Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Five Reasons to Send your Kid to Camp!

Although it seems like this winter will never end, summer camp registration is right around the corner. Camp offers unique opportunities for learning and growth that go beyond what is available to kids at school. Whether it is overnight, day, or a specialty camp, here are five reasons you should sign your child up!

1. An ACTIVE Summer
During the school year, kids spend most of their days sitting behind a desk, so it is essential that summer is a time of action! Camp games and activities will get your child moving in an enjoyable and safe environment. The excitement and spirit of camp will also teach your child that an active lifestyle is tons of fun.

2. An OUTDOOR Adventure
Most of camp life takes place outside. Whether it is nature based activities, like hiking and campfires, or sports, like swimming and capture the flag, your child will be immersed in what the great outdoors has to offer. They will benefit from the fresh air and sunshine, while also gaining an appreciation for nature.

3. A LEARNING Opportunity
There are so many opportunities to try new things at camp. One day it may be archery, the next pottery, and the next boondoggle bracelet making! Your child will have a blast learning new skills and trying things they have never done before. Camp also provides the chance for your child to improve at their favourite sports and activities, like dance or basketball.

Part of learning new things is having new successes. As your child racks up achievements throughout the summer, they will increase their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. In addition, the independence that camp offers will further develop their confidence and self-sufficiency. They will go back to school in September knowing they can learn new skills, improve through practice, and rely on themselves – a teacher’s dream!

5. A SOCIAL Environment
Camp is a great place for kids to meet new people and form friendships. By placing them outside their familiar environment, camp enables kids to develop their social skills among all different types of people. They will also get the chance to look up to their counselors, enthusiastic young adults who can relate to them and be positive role models.

Written by: Shira Lurie, Dynamix Toronto lead facilitator

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Do It Yourself Teambuilding - Double Trouble!

Activity Name: Double Trouble

Materials: Foam dodge balls, Pinnies (optional)

Setup: Have everyone stand in a big circle.

Goal: First team to pass the ball around the circle to each of their teammates back to the first person.

How to play:Make a big circle with everyone. Make two teams in the circle. (Every other person in the circle is one team) pass a ball to the first person in each team. On Go, one team passes the ball to the next player on their team one way and the other team passes the ball the other way. Take a step back after each round.

The rules:
-Cannot block the other team’s ball
-Must pass the ball to each person in the team
-Cannot switch directions

-What was your strategy?
-Talk about you can’t always win and how to deal with it.
-Talk about frustration and how to deal with it
-Why was it important to follow the rules?
-Did you want to intercept the other team’s ball? Why?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Effective Communication in Teams: Sending Messages

Our daily lives are filled with one communication experience after the next. Communication between ourselves and those around us is constantly occurring as we exchange messages to achieve an understanding of other people’s thoughts and experiences. Effective communication is essential when working in teams, and developing the skills required to achieve mutual understanding within a team through communication takes practice. The word “team” is being used to describe any grouping of individuals—including a committee, class, sports team, family, or work colleagues—as communication is imperative despite the type of team being discussed. If we need to work collaboratively with others, we need effective communication.
In this article, I will offer some tips for sending messages effectively.

Tip #1: Take Ownership!
It is important to take responsibility for your opinions, ideas, and feelings when expressing them to others. To do this, make personal statements such as “I think…”, “I feel…”, “It seems to me…”. When you own your messages, it suggests that you are honest and open with your teammates, and there has been a level of trust established in the group that allows you to comfortably reveal your thoughts and feelings.

Something to watch out for: How often do you use sentences such as “We think that…”, “Everyone knows…”, “Most of the team feels…”? Take note of this! When we speak for other people, it might feel safer than taking ownership for our thoughts and feelings, but it may lead to confusion, misunderstanding, or inappropriate representation of someone else’s opinion.

Tip #2: Describe, Don’t Evaluate!
When giving feedback on someone else’s behavior, it is important to simply describe what you see without making a judgment about it. When we evaluate another’s behavior, it can create defensiveness and establish barriers to effective communication. It is helpful to use descriptive statements, which describe specifically what you have observed without making assumptions about what that behaviour means about the other person’s attitude, personality, or motives. For example, it can be more beneficial to tell a teammate “you seem to be walking very slowly, what’s going on?” rather than saying “you don’t care about finishing this challenge quickly”. We don’t have all of the information. Maybe the person is sick, upset, offended, tired, or hurt (among other possible reasons for this behavior), so simply giving descriptive feedback can begin a dialogue to establish a deeper understanding of you and your teammates’ experiences.

Something to watch out for: How often do you include judgment or an assumption when giving feedback rather than just describing what you see? Take note of this and see if you can alter your communication when giving feedback!

Tip #3: Take the Other’s Perspective
The same message can mean two different things to two different people. In order to send a message effectively, you need to consider the perspective of the receiver. Perspectives are complicated and complex; they are formed through our values, beliefs, and experiences. We can never be certain or complete in our understanding of another person’s perspective, but if we try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we can create and send messages that are more likely to be received the way we intended. For example, if a teammate has absolutely no experience with soccer, and we consider this before sending our message, we may choose to say “try kicking the ball in the net” rather than “try to score a goal”, because the player may not know what it means to “score a goal”. Through perspective-taking, we can alter our communication so it can be more appropriate for the receiver and therefore more clearly understood.

Something to watch out for: How often do you phrase communication based on your own knowledge and experience without considering the perspective of the person your communicating with?

For more information, see Johnson (2014). Keep an eye out for my follow-up articles on tips for receiving messages effectively and overcoming possible obstacles to communication!

Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Written by Shea Wood, M.A., CCC

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images: