Our bunks of very happy campers create unique social contracts to identify the behaviors that are important to them for group living
Being a happy camper doesn't happen by accident. It takes a lot of intentionally. Living successfully with other people requires compromise, flexibility, and patience. These are life skills that we teach every day at our summer camp in NH. One of the ways that we do this is by asking our campers and staff to work together each summer to create "social contracts". Rather than dictating the rules that we expect them to live by, we asked each cabin to spend an hour or so within their first day at Camp to have a discussion that was guided by their counselors. They talked about the ways that they want to be treated this summer, along with the ways that they don't. They also discussed their individual pet peaves and quirks, so that as a group they could make a good plan for living together. Amongst other things, it's a really good way to help the whole bunk learn about each other and bond.
The counselors also asked their campers to define what it means to be a member of the K&E community. After achieving consensus about the goals of our community, and the rules for the cabin, they wrote everything down on large pieces of poster board that are now hanging in their bunks. At the end of the discussion, to signify everyone’s commitment to trying to live the values of our community, each member of the bunk (including the counselors) signed the document.