by Kenna Hausler, Cornerstone Fellow
At Crane Lake Camp, we build a Culture of Kindness through our actions every day. This Culture of Kindness can be seen all around us as we go about our daily activities, from the smallest of actions to the grandest of gestures. Our culture creates an environment that is filled with people who want to actively create a more compassionate and accepting community. This summer at Crane Lake, campers are being recognized for their acts of kindness more often and more positively than ever before.
The Cornerstone Fellowship is a special opportunity for third-year staff members to build our professional skills as counselors and make a programmatic impact on camp. Each spring, our Cornerstone Fellows attend an intensive seminar led by the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and come back to Crane Lake inspired to engage campers in a new way. This year when we came together, our Cornerstone cohort explored the Culture of Kindness on a deeper level and thought about how we could help highlight it more around camp.
The result was a project called Kindness Coins. Campers are acknowledged for their kind acts by being awarded with coins throughout the summer. They are nominated by their counselors for doing something kind for a peer, counselor, or member of the Leadership Team.
But there’s a next level: upon receiving a Kindness Coin, the recipient then passes along their “kindness” by awarding the coin to a peer who completed a caring act. If they see someone participating in an act of kindness, then they have the freedom to pay it forward and pass along the coin. The ultimate goal is to create communal recognition of the way in which kindness is constantly flowing through our camp.
Kindness can be seen in many different ways, whether it is picking up trash around camp or comforting a peer who is feeling upset. However, when we consider giving kindness coins, we want to see it go beyond the expected common courtesies. Our camp community hopes to encourage grand gestures. Examples of these acts include campers making an effort to not have anyone left out of a bunk activity and a camper choosing to be with their peer in the quiet song session so they are not alone. The types of acts nominated are ones that are taken out of a pure desire to build a kinder camp community by spreading kindness to others. With these coins, we recognize each act of kindness and give our campers the opportunity to take pride in themselves and visualize their effect on our community.
Many of us on Cornerstone have grown up at camp and we have realized the impact of learning about the value of kindness at summer camp. We have learned the importance of being caring towards one another and how our actions can easily affect those around us. With our deep connection to the Culture of Kindness, we feel excited about rolling out this new initiative at camp and hope it continues in the years to come.
Kenna Hausler is from Wilder, Vermont. She is in a 6 year PharmD program at the University of Rhode Island and will be a junior in the fall. This is her 14th summer at camp and third year on staff. After two years as a general counselor, this summer Kenna is a Camper Care Specialist and Cornerstone Fellow.