Summer Camps Build Foundations of Character – Summer Camp Series 1
Summer Time Could’ve Never Been Better: Why Summer Camps Are A Good Idea for Youth and for their Social Skills Development
In this weekly blog series, I’m extremely excited to share with you a plethora of experiences, knowledge I’ve gained, and firsthand insights on a variety of topics that the reader can grow and explore with.
For more than 30 years I have been part of designing, organizing and running summer camps for youth ages 8 to 21. Over the years I have been blessed to have seen thousands of young people discover many things about themselves, transform how they think, and most importantly, connect with others and their future.
I often share with parents, educators and youth workers that all children need more than academics, sports, career readiness skills. They need to seriously develop social skills that in turn will lead to positive relationships in the more immediate sense and in their future! One of the key components in the BIZNOVATOR Camps that we run throughout the summers in Miami, FL and globally, is getting young people to develop friendships through the multinational students that generally participate in our camps. It’s all too common for our youth to feel comfortable with the peers that look, feel, and think like them. At BIZNOVATOR, we make certain that our campers welcome different cultures and ways of being throughout team dynamics and challenges that we organize. We teach that when networking, or creating a new friendship, it’s more about cultivating those relationships over time.
In all of our camps, the participants are encouraged and taught to network during their meal time. To ask questions about the countries they are from. To explore how their culture compares to theirs. What foods they eat, music they like. In this experience they are not only striking a good conversation, but also becoming more culturally diverse—at minimum being mindful of others. Children need to learn that there really is no one culture better or more superior than the other—they are just simply different! At the core of all this, children can start to develop more social / cultural sensitivities and awareness. In all of my years of working with children from around the world, I can honestly say that I have learned as much from youth, as they have learned from me. The fostering, practicing and modeling of good social skills should be a key component of any camp.
Here’s a list of what I feel (as a subject matter expert) any camp, regardless of what their mission and purpose is, should prepare their participants to walk away with after completing their summer camp:
- Joy and Happiness (include activities that can get campers to laugh and have fun while developing social skills)
- As many activities and social experiences that will give them opportunities to make healthy relationships and connections that can last a lifetime (organizing group challenges, healthy competitions and explorations)
- Discussions and activities that foster and teach basic social norms, such as:
- Shaking hands when you meet someone
- Making direct eye contact when speaking to someone
- Avoid invading someone’s personal space
- Being kind and mindful of others (especially the elderly, those with physical challenges, and a young man should always offer a seat and open the door for a young lady)
- Avoid cursing, racist or discriminatory comments
- Say “please” when asking for something, and say “thank you” when someone does something for you
- Be mindful of your time and respectful of others
- Listen more than and speak less; don’t control conversations
- Giving praise when someone succeeds at something
- Always teach up, not down.
While the mission of BIZNOVATOR is to empower, teach and create young entrepreneurs, social innovators and global leaders, we also focus on nurturing mindful, happy and successful young people that we know can add amazing social value to the world.
Juan Pablo Casimiro is Founder and CEO of BIZNOVATOR. With more than 30 years of empowering youth and adults globally, Casimiro never misses a moment to teach, coach and challenge his clients to live their dreams. Casimiro was born in Dominican Republic and grew up in New York City.