A big part of therapy, especially in working with children, is being able to adapt from kid to kid, session to session. Over the last few months our population has shifted to a much younger, rowdier crew, and we have really focused on ways we can change to best meet their needs. Our boys have not had many previous opportunities to interact positively with other kids or adults and as a result have limited relational skills. This has been a major hurdle in school, groups, and generally around the cottage, so we figured this was a great place to focus some energy.
Recently we organized and hosted what we lovingly refer to as “Camp White Fields.” Each afternoon for two weeks the boys participated in different activities aimed at improving social interactions, fostering teamwork and camaraderie, developing self-esteem, and generally having fun. Everyone around campus chipped in which resulted in a lot of chances for the boys to build relationships with safe adults and each other.
A typical camp afternoon started with a pump up dance session, usually set to the Space Jam soundtrack, and when we were all sufficiently excited we would move on to the activity. The main activity was followed by a much anticipated trip to the treasure chest which was earned by encouraging peers and actively participating. Throughout the two weeks we made camp t-shirts, had an ice cream treasure hunt, learned about table manners and team sandwich making (thanks Mrs. Terrie and Mrs. Marsha), competed in a kids versus staff laundry relay (thanks Mr. Andrew), did some important news reporting (thanks Mr. Lynden) and performed good deeds around campus (thanks Mrs. Evelyn).
One of my favorite activities was planned by our excellent art therapist, Mrs. Debbie. The boys learned about their strengths, inner and outer, and had the opportunity to journey around campus and hear from various staff and peers the ways in which we feel they are kind, smart, determined, etc. They took photos along the way and ended up with a collage of their strengths from caretakers and friends. Another favorite, and a highlight for the boys, was Superhero Day as planned by our superb recreation coordinator Mr. Chris. The boys watched a few clips fromSpiderman and discussed what makes a hero and the importance of choices in becoming a hero, no matter our background or experiences. The afternoon culminated with a silly string web-slinger obstacle course that was very awesome. Our final camp day was the unveiling of a music video set to Pharrell’s “Happy,” which featured footage of the boys dancing, being silly, and participating in favorite hobbies, followed by an epic end-of-school carnival.
Camp White Fields was a perfect opportunity to incorporate some creative ideas into building relationships and skills, as well as a great excuse to have “wacky outfit day” and eat some ice cream. Overall the boys really responded positively to camp, and despite a few hiccups everyone had plenty of visits to the treasure chest. Thanks to the involvement of everyone around campus, Camp White Fields was successful in fostering a sense of belonging for the boys and a little excitement for staff. We are all looking forward to the next Camp White Fields!
Megan Schafer, Therapist