Monthly Archives: August 2012

Teaching Teamwork

Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp

In this competitive, self-focused era, learning to be part of a team is a valuable skill that is not often taught to children (or adults!). Kids participate on many sports teams, but often that experience does not end up being a lesson in teamwork. Instead, sports teams often become a competitive experience of trying to get the position or play time they want as an individual.
One reason for our focus on non-competitive programs is so that kids can learn new skills without feeling the pressure to win or be the best. We also want kids to learn to be part of a team (their cabin group) and be better team members. The experience of living with a group of diverse people in a cabin group is the first lesson in teamwork that campers learn. Campers learn to work together to keep their living area organized, do daily clean up, and get to where they need to be (meals, activities, etc.). They also learn to support and encourage each other and help each cabin member do their best at each activity.
During the first few days of camp, each of our cabin groups goes through a “Team Building” program led by our trained ropes course staff. During a variety of games and activities, the campers learn to work together to accomplish tasks that they can only perform as a group. They learn about listening, leadership, and how to work through conflicts. The communication skills they learn at Team Building are used throughout camp. Lessons like taking turns when talking, sharing leadership, and planning before doing are all teamwork skills that campers can take home with them.
• To help them see how they contribute to their team and what special skills they bring to the group.
• To teach them to communicate well as a team, including how to brainstorm without judgment, listen to others’ ideas, and work through conflicts.
• To focus on how they can be good friends to their cabin mates.

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” -H.E. Luccock

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Categories: Being Positive, Benefits of Camp, Communication, Community, Councelors, Fun, GAC, Health, Joyful Kids, Kids, Kindness, Optimism, Raising Happiness, Self-Esteem, Social Skills, Team Building | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Teenage Daughters

Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp

When my third daughter was born thirteen years ago, the warnings started coming in.  “Girls are easier than boys when they’re little, but just WAIT until they’re teenagers!  They’re SO hard.”

Then, 2000

I heard horror stories about yelling, irrational behavior, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and many other issues some parents faced with their teenage daughters.   In preparation for the years to come (and to help our camp parents who already had teenage daughters), I attended talks on the topic and read many books about adolescence, including:

Queen Bees & Wannabes (Rosalind Wiseman),  Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (Mary Pipher, Ph.D.),
Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls (Rachel Simmons),   
The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers do the Things They do (Lynn Ponton, M.D.), and
The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids (Madeline Levine, Ph.D.).

Just reading the titles of these books is enough to send shivers of fear up the spine of any parent of a soon-to-be teenager.  But knowledge is power, and I wanted to learn different opinions and ideas on the topic of adolescence.

2011

In the end, I didn’t get through every page of those books, but I learned some useful tidbits of information.   I ended up parenting my girls the way that felt right to me, which was building a close, nurturing relationship.  I was fortunate to have a great role model in my own mother, who nurtured me through childhood while keeping life fun, so it came naturally to me to smother my girls with affection and spend a lot of time talking with them.   They get hugs every day and are tucked in every night (sometimes they have to tuck me in now, but it still counts!).

As of last week, I am now the mother of three teenage daughters (ages 13, 16, & 17).   I LOVE HAVING TEENAGE DAUGHTERS.   And I hope you understand that those capital letters mean I really, really love this time with them.    I think other moms of teenage daughters must love it, too.  I just haven’t read about much of the good stuff, so I thought I would share with you what I love about having teenage daughters.  And hopefully those of you with younger daughters will be inspired to look forward to, and not fear, the teen years.

I like the way our relationship has evolved over the years.   When they were younger,  I was in charge, providing the structure to their days and rules to follow.   It was a lot of work.   Now, we’re in more of a democratic state, where they understand that we need their help to keep our home functioning.   There’s not a strict bedtime, but each of them knows how important it is to get a good night’s sleep (I’ve drilled the brain research into them!).  So, they get themselves to bed at a decent hour.  They get themselves up each morning, pack their own lunches, and, in the case of the two older ones, drive themselves to school.

These days, a T.V. show or podcast that I would never have allowed them to watch or listen to a few years ago becomes an opportunity to discuss values and difficult issues.  We talk about things that we wouldn’t have discussed when they were younger.  They know my opinions, but they also know that they have the freedom to form their own.  (Side note:  Things we talked about when they were very young, like how disgusting and unhealthy smoking is, really sunk in.  Apparently, kids really listen to you before they turn ten, so get a lot of good discussions in early!)

They share stories about their peers and what they are experiencing.   I don’t freak out when they share a story about something disturbing that they saw or heard.  Usually, it’s something similar to what I saw or heard when I was their age.   We talk about it.

My teenage daughters do not yell at me or treat me disrespectfully.  They willingly do chores and offer to give me extra help. They thank me for making dinner.  They get along well with each other and have fun together.  Yes, they get in bad moods sometimes, and so do I.  We’ve talked about coping strategies.  I’ve shared what helps me, and they’ve learned what works for them.  I’ve always told them it’s normal for girls to have mood swings, so they don’t feel crazy when it happens.

I wish I could tell you the reasons why my teenage daughters are the way they are.   The younger ones say they watched their older sister(s).

Last week, I interviewed my oldest daughter, who will turn eighteen in January.    I asked her why she turned out so well and didn’t fit some of the stereotypes of teenage girls.  She had these nuggets of wisdom to share:

“Kids turn out the way parents expect them to.  If you’re positive about your kids and treat them with respect, they’ll fulfill your expectations.  If you expect them to be rude and disrespectful, then they’ll fulfill that, too.”

“Movies and T.V. shows set a really bad example of how kids treat parents, so not letting us watch too much when we were little was good.   You also need to have a good example at home in your family.”

“Being around nice teenagers at camp, who were good role models, helped, too.”

“You need to find friends who are nice to their parents.”

“Teenage is an awkward phase for parents and kids.  It’s better when it’s a relationship based on mutual respect and more of an adult-like relationship.”

So, there you go.  Words of wisdom from a teenage daughter who has been pleasant to live with throughout her teenage years and is incredibly responsible.

My most recent teenager (the one who turned thirteen last week) had this wisdom to share when I asked her what parents of younger kids should do to make sure their girls are nice as teenagers:

My Newest Teen and Me

“Girls whose parents are nice are nice.”

“You can’t let the talking back slide when they’re little.”

“Don’t give them everything they want.”

“Teach them to be grateful.”

If you have a teenage daughter and you’re struggling in any area, I hope you’ll take the time to reconnect and have fun together.  And, if you have a younger daughter, I hope you’ll listen to the words of wisdom shared by my girls.   I think they know what they’re talking about.  I learn from them every day and am so grateful to have three teenage daughters.

Categories: Being Positive, Communication, Family, Friendship, Joyful Kids, Kids, Kindness, Optimism, Parents, Raising Happiness, Self-Esteem, Social Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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