Creating a Positive Environment for Children
In recognition of our shared responsibility to create a world that’s safer for all kids, we looked to camp. At SeriousFun camps and programs around the world, we prioritize being safe and feeling safe because both matter. This is not only reflected in how we care for the physical security and health of our camp family, but also their emotional safety. We strive to build a safe space where every person who walks through the gates is set up to learn and thrive (and have the best time while doing it!).
Camp teaches us there are steps we can all take to build positive environments where kids can be and feel their best. Here are a few ways we seek to do just that.
1. Encourage Inclusiveness
From state-of-the-art medical centers to fully-accessible ropes courses to adaptive games, camps and programs are designed with inclusivity in mind. And while it starts with the facilities and program design, inclusivity doesn’t stop there.
At camp, we make an effort to avoid generalizations and assumptions because every camper’s medical and family situation is unique. With open minds and open hearts, we can empower campers and their families to flip the narratives of their medical conditions and build a community that strives to respect each individual for who they are. After all, we’re experts at transforming wheelchairs into race cars, commercial jets, submarines, soaring sailboats, you name it! To keep the inclusive fun alive at home, check out our guide of adaptive games and crafts for the whole family.
2. Practice Empathy & Help Teach Others
Both within and outside of camp gates, empathy is the foundation of human connection and understanding. Through empathy, we can learn to recognize how others are feeling to better relate and respond to their experiences, even when they differ from our own.
Thankfully, empathy is a skill that can be taught! You might try asking your child how they think it would feel to be judged by a trait or circumstance they can’t control, or what they think it means to “step into someone elses’ shoes.” Check out resources, like this video developed by researcher and storyteller Brené Brown, made for this purpose.
3. Open The Dialogue
Some of the most important conversations aren’t easy, and that’s okay! At camp, we strive to create spaces where everyone’s experiences can be shared and validated, like Cabin Chat. As children and families go through stressful times in their lives, we aim to recognize their feelings, acknowledge their bravery, and reiterate that adverse life circumstances, such as health challenges, are in no way their fault.
While processing their day and feelings will look different for every kid, Cabin Chat offer campers a safe place to start. You can recreate this SeriousFun tradition at home by gathering everyone in a circle before bed to share their thoughts. Encourage adults and kiddos alike to share their highs (best part of your day), lows (challenges you faced) and new horizons (stuff you’re looking forward to tomorrow).
Sarah loves all things s’mores (there are a lot of varieties out there) and helps tell the story of SeriousFun through digital marketing. She leads the charge of content creation at the Support Center.