Friday, February 27, 2009

Freedom & Responsibility

I met with the parent of some campers yesterday and their insight into Anokijig was profound. We often hear stories of how campers and their parents consider Anokijig to be a "magical" experience, but it's often difficult to put a finger on what makes it "magical."
The reason for this may be that there is no single reason why children and families have such wonderful experiences at Anokijig. I do often recognize two unique aspects of the Anokijig experience, that appeal to children- the combination of freedom and responsibility.
Campers at Anokijig suddenly find themselves in a situation, where they are given far more freedom than they see in their daily lives. When campers arrive at Anokijig, they are given choices of which skill periods they would like to choose for the week, but beyond that, they are given even more choices of how to spend their free time at Anokijig. The schedules of kids at home are often filled, from the moment they get up to the time they go to sleep, with school, athletics, extra-cirricular activities and studying.
Although they don't often realize it, campers have even more choices at Anokijig, because their options don't include watching TV, texting, talking on the phone, e-mailing friends or playing video games. It's amazing what the unplugged world has to offer to these kids.
At the same time, these campers are given more responsibilty than most of them are accustomed to having. If they choose sailing for a skill, they are instructed how to set up their boat and then they are encouraged to head out and explore the lake. Where else can kids take boats out on a body of water, without having adults onboard, deciding when and where they should go?
Anokijig campers are also given a trading post account and many face their first life experience with budgeting their finances. If they choose, they can spend all of their trading post money on arts and crafts projects, but they might decide they want to save some for a horse ride or a snack. Ultimately, the decision is their's alone and they enjoy it!
Anokijig campers are also given other responsibilities, including keeping their bunk area neat and orderly and "hopping" their table for meals. Anokijig counselors occasionally remind campers of their duties, but most of the responsibility to remember falls on their shoulders and they readily accept the challenge.
It will come as no surprise to many Anokijig parents, that this behavior carries over to their lives away from Anokijig. How many campers are reminding their parents right now, to register for the upcoming summer? If your kids are in that group, you can take care of registration today, by following this link-

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