Getting Noticed at Camp

Getting Noticed at Camp

This summer, I was “Noticed” by a fellow staff member for having a cheery attitude at camp. They handed me a blue rubber bracelet stamped with the words “I AM NOTICED.”

“Hey, I just wanted to give you this because I Noticed your good attitude, and I wanted you to know that it matters.”

“Thanks,” I said, still slightly confused, but grateful.

It had been a long week–the summer heat zapped everyone’s energy, and I had was working hard to keep a smile on my face. So I was tickled to be the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness and noticed for trying.

Although the bracelet didn’t match my style, it stayed on my desk all summer.

When I cleaned off my desk in early September, I wondered what being “Noticed” was all about.

What is I AM Noticed?
Summer  staff taking part  in "I AM Noticed" training
Summer staff taking part in “I AM Noticed” training

This summer, Jaime Lyon and Amy Johnson of I AM Noticed spent some very intentional time with our summer staff. Their goal was to foster positive camp culture at Wildwood.

“It was certainly time well spent,” explains Amy.  

I AM Noticed aims to create a sustainable positive culture for students, staff, and families. To do this, Amy and Jaime trained Wildwood summer staff to Notice positive traits and behaviors in themselves, their peers, and our campers.

The pair ground their work on the I AM Noticed Cycle, a cycle of practices that promote positivity. “When we trained counselors at Wildwood,” Jaime explains, “we engaged in art, Noticing, and great conversation that staff were able to then share with Wildwood campers.”

Jaime provides an “I AM” art experience that includes creativity and positivity. Amy then teaches a character education curriculum. Finally, the art and character education components come together to help camp staff Notice goodness in others and foster a positive camp culture.  

Why Does Noticing Matter at Camp?

“There is so much goodness to notice at Camp Wildwood!”

“The camp experience is so unique and magical and I AM Noticed helps add even more love and impact,” explains Jaime,”One of the most powerful things about getting Noticed at camp is that people can really focus on what is important. There are fewer distractions and the simplicity of knowing they matter comes to life.” 

What’s more, Noticing helps Wildwood deliver its third key learning experience to our campers–building community.

Summer staff  in  "I AM Noticed"  training
Summer staff in “I AM Noticed” training

So What Does Noticing a Camper Look Like?

Noticing a camper (or anyone) is simple. To Notice someone means that counselors are on the lookout for positive traits and behaviors, and when they Notice those bright spots, they verbalize it to campers.

For example, a counselor might say, “I Noticed you were so brave for trying zucchini at dinner, even though you’d never had it.” Campers light up when they’re Noticed. (Having been Noticed myself, it feels pretty great.)

“When camp staff are present and open at camp and noticing goodness,” explains Amy, “they help encourage campers’ confidence and resilience

Campers then take this experience and can bravely Notice the goodness around them.”

“Camp is the perfect setting for us to practice the I AM Noticed Cycle,” says Jaime. At Wildwood, Noticing can be “as simple as choosing to have a want-to attitude, using positive I AMs, Noticing the goodness in ourselves and others, receiving goodness when it comes are way, or choosing to accept the privilege and responsibility that we impact the world around us.”

Why Does It Matter?

I AM Noticed training matters beyond camp.

At its core, the I AM Noticed program encourages us all to be more confident and resilient humans. The program teaches vital communication and relationship building skills. Through training, “people of all ages learn practices that can be used throughout their lives to be more grateful for the good times, and more capable in the hard times.”

Wildwood camp counselor displaying her Noticed artwork.

“There is nothing like working with adults who choose to serve kids through the camp experience. Getting to work with the Wildwood team was no exception! Amazing people serving amazing kids!” -Amy Johnson and Jaime Lyon

The Big Yellow Bus

Parents at Campers at a Bus Stop

Six times this summer I woke up early to meet the big yellow bus in local grocery store parking lot to load up campers for their journey to Wildwood.

Parents and their campers turn in their final paperwork with camp staff, load duffel bags and pillows into the rear door, give each other big hugs before they spend a week away from each other.

I love seeing the excitement of kids and parents, the slight smell of diesel, the squeak as the bus comes to a stop–it all reminds me of my week at Wildwood as a sixth grader. The excitement of going somewhere far away, on my own.

Campers getting ready to board the big yellow bus. Parents getting ready to help their camper board the bus.
Parents helping their camper prepare to board the Wildwood bus.

Why the big yellow bus matters

For many families, the big yellow bus makes camp possible.

Wildwood is located about one hour south of many of our Kansas City neighborhoods. Caregivers may not have the time off work or a vehicle they trust for that length of trip. So providing transportation to and from camp is one important way Wildwood reduces barriers to summer learning and adventure for Kansas City kids.

Wildwood has always provided summer camp bus transportation during some weeks for specific partners like Boys and Girls Club or Rosedale Development Association. But in 2018 we took the leap to add transportation for every week of camp from four centrally located spots. This opened camp up to kids from all over the metro who needed a ride to enjoy all the learning and growing Wildwood promises.

How the big yellow bus changes things

Here’s the other great change the bus makes: kids make new friends before they even enter the camp gate! The bus ride to camp is an extension of our program, and kids arrive at camp already knowing their seat mates, nearby campers, and the counselors who ride the bus with them. On the bus they learn camp songs and get up-to-date on traditions and camp culture from more experienced campers.

In other words, more buses = more campers from more neighborhoods = more awesome Wildwood experiences.

The Bottom Line

It costs about $2,000 per week to provide bus transportation to and from Wildwood.

This change required funding, graciously provided by our donors including the Hall Family Foundation in 2018 and the Oppenstein Brothers Foundation at Commerce Bank in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The bus and the resulting Wildwood friendships are all made possible because our donors understand the benefits of Wildwood for all of Kansas City’s kids. They understand how our neighborhoods come together to create a diverse camp community, open to everyone.