The world can be a hard place, but there’s one superpower we have that we often take for granted: gratitude. We may not be able to choose our circumstances, or choose the futures our children will one day lead, but we can choose our attitude and posture toward life. Gratitude is one of the key benefits of camp, and one we teach as part of our philosophy at Camp Cody. Here’s why it’s so important:
Gratitude is Connected to Happiness
If everyone is honest with themselves, they would love to be happy all the time. It’s such a wonderful feeling. We feel happy when we do things we love with people we love—and for a camper, there’s no better place to find happiness than at camp. One of the best benefits of summer camp is that there are so many fun things to do that bring happiness!
Activities are a great time to practice gratitude. Sometimes spots fill up and campers don’t get to do the activity they wanted that day, or maybe they were hoping a friend of theirs would join them and then didn’t. We encourage our campers to think about what they can be grateful for in the moment. Maybe they can be grateful they got to eat breakfast with their friend. Maybe they can be grateful they got to do the activity they didn’t get to do today, yesterday. Maybe there are things they can do at camp that they couldn’t do at home, like horseback riding or scuba diving, that they can be grateful to try.
Gratitude Builds Relationships
What do kids learn at camp besides how to have fun? They learn how to be grateful for their relationships. Being around people who are always negative is no fun. But someone who is thankful all the time will be a great friend and role model to others.
Every day, campers have an opportunity to practice gratitude. Our Camp Cody counselors often ask their cabin members to go around at the end of each day and say something they are grateful for. Our staff members often give shout-outs at meals or group gatherings to show appreciation for campers. Campers see appreciation in action and see their good deeds recognized in front of the whole camp, showing that being grateful truly does have an impact.
We then invite campers to show gratitude for each other, by showing kindness to their camp friends or saying things they appreciate about each other. We show them how to reconcile when conflicts arise and find common ground, and how to be grateful for their differences.
A Grateful Life
What kids learn at camp will serve them well beyond their childhood. There’s a way to be thankful in everything. It starts with the small things, like waking up in the morning and having good food to eat. It extends to bigger things like the places we live or the jobs we have. And it especially helps with the relationships we have with our families, friends, coworkers, and community members.
For the skeptics wondering if such a soft skill can really have an impact, UC Berkley did a study that showed people who keep a gratitude journal are 25% happier than those who don’t. Gratitude can also lead to reductions in stress and prevent physical symptoms of distress, such as headaches.
There’s the mental impact of gratitude too. When bad things happen in life, it’s so easy to follow a negative spiral into depression or other illnesses. While it’s important to process those feelings and not repress them, gratitude teaches us to look for the sunshine beyond the clouds. It pulls us back from the darkness and into the light.
Instill a Thankful Heart at Camp Cody
At Camp Cody, gratitude is one of our core values. It’s a foundational skill that teaches children social and emotional learning, but also how to have fun and engage with others in a healthy way. Learn more about our camp values and see why Cody is the best place for your child to spend their summer!