Sunday Snippet: Creating the Culture of Relationship
You will find our tagline, At the Heart of WeHaKee is Relationship throughout our materials and communications. What does that really mean anyway? Read on and find out!
The successful development and nurturing of positive relationships takes time and effort. Additionally, certain factors must come into play for a relationship to begin such as people being present, a common interest or value for those people to gravitate towards, as well as a sense of belonging within that group coupled with a set of internal social skills to further facilitate the development of the relationship. Not exactly a checklist we all consciously follow when looking to make a new friend ~ it just sort of happens!
But for those of us who work directly with kids and young adults here at WeHaKee, we take it beyond just sort of happening to creating a culture of relationship building through some very intentional approaches. That intentionality begins with hiring staff who are grounded in a core set of values that are in alignment with the WeHaKee mission allowing them to naturally be strong role models. This is critical as it has been shown that camp counselors - when compared moment to moment - have far more influence than that of us parents and teachers! Once our staff are assembled, training is conducted to enhance their skills to facilitate conversation and dialogue within a group (to create an environment where girls and young women feel comfortable talking and sharing!). Before the first campers arrive at WeHaKee, the staff are given multiple opportunities in a variety of settings to practice and hone their skills.
Helping each girl achieve a sense of belonging the moment she arrives at camp has long been a key element to successful relationship building at WeHaKee. When a girl feels that she belongs, she becomes more comfortable with taking healthy risks to reach out to others around her and viola!, let the relationships begin! From the welcome greeting she and her family receive at the gate (or as she boards the bus on her way to camp) to her cabin counselors helping her unload her belongings, help her find her bunk and unpack a few items to help her feel at home, the WeHaKee staff are intentionally creating the environment that will enhance her sense of belonging in the WeHaKee community!
Through Get-to-Know-Me games, meals together, cabin nights and reflections, the cabin counselors role-model healthy relationship skills which in turn build and reinforce positive social skills within the camper. And as they participate in activities and special events throughout camp, each girl is exposed to an even wider array of staff role models as well as other girls beyond their cabin allowing for even more opportunities to create and build new friendships! The intentionality continues as most of the activities at WeHaKee are designed to occur in smaller, less intimidating groups to encourage the girls to comfortably reach out to others.
Yes, relationships frequently do just sort of happen, but within the WeHaKee community a great deal of focused effort and preparation goes into the creation of a culture that significantly increases the frequency and quality of those happenings. Relationships are truly and intentionally at the Heart of WeHaKee!