How To Avoid Bullying Among Young Girls

Guest Blog Post From Kim Graydon, Associate Director Development of Glen Bernard Camp

Day of Pink got me thinking about camp and bullying.  I can’t speak for other camps, but I can speak for Glen Bernard Camp, which has been operating as an all girls camp since 1922.  It is safe to say that we might know a little bit about girls and their behaviour.

Our mission statement is this:  GBC provides a caring experience in which campers and staff develop self-confidence.  The environment fosters both independence and group belonging.   Fun is fundamental to the success of GBC.

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Glen Bernard has a long standing belief that an all girls camp environment brings out the best in girls.  When girls feel safe and supported, they accept and embrace each other’s differences.  When people feel that they belong, the need to put others down disappears.  GBC’s programs and activities focus on group belonging.  That group can be with just one other camper or it could be the entire camp, for example rainbow relay.  In rainbow relay, every camper is on a colour team.  During this all camp event, I can say with a high degree of certainty, that no one is thinking about anything other than earning the session title of Colour Team Champion!  The girls could care less about the colour of each other’s skin, what brand of clothes they wear, if they have a boyfriend or whether or not that someone is “weird”.   The shared connection of being on the same colour team eradicates those thoughts. Here is what they do care about: team spirit, encouraging their fellow team members, singing in unison, congratulating the winners and having fun.

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When I was a GBC camper, we learned the original camp motto: The Best of Each for the Good of All.  We knew that in order for us to function as a group, we had to be our best individually.  It fostered a sense of patience and empathy for those girls who didn’t fit in as well.   At the age of 8, I was in a cabin with a girl who threw a flashlight at my head. This is the same woman who I hugged at as we both put our next generation of GBCers on the bus for their camp session.

It would be disingenuous for me to say that there is no unkind behaviour at camp.  Any camp that says this, probably isn’t telling you the truth.  What matters is how the camp helps to weave a relationship between two people.  At Glen Bernard, the staff undergo in-depth training on how to watch for friendships that aren’t being fostered, what to do when a camper is excluded, teaching empathy and helping the girls communicate well with each other.  The key is bringing the girls together, in a safe environment, to talk about it.  Learning good communication is another way camp helps children with life skills.

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Camp is about finding out who you are.   GBC places a high value on respect, kindness and treating others as you would want to be treated.  Learning to sail, as an example and learning to live in harmony with others are both accomplishments we hold in high regard.

Join us.

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