The leadership program at Camp Betsey Cox is a three-year intensive summer program for girls who have the potential and ambition to grow to be impactful, imaginative young women today and in the future. We hope too, that some of these talented young women will choose to join our staff team at Betsey Cox after completing this program. Their experiences and energy at camp and in their lives away from camp help our community continue to grow and evolve in unique ways.
The program is challenging, rewarding and designed to inspire young women to be leaders, participants and decision makers in their communities. The elements of the program are focused on developing the following areas: interpersonal skills, personal growth, activity skills, community development, all infused with plenty of imagination and action.
Our campers begin working on this skill area when they first arrive at camp. Campers live in cabins of 8-10 girls and begin to learn to live within a close-knit community. Problem solving, communication and initiative are skills they learn and use in their cabins, around their dining table and throughout camp. As older campers, they enhance these skills. When girls join the first year of the leadership program, they learn to give back to Betsey Cox where they have been inspired and nurtured as campers. Betsey Cox leaders learn to believe in themselves, in each other and in the importance of working as a team towards a common goal.
Camp is a place to try new things. Camp invites girls to step outside what may be expected, and to excel in new ways yet to be discovered. The community offers each girl the chance to challenge herself, to gain self-confidence, to be creative, and to find her positive, contributing place in the world. Camp develops in each girl an open mind to diversity of all kinds, a positive body image, and the ability to receive and accept constructive assessments from ourselves and others. Growth in new ways is something people should never stop striving for. Betsey Cox provides the setting and support that promotes personal growth and the program gives girls confidence to do more than they thought they could.
Betsey Cox has many different activities! We hope that when campers enter the leadership program that they will gain experience in a plethora of camp activities. In the older camper leadership program, they begin working towards intermediate level skills in at least three activities. First year Muggie/Leaders rotate weekly through camp’s activities acting as apprentices, improving their skills and learning to instruct. The time frame increases for the third year of our Leadership program, who specialize in one or two activities for the summer. (There is, of course, flexibility!) They help make announcements, plan special projects and become “experts” in their activities. We expect girls to work and learn in as many activities as possible before they specialize in favorites.
Living together, playing, working, and laughing build a camp community. Each girl lends her own flavor to the community, adding to it and making it richer. Our leadership program helps girls identify and respect their role in our camp community and helps others learn while having fun. Living with intention; reaching out to the communities of their peers, camp, Pittsford, Vermont, the United States and the global community in which we all live is a goal we have for our leadership participants. Free of social media and most technologies, girls become genuine in their interactions and develop social resilience.
Imagination and Action
At the core of Betsey Cox’s mission is the development of young women who embody the camp’s spirit. This involves understanding that each camper is unique and brings something special to camp. Staff members help bring out the best in campers. Each girl, at every level of the leadership training program, is a role model to younger campers and has the responsibility to model enthusiasm, creativity and inclusivity. Simple living results in an imaginative and positive approach to free time, program elements build in creative group and personal initiatives, and a service requirement offers each girl the chance to put her goals into positive action outside camp.
Older-Camper Leadership Program
The older-camper year at Betsey Cox is the first year of our focused leadership program for girls who have completed grade nine. They can participate in any session length, and they live on the lower level in the older camper cabins. There are skill achievements, including community service as part of the older camper program. We hold an on-site older-camper conference designed by our senior staff and leadership team with leadership as a theme. The major goals of the older camper program are:
- develop confident and adventurous young women
- provide young women with an understanding of the concept of leadership, and how the skills apply to camp and the other communities they are part of.
- encourage participants to engage with many of our activities, including those that are new to a girl as well as those in which they already have advanced skills.
- encourage all participates to be Perch or above in the Red Cross swim program
First Year Muggie Leader Program
The first-year Muggie/Leader program is an eight-week program designed primarily for campers who have completed the older-camper program, and have completed grade 10 in school. Acceptance into the first-year Muggie Leader program is through a selective process based on a written application and on the recommendation of the camp staff.
The program includes a comprehensive set of leadership activities including weekly training sessions in leadership and camp counseling. The program also includes wilderness skills and leadership training in the Green Mountains, canoeing on Vermont lakes and rivers and other outdoor activities. In-camp training consists of the girls developing their leadership competencies by assisting in activities and working in camper cabins under the supervision of the cabin staff. Muggie/leaders work in one activity per week. Changing activities weekly allows the girls to enhance their skills while learning about how to teach a range of ages, about how to develop and use a variety of teaching styles and how to plan daily activities for campers. Cabin work for Muggie/Leaders does not begin until second session when they have received training in camp counseling. They live with staff who mentor them, and whose job descriptions include the delivery of the leadership program curriculum.
Third Year of the Leadership Program
The third year of our Leadership program is an eight week program designed primarily for First Year Muggie leaders who have successfully completed the first year program, and have completed grade 11 in school. It is an application and reference -based acceptance. These Leaders are a strong positive force in our community. Leaders live together for the first week of camp, and then join camper cabins as members of the staff team. The second session of camp is spent in country or overseas on a service-learning project. Leaders focus on up to two specific activities over the course of the summer, one at a time and while in camp. In their chosen activities, they work three periods a day. These activities are chosen by each girl based on her experience in the first-year Muggie Leader program the previous year. While girls may wish to work in only one activity all summer long, our plan is to have the girls try at least two. It is a small community, the more skills each girl develops, the stronger counselor she will be. Leaders continue to share in the work of the community, help develop and run evening programs and are responsible for Saturday activities and management of the Sunday seminar programs. They earn a small stipend for their work over the course of the summer and they enjoy a few days/evenings off, as well. Social privileges with their counterparts at Sangamon are also theirs to enjoy if they choose to do so. Leaders meet regularly to continue training as camp counselors and more broadly, as leaders.
Evaluations for the Leadership Program
As the Leaders work with different staff members in cabins and activities, staff will be asked to evaluate their performance on a weekly basis. The evaluation forms are designed to be discussed with each Leader on an individual basis so they can build their strengths and improve on areas that need attention. The individual meetings will take place at least three-times per summer, but girls are encouraged to ask for more regular feedback. If there are any issues in their work, those will be discussed as they arise.
We value the input we receive from these evaluations as they are a major part of the leadership training and allow us to keep a check on the girls’ progress throughout the summer.
Some of the things addressed in the forms are:
- Communication with peers, staff and campers
- Willingness to cooperate
- Energy and initiative
- Ability to finish tasks
- Sense of responsibility
- Use of time
- Interest in leadership
- Response to constructive feedback
- Involved and engaged with camp as a whole
- Dependability and promptness
- Active listening skills
- Respect for staff and campers
- Positive Effort