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One Emotional Weekend - Chapter Mini Camp

For 60 kids from the Brandywine Valley, the annual chapter mini­camp was a mixture of anger, fear, sadness, and disgust. Oh, and joy as well. Mostly joy, actually.

A short video of Mini-Camp 

 Mini Camp MontageWhy so emotional? Well, the theme of this year's camp was "Inside Out," a title borrowed from the same­ named Pixar movie. "Many of the activities during the weekend focused on emotions and the role emotions play in our lives," explained Ellie Utter, JB president. There were several structured activities that were all in good fun, but the ensuring debriefs touched on some deeper emotional topics and encouraged the attendees to express their emotions, good or bad.

One activity, for example, had the kids working in teams to transport "emotion orbs" (plastic balls) across a room. Sounds simple, right, but the various team members had to deal with different "disabilities," suchas having their feet tied together or being blindfolded, all of which hampered their ability to accomplish their goals. The ensuing debrief focused on those with mental illnesses and how they might handle the emotional aspects of not being able to do what others can do easily.

Another activity was based on the UN Goals for Sustainable Development, goals of which include "no poverty," "quality education," "renewable energy" and "gender equality." Participants "built" cities and tried to figure out how to incorporate the 17 goals into their cities. All 17 goals were represented by "tiles," held on to by "government officials" (aka, the JB board.), and the teams needed to collect as many tiles as they could in order to create their perfect city as quickly as they could.

The catch, noted Claudia Knapp, JB age group representative, was there were not enough tiles for each team to collect all 17. This was a fast­paced activity, she continued, because the teams had to evaluate the goals and then select ones they thought were most important and then convince the officials to give them a tile, all before another team snatched up that goal. As a result, some "societies" ended up with few sustainable goals, while others had more. This debrief focused on the emotions connected to having more than enough vs. not having enough.

A few other activities touched on human connections. In one activity, the kids discussed gender and sexuality, involving a simulation of the Coming Out Process in our society today. They all chose a bracelet representing which gender was more prevalent in their lives and discussed the reasons why they chose as such.

The Web of Connections activity proved that everyone has something in common with someone else. This activity started with one JBer holding on to a big ball of yarn, coming up with a commonality with another JBer and tossing the ball of yarn to that child, while still holding on to her piece of yarn. The next child would get the yarn, hold a piece and throw it again to make another connection. The result: a giant web of connection among all the JBers.

Of course, sprinkled among the more structured activities were the usual suspects: early morning flag time, Kittos, energerizers and lullabies to end the day.  - Jodi Knapp

More on the UN initiative: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals.