Devising methods to reinforce and reward desired behaviors is one of the biggest challenges of schools and camps and motivating campers to speak French is no exception.
When a camper goes out of their way to utilize their French language skills in casual conversation, it is magical, and we want to reinforce it as much as possible. In our early years, we recognized our campers’ efforts in the French language with what we called a ‘sticker system,’ in which each group would be given a certain amount of stickers to win each day. At the end of every camp week, the group with the most stickers, and therefore the group who spoke the most French, won prizes. In recent years, we have begun to reward not only French, but behavior as well, by introducing what we call the “Badge system.”
The philosophy behind our custom-designed Badge system is to recognize certain behavior as well as efforts with French by awarding our campers specific badges at the end of each camp day. Each camper receives a badge card, colour-coded per week, where they will cumulate their badges and take home on Friday as a recognition of their achievements. At the end of each day, every camp counselor will give out the specific badges to campers who have distinguished themselves in one of the 16 categories we have identified, which include:
- Positive Attitude
- Confliction Resolution
- Helping Hand
- French Effort, Excellence, & Improvement
- Respect, and more.
This year, we are excited to introduce a new theme for summer 2014. Campers will be able to earn the Random Acts of Kindness badge, or “Geste de Bonte Inattendu.” According to Huffington Post research, some studies suggest that the development of empathy has its roots in infancy, and that it could take several years for this skill to mature. However, with positive reinforcement in their early years, children have proven to develop faster in terms of their sociability and their awareness of their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.
Throughout the summer we will reinforce and model this Random Acts of Kindness concept and we hope that our campers will then take this back into the world with them. People who are empathetic tend to have better social interactions, academic performance, and accomplishments at work than others. I believe that one act of kindness no matter how small can make a difference in someone’s life – especially for children.
According to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families in Washington, DC, if empathy and kindness is reinforced in fun, casual atmospheres, it will help to increase your child’s emotional awareness and cognitive reactions to other people’s emotions. It could also improve their social skills later in life. By reinforcing acts of kindness in a carefree camp setting, we allow the campers to see the results of positive gestures.
As parents, we want to help mold our kids into caring, empathetic adults. It is no different here at Camp Tournesol. We want to continue to help the campers develop not only as French-language speakers, but also as caring, socially conscious friends and citizens of the world! We know that their time at Camp Tournesol will help your children in this journey!