Unlock the power of empathy with engaging activities
Empathy is a crucial quality for effective leaders and seems to be in short supply these days. Empathetic people are aware of other people’s feelings and feel those feelings without judgment. They have the ability to get in other people’s shoes and experience the world from another perspective. Empathy is defined as “feeling with people” – it requires a person to tap into something personal that identifies with the struggle of another. Empathy tells the other that I see you, I feel you, and I understand you.
At Camp Weloki, we help campers develop empathy in a number of ways. Children become more generous after their character has been praised rather than just their actions. Commending character might sound like, “I can see that you are the kind of person who notices when other kids need help” or “I love how you are the kind of person who likes to help others whenever you can.” Praising their character helps kids internalize this as part of their identities and motivates them to earn it. Our staff is trained to talk to girls about their behaviors and for many, it is the first time someone has praised their character in this meaningful way.
People with empathy have stronger interpersonal connections and are more eager to collaborate, effectively negotiate, demonstrate compassion, and offer support. They are also more willing to collaborate with others to solve larger problems. Through diverse activities and collaborative adventures, Camp Weloki inspires girls to embrace empathy, creating a more compassionate and understanding culture. All of these qualities are essential for effective leaders.
Despite the numerous benefits, some evidence shows that empathy has declined over the past 30 years. Our children have seen adults behaving disrespectfully even in the stands at youth sporting events. Stress has been shown to inhibit girls’ empathy, levels of stress overwhelm both kids and adults in our society. Stressed and hurried people become more focused on themselves and less in tune with the needs of others. Camp Weloki provides a safe space for girls to explore empathy, promoting active listening, empathy-building exercises, and fostering deep connections.
How does Camp Weloki help girls develop empathy?
We encourage campers to get into the shoes of other people and see things from their perspective, including friends at camp they may have a conflict with. When girls make a mistake, we help them to become aware of how their actions affected other people. Instead of criticizing leaders like camp counselors, teachers, principals, or coaches, we have them get into the leader’s shoes and come up with solutions to problems. This increases their empathy, problem-solving ability, and the courage to be a leader.
Empathetic girls are generally happier, healthier and more effective in school. This engenders courage. One study found that participants with higher levels of empathy were more likely to stand up to a bully on behalf of someone outside their peer group. There is a clear correlation between empathy and altruistic behavior; helpers simply cannot stand by and see others suffer.
Camp Weloki encourages the idea of win-win mentality vs. my idea is the best idea or my way is the only way. Strong, mature leaders speak with courage and listen with empathy. They have the guts to advocate their position, but they care just as much about others getting their needs met as their own. We practice and work through conflicts with girls in role play and real life scenarios to help them develop this new skill. Empathy flourishes at summer camp as girls engage in teamwork, cooperation, and shared experiences, fostering a sense of empathy that lasts a lifetime.
The world needs leaders who are compassionate, collaborative, and understanding. Developing the skill of a win-win mentality is one way your daughter will develop into a strong and empathetic leader. At Camp Weloki’s summer camps and overnight retreats, we support the development of empathy in your daughters and watch as they change themselves, their schools, and the world. Let her experience an extraordinary journey of self-discovery, leadership, friendship and FUN!
Want to learn more? Check out Camp Weloki’s summer camp sessions for ages 9-14 and 15-18.