A Great Activity to Open Camp Staff Training
Koinonia (it means fellowship in Greek) - Put your staff members into small groups of 4-8 and explain that they are going to create a town. Ahead of time, gather together whatever materials you wish (ex. cardboard boxes, construction paper, glue, paint, recyclables, stickers, paint, toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, scissors, markers, masking tape, duct tape, etc.). You will want to allow at least 30 minutes for them to create their buildings. Encourage
Give each group the responsibility to create one of the town buildings or outdoor spaces. Explain that they will making their creations 3D and give them an approximate size. Buildings of 1' to 2' seem to work well and still allow space for people in the room!
Frontload with them that, as they create the structure, they must also discuss how it will be used metaphorically in their community. The following are some examples you may want to use:
LIBRARY – the place to get resources, exchange ideas
SCHOOL - the place to learn new things, (what and how, why would they learn?)
PARK - a place to get away from it all a serene place to take care of one's self)
REC CENTRE - a place of fun and play and stress relief
CHURCH - a place for spiritual development, a healing place
CEMETERY - a place to put issues to rest (what should 'die' at your camp - ex. gossip)
HOMES - places of their own privacy, property - places where they feel safe
STORES - when they run out of steam, these are places where they replenish energy, inspiration, creativity
HOSPITAL - for healthy, safety - a healing place
OFFICE BUILDINGS - for the camp's administration, archives
CITY HALL - the place for settling disputes (dealing with conflict/mediation room)
These are some of the questions each staf group should ask itself:
1) how does this area of camp facilitate growth/willingness to risk?
2) how does it make you feel welcomed or loved?
3) how does it make you better able to look after children?
4) how does it develop our community?
5) what are the risk management tools (emotional risk, mental risk, risk to community)?
6) how does this keep our focus on our job this summer?
After each group is finished, put the town together on the floor. Give each group an opportunity to show off its work and to explain how they would like to see these issues dealt with in your community. Next, place a road of paper through the town. On the road, have staff members write words that complete the following sentence: “we believe in……..”(these possibilities are endless - ex. treating each other with respect, not participating in gossip). These are the statements (or guiding principles) that connect all of the structures in the community.
It is helpful to keep as many of the buildings as possible and bring one or two out each week to discuss how you as a community are doing.
Another summer, we did this same type of exercise by making a huge 3D map of camp on the floor of the dining hall instead of a Town. It also served as a tour of the site for new people.