Sunday Snippet: It’s All About Relationships
At the heart of WeHaKee is the relationship. Yes, it’s a tagline we use in our materials, but it is so much more. The intentionality of relationships is the core of all we do at WeHaKee. Sure, we have a beautiful camp, we offer a great selection of activities, and our campers love our food! But that is not what makes WeHaKee what it truly is. It is and always has been the relationships that girls and young women make each summer at camp. But this hasn’t just happened. We are intentional about helping our participants learn to create relationships, build relationships and negotiate relationships when conflict emerges.
We recently came across a wonderful article and video that validates the efforts that WeHaKee makes to provide meaningful, developmental relationships between our staff and our campers. In her Mind/Shift article, Relationships Are Important. How Do We Build Them Effectively With Kids?, (KQED News Mind/Shift, January 16, 2020) contributor Katrina Schwartz examines the five key elements the Search Institute has determined “are essential to the type of relationship building that helps kids grow into healthy adults.” She includes a recent TEDx Talk by Kent Pekel, Ed.D., President and CEO of the Search Institute in which he shared the research-based key elements of developmental relationships:
1. Express Care
“The goal is not just a nice relationship, it’s a developmental relationship”, Pekel said. And while caring is a necessary requirement for a developmental relationship, it isn’t enough.
2. Challenge Growth
“There’s always a propulsive element to a developmental relationships,” Pekel said. These adults are constantly pushing young people to grow.
3. Provide Support
Support doesn’t mean becoming a helicopter parent and taking away all opportunity for kids to attempt something on their own and fail. The independence to make mistakes is important, but kids also need someone there who can talk through the mistake and what they might try next. They can’t be left completely alone, which also happens to some kids.
4. Sharing Power
As a former high school teacher, Pekel knows this one scares a lot of people who work with large groups of kids. “It doesn’t mean relinquishing power,” Pekel said. “It means giving kids voice and choice and letting them lead in moments that are appropriate and in ways that reflect their developmental stages.”
5. Expanding Possibilities
Kids need to be exposed to things outside their limited world view. “Introduce them to new people, new places, new concepts,” Pekel said.
Pekel also shares one of the many tools his staff use in a variety of situations. It is called the “Four S’s interview” in which a significant, non-parental adult tries to understand a child from these four areas:
1. Sparks – These are the things that get a person up in the morning, their passions.
2. Strengths – These are the abilities or values that a person loves about themselves
3. Struggles – These are the challenges, the things that keep us up at night. They could be typical growing up things or more substantial trauma a student may be dealing with.
4. Supports – These are the people and environments that make a person feel accepted and comfortable to be themselves.
Take a moment to view Kent Pekel’s full TEDx Talk from January 8, 2020:
Relationships are key to helping our children, adolescents and young adults thrive as adults. WeHaKee has known this for nearly five generations! Thanks for joining us this week. Have a great week everyone!