We live in a world where peer approval means everything— especially to adolescents. Wearing the right outfit with the right labels, getting “likes,” being friends with the cool kids all matter. Or at least it’s supposed to… GUCI is different, and proud to be. Last night campers and counselors alike jumped and screamed along to alumnus Dan Nichols’s Jewish rock concert. We did so wearing underpants outside of shorts, with mismatched knee-high socks, wacky hats, and crazy clashing patterns.
Not only does this annual concert bring an exciting chance of pace, it teaches lessons. It teaches campers not only that Judaism is fun, to be comfortable in their own skin, to let lose and be silly, and to get to know people below the surface. Counselors and top deck members role model confidence, self-assurance, and a carefree spirit. When kids see their favorite counselor sporting Crocs and socks it gives them the confidence to try something silly and kinda out there they normally wouldn’t. This builds a foundation to help everyone feel more comfortable in their own skin and in making the choices that feel best for them. We encourage campers to try a nosaf they wouldn’t usually go for, a chug that their cabin mates aren’t trying or maybe fits outside gender stereotypes.
At the start of the summer staff was asked to write advice for first time campers. Almost every response included the phrases “be yourself” and “try everything.” This group grew up at GUCI; they learned through their counselors before them in the safe space created for them that camp is the place to experiment with new hair styles, play new sports, and share their story. We are now thrilled to have the opportunity to instill the confidence into our campers that our counselors once helped us achieve.
Camp is a place for kids to be kids. By giving them the tools to let loose and be themselves, everyone wins.