One Word

For each of us, 2020 held a lot of different moments and emotions. We have now entered 2021, which is a great time to sit back and reflect on all that was last year. Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, GAC’s Chief Visionary Officer, shares with us an activity that your entire family can do together that encourages everyone to choose one word that will help to provide guidance, inspiration, and direction for the year.

On her website (Sunshine Parenting) and her podcast, Sunshine shares many resources to encourage family time and reflection, among many other useful topics for parents. To access those resources, sign up to receive her weekly emails or subscribe to her podcast.

A Grateful Family Is A Happy Family: Five Gratitude Practices

Creating a grateful family culture is a challenge in our entitled, indulgent age. Yet much research has confirmed what we intuitively know – practicing gratitude and being grateful are keys to a happier life. Therefore, it’s well worth our consistent and continued effort as parents to model and teach our kids to practice gratitude.  As we enter this Thanksgiving week, let’s promote gratitude in our families. After all, if we constantly dwell on what’s going wrong in our lives and in the world (and stay focused on what we don’t have), we are left feeling anxious, empty, and depressed. But when we take time to count our blessings, we shift our mindsets and become happier, more grateful people.

For those of you who would like to create a more grateful family culture, here are five family gratitude practices you might try. If your family is like most, they will  likely only agree to participate in one or two of these, so choose one that resonates for you and go for it!

Daily Gratitude Sharing

Just like we do with our Highs and Lows at dinner or at camp with campers around the campfire, we can get into the habit of sharing, as a family, one (or more) things we’re grateful for. This can be at family dinner, on the car ride to school, at bedtime, or whatever time works best with your family’s schedule. Just make it a daily habit and everyone will get used to it. When we’ve tried this, it seems to eventually warrant some kind of guidelines about what types of things are “shareable.” For example, being thankful for a particular video game might be appropriate to share once, but it’s best to encourage everyone to share about people and events (rather than things) they are grateful for.

Gratitude Jar or Board

This can be an ongoing family gratitude practice, perhaps kicked off at Thanksgiving and ending on New Year’s Eve. For the jar, people jot down things they are grateful for and put the notes inside. On a specified day (end of the year is good!), empty the jar and read the notes so the whole family can reflect on individual and group blessings. A board is a more visual way to show thanks. Simply tack the notes up as you think of things you’re thankful for. Having  a “minimum daily or weekly requirement” of one note per person works well, just so we make it a habit and fill up our jar or board.

Thankful “Warm Fuzzies” at Thanksgiving

This is one of my favorite activities and something we’ve done for the past few years. Each family member has an oversized place card at their dining spot. Throughout the afternoon and evening, people are required to write something they appreciate or are grateful for about each person on the inside of their place card. It can be just a few words or a whole sentence, but each person needs to write on everyone’s card. These are really fun keepsakes that provide a nice boost to each family member. This can also be done as a group by passing the cards around until each person has signed each other person’s card. When your own card gets back to you, you’ve completed your warm fuzzies!

Gratitude Journal

Ask each family member to find a journal that’s sitting empty or partially empty, or even a spiral notebook will do, and ask them to write down two or three things they are thankful for each day. If someone is feeling especially creative, they can even decorate their journal!  From experience, it’s best not to force anyone to write in their journals! Sharing out loud, at dinner or bedtime (see #1), is better for kids who don’t enjoy writing. Perhaps a good alternative would be a family gratitude journal, completed by a parent or designated scribe, when everyone’s sharing what they’re grateful for. That would be similar to the gratitude jar or gratitude board.

Giving to Others

Perhaps the best way to promote gratitude in our children and ourselves is reaching out and serving others who are less fortunate. There are so many opportunities this time of year (and all year long, for that matter) to participate in collection and delivery of food, toys for children, winter coats, and more. There are so many needy people, and reaching out to help others (even virtually!) not only makes us more kind and compassionate, but also more appreciative of what we have.

There are so many ways to build up our gratitude muscles, and helping our kids learn to be more grateful people can have a life-long positive impact. Here’s to an attitude of gratitude during the holidays! Happy Thanksgiving!

Five (More) Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids To Camp

There are so many reasons great parents choose to send their kids to summer camp. Several years ago, I shared five of them on the most popular post I’ve ever published. But now I have more to share. Consider this the second installment in a series with others to follow, because the list of ways kids benefit from summer camp is seemingly endless.

Since I last wrote about reasons great parents send their kids to camp, I conducted research and found that camp experiences positively impact campers’ happiness and social skills. I’ll begin, then, with happiness.

The first reason great parents send their kids to camp is that it helps them BE HAPPIER.

 

“Camp makes me happy and nothing can prepare me for life as well as this environment.”

“Come on,” you’re thinking, “How can two weeks in the mountains change my child’s overall happiness level?” Good question. One of my research findings was that both parents and kids agree that children feel happier after being at camp. The combination of positive emotions, deep friendships, being disconnected from technology, and just plain fun makes kids feel happier at and after camp I’ve previously written about how the science of positive psychology may explain why kids flourish at camp and demonstrate increased happiness levels before and after their camp experience. In this era, when we’re seeing our kids suffer from rising rates of depression and anxiety, isn’t it nice to know that there’s a place where kids can go that actually serves as a positive intervention for overall happiness?

Next, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them DISCOVER THEIR BEST SELF.

 

“Being at camp gives me this sense of belonging that I’ve never felt anywhere else.”

In many different ways, but all with the same underlying meaning, campers describe camp as a place where they can be themselves. They feel open to saying and being who they really are, not stuck conforming to what’s considered “cool” and “acceptable” in the outside world. Surrounded by a diverse group of friends of different ages and backgrounds, kids develop the ability to explore their own interests and express their own thoughts better. As a parent, I hate to admit that I sometimes push my own interests on my kids, even when I don’t mean to. For example, I might say, “You’re so good at softball! Don’t you want to keep playing?” when my child says she doesn’t want to play anymore. Stepping away from their regular activities and normal life schedules (as well as their well-meaning but often overly directive parents), kids have the opportunity to think through what’s really important to them as individuals.

Third, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them GROW THEIR GRIT.

 

“The counselors challenged me to do things I wouldn’t normally do at home.”

Learning self-reliance, experiencing mistakes and failures, and reaching for goals are all camp experiences that help campers develop their grit, an important character trait that we’ve learned is critical to success in life. Camp offers a unique experience to children – the chance to be away from their parents for a short period of time and learn to handle more things on their own. Without parents to step in and assist, or rescue from mistakes, kids develop confidence in their own ability to make decisions and solve problems. Just being “on their own” is a huge confidence builder for kids, and they feel more self-reliant after being responsible for themselves and their belongings for a few weeks.

Fourth, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them MEET POSITIVE ROLE MODELS.

 

“Camp has made me into a leader, having the best role models as my counselors to look up to.”

One of the best things that happens at camp is that kids get exposed to a different kind of adult role model than what they see in the media. No reality TV stars will be gracing the waterfront or backpacking trips at summer camp. No perfectly coiffed and stick-thin model will be standing next to them brushing teeth in the bathroom. No macho guy who speaks disrespectfully about women will be leading the campfire discussion. In fact, the college students who choose to spend their summer working at camp are an outstanding bunch of young adults. Most are stellar students with outstanding leadership skills. They love the outdoors and working with kids, and they are the kind of people we want our kids to emulate. They love leading discussions on topics that are important to their campers and helping them build confidence. There’s no focus on appearance at summer camp, and so designer clothes, make up, and trendy hair-styles don’t hold the same importance that they do at junior high or high school. In fact, the predominant style at camp is pajama pants paired with dirt and sweat-stained t-shirts. And we hardly ever spend time in front of a mirror.

Finally, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them DEVELOP BETTER COMMUNICATION SKILLS.

 

“The other part of camp that has influenced me the most is the simple idea of trying to always smile.”

In post-camp surveys, campers consistently write about how ditching their electronics was one of the best things about their camp experience. In fact, it’s a practice they take home with them, setting aside phones during meals with friends so they can connect more genuinely, face-to-face. In the absence of technological tethers, campers have many hours each day to practice these face-to-face communication skills. They learn the importance of things like eye contact, smiles, and body language as they positively interact with their peers. Counselors help facilitate lively discussions, and campers learn to ask each other questions, listen more carefully, and figure out common interests. Kids learn and practice valuable communication skills at camp, which they can use throughout their lives.

There you have it! Five (more) reasons that great parents send their kids to camp!

This post was originally published on Sunshine’s blog, Sunshine Parenting. For more camp-related posts, visit the  “Summer Camp” page at her blog.

 

5 Year Blankets & 10 Year Jackets (At-Home Edition)

For long-time GAC campers and staff, receiving their Five Year Blanket is a BIG DEAL. Campers and staff look forward to being wrapped in their blanket at the final Appreciation Campfire of their 5th summer at GAC. This tradition is rich in history dating back to founder Manny Vezie’s days playing football for Notre Dame.

This year, due to the pandemic, we were not able to have in-person GAC sessions, but we did have a phenomenal group of 105 kids participate in GALA, our online leadership program.

During super secret road trips (coordinated with parents) this summer, the GAC crew drove throughout the state of California surprising our 5 & 10 year campers!

Congratulations to the amazing group of loyal GAC campers who celebrated their blanket & jacket years with us in 2020!

Photos

Learn more

5-Year Campers

Happy Campers at Home: 4 Ways to Boost Family Relationships

Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, GAC’s Chief Visionary Officer, researches, writes, and speaks about parenting, social skills, and strategies for raising thriving kids at Sunshine Parenting. In her book, Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, Sunshine shares simple ideas parents can use to create the fun, connection, growth, and happiness of GAC at home. Here are four of Sunshine’s favorite connection tips for families.

If you were to ask me the most important thing parents can provide their children, camp counselors can provide campers, and teachers can provide students, I can sum it up with one word: Connection.
-Audrey “Sunshine” Monke

Building a relationship and connecting with kids—while also helping them learn to connect with each other and form friendships—is the most important experience we can provide our kids to inoculate them against the inevitable setbacks they will face in life.

Here are some simple ideas from GAC for boosting family connections.

One-on-One Check Ins

On our counselor job description, one of their duties is to “check in with each camper, every day.” We call these check-in meetings “One-on-Ones.” Counselors ask campers specific, open-ended questions to elicit how campers are feeling. The counselors ask about their friendships, activities, how much they’re missing home, what’s going well, and if they need help with anything.

These are individual conversations, out of earshot of other kids, that last anywhere from two to five minutes. The campers get accustomed to the check-ins, so they’re not surprised when their counselor starts chatting with them.

As a simple way to deepen your connection with your kids, and know how you can best support them, try having at least one daily one-on-one chat with each of them, modeled after what camp counselors do:

Turn off or put away your phone (and have them put theirs away, too).
Stop doing everything else (cooking, looking at a magazine, etc.).
Give your child your full attention (eye contact, body turned toward them, not thinking about other things).
Ask them a few open-ended questions. “Tell me about the best part of your day” is an easy place to start.

Your one-on-one chats can be anytime. You can make it a daily ritual over an after-school snack, while sharing a hot drink, or while tucking them in at bedtime, but that small, concerted daily investment of time will lead to a closer connection between you and your kids.

If your kids are already teens, know that the best way to have one-on-one chats is to be open to whenever they initiate the talk with you rather than forcing them to be on your schedule. When they talk, drop everything else you’re doing, focus on them, and listen!

Daily Sharing

A highlight of each day at camp is our evening campfire. Gathered around the fire, counselors lead a daily sharing practice. Campers remember these conversations fondly and the evening campfires are many campers’ and staff members’ favorite camp memories.

Find a time each day – dinner or bedtime are often good times to set up a consistent sharing practice – to spend just a few minutes sharing with each other.

The only rules for your daily sharing are that one person speaks at a time and everyone else listens to the person speaking. Your kids may need a few reminders, as listening attentively is a skill most of us need to work on!

Your kids (especially if they are preteens or teenagers) may balk when you bring up the idea of daily sharing and do it for the first time. Stay strong. They will eventually learn to appreciate your daily sharing practice. Even if they continue balking, don’t stop. Even if they don’t show it on the outside, they will eventually come to appreciate a time each day when caring people listen to what they have to say.

Here are a few daily sharing ideas:

“Highs & Lows” or “Roses & Thorns”
This is a simple and well-known sharing practice where each family member shares something good that happened in their day (a high) and something bad (a low). Sharing often leads to stories and discussion about different events — the side track conversations are good, so let those happen! There are also additions you can add. At camp, we often do High, Low, and Hero, where each camper shares their high and low as well as someone who was kind to them or a “hero” that day. Another twist on this activity is called “Rose, Thorn and Leaf.” The rose is the high, the thorn is the low, and the leaf is something you’re looking forward to.

Three Good Things
Each person shares three good things that happened in their day or three things they are grateful for. This gratitude exercise (when journaled) has been proven to reduce depression symptoms. While your sharing conversation won’t be written down (unless you choose to do so), it can still bring a positive focus to your sharing. Ideally, because everyone anticipates the daily sharing, everyone will be more aware of and looking out for the positive things that happen every day.

Kindness
Sunshine loves the idea of sharing something each person did that was kind or something kind someone else did for you. Focusing on kindness is incredibly important in our increasingly unkind-seeming world.

Ask Questions

Questions are a great way to connect with each other and get conversations started.

Here are a few to get you started (from the Questions for Connection GAC counselors use):

Sticky Note Compliment

At GAC, we focus on campers’ strengths and encourage them to think about building upon their strengths. Often as parents we spend a lot of time managing our children or helping them with things they are not good at. A great way to connect and make your child feel great is to leave an encouraging note on your child’s bathroom mirror, on their pillow, or in their lunch box. Tell your child something you really appreciate about them and something that’s an inner quality or strength.

Download Family Connection Tips

Ep. 123: Connection Comes First

How to get Closer to your Kid in 5 Minutes a Day

How to Have a Closer Family in 5 Minutes a Day

Connection Through Questions

Ep.115: Giving Kids Meaningful Compliments

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.