Research and hiking and prep work, oh my!

June 13-15

            So far, this week has been less busy than my first two weeks. I have been doing endless research for the last week in order to prepare the reports necessary for the preparation event, but now the planning of the preparation for the international camp is winding down, as the kids leave in about two weeks. My main project for these few days was to prepare for the Peer Support preparation that is taking place tomorrow, June 16. The Peer Supporters, PSs, are older kids that attended camp as seeds two summers ago. They are returning to camp with the delegation in a leadership role, being there to help the new seeds adjust to camp and the U.S. since they have had the experience that the new seeds are embarking upon. We are going on a hike near Jericho on Thursday with the PSs and some former PSs for them to get to know each other, bond, and prepare for their responsibilities as a PS at camp in Maine. So,  a lot of my work was focused on the details of the hike and planning activities that would help with team building as well as test the leadership skills of the new PSs. Some old PSs will be attending to provide advice from their experiences and to evaluate the new ones outside the presence of the program director, where the kids will likely be more genuine.

           The PSs are supposed to be motivators for the new seeds, learn to evaluate others and give criticism in a constructive way that encourages an entire group to do better, and support one another and the campers. I thought that to meet these goals, several things could be included in the hike programming. I suggested that one or several of the kids be given a role to play during the hike, one that depicts a situation that they may face with campers. For example, one kid could be told to complain about the hike the whole way without letting the others know that this was an assigned role until a discussion following that hike segment. In addition, Mohammed suggested sneaking a kid away to hide to see how the others react. These things help the others practice how to deal with tough situations that may occur at camp. After the first segment of the hike, there would be a discussion about what had happened, where the roles would be revealed, and they would discuss how the various situations were dealt with. Then, during this discussion, I also suggested that the old PSs share with the group a difficult situation they faced while a PS at camp, ask the group how they would handle it, and then share what they did and how the situation turned out. I thought that these would prepare the PSs to cope with the responsibilities that come with their leadership role.

            After the first hike segment and discussion, the kids will continue on another segment, this time accompanied by Mohammed and I, hopefully giving them an opportunity to implement skills and strategies discussed during the break. It was also suggested that a good way to include team building is to have the kids tied together for this segment so they learn to work together, support one another, and encourage each other in order to reach a common goal (the end of the hike). Mohammed took these ideas into consideration, so hopefully some of them will be included in the preparation. Mohammed also told me that he would like me to take an active part in the discussions midway through and after the final hike segment, due to my experience with dialogue and facilitation. I was glad to escape the research for a few days and put my own experience and skills to use in planning this event for the kids. After the planning and site visit that happened this week, I am excited to see how the hike will play out!