The Roots of Community

So, both Purple Sage (in the 50s) and Camp Shasta (in the 60s) were made up of many small and independent groups. They ran their own camp, and it was the larger entity, consisting of a staff of activity specialists and us, that made every possible activity and learning opportunity available to each group. 

A deeper look at how this functioned:  The counselor held a morning meeting with their group and asked each member what kind of day they wanted to have. Most of the young ones had no experience saying what they would like to do and learn. The counselor, well prepared for this through our training sessions, assisted each of their children in expressing a thought, a desire, or a fear. Too many for too long a time would say nothing because they were so unfamiliar with being asked what they would like to do and learn. 

When it happened with one, and their request was noted, the counselor would move to the next. It may have taken days upon days, but eventually, each child would begin to talk and share what activity they would like to do. It soon became a matter of organizing the activities and the group’s day. It was up to the group or individual to arrange a time for the activity and the specialists. And since every activity was done as a group, they each began to understand their responsibility to and for each other.

The beautiful part of this was to witness the relationships developing within groups and the sense of “family” they evolved into. In fact, certain groups with exceptional counselors (leaders) created such strong relationships within the group that children formed lifetime bonds. Ones that endure to this day. Campers learned a lot about a lot, but the best and deepest investment took place in their relationships. Wow!


Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

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