish climbing the ladder. Then the next time you will push yourself to climb the ladder and stand at the top for ten minutes. While we are pushing ourselves physically, we are also pushing ourselves mentally. We are becoming mentally stronger knowing that we can trust our body and mind to accomplish great things.

At camp, we like to set goals. Whether you are a camper or a staff member, setting goals is important to the growth you experience during your time at camp. The goals you set for yourself help you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and in turn, make you stronger emotionally, and maybe even physically. Sometimes our goal is to try a new physical activity, like high ropes or waterskiing, and sometimes it is to emotionally challenge ourselves, like learn three fun facts about a new friend.

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

Small things that we commit to doing every day can make us stronger. We get in the habit of doing these things and they become easier and part of who we are. At GAC, we like to use BJ Fogg’s model of Tiny Habits. A tiny habit is something that is so small that if you do it over and over again you will get a changed outcome. Here is a way to create and accomplish your tiny habit:

1. Trigger: After I ______ (pick something you do regularly, like brushing your teeth or picking up your phone)
2. Tiny Habit: I will ______ (do three pushups, write a gratitude note, drink a glass of water, etc.)
3. Celebrate: AWESOME! (pick a celebratory act, like high-fiving yourself in the mirror or giving yourself a fist bump)

When you celebrate your changed behavior, your brain reacts in a positive way and wants that praise more, therefore you will want to keep doing that habit. Once your tiny habit has become easy or part of your everyday routine, you can adjust that habit to keep pushing yourself further.

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Think of ways that you can get physically and mentally stronger that are outside of your comfort zone. What are some physical things that you can do to become stronger? Try to make a tiny habit out of one of those and push yourself to where you are more comfortable doing that activity. Now think of ways you can become mentally or emotionally stronger. Sometimes those physical and emotional actions will overlap. Over time, you will become stronger and more confident!

Resources

Be You!

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg

Grit, Goals, and Growth

BE YOU: Celebrate What Makes you Different

BE YOU Week 7: Celebrate What Makes you Different

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
– Dr. Seuss

One of the most important things you can do in your life is to be yourself by being different. Your differences and quirks are the coolest things about you. Let’s embrace our differences to truly be our best selves!

Camp is one of the best places to completely be yourself. You are encouraged to dance silly, play crazy games, and embrace others’ quirks. When we all come together at camp, everyone’s differences in a cabin group are what make the experience so special. We all bring something unique to the table through our personalities, interests, and talents. We need to be recognizing those unique character traits and celebrating them!

Sometimes it’s easier to think that an interest or your personality is not “normal,” but really what does that even mean? We throw around the word “normal” about certain things, but who ultimately decides what is normal and not? Instead of thinking about things as not normal or different, just think of them as the unique set of traits that sets you apart from everyone else. Doesn’t that sound cool? You are different and that’s the best part about you because that means you are truly being who you are!

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

This week, think about things that make you happy and that you love doing, but others may view as “interesting” or “weird.” Those are the things that make you stand out and that your friends appreciate about you. If we were all the same, how boring would life be? The things that make us different are the very things that make us stand out from the crowd and make us unique. Embrace the things that make you YOU. Celebrate your differences and keep being you!

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

A fun activity to get you thinking about things that make you stand out from the crowd is creating an acrostic with your name! To create an acrostic, write out your name with one letter being on each line of a piece of paper. Next to each letter, write out a character trait or something you enjoy doing that sets you apart from others that starts with that same letter. Here is an example for Henry (the dog):

Hairy
Energetic
Nurturing
Regal
Young at heart

Have fun creating your acrostic! Feel free to share them on social media and tag us using #GACbeyou!

Resources

Be You!

The Artisan Life’s Positive Adjectives

Celebrating Strengths

BE YOU: Positive Self Talk

BE YOU Week 6: Positive Self Talk

“The more I like me, the less I want to pretend to be other people.”
– Jamie Lee Curtis

The self-talk you do in your own head can help or hurt you. If you are talking negatively to yourself, it will hurt your confidence and your self-love. If you are talking yourself up and speaking positive things, you will in turn help yourself be more confident, and will hopefully love yourself all the more!

The way we think changes how we feel and our behaviors. To be more confident, you have to change the way you think about yourself. Sometimes we say mean things to ourselves when we should be speaking to ourselves the same way we would speak to a friend. Before saying something to yourself, think, “Would I say this out loud to a friend?” If not, erase it and move on. If so, say it and celebrate!

We know ourselves better than anyone else. We know our strengths and our weaknesses, and we know the areas we need to improve upon versus the areas where we are stronger. It’s often easier for us to notice the more “negative” areas in our lives and be more critical with ourselves. Instead of focusing on those negatives, let’s try to solely focus on the positive parts of our lives. Tell yourself you are proud when you accomplish something you have strived to complete. Tell yourself you are a good friend when you help someone in need. Tell yourself you can do it when you are facing something difficult. When you talk to yourself in a positive light, you will likely spread happiness and positivity to others. When you think of yourself with positive thoughts, you will be more confident in your own skin. Nothing looks better than confidence!

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

What are some positive things you regularly say to yourself? Write these things down and keep them handy. When you need a reminder of how awesome you are, look back at your list. Looking back at the nice things you have said about yourself will remind you of all of the positive attributes that you have noticed in yourself. Since we sometimes tend to focus on the negatives instead of the positives in ourselves, choosing to notice all of the great qualities about you will help you focus on those positive things.

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Develop a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated to help aid concentration in meditation. Come up with some pep talks for yourself for when you need a boost or a reminder of how awesome you are! Make some mantras for different situations that you may encounter. Write them down or memorize them and say them when needed. You can do it!

Resources

Be You!

The Power of Positive Words

Being Me

BE YOU: Build Others Up

BE YOU Week 5: Build Others Up

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”
– Kid President

One way we can be our best selves is by bringing out the best traits in others. When we’re at our best, we feel confident in ourselves and don’t feel the need to put others down.

Building others up is a great way to boost the feelings of others while doing something nice for yourself. There are many ways to build others up. Think about things that make you feel more confident or happy, and pay it forward by treating or doing a similar thing for someone else. Here are a few ways you can build others up:

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

Your challenge this week is to find a way to build another person up and help them be their best self. So think about someone in your life – a family member or friend –  and give them a sincere compliment, tell them something positive you notice about them, and look for ways to make them feel loved and accepted.

Ask your friends about things they’re interested in. Find out what makes them feel good and try to remember what they like or what they’re good at. You will help them feel good about themselves, and in turn, you will feel good about yourself. 

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

This week, we challenge you to build yourself and others up! Find different ways to build your friends up. While building others up, you will feel better about yourself. Keep a list of ways for future reference so that when you need a way to help or encourage a friend, you will be able to look back at it for ideas.

Resources

Be You!

In Helping Others, You Help Yourself

Filling Buckets

BE YOU: Appreciate, Don’t Compare

BE YOU Week 4: Appreciate, Don’t Compare

Comparison is the thief of joy.
– Theodore Roosevelt

We are so excited to have Chelster join Sunshine this week for our #GACbeyou podcast. This week, we are talking about focusing on the qualities we really like in ourselves and trying to refrain from comparing ourselves to others. It’s our human tendency to see others and immediately compare ourselves to them. We tend to want to be like them and often lose sight of all the wonderful things we bring to the table. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we can be happy that they are the way they are and appreciate them for that!

Life is like a team. We all play different parts and bring different skills to the team. It’s important to remember that the team will be at its best when everyone focuses on the skills that they are there to perform.

Instead of comparing, we should appreciate each other. We should be grateful for who they are and who we are. We can combine our strengths and talents with others’ to do bigger and better things. We are also more effective when we are appreciating and lifting others for who they are, instead of bringing them or ourselves down.

This week’s #GACbeyou challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

We all have so much to offer and so much to be grateful for. What are some things that you appreciate about others? Maybe you appreciate others’ kindness and their ability to keep secrets. Being able to recognize the things you appreciate about others, will help you appreciate things in yourself more easily.

Practicing daily gratitude is an easy way to appreciate who you are. Be grateful for being exactly who you are. If there is something you appreciate about yourself that you learned from someone else, maybe write them a letter telling them how they impacted your life. In the words of Anthem Lights, “‘Cause anybody can be a copy, and there will always be people talking. So face your fears and chase your dreams, and dance like no one’s watching.”

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

This week, we challenge you to learn more about yourself! Make a list of things you really like about yourself, including what makes you unique. Make another list of things others love about you! Ask your family members, friends, or even coaches. When you need a reminder of what makes you AWESOME, you will have these lists to look back on!

Resources

Be You!

Comparison is the Thief of (Parenting) Joy

30 Things to Appreciate About You

How to Appreciate What You Have

 

BE YOU: What Stresses you Out? What Calms you Down?

BE YOU Week 3: What Stresses you Out? What Calms you Down?

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

What are things that really stress you out or make you feel not so great? It is good to identify these things so that we can try to avoid them or work on strategies to manage them.

This week, we want to focus on identifying those stresses and identifying ways to calm our bodies and cope in those moments. Emotional regulation is an important life skill that should be talked about and practiced like any other skill. As we mature and gain life experience, we find new ways to calm our stresses and new ways to cope with our emotions. It’s important to learn how to process our emotions in a positive way.

Our very own Audrey “Sunshine” Monke has created a helpful list of ten ways to teach kids to calm down. Although not all of these will work for each individual, we hope you will be able to gain some valuable tools from this list.

  1. Go to a “chill spot.”
    • Designate a spot that is strictly for calming down. Maybe even have some calming activities stored in that area (coloring supplies, books, etc).
  2. Go outside for a walk or run.
    • This can be a group activity or solo, but try to include some quiet reflective time.
  3. Take some deep breaths.
    • Focus on deeper, slower breaths rather than shallower, faster breaths.
  4. Count to 10 (or 100).
    • Count in your head while focusing on your breathing before responding to a situation.
  5. Listen to some soothing music.
    • Make a playlist of happy songs, not angry or aggressive songs.
  6. Think of something you’re grateful for.
    • Jot down something your grateful for when you are feeling down. Use pen and paper or even type it in your phone so that you can revert back to it at a later time.
  7. Look at a funny meme or video.
    • A good belly laugh is good for the soul. Look up your favorite memes or even videos on your phone.
  8. Hug.
    • Hug a loved one. While you are hugging, focus on your breathing. It will calm both parties.
  9. Loosen up.
    • Focus on breathing and counting while stretching or doing your favorite yoga poses.
  10. Sit quietly and have a drink of water, cup of tea, or piece of fruit.
    • You could even include this in the “chill spot”.

Practice some of these techniques the next time you need to calm down and figure out which ones work best for you!

This Week’s #GACbeyou Challenge

Journal or share with someone else (can be a parent, sibling, or friend) your answer to this question:

When have you felt your worst over the past few weeks, or even months? Maybe you felt frustrated, angry, or sad in certain situations. It’s important to identify these things within ourselves, just like we identify all the things or times that get us excited or happy!

What works best for you to help yourself feel better when you are stressed out? There are many different ways to calm down and feel better in a stressful situation. Camp is a great place to destress and calm our bodies. Being in the outdoors and exercising (camp allows us to move our bodies in so many different ways) are among the many ways to help ourselves unwind from our stresses.

Do more of what makes you feel great! Think back to last week’s post and what puts you into “flow.” The times you are in “flow” are usually times when you are doing something that is calming for you and that allows you to put a lot of energy into something you enjoy. The focus that you put into your “flow” activities are sure to be calming and put you in a happy mood!

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Make a chart of things that commonly stress you out or put you in a bad mood. Beside each one, write a calming strategy that might work to calm you down during one of those situations. When you are having a bad day or moment, go to your list and see which strategy you could try out! If it works, put a star next to it so you know that you can do that one again. If it doesn’t really work for you, that’s okay! Try another one until you find a few that you know you can count on!

Resources

Be You!

10 Ways to Teach Kids to Calm Down

Learning to Breathe

7 Reasons to Get Outside

Be You: Find Your “Flow”

BE YOU Week 2: Find Your “Flow”

“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
– Roald Dahl

This week for our BE YOU theme, we’re focusing on finding activities that get you into a state of “flow.”

Flow is a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (pronounced “cheeks sent me high”) that refers to a state of optimal experience and involvement in an activity during which we are performing at our best.

Watch Dr. Csikszentmihalyi talk about flow in his TED Talk, “Flow, the Secret to Happiness.”

 

When we’re in “flow,” we are doing something we really, really enjoy. We can’t wait to do the activity again, and we feel a lot of positive emotions while participating in the activity. We can stick with it for hours without even noticing the time going by. In fact, when we’re in flow, it’s hard to stop whatever we’re doing. Flow is different from pleasure – simply doing things that are enjoyable like watching TV, scrolling on social media, or shopping. Instead, flow activities usually are demanding and take our full attention and concentration.

People achieve flow in all different ways, including while playing a musical instrument, playing a sport, writing, painting, attending a concert, bird watching, riding a horse, or running, to name just a few. Often we cannot relate to the passion others have for their personal “flow” activity, since their enthusiasm and passion seem inordinately high. For the lucky ones among us, we find flow in our daily work.

The younger you are, the more likely it is that you’ve been in flow today. Young children excel at getting into a state of flow, usually during unstructured play time. As they create their pretend worlds, “cook” in the sand box, build a fort, or swing high on a swing, they are joyful and time flies by for them. Young children are experts at happily living in the moment. As we get older, however, we need to be more aware of getting ourselves into that engaged, amazing state that we enjoyed when we were younger.

Here’s an official definition of flow:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

And here are some ideas of possible flow activities from Deann Ware, Ph.d:
Physical activities such as sports, yoga, dance, and martial arts
Outdoor challenges such as hiking
Music–writing, playing, mixing
Art–painting, sculpture, mixed media, pottery
Photography
Woodworking
Do-It-Yourself projects, such as home improvement
Working with animals
Gardening
Cooking and baking
Software development/coding
Scrapbooking
Writing
Needlework–sewing, knitting, cross stitch
Horseback riding
What you do for work (hopefully!)

This week’s #GACbeyou challenge

What activities get you into flow? When have you been doing something that you are so engaged that you’ve completely lost track of time? That’s a fun thing to explore as we continue to delve into our “BE YOU” theme. Flow states are a great clue as we figure out who we are and what makes us our best self!

What are new activities you want to try this summer?

What makes your heart “sing?”

Sometimes, we need to explore different activities before we figure out which activities get us into that awesome state of flow. Don’t worry if you haven’t found that awesome, engaged state yet. Sometimes, it takes awhile to explore, and many adults haven’t even figured it out yet! So start now, while you have some free time, exploring different activities – creative, athletic, academic, etc. – and find your flow!

GACspiration

Want to be inspired? Print out this week’s GACspiration and post it on your bathroom door or mirror (just like at GAC)!

Activity Ideas

Make a list of different possible flow activities that you want to explore. Consider different hobbies, sports, and music you have some interest in learning more about.

Try one new activity from the list you made.

More Flow activity ideas:
positivepsychology.com
dailyshoring.com

From Designing Your Life:
Energy Engagement Worksheet

Good Time Journal Activity Log

Resources

Be You!

Read more about flow in this post on Sunshine Parenting.

Helping Kids Find Flow

Ways to Teach Kids Flow

Learn more about FLOW.