These teens are getting GOOD: Gaining Competence at Camp


Last year Molly put her full time job on hold (something I assume they only let you do if you’e really GOOD at it) and joined the SG staff after a six year hiatus from summer camp. From day one she demonstrated not only her ability as an artist but her incredible skills in connecting with and making our campers feel safe and welcome.

Here Molly shares a little bit about the difference between ArtsFest and the rest of our summer.

We love you Molly! The SG family would not be the same without you.



So I’m going to start with something we can all agree on—Teens love regular camp, they do! But sometimes during regular camp...I get the feeling that all they really want to do is… chill. If given the choice between the EXCITING ELECTRIC DANCE EXTRAVAGANZA (not a real thing...yet?) and laying in a hammock for eight hundred hours straight, they will choose the hammock. Not to generalize, but I have seen this to be true time and time again.

Apparently, we might have actually done EXCITING ELECTRIC DANCE EXTRAVAGANZA

Apparently, we might have actually done EXCITING ELECTRIC DANCE EXTRAVAGANZA

Now, this is totally fine! Stomping Ground is about choice. It’s about doing what you want to do. But sometimes I’m like...don’t you guys want to do...anything? Maybe I’m just too far past my teen years to remember the allure of the sweet sweet hammock, or maybe I planned an activity that I think sounded really fun that no one signed up for, or maybe I’m just bitter. Maybe it is (definitely) all of those things. 

But here’s what’s cool about Arts Fest: Teens get INTO it. I’m not completely sure why this happens, I didn’t have time to test this theory with control groups last summer, but I think it has something to do with one of my favorite SG values; Competence. Regular camp is about play and exploration, something that the teens engage in well with younger kids, but not so much with each other. And that’s ok, they’re growing up (so fast! Awww).


Here’s another generalization that I think is probably fair; Teens loooove to be good at stuff. The schedule of Arts Fest allows them to learn something new altogether, and actually get good at it. To see improvement in a skill you just learned four days ago is so cool! Some campers will choose to practice a skill like painting or drawing that they may already be experienced with, but they get to do it in a new context, with new people, and get inspired in new ways. I know from my day job (yawn) as a designer that context changes your work. An art room at school feels a lot different that a cabin in the woods. That context shift stretches teenage artists to grow more than they may have expected, even in just a few days.

 Whether they’re learning something totally new or practicing something more familiar, the focus and energy of ArtsFest is SO GOOD for our favorite, hammock-loving teenagers. Competence is essential to a greater sense of purpose, and we want Stomping Ground campers to leave feeling more themselves than when they came. In fact, I just came up with the new SG tag line—“Where Kids Go To Get GOOD”. Jack/Laura, let me know how you feel about that, I can make a banner or something if you want me to.



George Clay