When Campers Don’t Get Along

Not everyone is going to get along all of the time.  Different personalities and interests can cause conflict in a cabin.  It is important that a counsellor have some strategies to utilize that will ease tension, prevent future conflicts and even possibly help forge a friendship where once there wasn’t one.  The following are tips that counsellors and staff can use to help unify campers…

  1. Do not take sides; rather show the kids how to work out the problem.
  2. Validate your campers’ feelings.  Acknowledge that the aggressor may need to express some frustrations.
  3. Help the kids channel their feelings into creative outlets, e.g. do a camp activity, go for a walk, or even run an errand for you.
  4. Give campers in fantasy what they don have in reality, e.g. “you wish Sarah wasn’t in your cabin.”
  5. Beware of putting campers into roles by labelling and stereotyping, e.g. “You are so stubborn!” “You are easier going!”  Exercise: see whether or not any of your campers are playing a role, for whatever reason, and think about how you might free that child to become their most whole self.
  6. Treat your campers equally; do not compare.
  7. Be willing to accept that fact that some of the kids in your cabin may not like each other; so do not put them in situations that may be difficult for them.
  8. Do not give attention to the aggressor.  Many times the aggressor is looking for attention, by responding to the aggressor first, you are inadvertently rewarding him/her for their negative behaviour.
  9. Be careful of identifying too much with one child according to how you were raised; remember each child is unique.
  10. Show the victim how to stand up for himself and show the aggressor that he is capable of being civil.  In other words, focus on a child’s abilities, not their disabilities.

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