Earlier this week you’ve been able to read my two introductory blogs on our coming Leadership In Training Program (LIT) that’s set to begin for the 16s of Summer 2018. The first was a general look into the program, and the second was a bit more detail delivered FAQ style.
To prepare for LIT, we went on a listening tour, inviting a focus group of this summer’s counselors, along with some of our current 14s* — the very girls who will be our first LIT Program group — to share their thoughts and help shape some of our thinking as we develop LIT.
Overall the campers are SUPER excited about LIT! These thoughts came from the current 14-year olds:
Listening Tour With Some 14s
Q: Will LITs be Hoppers?
A: No, the 14s and 15s will be Upstarts now, so they’ll be the Hoppers.
Q: Do we have to pay like normal campers?
A: While you won’t be campers, you will be in a Program, so there is normal tuition.
Q: Can we tell other people about this or do you have to have already been a camper at Camp Alleghany?
A: Yes, please share with friends. The program is open to rising high school Juniors whether they’ve attended ‘Ghany previously or not.
Q: Will we be able to have our phones?
A: Unlikely. Even our Counselors go phone-free at camp except during their off-time or free-time. And it may be that some form of education on the perils and benefits of social media and tele-responsibilities are a part of this program to help build awareness of some of the pitfalls, especially for girls, of a hyper-connected society.
Q: Where will the LIT hut be located?
A: Great question and one of the fun things we get to develop — a special place for our LITs!
Q: Will we be in the Upstart Program at the same time?
A: No, this is a big change. Now 14s and 15s will be Upstarts, and 16s will have their own program — LIT!
Q: Will you have to have come to Alleghany a certain number of of years?
A: Generally speaking, no (see above). We have discussed whether campers should have to have come as a 15-year old? But the jury’s out on this. It remains far more important (and mandatory) for our LITs to have come if they want to apply to be a Junior Counselor (JC), so that piece is unchanged from our current requirement that you have to have come as a 16 to apply to be a JC.
Q: What is our color going to be?
A: Many had suggestions from which we liked Gold as an option. It just may be that these first LITs will get to decide on that for the Program as a whole!
Q: Do we get paid?
A: No, it’s not a work program per-se, like the JCs and Counseling Staff.
Rather the leadership and training elements will equip our LITs to be far better positioned to apply for and get jobs, as well as to be prepared to be superior counselors in their own right when the time comes.
Ultimately LIT will still be a Camp Alleghany for Girls Program. This program is designed to meet 16-year-olds at a fundamentally transitional time in their lives where the more serious concerns of looming high school graduation, part-time jobs, college applications and college itself, as well as career planning, require that young people gain the skills, confidence, follow-through, and personal as well as group skills to thrive in today’s competitive and multi-faceted society. Because this is training, it’s not high pressure in the aforementioned areas, but it is focused and real and designed to nurture resilience, drive, and success!
As part of this program there is work, but it is service-oriented rather than employment based.
Q: Do we get nights/days off?
A: There will be supervised group time off in some capacity.
Q: Is there an LIT class?
A: Well, the whole program is LIT class; in discussion is possibly letting these girls take one activity period; e.g., if they’re working toward a goal in Rifle, they’ll take that at a certain time period during the day. This is not set in stone as we are looking at so many models and opportunities to design the best program for our LIT campers.
Q: What kind of certifications will we get?
A: Possibilities are lifeguarding, ropes, wilderness first aid, etc.
Q: What if we already have a certification?
A: Since we’re still in process on this, we’ll cross that bridge later.
Q: How will Crab Soccer work if Senior Camp is separated by age, instead of all mixed?
A: LITs are still camp participants, and they are housed in Senior Camp. We’ll work out how the LITs integrate into Color Games, Evening Activities, and everything else in camp as we move forward.
Q: Will we still have the 16 song? Can we still sing the Upstart song?
A: Since the 14s and 15s will be Upstarts beginning in 2018, the LITs will have their own song!
Q: Will we still get 16s shirts?
A: We know that looking through the 14-year-old lens, this kind of question is super important to them today. But since LITs will also have awesome shirts, we’re sure it will more than make up for any concerns now.
Q: Will we go into town to volunteer?
A: This is one of our ideas that we hope to implement!
Q: Do we have to apply to get into the program?
Q: Where would we sit at meals?
A: LITs will have their own tables!
Q: Why aren’t the 16s next year going to do this?
A: The program isn’t implemented yet and we don’t want to rush its development.
Those questions really touched our hearts because they show a truly earnest interest in the program while also making clear that current 14s wonder about what the unknown will bring. Especially at their age, they’re not ready to see through the eyes of their future 16-year-old selves, so we take their thoughts seriously, but also peppered with some perspective.
The same goes for some comments we got. After hearing that one of our ideas for an LIT privilege would be being “in on the Banquet secret,” one camper said she didn’t not want to know the theme of Banquet, she still wanted the “secret.” We think this is likely more a function of her current age than how she’ll feel as a 16 in LIT.
A few other camper comments were:
“I don’t want camp to change too much but I am still excited”
“It’s good for 16s to get used to leadership.”
We’re not quite sure if current campers fully understood the point that the Upstarts will be 14s and 15s beginning in 2018, rather than 15s and 16s, meaning that nothing will be compromised in terms of the regular 2-year Upstart program. But expecting these girls to understand all the details of a proposed program, especially when so much isn’t determined yet, is expecting too much.
But to reiterate what I wrote on Tuesday, we’ve decided that our Midways, the 13-year-olds, will be just for one summer. I think this works much better for everyone all around, because the transitional Midway Program is about different things — the change from being a younger camper to becoming one of the Senior campers. Usually after this Midway year they’re anxious to move on after one summer. We think they’re going to love being Upstarts at age 14 going forward!
Any concerns that these girls had about fearing they’d miss out on certain things that the 16s do are understandable but unnecessary since the 15s will be the new 16s and they’ll still get those rites-of-passage before becoming LITs! We hope parents can help reassure them of this.
The first group of LITs will have a unique situation in that they alone will just get one Upstart summer, but it will look like 16 summer, not a 15 summer. Maybe we’ll call them the JumpStart Upstarts next year so they’ll have that special something to make the transition. Who knows — still brainstorming!
But from the brainstorming thus far we have a very general outline that’s subject to change depending on various factors, priorities, possibilities, etc. As for now, keep following the blog as we’ll share any news on the development of this program as it takes shape!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls
*Sadly we weren’t able to get feedback from ALL of the 14s because the flood that hit First Term shortened our time by so much that we wanted to focus on the remaining time that those campers had rather than pull them from activities for the focus group. If any of those 14s who missed sharing input would like to send questions or comments to me, they are warmly invited to do so.