How to Speak Up for Yourself - New Camper Blog Series

Hello new camper families! Tuesday means another week of our New Camper Blog series where we look at a topic that is relevant to our first time campers. We hope you enjoyed our new camper welcome video last week; make sure to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet!

This week, we’re going to talk about a skill we think is so important to work on with your daughter before the summer: how to advocate for yourself. We think this is one of the most important things you can talk about with your daughter before she arrives. As you are filling out camp forms and starting to pack, add this to your list of things to discuss before the summer.

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A Community of Support

At Greystone, we like to think of camp as a big community of support. We are organized in such a way that we have so many people who can provide help and support to your daughter, no matter the situation.

This summer, your daughter will have support from:

  • Her counselor(s) in her cabin.
  • The counselors teaching her classes.
  • Her table counselor in the Dining Hall.
  • Her Group Leader, who focuses specifically on her age group and visits her cabin often.
  • Our Health Hut nurses and doctors.
  • Our entire Director team.

And really, the list could go on and on…we have a full-time Kitchen staff, Maintenance crew, Housekeeping team, year-round office group, and Laundry staff. We are lucky to have a big staff community at camp, which creates a true community of support for your daughter!

Asking for Help

Even with this large community of support, we are going to have campers who leave after the summer who feel like they didn’t know how to do something or couldn’t figure out the answer to a question. We talk to the girls about how to find help and get the support they need, but sometimes, it really comes down to speaking up for yourself.

We don’t always know what each of our campers is thinking, so in order for us to best support your daughter, we need her help. Camp is a safe, encouraging place to practice this skill - as this is a skill your daughter can take with her after camp. Speaking up for yourself is not just a camp skill - it is a life skill!

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Talk to your daughter about speaking up for herself before the summer! Some girls have no problem with speaking up, but others are much more reserved or hesitant to say anything. If you have one of those more reserved campers, we want to help and support her, even when it can be hard for her to say something. Once again, the very best way for us to support your daughter is if she lets us know when she needs something.

At camp, we call this advocating for yourself, and we talk about this with our campers on the very first day of camp. We even talk about advocating for others by speaking up if you see a friend who needs help. Advocating is a great skill for our campers to learn, and we would love your help before your daughter even arrives so that she can build up her advocating skills at home.

Practice Some Scenarios

Besides just talking about speaking up, how can you help your daughter know what to do at camp? We recommend talking through some different scenarios so that she is prepared and ready for the summer.

While some of these scenarios may seem silly, these are actually examples of different things that happened during previous summers. We haven’t listed a scenario for everything that could happen at camp, but this is a sampling of common questions girls may have when they are new:

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Can’t find your shampoo:
On Opening Day, our counselors will help your daughter unpack and settle into her bunk; it’s a great way for your daughter to take ownership of her things. However, in the excitement of the day, she may lose her toiletries and can’t remember where she put them. What should she do?
Solution to go over with your daughter: The best thing to do in this scenario is to ask your counselor for help. Let your counselor know that you can’t find your shampoo, and she will help you look through the toiletry buckets to make sure you know which one is yours.

Have a bug bite, sore throat, or other ailment that just won’t go away:
Our goal at camp is for all of our campers to come to camp healthy and then leave at the end of the session healthy. However, some girls don’t let us know when they have a medical problem. Usually, these girls are just having too much fun; why stop the fun if the problem isn’t so bad?! But, in the end, we’d rather make sure everything is okay and doesn’t become a bigger problem.
Solution to go over with your daughter: If you have a persistent problem (like a bug bite, sore throat, cough, or anything medically related), you should head up to our Health Hut to see our nurses. If you don’t know where to go, tell your counselor; she can walk up to the Health Hut with you. Our nurses are SO sweet, and they would love to make sure you’re feeling your best so that you can enjoy everything about camp!

Not sure where a bathroom is located:
We have bathrooms spread out all over camp! Our campers are always close to a bathroom, but sometimes they may not know it. On the first day of classes, our staff go over where the bathrooms and water fountains are located. However, in the excitement of those first few days, it can be hard to remember everything that was said. And, it can be hard to speak up sometimes!
Solution to go over with your daughter: Remember, everyone is happy to help! You can ask one of the counselors, or ask a fellow camper in the class with you. There’s a good chance she will know where you should go. You can also ask your cabin counselor when you see her next; she can help remind you!

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Have a concern with another camper or counselor: Living in close quarters with 8-10 girls for an extended period of time is TONS of fun; but, just like siblings, small disagreements come up. Living with others is one of those basic skills that is so good to learn at camp. However, sometimes your daughter may have something that is really bothering her, and she isn’t sure how to solve it…either with another camper or a counselor. We want to help!
Solution to go over with your daughter: If you have a problem with someone else, your counselor or Group Leader is a great first person to talk to; you can talk in private and explain the situation so that she can help figure out how to solve whatever is going on. Our Directors are also here to help, so find one of them at a meal or in the office. We also have a Comments box on our office porch that you’ll learn about on the first day of camp. You can leave a note in the box; it can even be anonymous. We read (and then look into) every note that is left in the Comments box. This is a great way if you are more hesitant to speak up!

Keep Talking at Home

While some of the scenarios above may seem a little silly, it’s great to practice these situations (or something similar) with your daughter.

Some other situations that are good to discuss are:

  • What to do if you can’t find where you’re going (ask a friend or counselor for help)
  • What to do if you forgot to bring something to a class (ask the counselor if you can go grab it from your cabin)
  • What to do if you can’t find anything you like to eat at the meal (first, visit our fruit and salad bar to see all of our other options, and then ask your table counselor to help you find what other options are available)
  • What to do if you can’t fall asleep at night (ask your counselor for solutions on how to sleep in a new place)

The real gist is this: in order for us to help your daughter, we need to know what’s going on. Speaking up is the first step!

If you’re concerned about any of this for your daughter specifically, reach out to us and let us know. We’re happy to talk through your daughter’s questions or concerns before the summer.

Enough for this week – we are looking forward to next week and will see you again for our New Camper Blog Series!

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