4-H summer campers discover how to “communicate through conflict”

4-H summer camp teaches lifelong skills for youth to become successful adults.

Between 2001 and 2004, the American Camp Association conducted national research with over 5000 families from 80 ACA-Accredited camps to determine the outcomes of the camp experience as expressed by parents and children.

Parents, camp staff, and children reported significant growth in:

  • Self-esteem
  • Peer relationships
  • Independence
  • Adventure and exploration
  • Leadership
  • Environmental awareness
  • Friendship skills
  • Values and decisions
  • Social comfort
  • Spirituality

The findings from this national study indicate that camp is a unique educational institution and a positive force in youth development. The camp experience can benefit children by increasing:

  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Social skills and making friends
  • Independence and leadership qualities
  • Willingness to try and adventurousness
  • Spiritual growth, especially at camps focused on spirituality.

No differences were found based on the camp type (day, resident) or session length. The full report is available and serves as reinforcement for the benefits of Michigan 4-H Camp Programs such as the one in Northeast Michigan.

Youth (ages 9 to 13) along with high school counselors participated in 4-H summer camp June 24-27, 2013 at the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center in Presque Isle County in northeast lower Michigan. Campers enjoyed traditional summer camp activities such as canoeing, swimming, archery and team games. In addition, youth experienced classroom activities focused on managing communication and conflict. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), part of the Leadership and Community Engagement program team from Michigan State University Extension taught “Communicating through Conflict” at this year’s camp.                                                  

Campers learned about communication by tossing balls to each other as a queue to speak, then realized the need to communicate more effectively as more balls were introduced with resulting group confusion. They also worked in teams to solve a “lost at sea” scenario; and discussed / practiced various concepts of working through conflict in teams.

Sixty campers completed the course. Comments about what they liked best included: “you get to work in a team”, “we all had to work together in order for the activities to work”, “the group activity of what objects would be more important in a shipwreck”.

Related Articles