Of all the major holidays on the United States calendar, Thanksgiving is the holiday that totally “gets” camp. There are so many parallels – it’s not associated with any particular religion, rather, it’s all about getting together with the important people in your life. And there is lots of food (!), some sort of field sports, lawn games, or board games, and while sometimes the travel to get there is a hassle, when you reach your destination, it is so worthwhile. A huge aspect, of course, is being thankful. The expression of gratitude is at the heart of the holiday, and it’s also a core value at camp.
During the summer we talk about gratitude for a few reasons. It’s a good practice for any young person who is happy to be given an opportunity to thank whoever made that opportunity possible, more opportunities might come along as a result. We also remind campers (and staff) how the simple act of thanking someone for things big and small, extraordinary and mundane, does wonders for the person receiving the thanks. It’s a good thing to do, and it can turn someone else’s day around. On another level though, we talk about the practice of gratitude as another aspect of well-being. For not only does gratitude make the person being thanked feel good, it also makes the person giving thanks healthier and happier.