As the session continues, we’re reminded how fun it is to celebrate boyhood all summer. Some people wonder, why boys’ camp? In a place where boys are living, playing, and growing with other boys, there are no longer societal expectations placed on them as male or female - everyone acts as themselves. Sometimes in co-ed school or camp environments, gender stereotypes can be reinforced as boys and girls tend to slide into traditional gender roles. At Falling Creek, boys see their male counselors lead by example as their caretakers. Their counselors look after their physical and emotional needs, in what would stereotypically be a female nurturing role. The cabin of boys are also expected to clean up together, performing domestic duties like caring for their living and dining spaces.
At boys camp, there is also no need to be weighed down by the pressure of “trying to impress” the opposite gender, or fitting into traditionally masculine behaviors or activities. This means that boys have more freedom to be themselves, and just assume roles that fit their personalities. Counselors are trained to advocate for their campers and encourage them to try new activities without being self-conscious of what might be seen as “feminine” or “masculine” in another setting. Campers can embrace their interests and just be their true selves without societal pressures.
Bob Ditter said it best when he wrote an article for our 2020 Grow and Behold magazine, “Boys need a place that welcomes and encourages their spirited energy—a place that not only embraces their exuberance, but also helps them channel it productively while learning to control it in ways that are non-shaming. In other words, boys need a ‘holding environment’ that honors and tempers them at the same time.” Falling Creek acts as a great environment for boys to be both challenged and cheered on by their peers. They’re given an invitation to be fully themselves, as rowdy and loud as they want to be, and have the support of other boys and men as they set goals and rise to new challenges.
Bob expanded on the importance of the supportive all-boys community for campers, describing it as a place where they can be both vulnerable and strong. Bob says, “What a relief for boys to be in an environment that feels natural to them: full of action and learning-by-doing, all with the added support of a community of equals. When the culture of camp is nurturing and non-shaming, boys learn that their strength does not have to come at the expense of others. When you live in a culture that nurtures boys as well as challenges them—focusing on strengths rather than deficits—you learn to “win” graciously, with a sincere gratitude for those who helped you grow and get stronger along the way.”
“These are all reasons why an exclusive community of boys is so important for all boys to experience. It is in a community like this where boys begin to make the all-important distinction between vulnerability and weakness—a concept that has confounded men for centuries. To be vulnerable, which means to be emotionally honest and open, takes courage. One shows great strength when one can exhibit one’s vulnerable side and, in turn, make it safe for others to reveal theirs as well. Indeed, we know that the greatest gains in personal growth in children come not as much from their successes, but from owning and learning from their mistakes.”
We’re relieved that our campers once again have the opportunity to come to Falling Creek to connect with their peers and have the freedom to be themselves. Following their own interests and abandoning the pressures of societal expectations are lessons they’ll take with them for the rest of their lives.
We’re looking forward to a continuing celebration of boyhood in all its forms as we begin the second week of Main Camp!
Check back on the blog tomorrow to read about all the exciting festivities we’ve been getting into today for the 4th of July. Today also marks a new week, and we’ve been able to look back on a great first week of Main Camp this summer. Cabins have been able to bond with each other both in-camp and off-property on their Cabin Adventures to some beautiful nearby areas. Check out the highlights on the video below!