As an introvert, the first day of camp can be very overwhelming for me. Lots of people, lots of noise, lots of interactions. For years, I felt “lost in the crowd” and unable to actually check in on or connect with our campers.
Until I turned my introvert skills into a game! I found a way to engage with our campers (and staff) in smaller groups – tzrifim to be specific – and help everyone make 1:1 connections. When they take their cabin photos, I meet with each tzrif (cabin) for 3-5 minutes and play the following game.
It’s called the “Handshake Game”. I ask each tzrif to circle up. After reminding me of everyone’s names and what year this is for them at camp (it’s fun to celebrate our first timers in a small group!), I pair them up with their first of three partners. Partner 1 – Hand Hug, Partner 2 – Food Shake, Partner 3 – Happy Salmon. Once they’ve practiced with each partner, I call out handshakes and the group completes that handshake with their specific partner. We play the game for just under a minute.
And here’s what I notice every time:
– Everyone smiles at least once (whether they want to or not!)
– Everyone tries something that feels a little bit silly at first, but they give themselves permission to get into it. It’s so cool to see!
– Everyone makes at least three connections in the group
These three things are what camp is all about. And it can be highlighted in a game that takes less than a minute.
I love that my introvert skills are put to work as I get to know our campers and create a space for tzrifim to connect and start building relationships. These more intimate interactions help me understand where your kid is at when they arrive and set the tone for what this summer can be for them: a fun, growing experience with new connections and memories…if they get into it, just like the game!