Empowered Girls Empower Girls: How Summer Camp Can Build Resilience in your Daughter

Empowered Girls Empower Girls: How Summer Camp Can Build Resilience in your Daughter

Lonehollow’s four core values of growth, empowerment, adventure, and resilience are the driving force behind everything we do. We want every camper who comes through our gates to walk away feeling stronger, more empowered, and ready to conquer any challenge she may face.

And research shows that we might be on to something.

In a recent study published in Camping Magazine Anja Whittington and Jeffrey Aspelmeier surveyed 476 adolescent girls from six different residential camps to study the effects of the summer camp experience on girls’ resilience (one of our core values!)

Below is a sample item of the scale the authors used.

The results of the study indicated that girls who attend summer camp reported increased resilience after their participation.

Whittington and Aspelmeier measure resilience on a set of three subscales: approach to challenge, self efficacy, and relationship building.

Approach to challengethe degree to which girls view challenge positively, respond positively to stressful situations, feel brave and courageous, show persistence, and are flexible when problem solving

Girls navigate unforeseen challenges every day outside of camp.

And while these experiences do allow them to unconsciously develop a stronger approach to challenge, at Lonehollow, our methods are more intentional.

We not only guide campers in approaching and overcoming specific challenges, such as qualifying in classes or winning the Crew Banner, but also allow them to challenge themselves and provide them with a level of support only attainable at camp.

On the first day of each session, every camper completes a Goal Card. Campers list the goals they hope to achieve while at Lonehollow and counselors work hand-in-hand with them, encouraging and assisting as needed to give the girls (and boys!) the best possible chance at accomplishing their goals. (This also builds Asset #21: Achievement Motivation!)

In Whittington and Aspelmeier’s study, the authors state that girls ages 14-17 reported the most improvement in their approach to challenge between the start and end of camp.

We often refer to girls in that age range as Silo Girls, since most of them live in cabins calld the Silos. We choose counselors for the Silos based specifically on their ability to relate to the older girls and serve as mentors for them. These counselors are able to provide the girls with the perfect amount of support and encouragement to not only improve their approach to challenge, but also to boost their self-esteem.

Self-efficacy – the degree to which girls believe they are capable and feel they have the ability and motivation to complete tasks and reach goals

We encourage our campers to own their experience at Lonehollow. By allowing them the freedom to create their own activity schedules, based on their individual interests and abilities, we provide the girls with a level of reassurance that their days will be filled with fun and not with fear.

But we also provide them with a safe space; a space to face their fears, to learn new skills, and to make new mistakes in the process. From riding a horse for the first time to landing a new trick in mountain boarding, Lonehollow campers across the board conquer their fears with the help and encouragement of their counselors, and leave camp believing in themselves and feeling confident.

Relationship Building – the degree to which girls form positive relationships with others, successfully negotiate conflicts in relationships, and feel comfortable with and supported by other girls 

Lonehollow is in the business of building. Whether building assets, building confidence, or building relationships, one of our goals is for every camper to make lifelong friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

Whittington and Aspelmeier argue, however, that “simply bringing girls together does not promote relationship building, and intentional strategies must be incorporated to improve girls’ relationships.”

Lonehollow’s programming provides campers with ample opportunities to build relationships with their cabin mates, including mealtimes, age-specific Value Sessions centered on building assets, and Evening Programs such as Cabin Night and the 8th Grade Campout. It is our counselors, however, who ensure that the girls take advantage of these opportunities.

We train our counselors to be intentional in their actions and to guide campers in bonding with each other, especially during the first few days of each session. Counselors work hard to find commonalities between the girls and create a friendly and inclusive environment in the cabin. By the end of each two-week session, a unique and dynamic culture has been created in each cabin, where the laughter is contagious, the memories are priceless, and the friendships are for life.

Girls can (and will!) face challenges, learn new skills, conquer their fears, and make friendships in their everyday lives, but camp is unique in its capacity for internal growth. Based on our research, our experience, and our core values, we know that a summer spent at Lonehollow, under the influence of our amazing counselor staff, will improve campers’ approach to challenge, self-efficacy, and relationship building skills for good.

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