Tak Talk Blog- Camp Takajo – July 11, 2017
July 11, 2017 by Jeff Konigsberg
Today, the campers who have finished fourth grade (Indians) participated in intercamp competitions. Camp Takajo hosted a field day with Camp Winaukee, and it was a huge success. Rather than selecting certain boys to represent the camp, we invited Camp Winaukee’s fourth graders to spend the day with us.
In the morning, our campers competed in basketball. After lunch, we hosted our counterparts from New Hampshire in soccer, street hockey, flag football, and gaga. All of our Indians participated in three sports throughout the day and felt great pride representing Camp Takajo.
During the day, I received an unexpected visit from one of our thirteen-year-old campers. This camper came to me for advice because he was troubled by certain events occurring in his bunk. He felt that a boy, who he likes very much, was being insensitive towards one of their bunkmates. The boy he was referring to is not known to cause any trouble in camp, but this thirteen-year-old was uncomfortable with what he saw in his bunk so far.
The camper referred to the opening campfire, the camp’s message of inclusion and the importance of treating everyone with respect. He was struggling because he wasn’t looking to sever his relationship with the bunkmate in question; however, he realized something needed to change.
I shared with this camper something that I spoke to the staff about during pre-season orientation. It is a term called “point of struggle.” A well-known child psychologist named Bob Ditter, who has spent his career working with summer camps, recently spoke at a camp conference about this approach. There are moments in every relationship, both personal and professional, when we are frustrated, agitated, and realize something must change. The most challenging time to implement that change is during the point of struggle.
For example, when a child walks into our dining room and digs his heels in, saying that there is nothing to eat, he may become so set in his ways that no matter what we offer, it will not appease him. Rather than creating a lengthy debate during the point of struggle, we have found much greater success talking to that child when he is not in the dining room. Talking to that child when he is further removed from the situation often creates a healthy exchange of ideas and leads to a better resolution.
I suggested to the camper who came to me today that he talk to his bunkmate during a time other than the point of struggle. I suggested that he talk with him at a time, perhaps, when they are walking to an activity or enjoying some quality time together. This camper felt empowered and was excited to use this approach when confronting his friend.
Later in the day, the thirteen-year-old boy came back to my office and said that he had found the perfect time to confront his friend. He was amazed at how receptive his friend was when receiving his feedback. The friend even commented that had he been called out publicly in the bunk, he was sure his reaction would have been more defensive and confrontational. Camp is a microcosm of the real world; and, in life, there are times when we all wish that people would be more receptive to how we feel. Having that conversation not during the point of struggle will often lead to a better outcome.