Sowing Seeds of Initiative: How Camp Mini-Yo-We Shapes Tomorrow’s Leaders

Rich BirchBlog

Picture this: Your child returns from a week or two at Camp Mini-Yo-We. You notice something different as they re-enter your family. There’s a newfound sense of confidence and maturity. They’re more engaged and helpful, and you realize that they’ve grown somewhere amidst Muskoka sunsets and jumping into Mary Lake. They’ve changed.

Camp Mini-Yo-We aims to develop tomorrow’s leaders through a life-changing adventure in God’s creation. We hear parents say their kids have “changed” when they come home from camp. We treasure those stories because we hope your campers’ time with us will be transformative. We’ve identified a handful of areas where we’re working to bring about change as our “Six Pillars of Leadership Development.”

Let’s explore “Initiative – Taking action to help others.” You’ll discover how this remarkable shift occurs and why it matters for your child.

Initiative: Why it’s More Than Just a Buzzword

We don’t view initiative simply as the ability to move first or to identify a task that needs to be accomplished. Although that’s a part of it, our definition runs deeper, aligning closely with our servant-hearted approach to leadership.

Initiative is an amalgamation of proactivity and selflessness. It’s about spotting and seizing the opportunity to contribute and ensuring that these actions serve others, enhancing the community around us. At Mini-Yo-We, we believe that serving others is the richest and most fulfilling life. Hence, our version of initiative isn’t merely about being active – it’s about putting others before ourselves. This unique blend of proactivity and altruism helps us raise leaders who can lead with kindness, empathy, and a deep-seated desire to impact those around them positively.

But why is it so crucial? Research has found that young people who develop a strong sense of taking the initiative thrive in young adulthood and beyond. [ref].

Young people who demonstrated initiative were more likely to succeed academically. It makes sense when you think about it. Those who take the first step and aren’t waiting to be told what to do are naturally predisposed to making the most of their education.

These young people were less likely to engage in risky behaviour. Their focus on proactive, constructive actions naturally diverted them from paths that might lead to poor choices.

Finally, the research highlighted that initiative fosters resilience. Individuals who proactively take the first step and make things happen rather than wait for them to occur are better equipped to bounce back from adversity. It’s like they’ve built their resilience muscle through constant use.

This research provides evidence for what we at Camp Mini-Yo-We have noticed for almost eight decades of working with campers and young leaders: fostering initiative makes your young people more successful.

Taking action to help others this summer

Take a step into Camp Mini-Yo-We and explore real-world scenarios where taking the initiative is encouraged.

Mealtimes – A Plateful of Opportunities

Who said mealtimes are only for refuelling? At Mini-Yo-We, they’re also for refilling our initiative tanks. Some campers readily volunteer to clear tables and scrape plates. We cheer for those kids! It might sound like a chore (because it technically is), but it’s a simple way to show campers that taking the initiative is about getting involved and doing what needs to be done for the benefit of the community.

The Voyageur Program – It’s More Than Just an Adventure

We place a strong emphasis on initiative in our out-tripping programs, such as Voyageur. Campers live in small communities where they learn to serve each other. Whether carrying extra gear during portages or lending a hand to cabin mates, campers learn that taking the initiative often means recognizing and meeting others’ needs, even without being explicitly asked.

Cabin Leaders – Living Examples of Initiative in Action

Our staff does not simply enforce rules & regulations; they are walking, talking role models of initiative. Cabin leaders continuously look for ways to ensure campers have a blast and feel welcomed. By demonstrating this proactive behaviour, our campers learn taking the initiative is not about waiting for opportunities but creating them.

Unnoticed Acts of Initiative – The Unsung Heroes of the Camp

Now, don’t think initiative is only about grand gestures. It’s often the little acts of kindness that matter most. Our team will look for small ways your camper shows initiative and reinforce that positive behaviour.

For instance, imagine a camper noticing a fellow cabinmate feeling homesick. By taking the initiative, the camper shares their own experiences with a fellow cabinmate, maybe even persuading them to play Gaga Ball before dinner to help them focus on having fun at Mini-Yo-We. It’s a small act, but it’s a prime example of initiative in this case, combining action-taking with caring for others.

Or consider another scenario. After a fun activity session of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (new for 2023!), a camper notices that some paddles are left scattered around. They gather them without a prompt, ensuring they are securely stored for the next adventurous group. It’s a task that didn’t need to be asked for but was done for the community’s benefit.

Every day at Camp Mini-Yo-We, quiet acts of initiative like these serve as a source of inspiration. We call them ‘micro-moments’ of initiative – small but powerful in their cumulative effect on building a culture of active help and service.

The Ripple Effect of Initiative

It is noteworthy that learning to take the initiative extends beyond Mini-Yo-We. The skills and values your children acquire here will travel back home, influencing their actions at school and home and, eventually, in their future communities.

At Camp Mini-Yo-We, we’re not just about fun (though there’s plenty). We’re committed to creating tomorrow’s leaders. And with your support, we’re confident that these future leaders will embody Jesus’s teachings, embrace the initiative, and illuminate the path for the next generation. And remember, every time they take out the trash without being asked, the spirit of initiative we’ve instilled in them is making its appearance!