No Bullying in Coleman Country
Coleman Country is known for teaching children to dig up the roots of uncaring behaviors and plant the seeds of acceptance.
Our camp community champions zero tolerance for ridiculing. Here, children learn first the awareness, then the language, and finally the strategies to resolve conflicts, prevent bullying, and treat others with respect. We also coach children in victim-proofing skills, and we teach campers to be "Upstanders" instead of bystanders.
The song, "Don't Laugh at Me" is the anthem for our initiative. This song helps us establish a Coleman Country culture in which physical or relational aggression is not tolerated. Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul, and Mary, created the "Don't Laugh at Me" program with input from the Colemans as well as from many child development experts. Peter has become a good friend of the immediate and extended Coleman families, and has visited Coleman Country to share his passion and his voice with us.
Our "Tease-free Zone" is incorporated into the entire landscape of Coleman Country. Throughout camp, there are signs reminding campers of important values. Campers also participate in creating a "Code of Living" for their group that promotes tolerance and kindness toward all members. Most importantly, our staff models and teaches respect each day of the summer.
Give positive feedback by looking for opportunities to comment positively on examples of cooperation as you see and hear them. Do make sure that you correct misbehavior. Be directive when necessary, but offer your child a way to get back in. ("I'll know you're ready to work again when you tell me you can be quiet.")
Give starters: Try giving neutral and non-blaming starters to help children talk about conflicts as they arise ("I saw that you were fighting with Susie over the puzzle.")
Paraphrase: Help focus the conversation towards resolution ("So you were trying to tell Marvin to stop taking all the toys, and he wouldn't stop. That must have been very hard. What happened next?")
Validate feelings: Children need some validation of their feelings before they can solve a problem in a safe and structured way. ("So you were feeling angry and frightened…")
Give time to cool off: Don't try to solve problems with children when emotions are still running high. Give them a chance to cool off first.
Promote creative solutions: Help children find creative solutions. ("What could you do if this happens again?" or "What could you do now to make this situation better?")
Help the offended child stand up for her/himself: Support the hurt feelings and give suggestions of words to say ("I'm proud that I'm a girl and I can play whatever game I want to.") At the same time, it is equally important to empower children to respect differences in others and refrain from thumbs-down behaviors.
Together we are building more caring children who will grow up to be ethical and compassionate citizens.
"You've taught children that ridicule, laughing, and teasing other people is just not right. I know people who went to your camp thinking that being rude and teasing others was okay. They went back to school knowing that was not okay... My little brother Kevin, age 4, also goes to your camp and has a new belief about the words 'loser,' 'stupid,' and 'dumb.' He thinks it's not right. Do you see what you did?" Coleman Country Camper