This summer at Camp Matollionequay, we took the time to think about ways in our life that we needed to Explore and Grow, and how to Thrive in those areas. We use what we call our 6 Green Feather Qualities: Ascender, Elder, Spirit, Stargazer, Storm, and Monk. Each of these qualities represent a character value and a way to grow in life.

At the beginning of each session, we introduced to the campers the qualities and their importance to camp and life outside of camp. The camper could choose either a quality that they most identify with, or one that they wanted to further develop within themselves. They could also choose to work towards living all 6 qualities.

While each quality represents a core value and a way for a camper to improve their character, each quality also has a negative counter-character association, or what we would refer to as “Shadows”. What follows is a more detailed description of the 6 Green Feather Qualities, along with their negative shadow quality.

Ascender quality is valuing the core value of caring. It represents one’s ability to act when action is necessary, but has the shadow quality of comfort which hinders one’s growth. If you want to work towards your Ascender quality, you will push yourself to make sure that you are not giving up on your goals and walking away from challenges without trying them.

The challenge course is where many campers get there opportunity to try something that they did not think they would ever do. This could be climbing the rock wall and planning on getting half way up, but deciding to reach the top. It could also be participating in the swamp course and trying all four elements, when you originally on planned to do two. Stepping bravely into your own personal growth.

Elder quality is valuing and respecting others. The shadow quality of ego will try to weaken your character. To show your respect towards other, you will need to make sure that those around you feel included in your activities, know that any criticism you receive is to help make you a better person, and to lift not only yourself up, but lift others up with you.

We experience Elder quality through activity like sports; working on good sportsmanship and supporting your teammates when you are on the sidelines. At camp, we incorporate different sports or games from different countries that our campers may not know, so that our campers experience working together to achieve a common goal.

Spirits quality is seizing joy, linking all, and upholding inclusion. The shadow of negativity will try to induce hatred. Spirit quality is demonstrated by working towards keeping an open mind, including others, and being kind.

At camp we see many campers go through this thought process of ‘I want to be included, but how do I do that?” Or, “I want to make sure that everyone in my cabin feel included.” Inclusion is as simple as asking somewhat their favorite food is or asking them to sit next to you during breakfast. These simple acts help you grow into a stronger, more confident person. Being able to ask someone if you can sit by them or to sit with you, helps keep you open-minded on meeting new people from all walks of life.

Stargazer quality focuses on exploration and the value of courage. It’s shadow, fear, holds one back from exploration and growth. To develop Stargazer quality, you try new things, step out of the norm of society, and know that to be “weird” is not only okay, but preferred at camp! When you see fellow campers singing and dancing, you’re encouraged to stand up and do the same. This is also signing up for a different activity than the rest of your friends.

At camp, we want campers to have the ability to choose what they want to do and to explore more of what camp has to offer. It is okay to come to camp with your best friends from school, but know that it is okay to choose what you want to do and not follow the crowd.

Storm represents the ability to strive again in the face of failure and self-doubt and to uphold responsibility. The shadow of doubt will try to make you surrender to your insecurities. You can work towards the Storm quality by pressing on when things become difficult, and overcoming self-doubt by asking for help in the areas that you need.

For example, some campers experience homesickness if it is their first time away from home. This is normal! Through the Storm quality, campers go to their counselors for help or write a letter home saying ‘I am homesick, but having a great time.’ Our staff give campers the space to know that what they are feeling is normal and those feelings will go away; the campers need the encouragement from their parents and counselors to know that they can do difficult things.

Monk quality represents one’s self-control and ability to aim for the truth, and upholds honesty. The shadow of lies will try to make a camper deceitful. Someone displaying Monk potential will be honest, ask questions to get a better understanding of what is happening, and exhibit self-control to act appropriate within right and wrong.

We make mistakes at camp, but the best part about it, is what we learn from those mistakes. Being honest about an accident or pulling aside a counselor and telling them something that is bothering them in the cabin, is how we exhibit the Monk quality and learn from our failures or mistakes. Asking questions of others and aiming to understand differences rather than rushing to judgment in times of disagreement also helps us better display the Monk quality.

The campers will take the six qualities that they learn from camp with them for the rest of their lives. The qualities will help campers do everything from having to make a speech in front of their classmates, working on a school project with someone they might not get along with, trying a new activity like a sport or auditioning for the school musical, to handling receiving a bad grade on a homework assignment appropriately and responding by asking the teacher for help. Throughout camp, kids have the opportunity to grow and become independent. When they are away from home, they get that experience of knowing they can do things on their own. They can make a mistake and try again with encouragement from their peers and they can learn how to be more helpful at home.

This is what we strive for in the camp community. We are grateful each time a camper steps into camp and sees the myriad possibilities that lay before them, and then make their decision to Explore, Grow, and ultimately, Thrive.