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One of the things that struck me in this segment (#7) with Amy is the importance of recognizing that while teenagers may look and sound like adults, they are not.
Our world may feel more unpredictable and more dangerous than ever, and kids may grow up quicker than ever, but we still need to give teenagers the space to be kids.
I have a friend named Matt Bianco Splann. Matt came to camp when he was about 15 and continued coming into his twenties as a counselor. Today he is starting his career as a young architect in NYC, and we get together now and then.
At camp we have our counselors design most of the activities they want to lead. Having staff lead things they are passionate about makes for better classes.
I remember Matt telling me at camp one day that he wanted to offer a 5-day class where they would collect all the cardboard boxes we have, and everyone would use it to make cardboard armor. He told me that on the fifth day, they would have this battle with all the armor and weapons they made. I thought to myself. “No teenager is going to want to do that. It’s too silly and immature for them.”
He offered the class, it got a big turnout, and sure enough, everyone loved spending the week building all sorts of wacky things with cardboard and duct tape. I am still surprised when I see how much teenagers enjoy getting silly at camp.
Since our camp facility is owned by the Girl Scouts of America, one summer, our former Art Director, Lizz DeSimone, offered a 5-day program where teenagers earned girl scout badges, baked cookies, and made their own uniforms. It sounds silly, but I think that is what the teens loved about it.
Unfortunately, this generation of teenagers has a point of reference for things like shootings in school that other generations did not. Besides worrying about a geometry test, they have to worry about where they would hide if someone with a gun came to school. Amy reminds us that this is something on their radar.
It all feels crazy, and maybe the best we can do is to provide our teens with experiences where they can be creative, have some fun, be in nature, and try our best to help them create the life they want to be in.
Let’s listen more than we talk. I hope you enjoy our short video above. If you haven’t opted-in to see the entire series, here’s the form again to subscribe.
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A Non-Profit Overnight Summer Camp For Teens Ages 13-18Located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.