Virginia 4-H CampingVolunteer Training Modules MODULE 8: UNDERSTANDING YOUTH CAMPERS AND MANAGING YOUTH BEHAVIOR AT 4-H CAMP Developed by Barry A. Garst, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist 4-H Youth Development, March 2006
How to Use this Information • If you are a 4-H adult volunteer leader: • 1. Review the 4-H camp-related information contained in this presentation. • 2. Consider the “Discussion Questions” listed on the last page. • 3. Contact your local 4-H Extension Agent (or other person responsible for 4-H camping in your county/city) to review this information. • If you are a VCE faculty or staff member responsible for 4-H camping in your unit: • 1. Review the 4-H camp-related information contained in this presentation. • 2. Use this presentation to support your 4-H camp teen/adult volunteer leader training. • 3. Use the “Discussion Questions” listed on the last page as a resource in reviewing this information with your 4-H camp volunteers.
Overview • Causes of misbehavior at 4-H camp • Creating an environment for positive behavior • Verbal and nonverbal interventions • How you can influence misbehavior • Recommendations for homesickness • 4-H Use-of-Force Policy
Misbehavior at 4-H Camp • Providing a positive 4-H camp experience requires that 4-H camp paid and volunteer staff create an environment where youth can be successful at 4-H camp. • By providing a “successful environment”—one which helps youth to meet their needs—we can also manage a majority of youth misbehavior.
Misbehavior at 4-H Camp • LESS SERIOUS • Not listening (directions, instructions) • Disrupting others • Annoying or interfering behavior • SERIOUS • Refusal to obey rules • Threatens to hurt (or hurts) themselves or others • Destroys camp property, equipment, supplies
Causes of Misbehavior • There are two main causes of youth misbehavior. • This first cause is biological, in which a young person may have some type of neurological disorder or organic impairment which impacts his/her behavior, speech, etc. • The second cause is environmental, in which a young person misbehaves because his/her needs are not being met or because the structure of the situation is not encouraging positive behavior.
Environmental Biological Neurological impairment Developmental delays Causes of Misbehavior The average ADHD child is 30% behind in age-appropriate self-control. In other words, a 13 year-old camper will behave like a 9-10 year old. STRUCTURE NEEDS
Focus on Environmental Causes • Although managing biological causes of misbehavior are beyond the scope of a 4-H camp volunteer’s role and responsibilities at 4-H camp, there are several things that volunteers can do to manage the 4-H camp environment.
Environmental Causes of Misbehavior • All people use behavior to get what they want! When you see youth misbehavior, needs are not being met • Boredom (Lack of fun, Too much “down time”) • Anxiety/Confusion/Fear (Lack of safety and structure) • Perception that campers, volunteers and staff don’t care (Lack of belonging) • No opportunities for choice/play (Lack of freedom) • No opportunities for success or recognition (Lack of worth)
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • As a 4-H camp volunteer, you have a role in creating an environment that encourages positive behavior rather than allowing misbehavior. • The following slides identify several things that you can do to foster positive 4-H camp behavior.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • 4-H youth campers need to eat at meal times and drink plenty of fluids all day! At camp, dehydration (and poor eating) are major contributors to both camper sickness and camper behavior problems. • Encourage all of your campers to eat. If you learn that a camper is not eating, inform your Extension Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program).
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • 4-H youth campers need to feel safe. • At camp, fear can come in different forms. Some campers are not comfortable with the outdoors. Aspects of the natural environment (such as insects, darkness, plants, wildlife, and weather) can be scary to some campers. Help campers to talk about and manage these fears.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • 4-H campers may also fear other campers. Bullyingis becoming increasing common in many different contexts. • Be aware of camp bullying. Confront bullying as soon as you are aware of it. Inform your 4-H Extension Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program). (Bullying is addressed further in MODULE 16.)
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • One of the most important things you can do to help 4-H youth campers to feel safe and to reduce misbehavior is to develop a positive relationship with campers. • Campers will respond better to a 4-H camp volunteer who they believe genuinely likes and believes in them.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • 4-H youth campers need to know their expectations and the consequencesof misbehavior. How do you want them to behave? Be familiar with the 4-H code of conduct and any other camp-specific expectations. • At the beginning of each program or activity, remind campers of important behavior expectations related to that program/activity. In other words, tell them how you want them to act.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • When possible, involve 4-H youth campers in creating rules for their own behavior. For example, ask campers this question, “What rules should we follow today (or this week) to help us to have fun and to make sure that no one gets hurt?” • (NOTE: This approach works particularly well for individual cabins or rooms in which a group of campers are learning to live together for the first time.)
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • When possible, post rules or expectations where 4-H youth campers can see them. • When campers misbehave, be fair and consistent with consequences. Only give consequences that are within your limits of authority. Talk with your 4-H Extension Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program) regarding how consequences should be managed.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • 4-H youth campers need structure. Help campers to understand that their day is scheduled and that they have specific places where they need to be at all times. • 4-H youth campers need to know what is going on. Help campers to be familiar with their schedules (carry a 4-H camp schedule with you at all times).
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • Prepare 4-H youth campers for a change in activity. Give campers a “5-minute warning” before the end of an activity or program. This transition time will help them to prepare for what is next. • Answer 4-H youth campers’ questions about all 4-H camp programs and activities. Help them to feel comfortable with what they are doing now and what they are getting ready to do.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • Avoid too much “down-time.” Excessive free time, “down-time” or unstructured time is not a successful environment for many youth. Keep 4-H youth campers active and involved.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • Many volunteers teach 4-H camp classes. If you are teaching a class at 4-H camp, be aware of your teaching environment. • Is there enough light? • Are there external or outside distractions? • When is your class scheduled? Will campers arrive at your class hungry or thirsty? If so, then consider providing water and a light snack before you begin teaching.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • 4-H campers need to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of identity. Help campers to become involved in their different camp social groups. Create activities that help campers to learn one another's’ names. Remind campers to wear their name tags and any other symbol of camp identity and membership.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • When you notice campers who are sitting alone, try to involve them with other campers. Ask someone to be their “buddy” for the day or for the week.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • When possible, give 4-H youth campers choices. Allow them to decide when and how they want to be involved in 4-H camp activities. • A choice between 2 options is better than no choice at all. Youth who are given choices tend to feel that they have more control over their own lives.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • 4-H youth campers need to be challenged and stimulated. Youth who are not challenged can become bored which can lead to misbehavior. • Be aware of your campers’ skills and abilities. If you notice campers that are not being challenged by an existing activity, consider modifying the activity or providing another type of activity.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • Help 4-H youth campers to be successful and recognize their success. Give campers some individual attention to help them to complete an activity successfully (imagine hitting a bulls-eye in archery for the first time). • Recognize camper accomplishments. Saying “great job” or awarding a small prize can make an important impact on youth behavior.
Creating an Environment for Positive Behavior at 4-H Camp • Talk with your 4-H Extension Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program) regarding existing strategies for creating an environment that will encourage positive behavior at 4-H camp. • Please share your own ideas for creating a positive 4-H camp environment!
What happens when managing the environment doesn’t work? • Sometimes a camper will misbehave even though you have done everything that you can to successfully manage the child’s environment. • In such instances, there are several non-verbal and verbal interventions that can help you to successfully manage a child’s misbehavior.
Non-Verbal Interventions • Proximity- get close to the camper who is misbehaving. Separate youth who might be misbehaving together by sitting in-between them. • Planned ignoring- watch the campers, but be careful not to reinforce acting out (be aware, but don’t provide direct attention)
Non-Verbal Interventions • Eye Contact- Catch the misbehaving camper’s eye, and let him/her know that you are watching • Signal Interference- Put a finger to your lips to signal “quiet.” Extend your palm downward to suggest “settle down.”
Non-Verbal Interventions • Body Language- Stay in control and appear calm in all situations. • Remove distractions (and distracting objects)- Avoid confrontation while you move these items out of sight. • Model appropriate behavior!
Verbal Interventions • Affection- give a camper a sincere compliment. This is a very effective way to stop misbehavior. • Show personal interest- ask an open-ended question • Negotiate- “If I get 5 minutes of cooperation, then I’ll let you…”
Other Interventions • Quiet Time- Camper behavior often gets worse later in the week. This is not surprising, as many campers do not sleep as much at camp as they do at home. Many people (both youth and adults) become irritable or “grumpy” when they get tired. Consider a nap or “quiet time” as a behavioral intervention if you suspect that a camper might not be getting an appropriate amount of sleep at night. • Talk with your 4-H Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program) regarding the use of “quiet- time” as a behavioral intervention at your camp.
Other Interventions • Time-Out- With this intervention, you remove the misbehaving camper from the situation and ask him/her to sit alone (near enough to still be supervised) for a few minutes (typically 5-10 minutes max). When the camper’s time is up, remind the camper about the appropriate behavior and say, “Are you ready to follow directions to join the group?” If the camper is ready, then he/she is allowed to come back to the group. • Talk with your 4-H Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program) regarding the use of “time-out” as a behavioral intervention at your camp.
Other Interventions • At times, your 4-H Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program) or 4-H Center Program Director may choose to contact a camper’s parents/guardians or to take away a camper’s privileges. However, these interventions should not be used by a volunteer. • Talk with your 4-H Agent (or other person responsible for your county/city 4-H camping program) if you have questions about the use of these behavioral interventions at your camp.
Be Aware of How YouImpact Youth Behavior • Our own behavior, body-language, speech, and tone-of-voice can make a tremendous impact on 4-H campers’ behaviors. • As a 4-H camp volunteer, be aware of your own voice—your volume and your tone. What happens when you get frustrated? Do you tend to raise your voice?
Be Aware of How YouImpact Youth Behavior • When helping 4-H youth campers to manage their behavior, be sure to lower your tone-of-voice low and stay in control. Remember, you can be stern without yelling. • Be sure that you know campers’ names and use their names when talking to them—this shows respect and gets attention quickly.
Be Aware of How YouImpact Youth Behavior • A person’s body language is a symbol of power. Avoid being intimidating or threatening. When managing youth behavior, consider sitting so you and the youth are physically “equal”. • Make eye contact and help to control 4-H campers behaviors by moving closer to them (as opposed to yelling across a room).
Other Considerations • Too often, we often focus on what we don’t want rather than on what we do want. • Tell campers “what” and “why” • Remember to “communicate your expectations”
Other Considerations • If a camper is misbehaving (particularly in an unsafe way or in an unsafe place), redirect him/her to increase safety. • Say, “I need you to walk over to the bench and sit down so that I can help you with your problem.”
Homesickness • A thorough description of homesickness and strategies for preventing and treating homesickness are provided in MODULE 19.
4-H Use-of-Force Policy • Corporal punishment is never allowed in 4-H camp. • In fact, you should never put your hands on a child—in a behavior management situation--except to keep the child from hurting themselves or others.
4-H Use-of-Force Policy • Virginia Cooperative Extension staff (i.e., Extension Agents, Extension Specialists, Program Assistants, Center Director, Program Directors, and 4-H Center summer camp staff members) and registered volunteers may verbally intervene in situations that might cause harm to a 4-H participant.
4-H Use-of-Force Policy • Virginia Cooperative Extension staff and registered volunteers have a responsibility to maintain a safe and orderly environment. • If physical intervention is necessary to prevent 4-H participants from harming themselves or others, then VCE staff and registered volunteers may use physical restraint.
4-H Use-of-Force Policy • When using physical intervention, the amount of force used must only be the amount of force necessary to restrain the participant(s) and prevent harm or further harm from occurring. • Whenever “less intrusive measures” are possible, they must be used.
Discussion Questions • Identify a situation in which managing a young person’s behavior was difficult for you. What did you do to manage the situation? • If the situation occurred tomorrow, what else would you try? • Which of the types of behavior management interventions mentioned in this module are most comfortable for you? • Which are the most unfamiliar?
Discussion Questions • As a 4-H camp volunteer, what other training do you need in order to properly manage youth behavior at camp? • What do you think is the most important thing that should be remembered from this module?
References • Divinyi, J. (1997). Good Kids, Difficult Behavior. A Guide to What Works and What Doesn’t. The Wellness Connection, Peachtree City, GA. • Fink, D.B. (1995). Discipline in School-Age Care: Controlling the Climate not the Children. School-Age Notes, Nashville, TN. • Garst, B.A. (2005). Virginia 4-H Camping Handbook. Virginia Cooperative Extension. Publication 388-562. • Huebner, A. & Garst, B. (2001). Managing Youth Behavior. Workshop presented at the 2001 4-H/FCS Inservice. • New York State 4-H Camping Program & Crosiar, S. (2003). Youth Development Foundations for 4-H Camp Staff: A Training Manual. Cornell Cooperative Extension.