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  • Writer's pictureBrigitte

Cultivating a Growth Mindset at Camp: Empowering Children for a Lifetime of Learning

Updated: Apr 26

As parents and caregives, we strive to provide children with the tools they need to succeed in life. One approach that has gained significant attention in recent years is the "Growth Mindset" parenting philosophy, developed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. This mindset revolutionizes the way we think about intelligence, talent, and potential, and it's an approach we proudly adopt in our summer camp setting.

At its core, a Growth Mindset assumes that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work, and persistence. It emphasizes that failures and setbacks are essential stepping stones for growth, rather than indicators of inadequacy. In contrast, a Fixed Mindset assumes that intelligence and talent are innate and unchangeable, leading to a fear of failure and a tendency to avoid challenges.

In our summer camp, we create an environment that fosters a Growth Mindset every day in every camper. Here's how:

1. Embracing Challenges: We encourage campers to step out of their comfort zones and try new activities, even if they might not be good at them initially. This helps build resilience and a willingness to take risks. When campers express doubts or frustrations, our counselors gently nudge them to reframe their language from "I can't do this" to "I can't do this YET." This subtle shift in wording helps campers understand that abilities and skills are not fixed, but rather can be developed over time with effort and practice. We remind them that not even Messi was born playing soccer!

By embracing challenges and viewing them as opportunities for growth, campers develop a growth mindset that will benefit them far beyond their time at camp.

2. Praising Effort, Not Just Talent: Our counselors focus on praising campers' hard work, persistence, and progress, rather than just their natural ability. This helps campers understand that their efforts are what drive their success. For example, when a camper feels disappointed with their art project, saying "I'm not good at this!" or "This doesn't look like what I wanted!", our counselors might respond with:

"I can see that you worked really hard on this project! I love the colors you chose and the way you glued the pieces together. What was your favorite part of making it? What did you learn from the process?"

By shifting the focus from the end product to the process and effort, we help campers understand that their value and worth come from their hard work and creativity, not just the outcome. This approach encourages them to take risks, try new things, and view mistakes as opportunities for growth.

3. Learning from Failure: When campers encounter setbacks or failures, we use those moments as opportunities to teach them about the value of perseverance and creative problem-solving. If they aren't the fastest at solving a puzzle or at a game, we encourage them to stay motivated and keep trying. To stick to the soccer analogies, we ensure that our campers understand that the one who shoots the most goals is generally the one who also misses the most!

5. Collaborative Environment: Our camp encourages teamwork, mutual respect and support, and open communication, helping campers understand that learning is a shared experience and that we all grow together. Each week our counsellors create a 'family feeling' for their camp group that encourages supporting each other and learning together!

By adopting a Growth Mindset approach at our summer camp, we empower children to develop essential life skills, such as:

- Resilience and adaptability

- Creativity and problem-solving

- Self-awareness and self-confidence

- Empathy and teamwork

Parents, educators and caregivers can extend this approach beyond the camp setting by:

- Encouraging children to take on new challenges and view failures as learning opportunities

- Focusing praise on effort and progress, rather than just natural talent

- Modeling a Growth Mindset ourselves, as children learn from what they see

By cultivating a Growth Mindset in our children, we set them up for a lifetime of learning, growth, and success. They'll be better equipped to navigate challenges, embrace new experiences, and reach their full potential. All of us at camp are excited and feel honored to be part of our campers' journey and encouraging them to always believe that they can learn anything!

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