By the time campers arrive at camp, our year-round staff and directors have already received a great deal of background information about goals campers are working on at home, in school, in therapy, and in various other areas. Using this information and one-on-one conversations with campers, counselors help each child create a set of goals they would like to work towards during the session. Of these goals, one usually surrounds a Starfish Tool, and one a Starfish Key. Campers are encouraged to set goals that are challenging, yet achievable with consistent effort. Typical goals for first-time campers may include things like "Meet 3 new people and get to know 3 things about them to share at bunk meeting." Incorporating the social Keys of introducing yourself, having a conversation, listening to others, and more, this seemingly simple goal takes a camper's focus off his/her own self and encourages interaction and inclusion in the camp community. For some campers, this goal might take just a few days - for others, a good part of the session. Other goals might be things like "speak respectfully to staff and bunkmates" or "follow directions of staff the first time."
Every day, before evening program, campers go over their goals individually with a cabin counselor.* Together, they discuss efforts and specific examples made during the day towards goals, and agree on what number of points should be awarded. Campers can also earn an extra point for participating respectfully in the conversation. Each goal chart of 3 goals includes a reward for its completion. Rewards are never food or prizes - rather, they take the form of "a special activity with a special staff member." Examples that are most often requested are sunset boating with an administrator who in previous summers was a camper's counselor or rest-hour swimming with a favorite lifeguard. In this way, campers see a powerful and tangible connection between effort and reward. Bunk groups also set goals (such as "get four 10's on inspection this week") to receive bunk rewards - like a canoe trip to Blueberry Island or breakfast in bed served by the staff.
*Please note that the daily process for camper goal review in our teen programs and Beachcombers may vary.