Happy December Frost Valley Family!

 

This month, we are going to be celebrating diversity and how we put it into action in our communities. Diversity is a core value that means so much to Frost Valley, and I am really excited and proud to explore diversity with you all this month.

 

Diversity looks different and feels different for all of us. Diversity can be how we identify, where we are from, our interests, our abilities, and our beliefs. Diversity is in all of us. At camp, we make sure everyone has the space to be their unique self and be celebrated for the things that make them an individual. We also make space for those who may not be comfortable expressing their identity or who may feel marginalized outside of camp by encouraging conversations between campers, making camp accessible for all, providing role models our campers that they can identify with, and embracing teachable moments about diversity. While at camp, we hope to build empathy and connections, reinforcing to our campers their diversity should be celebrated and they should also be celebrating others for their differences.

 

Now it is time to put this into action. What makes you different, and how do you use it to make your community more diverse? How do your differences make a difference? How do you put diversity into action?

 

One of my favorite advertisements on television this holiday season has been from Amazon. Although these two men are from different religions, they have a friendship based on a similarity. They are able to make a shared connection and moments of kindness and giving.  I also read an article that they are now friends in real life! Showing kindness to all, even though we are different, is how we build friendships and connect to people, which will ultimately make the world a better place. Here is the link to the advertisement: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ouu6LGGIWsc

 

If you have a story about how you have embraced diversity and put it into action, in whatever way that means to you, please share it! Our community needs more stories of kindness, friendship, and uniqueness, and I would love to feature yours. Please email me at lhutchinson@frostvalley.org and I will send you a core values tshirt!

 

Sending warm wishes this holiday season! See you all at Winter Camp!

Peace, Love, Bibbley,

Lindsay

 

Happy Wednesday All!

 

It has been a warm start to November here in the Valley, and we are excited to kickoff #CoreValuesInAction for this month highlighting COMMUNITY! Community is represented by the color orange, and was one of the more recent additions to FV’s list of values. We added community (along with diversity, stewardship, and inclusiveness) a few years ago, to make our list of values stronger. We feel that community is a strong and positive value that encompasses a lot of what we do here in our programs: teambuilding, living in a cabin with strangers, and being part of something greater than yourself.

 

Here is how community is defined by some of our campers from Summer 2016:

“Community: I love working together to make things happen” – Sophia, Susky Village
“Community, because everyone here gets along and acts as a family… This camp is the definition of fun… I love this camp so much and I feel like myself around other kids my age” – Justin, Outpost Village
“On the night of my overnight, the threat of thunderstorms loomed overhead, making it unsafe to sleep outside. So, as a result, my cabin (Turrell) all slept in our main room, on the floor, and talked all night. We really bonded, and a powerful sisterhood was formed.” – Lakota Camper
“I displayed community by helping the first year campers in my cabin.” – Outpost Camper
“I like community because all of the core values fall under it. To make or have a good community you need to hace all of the core values!” – Roxana, Susky Village
“It let me bond with all of my new friends that I couldn’t have without a community.” – Beckett, Outpost Village
“Helping to create a welcome atmosphere in the cabin and village” – Milo, Forest Village
“I like community the most because all the campers and the counselors felt like a mini community inside of camp.” – Jack, Mighty Village of the Trees
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The Session 1 Camp Wawayanda Community!

If any campers have a story that puts community into action in your communities, please send them to me at lhutchinson@frostvalley.org. I will feature your story in our blog and send you an orange core values tshirt!
Looking forward to hearing your stories!
Peace, Love, Bibbley,
Lindsay

Hiring International Staff, Creating Cultural Exchange

Cultural exchange is inevitable at camp; put a child in a new situation, with new people, and role models who foster the building of relationships, and our campers are bound to learn something new about someone. This exchange involves so many concepts: where we are from, what we eat, how old we are, and our past experiences at camp. Frost Valley even teaches core values of Community, Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Respect, which all contribute to this cultural exchange.  We make it a part of every day at camp, and we make it a comfortable situation, encouraging our campers to learn about one another, creating curiosity about the world around them.

One of the most celebrated ways of this cultural exchange begins even before the campers arrive.  While we work in the office during the cold winter months, missing our campers and the warm sun, we spend weeks interviewing and hiring the staff members that will be the counselors for the upcoming summer.  When we hire the staff for each department, we look for role models that commit themselves to our core values.  I truly believe that the staff that we hire are the best examples of ways that we can create cultural exchange, hiring staff that are respectful and accepting of those different than themselves.

The Activities Team, also known as the A-Team, provides the campers with a variety of Specialties, Feeling Goods, Evening Programs, and Theme Days that highlight the amazing talents that our staff bring to camp, focusing on the cultural exchange for the entire community. When the Tacoma and Lenape campers go to Woodshop, they will learn techniques that Nicolas learned growing up in Columbia.  When Pokey Totem  learns a new dance routine, they will be taught by Suleyman, who was a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance Turkey.  When swimming in the lake, all of our campers are watched by lifeguards from England, Wales, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the United States.

And our counselors are committed to this exchange as much as we are. Gina, a Farm Camp counselor from Taiwan describes being an international camp staff as follows:

Taiwan

“It was an AWESOME SUMMER in Frost Valley YMCA! I have a lot of experiences, working in the camps in my country, Taiwan. However, the summer in the Farm Camp was the BEST!! Thanks to my camp director, supervisors and co-partners, I felt supported and motivated to be an international counselor. They were always available to give you a hand and some suggestion to run the cultural programs for our campers.”

To the right is a photo of Gina, teaching the Farm Campers how to use chopsticks.

How lucky are we?  Not only do we give campers the opportunity to learn new skills and hobbies, but they are learning from people all over the world. We have been lucky enough at Frost Valley to have this privilege for a very long time, and now having International Staff at camp is just the way it is.  Yes, it is still novel to the kids when their counselors have a british accent every year, but being surrounded by people that are different from themselves is the norm.  And isn’t that something we should all celebrate?

Columbia

Two of our biggest celebrations are our theme days during session 1  and 2: Its a Small World Carnival and Olympix.  At the Small World  Carnival, all of our staff  members from each country represented  at camp set up a carnival  booth with some type of cultural activity,  sharing with the campers  a part of their home. During Olympix, our  team captains are lead by  the citizens of those countries  represented.  Watching our staff  members share their culture with  the campers is one of the  highlights of my job. When the campers  develop global perspective  and acceptance, the community we  create at Frost Valley becomes  that much more powerful.

So we are extremely excited for this summer’s cultural exchange. The staff are representing 12 different countries, and the campers themselves will come from all over the world. Like every year at camp, we are positively impacted by the people we are surrounded with, and this year we are excited to learn about more cultures, build relationships with more people, and develop more curiosity for the world that we are part of.

And don’t worry, we will be posting pictures and blogs all summer of our cultural activities, exchanges, and friendships!

With excitement for summer,

Lindsay Hutchinson
Resident Camp Activities Director