Getting into the swing of the school year can be hard. Waking up early and following a morning routine doesn’t always happen naturally!
If your camper (and you!) are already dragging after the first few days of school, here are some things your camper did this summer that can make back-to-school mornings a little easier:
Preparing as much as possible the night before. Laying out the next day’s clothes and helping your camper pack their backpack can cut out early morning guesswork when everyone is still in a sleepy haze.
Following a calendar of activities. During the summer, each cabin has a calendar of the activities for the term and each camper follows their own individual schedule. Having an easily accessible schedule helps kids feel more ownership over their days!
PM Pack: Goggles, swim suit, cap
Swim Team Practice @ 4pm
PM Pack: LAX pinnie, stick, pads
Lacrosse Practice @ 5:30pm
PM Pack: Latin book
Latin Club meeting after school
PM Pack: Spirit shirt
Football Game @ 7pm
Tidying up in the morning. Cleaning doesn’t have to be a huge overhaul. Each morning at camp, campers straighten up their things and make their beds. Set a time where your camper knows it’s time to finish getting ready and time to start cleaning up. You’ll be amazed at the difference! If your camper needs a morning boost of energy, try playing music to get them moving. Need some musical inspiration? Click here for the songs of Lonehollow 2016!
Set a bedtime routine. Mornings are much easier after a goodnight’s sleep. At home, try and shut down screen time about an hour before bed. At camp, cabins will sometimes read a chapter of a book each night, take turns telling parts of a story back and forth, and play quiet card games as a way to wind down from a busy day.
Getting back to the grind can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be if your camper continues to use the skills he/she built during the summer. We’re geared up for the start of a new school year!
Discovering one’s self-identity is an important part of growing up. Through the challenges and triumphs that children face, they begin to learn who they are, what they love and what they stand for. Your camper will develop a lot of their self identity during his or her time at camp.
Children begin to learn who they are at a very early age. First, they learn that they are an individual, and not just a unit composed of mom, dad, and themselves. To reach this important step in development, children must have the freedom to make choices, like when they choose their own schedules at the start of camp. They must also begin to be responsible for themselves. Remembering to brush their teeth, picking out their own clothes and getting ready for bed on their own are all responsibilities that campers learn while away from their parents.
As your child grows, they begin to develop their strengths, identify their weaknesses, and learn how those aspects of themselves fit into their social groups. Maybe they discover that they’re great at speaking in front of groups while running for Crew Maverick, but not so good at one on one discussions. Or that they can make a great camp craft, but can’t kick a soccer ball. They learn how these strengths and weaknesses fit into their social groups, and how to use this knowledge to achieve their goals.
Once children reach adolescence, they begin to reevaluate all that they’ve learned about themselves. and this knowledge will follow them into adulthood. The perseverance that they used while practicing for Crew Canoe will help them pass their first college exam and they’ll use the team building they developed during the Adventure Race to succeed at their first job.
Self Identity develops through different stages of a child’s life, but a huge part of it will develop while he or she is having a blast at camp!
There’s no catch-all instruction manual given out when you have kids. Every child is different. Parents can tell you this with certainty. What one child likes, the other may despise. What works as an incentive for your oldest daughter, may not work for your son or your younger daughter. The possibilities for parenting styles are endless and so is the parenting section at any bookstore. There are many great resources that offer aid from teeter-tottering toddler years to empty-nester college years and it can be difficult to choose one. Each month, we’ll be highlighting one of our favorites to help you navigate your way through the literature. First up on our reading list is The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
If you’re a returning visitor to the GearedToLive blog, you might recognize Dr. Bryson’s name from one of her various guest blogs. Dr. Bryson is a psychotherapist and the Executive Director of The Center for Connection in Pasadena, California, where she offers parenting consultations and provides therapy to children and adolescents. Dr. Siegel is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center.
In The Whole Brain Child, you’ll find twelve strategies to “nurture your child’s developing mind, survive everyday parenting struggles, and help your family thrive” (an accurate description, as well as, the subtitle of the book). One of our favorite and most used strategies is called Name It To Tame It. When your child encounters stressful emotions (fear, anger, etc.), you connect to the emotion your child is experiencing, soothing the right hemisphere of the brain; then describe what the emotion is and give it a name, soothing the left hemisphere of the brain. Dr. Siegel explains it best in the following video:
We love The Whole Brain Child because it breaks research done in child psychology into easily digestible bits, gives age-appropriate strategies, and reminds us that our children’s brains are like the roadways around Houston, Austin and Dallas…constantly under construction. Best of all, there is an accompanying workbook with activities and exercises to put into practice with your child to help them develop strategies like Name It To Tame It.
Here’s to understanding how our kids’ brains work a little bit better! Happy reading!
Are You A “Jaws” Parent? Or Are You A “Toy Story” Parent?
What is your “background music” when it comes to your
Music can have a powerful influence on how we feel and even on how we
behave. It can make us nostalgic, rev us
up for fun, or relax us. Likewise, our
own memories, beliefs, self-talk, and feelings can create a sort of background
music that influences our internal state and our outward behavior. My co-author, Dr. Dan Siegel, refers to this
concept as “shark music”. Here’s how he
explains the idea when he speaks to an audience:
First, I ask the audience to monitor the response of their bodies and
minds as I show them a thirty-second video. On the
screen, the audience sees what appears to be a beautiful forest. From the point
of view of the person holding the camera, the audience sees a rustic trail and
moves down that path toward a beautiful ocean. All the while, calm,
classical-sounding piano music plays, communicating a sense of peace and
serenity in an idyllic environment. I then stop the video and ask the audience to watch it again, explaining
that I’m going to show them the exact same video, but this time different music
will play in the background. The audience then sees the same images—the forest,
the rustic trail, the ocean. But the soundtrack this time is dark and menacing.
It’s like the famous theme music from the movie Jaws, and it completely colors the way the scene is perceived.
The peaceful scene now looks threatening—who knows what might jump out?—and the
path leads somewhere we’re pretty sure we don’t want to go. There’s no telling
what we’ll find in the water at the end of the trail; based on the music, it’s
likely a shark. But despite our fear, the camera continues to approach the
water. The exact same
images, but as the audience discovers, the experience drastically changes with
different background music. One
soundtrack leads to peace and serenity, the other to fear and dread.
Something similar can happen when we interact with
our children. Our individual versions
of “shark music” take us out of the present moment, and can cause us to
practice anger-based or fear-based parenting.
Our attention is on whatever we are feeling reactive about–worries
about the future, or replaying something from the past. This makes us miss what’s actually happening
in the moment—what our children really need, and what they’re actually
The key is awareness.
Once you recognize that the
background music in your mind is causing you to be fearful or reactive, you can
shift your state of mind and decide what your kid needs in this moment: a parent who is fully present, parenting only her based only on the actual facts of this particular situation—not on past
expectations or future fears.
Shark music takes us out of the present moment, and
leads us to make all kinds of assumptions, to worry about all kinds of
possibilities that simply shouldn’t be considered in this particular
situation. It might even lead us to
automatically assume that our kids are “acting out” because they are
selfish, or lazy, or spoiled, or whatever label we choose. Then we’ll respond not out of love and
intentionality, but out of reactivity, anger, anxiety, and fear. Or we
might react to our own anxious music that causes us to bubble-wrap and
over-protect our kids in ways that restrict their growth and development. If you are considering camp for the first
time, is this shark music changing the scene and limiting the possibilities?
So the next time you find yourself reacting, pause for just a second and
listen for the soundtrack in your head.
If you hear calm music and feel capable of offering a loving, objective,
clear-headed response to the situation (instead of to your own reactivity),
then go ahead and offer that response.
But if you notice the shark music, be careful about what you do and
say. Give yourself a minute—longer, if
necessary—before responding. Then, when
you feel yourself letting go of fears and expectations and bigger-than-necessary
reactivity that keep you from looking at the situation for what it really is,
you can respond. Simply by paying
attention to whatever music is playing in the background, you’ll be much more
capable of responding flexibly
instead of reacting rigidly, and making
decisions that allow your child to develop and thrive.
Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is the
co-author of the international best-selling book THE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD(Random House, 2011) and the New York
Tines best-selling NO DRAMA DISCIPLINE. She is
a renowned psychotherapist and speaker, has appeared in numerous media programs
and columns and is a consultant to schools, camps and child development
professionals. You can learn more about
Dr. Bryson atTinaBryson.com, where
you can subscribe to her blog and read her articles about kids, camping, and
Parts of this article are excerpted from No-Drama
Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (New York:
 This video was originally produced by the
Circle of Security Intervention Program. See their great work in the book The Circle of Security Intervention by
Bert Powell et al. (New York: Guilford, 2013)
A few summers ago, an Adventurer boy came to camp; just likehe had many summers before. He greeted old friends, met his counselors and
was ready for the all-camp meeting at three o’clock. He had done this before;
he knew the routine of Opening Day. What he couldn’t wait to do was to make his
schedule. He knew which counselors he wanted for Field Sports and Sailing and he
knew you never schedule a class on the Waterfront right after Horseback. Being
an Adventurer, his first stop on the Opening Day tour was in the Bike Barn…to
build his perfect schedule. He raced to the check-in table, grabbed his
schedule template and preferences list, and realized…his mom had filled out his
Where activities like Field Sports, Guitar, Flag Football
and Sailing should have been; instead were activities like Sewing &
Knitting, Summer Reading, and Ceramics. All great activities, but not what he
was looking forward to. How did this happen?!
If you aren’t familiar with how preferences work– campers
choose fifteen activities (#1 being the activity they can’t imagine the summer
without to #15 being an activity they would like to do) before coming to camp.
For our Pathfinders (2nd-4th graders), our Activity
Directors use this list to make their schedules before camp. For everyone else,
they use their preferences to make their own schedules. An activity must be on
their list for a camper to register for it on Opening Day. Campers may change
their schedule during their assigned schedule change period, but there isn’t a
guarantee the class period they want will be open. Moral of the story,
preferences are majorly important!
Can you imagine how our friend the Adventurer felt realizing
that he couldn’t sign up for Field Sports right away? Can you imagine feeling
powerless? The defeat?
Search Institute research shows that young people are more
likely to grow up healthy if they feel a sense of control over the things that
happen to them. A sense of personal power gives young people the confidence to
embrace positive attitudes and behaviors, and walk away from risky situations
and behaviors. About 42 percent of young people, ages 11-18, feel that they
have control over things that happen to them, according to Search Institute
surveys. Caring adults provide opportunities for young people to make their own
At camp, we want campers to take ownership of their
experience. They make their own activity schedule, pick out their own clothes,
choose whether or not to run for Maverick, and if they would like to apply to
be a Trailblazer. For a majority of the day, they have control and we find that
campers blossom into responsible and confident decision makers. It’s amazing to
Want to help your camper build their personal power? Try
some of the strategies below!
1. Help your child understand the difference
between what we can and cannot control. We can always control our attitude and
our effort, but we cannot control other people’s actions.
2. Support their efforts to be industrious. Buy from
their bake sale or lemonade stand, watch the play they created or read the
story they wrote.
3. Describe, label and praise their growth. When
they remember to do their chores, make responsible decisions or generally
impress you; describe their action and be specific. Then, label their action
with an asset or character trait (responsible, kind, generous, etc.). Then,
praise them! Tell them how proud or impressed you are. You’re sure to see more
of this behavior!
The new year is here and so are the resolutions! Whatever your resolution may be—hitting the gym, making time to appreciate the little things in life, reading more, etc.—sticking with it is going to require some motivation. Do you know someone that is continually motivated in everything they do? Do you know a student that is always motivated to do their best in school? Were you always motivated to do your best in school?
Research shows young people who try their best in school have better grades, are more likely to finish high school, and are better at managing stress. They’re also better at setting goals and more likely to enroll in college. About 65 percent of young people, ages 11–18, say they are motivated to do well in school, according to Search Institute surveys. It is vital for adults to help young people understand how important school is now and for the future.
Imagine the first day of camp. It’s just like the start of a new year, full of excitement and potential. At Lonehollow, campers sit down with their cabins that night and fill out a personal goal card. We encourage each camper to list at least 3 things they would like to accomplish during their time at camp, whether it’s trying green beans for the first time, qualifying in an activity or overcoming homesickness. During the term, counselors check in with their campers to see where they are on the path to accomplishing their goals and what the counselor staff can do to help make it happen. In the classes in our Waterfront and Adventure departments, campers can choose to qualify in different activities. By qualifying, campers demonstrate a level of knowledge and skill, earn a patch for themselves, and points for their crew.
If you find your child is struggling to stay motivated, discuss what is giving him/her trouble and brainstorm solutions together. Ask about school and focus on what was interesting instead of a math test. By practicing this achievement motivation year-round, the drive to achieve becomes intrinsic rather than coming from an external source. Remind your kids and campers that when they try their best, they can always feel good about results, no matter the grade or score. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to start something new, let’s stay motivated together all year long!
For more than 20 years, the Search Institute has been researching and identifying what it takes to help kids succeed. They have developed a framework of 40 external and internal developmental assets that “identifies a set of skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors that enable young people to develop into successful and contributing adults”. We incorporate these assets throughout our programming and train our counselors extensively on the benefits of assets and how to use them in activities, cabins and around camp. Each month, we will be highlighting one of these assets and how you can instill these assets at home with your camper. This month’s asset is #15 Positive Peer Influence.
How does your child spend his/her time? There are 168 hours in a seven-day week. You can subtract 56-70 hours for 8-10 hours of sleep each night, as well as 35 hours for a week of school. Then, subtract 10-15 hours after school when he or she is in child care, extra-curricular activities or simply at home until the rest of the family gets home. When you take these factors into account, children have about 6 to 9 hours available per day to spend with their parents and family, which may sound like a good amount until you add in time spent in the car, getting ready for the day, getting ready for bed, and the ever present (and dreaded) homework. So, who does your child spend the majority of time with and who will he/she be spending even more time with over the next month with the approaching holidays? Friends and peers.
Research shows that young people whose closest friends behave responsibly do better in school, get into less trouble, and choose activities that give them the best chance of future success. It makes sense for young people to surround themselves with people who bring out their best qualities. About 63 percent of young people, ages 11-18, say their best friends model responsible behavior, according to Search Institute surveys.
Children benefit from having friends that are positive peer influences, which in turn helps them build this asset in others. In day to day camp life, campers are a positive peer influence by following safety rules, performing their role in cabin clean up and getting to class on time. We reinforce this positive behavior through a strategy called DLP (Describe Label and Praise). First, counselors describe the action; then, label the asset or qualities the camper demonstrated; and lastly, praise the action. For example, “Johnny, I noticed that you were having some difficulty with your bike today, but you showed great determination and dedication and you made it through the whole ride. Way to go Johnny, you did a great job today!”.
Talk to your campers about whom they can influence, whom they view as a positive influence, and what it takes to be a positive influence. This includes being able to say “no” to a friend or peer if a situation arises that they do not agree with and, as they’ll be spending more time at home and subsequently more time on their phones in the next month, what it means to be a positive peer influence online and on social media.
As we come up on the holiday season, there are multiple opportunities for your camper to build on his/her positive peer influence. He or she can organize a group of friends to start a food drive or to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Instead of spending money on gifts for friends, your camper can write friends a personalized card sharing why the friendship is appreciated and what is special about that friend or qualities your camper admires.
Peer pressure or peer influence typically holds a negative connotation, but this is the chance to use it to spread the positive and do something good. Here’s to making it to the top of Santa’s nice list!
For more than 20 years, theSearch Institutehas been researching and identifying what it takes to help kids succeed. They have developed a framework of40 external and internal developmental assetsthat “identifies a set of skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors that enable young people to develop into successful and contributing adults”. We incorporate these assets throughout our programming and train our counselors extensively on the benefits of assets and how to use them in activities, cabins and around camp. Each month, we will be highlighting one of these assets and how you can instill these assets at home with your camper. This month’s asset is #33 Interpersonal Competence.
When you think November, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Turkey, football and Thanksgiving. In the spirit of giving thanks this month, we reflect on what we are most thankful for…camp friendships. Growing up, we’re told that you have to be a friend to make a friend. Children make friends quickly, but what does it take to build on and maintain these friendships? It takes interpersonal competence – empathy, sympathy and friendship skills. These skills aren’t just for kids either, some adults struggle with being able to understand and share the feeling of another. By learning to walk in another’s shoes, we can learn how to appropriately express our feelings and read the emotions of those around us.
Research shows that young people who have empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills are more likely to grow up healthy and avoid risky behaviors, such as violence and alcohol and other drug use. About 45 percent of young people, ages 11–18, say they have empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. Family is the cornerstone of most young people’s lives, but everyone needs friends, too.
At camp, living and playing together for two or four weeks fosters growth in empathy, sympathy and friendship skills. From the first night of camp, we encourage campers to consider how they want to treat each other and how they want others to treat them when they write their individual Cabin Constitutions, a set of guidelines each cabin writes and signs to show complete cooperation. During our daily value sessions, campers take turns listening to others and reflecting on different perspectives.
Building these skills is a lifelong process. Here are some ways you can build interpersonal competence in your home!
Treat each other with respect. Acknowledge others’ presence when they walk into a room and always say please and thank you!
Be active listeners! Ask good questions, paraphrase what others say to make sure you understand and show that you empathize with what they are saying.
Encourage your child to make a wide variety of friends – at school, in your community, in sports leagues, and at camp!
Use “I” statements to express your feelings. For example, “I feel upset when you say that” instead of “You make me so angry”.
This is the perfect time of year to be a friend and let your friends and neighbors know how thankful you are; host a potluck get-together, check in on how they’ve been or get a jump start on your holiday cards!
For more than 20 years, the Search Institute has been researching and identifying what it takes to help kids succeed. They have developed a framework of 40 external and internal developmental assets that “identifies a set of skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors that enable young people to develop into successful and contributing adults”. We incorporate these assets throughout our programming and train our counselors extensively on the benefits of assets and how to use them in activities, cabins and around camp. Each month, we will be highlighting one of these assets and how you can instill these assets at home with your camper. This month’s asset is #4 Caring Neighborhood.
What was your neighborhood like growing up? Did you ride your bike until the streetlights came on? Did your neighbors drop in to say hi? Today’s neighborhoods are a little different than the tightly-knit communities of yesteryear.
About 37 percent of young people, ages 11–18, report that they have caring neighbors, according to Search Institute surveys. Research shows that young people are more likely to grow up healthy if they live in a community with caring neighbors. The key is to create a safe haven in which young people feel loved, supported, and understood.
During the summer, we repeat the Lonehollow Charge during Sunday Service, “We come together to help another. We love together to teach each other. We learn together to grow together. We are Lonehollow.”, and it reminds us that we are a community and we support each other. We help set each other’s tables before meals and lend a hand setting up for Evening Programs. We listen to each other and share during Value Sessions (affectionately re-named as “bro-sessions” by our older boys!). During Crew Challenge, the Adventure Race or Field Day, we keep cheering until everyone is done because those campers are still our friends and cabin mates. It’s crewnity!
You can build this sense of community in your neighborhood too. Wave to your neighbors as you drive by, host a block party or use Halloween as a great excuse to stop by the houses on your street and meet your neighbors! Building these relationships might take some time, but helping your camper care about and feel supported by the neighborhood around them will gear them for life.
I was recently interviewed about how I attempt to balance my personal and professional life. At first I found this to be a challenging question because I often feel unbalanced. But as I started talking, what I kept finding myself saying in many ways, in different words, was that I’m constantly “revising my map.”
What I meant by that is that I have a sense of direction of what works, how to get where I need to go, and how to get my kids to where they need to go—but that sense of direction changes. It must. Why? Because the terrain is also constantly changing as a result of the chaos in our lives, the demands on us, the needs of our children, our own needs, who our children are becoming, and who we are becoming. We can’t successfully navigate well if we don’t revise our maps. We must consistently take stock of where we are and where we want to go, revising the best path to get there.
The same goes for our kids: we must constantly revise our maps of who they are. Like it or not, bittersweet as it is, they change all the time. Some of this change is from the natural maturation that comes from development, reaching new cognitive, spiritual, emotional, and relational capacity. Some of this change is from experiences they have, who they spend time with, what challenges they overcome, how they spend their time, etc.
But sometimes we forget that they change. We use old maps to guide us as parents. We navigate based on who our child WAS, not on who they are now. Have you ever realized you were doing something for your child out of habit or because you haven’t thought about it, and then realized that your child was perfectly capable of doing it for himself? These are examples of times we need to revise our maps.
This lesson in Parental Cartography brings me to overnight camp. The experience of going to camp changes kids, often in significant ways. When your child comes home, you might notice that she’s more confident, more independent, or different in some other subtle or significant ways. I remember the first year my oldest son returned from camp and I started to put sunscreen on him. He laughed and said, “Mom, I’ve been putting my own sunscreen on for two weeks without you. I can handle it.” Revision moment. I was using a map that had changed significantly in two short weeks.
So when your camper comes home, I want to encourage you to see him or her with new eyes, to revise your map. An outdated map leads to frustration for both of you. It can actually lead us away from our intended path. But an updated map allows us to intentionally and successfully reach our destination.
Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is the co-author of the international best-selling book THE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD(Random House, 2011) and the upcoming book NO DRAMA DISCIPLINE. She is a renowned psychotherapist and speaker, has appeared in numerous media programs and columns and is a consultant to schools, camps and child development professionals. You can learn more about Dr. Bryson atTinaBryson.com, where you can subscribe to her blog and read her articles about kids, camping, and parenting.