Camp Sprouting Spirits was created 4 years ago after Hayley Crabtree realized that children (and adults!) must be taught how to self-regulate and be mindful. The purpose of Camp Sprouting Spirits is to provide a starting place for your child to learn how to regulate their emotions, be mindful, respond to stress, and changes in a healthy way. Our goal is that with repeat exposure and coaching at camp and at home, your child will grow up into a self-regulated, mindful adult.

What is self-regulation?
First, let’s discuss what self-regulation is: it is the ability to acknowledge a feeling you may have (anger, sadness…etc), and address that feeling in a healthy, productive way. For a child, this could mean he has more self-control when angry and resists resorting to aggression. Teaching children self-regulation and self-control starts in infancy, by setting clear boundaries, and responding to their cues.

What does science says about self-regulation?
Teaching children emotional awareness has been scientifically proven that it will help them lead healthy, stable adult lives. Children with low self-control and planning abilities are more likely to have aggressive behavior problems. These kids are more likely to be impulsive in later years, making it challenging to stay in school.

Benefits of Self-regulation:
• decreases attention seeking and undesirable behaviors (aggression, verbal outbursts…etc).
• empowers the child so that she can be more independent
• children can integrate socially with peers
• Increases the child’s ability to try new things
• decreases anxiety and likelihood of developing depression
• Improve the child’s overall quality of life in everyday tasks
• gives the child a sense of confidence and esteem
• the child is more likely to enjoy success as an adult
• improves literacy and vocabulary skills
• increases self-control and impulsiveness

What about children with focusing problems, such as ADD/ADHD?
Self-regulation is important in every child, but especially in those with sensory processing differences, focusing problems, or attention seeking behavior. Teaching kids self-regulation is great for expanding attention span, increasing working memory capacity, and truly comprehending what people are saying.

What about children with sensory processing differences, or motor planning issues?
Sprouting Spirits is PERFECT for them! Children with SPD have significantly poorer coping skills than typical peers. Their coping issues are directly related to their sensory abilities. Self-regulation is the ability to cope under stress or changes in the schedule that children with SPD depend on. It also increases the sense of body awareness so they don’t seem as rough to others.

What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness increases awareness and a sense of well-being. It also increases self-confidence and fosters the inner calm. We teach the children several different breathing exercises such as “balloon breath”, where they blow their invisible balloons up really big, then they POP! When a child is upset or frustrated, we offer them to use one of the breaths, so they can recognize their emotion, and allow it to pass. Mindfulness assists in the children’s ability to develop executive function (planning, organizing, setting goals, paying attention to detail). Children with ADD, SPD and other disorders usually have an impairment with executive function. Teaching them mindfulness can assist with the ability to think before they move.

So how exactly will you teach my child how to self-regulate?
The purpose of Camp Sprouting Spirits is to allow your child to regulate their emotions, respond to stress, and changes in a healthy way. We obtain this by providing clearly set limits and boundaries which creates a safe, fun, and welcoming environment that allows children to be creative, artistic, and independent.

At Sprouting Spirits, we teach children that it’s OK to have these feelings, and we give them tools they can use to cope and learn to let some things go. We provide emotional coaching and support when tough situations arise. The campers learn about self-regulation by participating in fun games such as “simon says” and “red light, green light”, where they have to focus on NOT doing something. We believe that kids should be kids! We play lots of co-operative games so the children can learn to be caring and have compassion. These games promote creativity, co-operation, teamwork, and patience. We believe that a healthy diet is also important to learning, so we provide healthy organic snacks, most of which we actually make! We create a daily rhythm so the children can learn responsibility and our activities help them understand the world they live in.

We usually do not have to “discipline” the campers because we set very clear and firm boundaries, the children know the expectations, and they rarely “act out”. If a child is being disrespectful or distracting, we do not place them in “time-out”. They do not deserve to be alone in this case, and merely just need to re-focus their attention. Instead, we offer one of our 3 “time-in” poses: child’s pose, resting pose (laying on back), or crocodile pose (laying on stomach). They may stay in one of these poses, with the group, until they have re-focused their attention to the task at hand. Our goal is that they will eventually recognize when they need a time-in, and do one on their own. If a camper is destructive or aggressive after a warning, then they may need a little break in our “peace corner” to calm down, so that they can join the group again.

Changes to 2013 sessions:
We have increased the duration of camp from 3 hrs a day (930-1230 last year) to 4 hrs a day (9am-1pm this year). This change came about by parents’ request, which is great because now we can have more fun! Although the curriculum is the same, we can now have one class of music or yoga per day PLUS an arts and crafts/cooking activity!
We will be making some of our snacks, like pizza, a smoothie bar, and “rainbow salad”, made with organic and locally grown produce whenever possible.
We also welcome our new Camp Counselors this summer: Shannon Martin, Nanny extraordinaire and Mother, and Richard Ryder, fun-loving “Manny”. You can read more about my wonderful crew in the About Us page.

Resources and Links:
Inner Kids Program

Scientific Links
Success in School
Teachers Role
Setting limits
Sensory Processing Disorder
SPD and Self-regulation
Time Out vs Time In
Time in vs Time Out
Positive Discipline
Time In’s