How To Build Trust With Your Child Before Sending Her To Summer Camp

Photo via Pixabay by Patrickb79

Photo via Pixabay by Patrickb79

Sending your child away to camp for the first time can be a daunting experience, especially if you’ve had trust issues in the past. It’s easy to get lost in worried thoughts when you’re afraid your loved one will be tempted to experiment with drugs or other unhealthy habits when she’s away from you, so it’s important to establish some trust before she leaves.

It may sound easier said than done, but there are many ways you can ensure your child will remember your expectations and be able to make good decisions while she’s away from home. Talk to her openly about the things she might face at camp--peer pressure, bullying, exposure to drugs or alcohol--and find ways to give her the tools she needs to say no or stand up for herself.

Here are a few of the best ways to go about it.

Talk about what she might face

Open up a line of communication with your child about the things she may encounter when she’s away from home for the first time. Try to be as forthright as possible and allow your child to ask questions. Don’t get defensive; rather, think about times in your own life when you had to face temptation or cruel behavior from friends and be open. Check out these tips for talking to your child about drugs and alcohol.

Communicate what trust is

Talk to your child about the fact that trust is a two-way street; not only do you need to be able to trust her, she needs to be able to trust you. This doesn’t mean that she should expect you to give in or let her do what she wants at all times; rather, she needs to learn that she can rely on you to tell her the truth and protect her. For her part, she needs to understand what her role is as the child. To further drive the point home, illustrate some examples of what she can expect if she does show that she’s trustworthy, such as a later curfew or more time to spend with friends. It’s also important to let her know what you expect and what the consequences will be if she fails to meet those expectations. Be specific in order to get the results you want, and make sure you follow through with your end of the bargain, as that is one of the major keys where trust is concerned.

Give positive reinforcement

Everyone likes to know when they’ve done a good job, so when your child makes an effort to follow your example, take a moment to give positive feedback. Simply saying “Good job!” can make a world of difference to kids.

Give her the right tools

Having the right tools can mean the difference between being able to say no and giving in to temptation when faced with peer pressure or bullying. Talk to your child about what to say and how to react in the moment, such as giving a simple but firm “No” and leaving the situation immediately. Having a script of sorts to use when that moment arrives can help her find the courage to do the right thing.

Remember that building trust takes time, so it might be a good idea to sit down with your child well before she leaves for summer camp and have a talk about how your family can work on it. Allow her to see you living up to your end of the bargain, which will show her how she should behave in turn. Keep the lines of communication as open as possible and let your child come to you with any issues she may have, which will definitely build up her trust in you.

3/4 Girls Overnight

Another great camp-out for the books!  The BBA Mountain Campus allowed us to use their space, which is simply perfect for this event, especially with the ever changing VT mud season weather.  We gathered in the parking lot, we said good-bye to our parents and off we went; eight girls made the walk to the bunkhouse in the drizzling rain. 

We unpacked (everyone got their own bunk!) and wandered over to the main campus building to participate in a few team builders with the 7 & 8th grade girls group, who also utilized the BBA Mountain Campus space this time around.  The first activity started by the group gathering around a collection of charms.  Each girl chose a charm that they were drawn to, then they told the group why.  This activity allowed the girls to become more comfortable with one another, in a very open-ended way.  They told stories about things that have happened in their lives, or things that they would like to do in the future.  It was cool to see each girl pick a charm and tell their story in such a creative way.  Wrapping that up, we then moved on to dinner (mac & cheese, woot, woot!).

  After dinner, we wandered back to the bunkhouse, and let the girls do a little running around.  Jacque facilitated another team builder, where the girls had to lead a blindfolded partner through an obstacle course.  There were a lot of laughs, and there was absolutely no concern about the crummy weather.  Moving back inside we changed in to pajamas and spent some time around the table playing charades before bedtime. 

The next morning, we packed up and gathered around the table once again.  I asked the girls a collection of questions about things they have done, and things that they like or are interested in.  We put things in order (like shoe sizes and birthdays) looking for the lowest or the highest.  We talked about the number of countries or states we have been to.  The theme being, although there are differences, there are always commonalities between people.  Things there are different are interesting and things that are the same make us relatable. All of these things are important.  The girls really responded to this activity and we spent a long time on it! 

The morning flew by, with some breakfast and a little more down time before walking back down in the drizzling rain to meet their parents once again. 

Thanks to all who attended! 

-Devo & Jacque

Afternoon at Wildwings

Yesterday was a beautiful but cold day in our neighborhood! Although the Wild Wings Ski Touring Center was not open for us to Cross Country ski this time around they were gracious hosts for both some yoga and snowshoeing. We started off the afternoon with some yoga in the toasty warm yoga room at Wild Wings. Tracy did a great class for us; lots of downward dogs and spiderman's...which the whole crew loved because they were allowed to walk up the walls!  We did some partner stretches as well, really working together to keep our balance. 

After our yoga warm-up we grabbed our snowshoes and went outside in to the beautiful day! Ian was our tour guide and we blazed a fresh trail to a really cool, partially frozen, waterfall. We talked trees along the way, pulling down branches and talking about what makes each tree different. There was a lot of slipping and sliding, at one point everyone did a really long penguin slide down a nice long pitch. It was definitely and adventure and the whole group really seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

To end our afternoon Wild Wings had a bonfire complete with s'mores and hot cocoa. It was a pretty stellar event.      

Winter Carnival at Pete's Camp

Unplugged gathered together this past Sunday at Pete's camp in Windham. All of the groups were invited to our inaugural winter carnival. We began the day inviting the parents to stay for a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, sausage, eggs and potatoes, hot chocolate and coffee. Parents were able to meet the leaders and see all the kids involved in the program.

After the parents left the kids connected with their groups and began the day's activities. They rotated from snow shoeing, to fat biking, to inside art work,  snurfing and group games. It was fun to watch the football being thrown around, kids roasting marshmallows and some exploring and fort building in the woods. 

Lunch was grilled cheese and tomato soup by Chef Jimmy.  At the end of the day all of the groups played a game of running charades in the field.  

We are lucky to have some wonderful group leaders that facilitated the day: Devon Cohen, Maggie Smith, Dennis Gallagher, and Jacque Verdon.

Our intention was the have the parents see what we do and to also have an event where we could rotate around and do a lot of activities in a day.   The perfect Vermont weather day helped make the day a complete success.  Now-a-days it takes a lot to get kids to just go be kids and play outside.  We witnessed 34 kids doing just that..... Unplugging,  challenging themselves to new activities ( fat biking and snurfing)   and also strengthening their friendships.

It was a truly fabulous day to be a part of....

Lisa

6-8th Grade Girls Climb High!

View full photo album on Facebook.

Another great Unplugged event for the books! The girls had so much fun climbing, we didn't even have time to make friendship bracelets. This event was our largest turnout yet, making for great group morale throughout the entire day. It was fabulous to meet some new faces, and see the group coming together as the year goes on! 

What I love about climbing in general is that it really challenges you to use both your mind and body to get up the wall. The girls did a great job pushing their boundaries, more than impressing the staff with the routes they completed! 

The event started with a really fun team-building activity, where the girls were all clipped together on a daisy chain and had to maneuver their way along the wall without anyone touching the ground. If they touched the ground, they had to start all over again. The group put their minds, bodies, and communication skills to work as a team. The girls seemed to enjoy tackling this quest, and it was entertaining for us to watch.

For the remainder of the afternoon Maggie, Sarah, and I belayed the girls on the routes they wanted to climb. Everyone had the opportunity to climb at least 4 or 5 times, challenging themselves to attempt harder routes as they gained confidence. Routes are marked by certain colored tapes on each hold. If you were to take on a red route, you can only use the red taped holds for your hands and feet the whole way up. Routes are ranked on a scale known as the Yosemite Decimal Rating system, from 5.00 to 5.14. Most routes the girls were climbing were around 5.6's but we did have two girls conquer a 5.8 and a 5.9, a very exciting feat that impressed the climbing gym staff! Getting these girls up the harder routes was very rewarding. I'm sure they will had some sore arms today! 

Maggie and I would like to thank everyone who came climbing yesterday, and Sarah for helping belay. It was another amazing and fun weekend with the girls! REMINDER: our next event is WINTER CARNIVAL ON Sunday JANUARY 29TH AT PETES CAMP IN WINDHAM from 10 am - 4 pm. All age groups of Unplugged with be there, and we hope to see all of our girls there! 

Happy Holidays and New Year, see you in 2017!

- Marissa

Mala Bracelets

Sunday was full of patience and setting good intentions!  We were so lucky to have Kaitlyn Zwagerman, owner of Wandering Sparks, a local yoga jewelry company, walking us through the process of making our own Mala bracelets! She started off by explaining the purpose of a Mala, then had everyone count all 108 beads needed for the bracelet!  The girls took on the challenge and they were stringing the bracelets in no time.  We chatted, listened to a lot of music I had personally never heard before (catchy!) and choose our final beads.  We knotted them off and were good to go!

We attempted to run around the beautiful campus of SVAC, but it was a bit chilly! We came back inside and did some team-building activities, especially because a lot of us are still very much new to one another.  We saw a number of the girls step up and show their leadership skills!  It was awesome.

We ended with a Mannequin Challenge video. (Yup, had not heard of this...but it was awesome! I'd be happy to share the video with anyone that wants it. Really fun!)

Thank you to Kaitlyn for bringing your enthusiasm and expertise! 

-Devo and Jacque 

Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is always one of my favorite events of the year and we had a huge turn-out this time around!  The crew at the Green Mountain Rock Climbing gym is always very informative and helpful.  It is also so inspiring to watch the girls that are a little tentative at first climb all the way to the top by the end of the evening. 

Introductions started the event this time around, as there were many new faces.  Then we moved right in to rules of the gym and safe practices.  From there the girls have an opportunity to spread out and start climbing!  They lasted for about an hour and a half before starting to ask for pizza.  We took a quick stop for a bite to eat.  We then moved back downstairs to “circle up” and get to know one another better.  It was a quick game of “which do you prefer?”, I gave them two options and they got to choose their favorite.  A great walk-away from this activity?  It’s easy to find something in common with another person, and it’s ok to like different things as well! 

We did a little more climbing and then called it an evening.  A huge thank you to Jacque and both Emily’s for their help!         

- Devon

Cabin Overnight with 6-8th grade girls!

The 6-8th grade girls kicked off the 2016-17 Unplugged year last week with a small Meet & Greet at the Northshire Bookstore, and an overnight at the BBA Mountain Campus cabin. 

At the Meet & Greet, we played fun name games and other icebreakers to get to know each other. After a delicious pizza dinner, we each crafted and decorated a journal to be used for reflection at this year's events.

On Friday, a crisp November afternoon, four brave middle school girls met Maggie & Marissa at the BBA Mountain Campus parking lot to hike into the cabin for an overnight. We dropped down to the river along The Wright Way trail, winding along its banks and through the woods until we arrived at the beautiful, rustic cabin. Equipped with a bunk room and a wood stove, we lit a fire, made hot chocolate, and settled in for a cozy candlelit night. With just enough time to wander the mountain campus grounds before sunset, we got a lay of the land, including a nearby beaver pond. 

Two girls joined the group late, just in time for dinner! Together, we cooked up fajitas over a camp stove, and shared stories around the circle. The girls who hadn't yet made a journal did so, and everyone had the chance to make a DIY firestarter out of pine cones, wax, and salts. 

Chatter from the bunk room drifted into the night from inside our warm cabin. When it was time to leave the next morning, most girls agreed that the only low of the trip was not being able to spend another night! 

Looking forward to seeing the same girls, and more, at our next event: December 11th 1:00pm to 4:00pm - Indoor rock climbing at the Rutland climbing gym, and friendship bracelets! 

- Maggie & Marissa

Season's First Unplugged Adventure: 3-5th Grade Girls

Last Sunday the 3-5th grade girls took off on their first Unplugged adventure for the 2016-2017 season. On the agenda for the day was the Stratton Mountain Fire Tower hike and yoga class lead by the one-and-only Lisa Kelly. 

The weather was a little foggy and drizzling. Although, it was peak foliage season we only got a few brief glimpses of the colors, but what we saw was gorgeous. First stop was the Stratton Mountain gondola. When we got to the top of the gondola we headed to the trail, which is about a .7 mile hike to the Fire Tower itself. It’s a beautiful hike, and it really gave us some quiet time to chat and get to know one another. We got to the end of the trail and checked-in with Jean, who lives at the summit with her husband for the summer season. She gave us some information on the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail, and even took some time to show us their “natural” refrigerator!   Almost all of the girls went to the top of the Fire Tower. There were some nerves, but they made it!

Hiking back we each collected an item that they were drawn to, and reminded them of themselves. We spent a little time on the Gondola showing our item to one another and discussing them.

Our original plan of utilizing the summit yoga deck did not come together, but we were lucky enough to be able to utilize the Training & Fitness Center Yoga room instead. Lisa held a great class, that all of the girls seemed really excited about! Another really good challenge for the day.

We finished off with some hot chocolate and goodbyes!

Looking forward to next months rock climbing adventure!

– Devon