The Importance of Teaching Teamwork by Andy Pritikin

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The Importance of Teaching Teamwork by Andy Pritikin

Just like migrating or flocks of birds, working together to forage or fly behind each other’s wind current and just like bees, who protect the larvae, produce wax, build combs and transport pollen and food - Good Teamwork is seamlessly working together for the greater good. Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, our children live much more solitary lives, with virtual friends through their xBox, computers and smart phones. Employers unanimously complain about the lack of interpersonal skills amongst their youngest staff - especially their poor ability to communicate face-to-face, and thus collaborate with one another. So what can we as parents do about it?

It starts at home, as every family is a team, and each member of the team should have meaningful responsibilities that contribute to the family’s success. Whether it’s setting/clearing the dinner table, collecting the garbage around the house and bringing the cans to the curb, vacuuming, doing dishes, pulling weeds outside, and as they get older - cleaning their own bathroom, and doing their own laundry - Kids need responsibilities in order to contribute to their family, and the resulting praise as a benefit. We do our children a disservice by taking care of every aspect of their day, when they are capable of contributing. The most successful adults are ones who were given responsibilities as young people, developing their work ethic, and future “professional skills”.

Working with others is not easy for many children, especially ones without siblings, or ones with parents who act as their personal assistants. We know, as parents, that it’s not easy to work with “difficult people” – but it’s a fact of life. Thus, children need to experience this, and they need YOU to coach them through the annoying classmate, bully-ish neighbor, etc. - Not solve their problems, but advise them.

One of the best environments for children to gain teamwork skills is at Summer Camp. Groups of campers function as teams and work together throughout the day doing various projects, mostly fun. Sharing, compromising, taking turns, and controlling emotions are all tremendous life skills that children learn at camp, all while being coached by friendly young people (with whom they listen to) - NOT their parents (with whom they argue).

Both the Partnership for 21st Century Learning and the American Camp Association are committed to teaching life skills/soft skills like TEAMWORK, so that the next generation of young people entering the workforce and having families is better equipped to survive and thrive as adults. Today’s technology may connect us easier and to more people, but our relationships are often superficial and virtual.

Andy Pritikin is the Owner, Director & Founder of Liberty Lake Day Camp, in Bordentown, NJ, Co-Founder of Everwood Day Camp in Sharon, MA and Past President of the American Camp Association, NY/NJ


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