Editor’s Note: All this week and through the middle of the next we’re focusing on a series of blogs about the emerging Leaders-In-Training Program slated to begin in the summer of 2019. These blogs (and a Facebook Live event on February 7, 2018) are mostly geared toward parents looking into the program and addressing some of your questions. We encourage you to share the information with your campers so you are all on the same page. Please keep in mind that the program is still 18 months off and not all aspects of the program have been finalized. In addition to today’s blog, others include:
- Why be a Leader-In-Training?
- What Our Transitional Summer 2018 Looks Like
- Beyond LIT — What Comes Next?
- Facebook Live Q & A With Elizabeth and Casey
Leaders-In-Training 2018 Update: What an LIT Summer Will Look Like (Still Developing)
In this next post in my Leaders-In-Training 2018 Update blog series, I’ll offer the most comprehensive look yet at what the Leaders-In-Training (LIT) Summer will look like for our participants, who we call our LITs (albeit not totally finalized). The first summer we’ll have LITs is Summer 2019.
But first let’s talk about our developing mission with this program.
The mission of Camp Alleghany’s Leaders-In-Training Program is to provide young women a safe yet dynamic context to grow in confidence through in-depth leadership opportunities. Here they will test their independence while acquiring personal and practical life skills within a meaningful and fun summer camp environment steeped in supportive traditions for girls and women.
What Will Senior Camp Look Like?
Since LITs will not actually be regular campers anymore, but they’re not Junior Counselor staffers either, you may wonder what Senior Camp will look like once we have LITs? Let’s look at that.
Beginning in Summer 2019 when the LIT Program launches, in Senior Camp our Midways are 13s, our Upstarts are 14s and 15s, and our 16s are LITs. LITs will still participate in certain aspects of Senior Camp, as listed below.
But now, all things “Upstart” will be for 14s and 15s. Tee shirts (the red SIXTEENS tee) will now be for 15s, and will say FIFTEENS with a nickname on the back, and the 14s Tee will be white with red lettering, like the current 15s Tee.
But why aren’t 14s Midways anymore?
Well, by definition, a transition year, such as being “midway” between something, doesn’t take a long time. Based on feedback from campers and parents, we felt that the Midway summers were dragging a bit for second year Midways. There’s no need for two years here, so we’re shortening it. We find that 14s are ready and eager to tackle the Upstarting years!
Our 14s and 15s Upstarts will have the opportunity to be Hoppers (our Dining Hall camp waitresses), and when it comes to the awards of Honor Girl and Senior Camp Spirit, those will be chosen from the Upstarts (not LITs).
All About LITs
And as for 16s, as per my earlier blog post on this topic, they’re ready to take on more than a traditional camper summer, and they have enjoyed all that Hopping and Upstarting offers. They’re ready for something…more!
Yet LITs will still want some familiar traditions, so there will be an LIT Award, though we’re still brainstorming on just what would be the best LIT award we can think up.
There will be an LIT color (gold!) and an LIT tee, and the beauty is that those specifics are still evolving, including perhaps being set by the inaugural LIT group in 2019! But never fear, LITs will have a camp culture experience with many familiar traditions!
And there will be a special bridging ceremony to signify the completion of the LIT program along with a meaningful recognition — something tangible that’s still in development — for everyone who completes the LIT program.
Six Week Program
We’ve determined that Full Term attendance — or a six-week program — is the best way we can complete the projects included in the LIT program and fulfill its mission. Six weeks will equal a real life skill certification applicable for a job (see below) as well as other meaningful opportunities for self exploration and development.
And as for those who hope to come back as Junior Counselors and Counselors, six weeks is the best way we can prepare LITs who think they’d like to be counselors for what that job really entails. The focus, the arc of development, and the stamina it takes to be a counselor, will first be experienced in being at camp for six weeks during the LIT summer.
Six weeks is less time than a Junior Counselor (JC) commits to camp — JCs and Counselors commit to eight weeks.
But choosing to be an LIT over, say, the many other things a 16-year-old could do that summer, both tests the waters of that time commitment, and gives the LIT insight into whether she would even want to be a JC or Counselor. This is something that’s helpful for both would-be JCs and for camp.
Day In and Day Out
What will a basic day look like for an LIT?
LITs will still take two activities from a selection of our regular departmental classes (see below).
LITs aren’t campers, and they aren’t counselors. Oh, that in-between place! But we want them to still have some of the camp life experience, and taking activities is one of the ways! Activities are FUN, and it allows LITs to continue working on goals they started as younger campers, OR to try completely new activities if they want.
We think that the schedule will be two activities in the morning, and LIT programming in the afternoon. BUT…there will be some exceptions…
LITs won’t be able to be in activities every single day, due to occasional interruptions from other LIT projects, trips, or special events, so we have to exclude performance activities (Dance, Drama, and Alleghany Singers) because rehearsals demand a consistent schedule. The remaining activities will all be fine to take, and will be good additions to their pre-counselor schedules.
Evenings will also have that wonderful camp feel with LITs participating in many, but not all, Evening Activities and Blue/Gray events (yes, they’ll stay on their color team — or get a color if they’re a first time ‘Ghany attendee — that’s for LIFE!). We might even plan a Blue/Gray event just for LITs!
Except for the kinds of project or special event interruptions cited above, LITs will attend and participate in Campfires, Vespers, etc!
And yet sometimes being an LIT will mean something new and bigger during Evening Activities. Depending on the day, LITs will participate like a camper, and on other nights may have an assisting role in executing an Evening Activity as part of their leadership development and in the aim to gain more experience — whether in organization, public speaking, demonstration practice, or other crucial skills. And sometimes LITs will be involved in their own activities. It’s a balance.
There will also be some flexibility and choice in this, depending on the personal goals and objectives of any given LIT participant.
There may be times when an LIT may choose to participate in the Evening Activity, or she may choose to stay back in another area of camp and continue working on an ongoing LIT project that needs more work/practice/brainstorming/etc.
And what sort of things would an LIT be working on that would take her away from Evening Activities, B/G activities, or daily activities?
The full list is below, but there will be days when LITs won’t even be in camp – whether out in the community working on a community service project, on a backpacking trip, an all-day certification training, a group day off, or even visiting another camp. Otherwise, she might be in prep for that training, or finishing a presentation, or going over some facet of planning, etc.
Everyone wants to know if there will be an LIT Lodge. Where will it be and what will it be used for? Well, we are planning to have one but the location is still TBD — we have to determine that with Facilities Director Garrett O’Dell and his team over the next year. There are important functional considerations like site placement, distance from other buildings, electricity, repurposing, etc. We will make this exciting announcement as soon as we can!
The LIT Lodge space will be similar to the Counselors’ Lodge in that is it used for socializing and bonding, chilling out for a bit, planning activities, working on LIT projects, etc.
LITs will have a later curfew than campers, but earlier than counselors. Depending on the day, after Taps they’ll have the opportunity to be in the LIT Lodge.
We’re planning on the LIT Lodge being a phone and electronics-free zone, meaning that LITs will have similar tech-free rules as campers.
Who Goes to the Camp Greenbrier Dance?
At this time, we’ll likely keep the same ages attending the Camp Greenbrier Dance as have alway gone — our 12-, 13-, and 14-year-olds. If we modify this we’ll be sure everyone knows ahead of time.
Who’s the Boss?
Who will be “in charge” of LITs?
We’re developing a new Head Counselor position exclusively to head up the LITs. This counselor will report to the Program Director, who will report to the Director. All of us will work to ensure the smooth and complete fulfillment of the LIT Program’s various facets.
LITs will not live in a tent with a counselor, but rather live in a tent with other LITs. The LIT leader will live in a tent in the same Unit/row of tents (Unit 4 of Senior Camp, for those of you familiar with Ghany’s tent row units), and is available nearby. The same safety and supervision rules (such as nighttime patrols, emergency chain-of-command, etc.) will govern the LIT Unit area, ensuring safety and compliance in their sleeping/personal tent areas.
So what will the arc of the LIT experience be like? What will LITs be doing in their projects?
There are six general categories to the LIT Summer, with a purpose or objective for each one.
Time Commitment: The six weeks length of this program was written about above — but to recap, the program length allows us to achieve all of our objectives, including the skill certification, while also allowing participants to come to understand what that JC Summer will be like (even longer, at eight weeks) or what a summer as a counselor will be like.
Group Trip: Heading out from camp as a group will further cement the social aspect of being part of a cohort, almost like a summer intensive with bonding, mutual support of one another, taking turns leading the group, learning and utilizing basic survival skills, engaging in important decision-making, and “having each other’s backs.” This trip will be fun, challenging, engaging, and meaningful, and the intention is that the girls will come back stronger, happier, and more filled with life than ever before. Based on feedback from campers and past out-of-camp trips, we think this is something they’ll love and will be an especially memorable aspect of the LIT summer.
Community Outreach Project: This project will take place outside of camp and will call on smart skills in organization and planning, communication, measurement for effectiveness, and other detail-oriented work toward completion of a goal. But it will also call on compassion, discretion, maturity, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone to enlarge the LIT’s sense of humanity. This is a very rewarding part of being an LIT that will naturally strengthen every participant’s character and ‘Ghany Girl spirit. This will also include:
- Community Service Hours: Since many girls are required at school to fulfill community service hours during their summer, our outreach project will ensure that this need is partially or completely met, while also allowing our camp community to give to the larger Lewisburg/Greenbrier County area around us, in which there is demonstrable need.
- Contribution to our Home Area: This is an in-camp project that LITs will decide on and do together to leave something behind that is uniquely from the LITs of that summer. Some examples include building needed benches or bat boxes, completing a beautification project, painting or re-painting furniture or a building, making a garden, etc. This will add to the individual LIT’s overall community service hours as well.
Certification: Each summer will lead to a skill certification that the LIT will successfully complete, earning the certification to take with her. We may offer a choice of certifications, perhaps driven by who is attending and what they’ve requested to do or even based on what they DON’T want to do.
No one will be forced to be certified in an area they don’t feel comfortable, and we’ll work with families on this, but some certification examples include: Lifeguarding, First Aid/CPR/AED, Wilderness First Aid, Ropes Facilitator, NRA Rifle Instructor, etc. Again, most of these allow the LIT to leave ready to be employed in a capacity that earns more than the average high-schooler, affording her the opportunity for faster job acquisition and “climbing the ladder” in future employment.
But the certificate shouldn’t be looked at solely in a literal sense. A former LIT may have no long- or short-term interest/opportunities in the certificate area but that doesn’t mean that it loses its value. Or was time wasted.
Lifeguarding still teaches vigilance, endurance, and life-and-death responsibilities.
NRA Rifle certification doesn’t have to lead to a job at the local gun club. It may simply mean she knows what to do should she find herself in a situation where there are guns present, or come to understand at a high level just what kind of safety is required around guns. Or maybe she’ll just learn sharper focus.
The certification is a meaningful piece of the program that has both real-world implications along with a constellation of other skill sets easily applied to other work, school, club, and personal situations.
Life Skills: This section will have a wide area of exploration and practice along with an even wider application out there in the “real world.”
Some of these life skills are areas where parents find that while the teen “won’t listen” to mom’s advice, they’re open to counsel from a trusted mentor/counselor/leader. On issues like peer pressure and social media, this can be particularly helpful. That’s why we’ll focus on Communications, touching on both written and oral skills including the written word (in fun and unique ways to develop her voice), job applications and resumes, verbal communication including presentations, interviews, and giving and receiving instruction, etc. Here she’ll get a chance to shadow a counselor to see what it really takes to shift from “camper-mind” to “counselor-mind,” two VERY DIFFERENT states of mind! 🙂
Other things in Life Skills include:
- Time management: With multiple service projects in and out of camp, Evening Activity leadership, event planning for Banquet, planning their own special LIT dinner, meeting skills for their certification, and details for a group trip to manage as well as their own self-care, there’s a lot going on in LIT summer. That’s why specific tools for time management and planning trajectories will help LITs learn valuable ways to make plans go off without a hitch even at home when there’s homework, chores, jobs, deadlines, sports, and other demands on her plate.
- Cooking: Who doesn’t love to eat? Our LITs will want to learn to cook up a few specialties of their own. We’ll hit both the kitchen and the fire pit for gourmet ideas and food that’s literally on the go in the outback!
- Basic vehicle skills: Now that she’s driving age you’ll want her to get as much reinforcement of the seriousness of the road as you can. During LIT summer she won’t just dream of glorious future road trips but she’ll learn why she needs to be safe on the road too. We’ll go over checking oil, fluid, and changing a tire among other things, including how to read a map that’s made of paper and not named Siri…just in case!
Behind the Scenes at Camp Alleghany: Because LITs are a basic step in the progression to Junior Counselor and then Counselor, one of the facets includes a look at how camp operates behind the scenes. Who is who in the chain of command and what do they do? She’ll spend some time with each admin team member to understand their job and what they do to make camp function, including off-season responsibilities such as conferences, professional development, facilities planning, and weather-related tasks such as understanding how to read water level meters upriver. We’ll make this fun but stress its seriousness, too.
LITs will also visit areas of camp off-limits to campers, like the hospitality side — helping out with and learning about camp-scale cooking, cleaning, recycling, etc. They’ll get hands-on learning and an appreciation of the people and personnel who make up our behind-the-scenes staff.
They’ll also tour another camp to see how a different camp looks and how they operate.
This will have a networking component for learning about how to relate to co-workers, build mutual respect, develop relationship-building, and get an outside perspective.
Unique LIT traditions: Our first “class” of LITs will help fashion some of the special traditions that are just for LITs. Examples include candle light ceremonies, early morning meditative traditions (morning yoga, canoeing, hiking, journaling), a final LIT dinner, new LIT songs, and more! These traditions will further support the group cohort, help make memories, build relationships, and revel in the fun that is a part of this challenging yet rewarding summer!
Applying to be a JC
The LIT summer is an important bridge year to applying to be a Junior Counselor.
A Junior Counselor is a serious camp job. It has its components of fun, its unique traditions, and its…purple!
But JCs are first and foremost full time workers at camp who are responsible for the safety of campers. They’re also responsible for providing campers with a meaningful summer camp experience while acting as laudable role models themselves.
To be adequately prepared to apply to be a JC, 16s must learn the difference between being a camper and being a worker at camp. They need to learn and understand that the campers come first. They need to learn just how serious a job is, any job, but especially one at a camp with a waterfront, guns, arrows, and the elements! 🙂
The times have changed, possibly most notably around the Internet and social media, adding an area of pressure to young people’s lives that former generations didn’t have to face. Instagramming an experience is often more important to a young person today than the actual experience itself. Sixteens and JCs and Counselors from a generation ago never had to contend with this.
Former generations never faced Internet addiction, real-time self promotion over telecommunications lines, or being watched in real-time by those not sharing the immediate experience.
These things have taken a toll on society at large, but also have taken a toll on young people who aren’t adequately prepared to navigate a world that isn’t always connected or isn’t always Instagram-perfect. That’s why new paths to self-development are needed, particularly in situations outside of school and even outside of home and family.
That’s where camp comes in, and that’s where the LIT Program can help fill in the gaps while also making truly unique contributions to the growing young person’s sense of self, accomplishments, skills, and abilities.
We find that a summer specifically dedicated to leadership development will help the young woman in myriad ways, one of which is in determining if she even wants the responsibilities of a JC, and then to help make her more prepared in today’s world, in today’s times, to take on that very serious (and also fun, but serious) first job! 🙂
The Bottom Line
After extensive discussion, thought, and research into the cost of what it would take to make this program work, we’re looking at a Full Term camper tuition price as our guideline right now.
We have been working with the CAAA in discussing scholarship money, so that remains a possibility for anyone concerned about affordability. For campers who are committed to being a part of this program but not sure about finances, we ask you to simply contact us to discuss options when making your decision.
We’d like to work with all families who want their daughter to participate in this program especially if a camper is 100% committed to the program and to being at camp for six weeks but money is the ONLY reason they’re hesitant — we want to work with you.
But I would like to take a moment to talk about how LIT is less a “cost” than it is an investment, particularly where the skill certification is concerned.
For example, if we chose Lifeguarding as the certification earned, a program that can independently cost around $400 and take 30 or so hours of repeat attendance, your LIT will come away from her LIT summer ready to work at a local YMCA, other health or country club, hotel, or indoor program and able to earn a median hourly wage significantly higher than most high schooler job wages no matter what region of the country she resides in.
In other words, this investment can pay for itself many times over — not just in the obvious way of a job, but in subtler aspects of skills, leadership, and responsibility. For example, having basic lifesaving skills is important when you’re getting hired to work in many jobs, like restaurants, day care centers, other summer programs, and even babysitting! Life Saving or Lifeguarding certification demonstrates to others that you can keep a cool head in crisis but moreover it actually teaches the LIT to be the one keeping cool — that can help in conflict situations, a car accident, or in the face of injury to self or others.
So we’d like to emphasize that it’s not just what you’re paying, it’s what you’re getting.
Always a ‘Ghany Girl
In addition to solid personal life skills and marketable job skills, I want to emphasize again that LITs will also be at the heart of camp life. From their two daily Activity classes to attending many Evening Activities, maybe leading a Campfire, joining their friends in the Dining Hall and on Tent Row, enjoying free time, and having time to visit with friends in younger age groups while being leaders for the youngest campers, our LITs will be an indispensable part of our camp community on a daily basis.
Next Blog and LIT Facebook Live
Stay tuned for our next blog on Friday, which will cover aspects of what THIS summer, 2018, will look like for Senior Camp as we transition toward implementing the LIT program.
And please tune in to our Facebook Live event on Wednesday, February 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET to hear a recap of these blogs, some added thoughts about LIT, and to submit questions for us to answer about the developing 2019 LIT Program!
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls