On The 4-H Thriving Model Goes to Camp

Practitioner Tip Tuesday

By Guest Blogger Virginia Bourdeau, Oregon State 4-H Camping Specialist

What does it mean to design a 4-H Staff & Counselor in Training (CIT) program through the lens of the 4-H Thriving Model? This post describes one simple method that can operationalize frontline practices to improve 4-H camps alignment with the model.

An important theory supporting development of openness to challenge and adventure is “growth mindset.”  Dr. Carol Dweck defines a growth mindset as the belief that traits or skills are malleable and can be changed with effort. In contrast, a fixed mindset is the belief that traits or skills are innate and unchangeable.  Camp is certainly a place that offers many challenges such as making friends, resolving conflicts or learning to cast at the fishing pond.

Michael Brandwein, a well-respected camp counselor trainer, states that there are “two sources of power at camp.”  This is teaching what he calls Level One and Level Two skills.  When a camper casts her bobber into the target zone after eight or nine tries and the fishing activity leader says, “Good job.” and moves on to coach the next camper, she is only helping the camper learn a Level One skill.  Hitting the target is an activity skill.

What else might our camper have the opportunity to learn?  With the right 4-H CIT training that activity leader has the opportunity to help campers learn qualities such as persistence, patience, and confidence, how to follow directions, practice a skill to improve, and ask questions.  These are the “Level Two skills” that can really add power to the impact of your camp program.

When the camper gets her bobber in the target zone the activity leader should specifically recognize the Level Two skills she has used.  This helps our camper recognize the skills and reinforces their use.  For example the leader could say, “Good job! You’re really sticking to it. You’re persistent! Thank you for asking the question about how to hold your wrist.”

Michael Brandwein loves to use letters that form a word to help remind us how we should interact with campers.  The reminder word for this technique is P.I.E.S.  This stands for

P=       Positive! We show we value what the camper has done.

I=        Immediate! The communication should be immediate.

E=       Enthusiastic! Make the communication enthusiastic and sincere.

S=        Specific! We name the skills the camper has used.

So power up your next camp staff training with some P.I.E.S.; and contribute to youth thriving at camp!


Thriving On

Virginia Bourdeau

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