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Developing a Sense of Identity at Camp

February 12, 2018

Take ten seconds and think about how you would describe who you are to someone that you have just met.  As adults, most of us will talk about what we do (our role at work) to describe who we are.  “I’m an electrician” or “I teach first grade.”  We identify with what we do and as adults spending 40+ hours a week at work, we tend to identify with our roles on the job (Arnett, 2004).  It’s the same for stay at home parents.  Many will identify themselves as just that.  If work is our main source of identity as adults, what do children have to point to as their identity?   Recreation can answer that question and help children have a strong understanding of who they are.

At Triple C Camp, we see hundreds of children come through our programs every year.  One trait we consistently see in campers is an ongoing development of sense of identity.  Identity is a sense of who one is and how one contributes to society (Sokol, 2009).  Identity is being developed in many ways at camp.  Camp fosters this development by providing quality recreational experiences as a springboard for identity formation.  Next time you’re at camp, take a look around and see what’s going on.  From a distance, it looks like kids playing and having fun.  Look a little deeper.  Sure, recreation is happening all over camp.  There is more going on though.   Campers are examining what peers are doing, looking for reactions from adults, acquiring new skills, finding a social group to fit in to, expressing themselves, “trying on” different personalities, and learning values.  In short, campers are discovering who they are through intentionally designed recreational experiences.

Recreational experiences, combined with feedback and validation from counselors and peers help campers to make this discovery.  At Triple C Camp, activities are facilitated and scheduled in a way to give campers a small sampling of a multitude of engaging recreational pursuits so campers can figure out what they like to do and in turn, figure out who they want to be.  These activities are coupled with down time where counselors have a chance to talk to campers and praise their effort, sportsmanship, adherence to the rules, etc., to give them the validation they seek in building an identity based on the activities they enjoy.  Hearing another camper in their group say that they are really smart when it comes to science experiments or having a counselor tell them they are a natural leader in a basketball game can spark a passion within them that can lead to lifelong hobbies that become a large part of their identity.

Here is a list of some of the great identity-forming recreational activities we offer at Triple C:

Physical Sciences              Archery                Reptiles                Cricket                  Rock climbing

Horseback Riding              Swimming            Music                  Volleyball            Natural Sciences

Hiking         Drama          Gardening          Paddling         Tennis        Outdoor Skills     Karate

What will your camper become this summer at Triple C Camp?



Arnett, J. J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties.

New York: Oxford University Press.

Sokol, J. T. (2009). Identity development throughout the lifetime: an examination of Eriksonian theory.

Graduate Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1(2), 14.