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Three female campers pose for a photo

Intentional Development at Banner

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

A significant facet of each day’s programming here at Banner is built around the intentional social and emotional development of each and every camper. Each child who attends camp comes with their own gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses, preferences and dislikes. At Banner, we have the unique opportunity to meet each child where they are at and help them develop into positive, happy and successful individuals. We work hard all summer long to help prepare Banner campers to make positive a difference in their families, schools and communities.


Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is a vital characteristic to develop moral and prosocial behavior. It allows us to consider the perspectives of others and to authentically care for one another.

According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, empathy is important because it helps children “understand the perspectives, needs and intentions of others” and is a “building block of morality and a key ingredient of successful relationships in school and beyond.”

  • Children who are empathetic are more like to share, help and comfort others.
  • Higher levels of empathy make children more kind to and inclusive of their classmates.
  • Empathetic children are able to develop more positive relationships with their peers.
  • Children with higher levels of empathy tend to be more cooperative in class, have better relationships with their teachers and are more engaged in school – this tends to lead to higher GPAs and greater success in college, and in life.

The very nature of camp allows children to develop empathy. By spending each day with their group, campers are able to build friendships with others, work through conflict and support each other through their highs and lows. At Banner, activities like imaginative play, sports and adventure programs are purposely developed to give campers the opportunity to practice good listening skills, develop teamwork and provide encouragement to others.

We know that a summer at Banner is just one portion of a child’s year. We are intentional about providing significant opportunities for growth and are looking forward to a wonderful summer with your campers.

Male campers and female counselor pose on Wild West Day



When we are mindful, we are able to focus on our present moment without judgement. The practice of mindfulness allows us to acknowledge and accept our feelings, thoughts and body in a calm manner.

With an onslaught of children experiencing anxiety and the multitude of digital distractions facing our children, it can be difficult to focus on what is important. Despite all this, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley suggests that mindfulness can have a multitude of positive impacts on children (and adults).

  • Being mindful can help children learn and experience higher levels of academic success from the elementary years through high school (and beyond!).
  • Children who practice mindfulness see the world more positively and have more hope for the future. They also experience less stress and anger.
  • Mindfulness can lead to elevated attention and executive functioning skills including working memory and emotional regulation.
  • Mindfulness can lead to great self-awareness, a more positive idea of self and increased self-compassion.
  • Children who practice mindfulness have an increased sense of social responsibility, more empathy and show more kindness.

At Banner, we practice mindfulness in a variety of ways. Our daily Bannerama often provides opportunities for guided mindfulness practices. Weekly yoga and mindfulness periods help campers develop skills that they can use in their classroom and at home. Most significantly, Banner’s team of educators and camp professionals regularly use mindfulness as a way of help to guide campers through their natural emotions – happiness, sadness, anger and frustration. We know that we cannot ignore our emotions and that children (and staff) need to develop skills that allow them manage emotions appropriately.

We know that a summer at Banner is just one portion of a child’s year. We are intentional about providing significant opportunities for growth and are looking forward to a wonderful summer with your campers.

Male counselor encourages female camper while playing soccer


Over the past couple years, Banner has shared about the social, physical and psychological benefits of gratitude. Gratitude comes from recognizing something good that has come from outside ourselves. This can be anything from a gift to a compliment to the beauty of nature.

Even our youngest campers can experience gratitude and this continues to grow in tandem with empathy; the more a child can take on the perspective of another, the more gratitude they can experience.

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has done extensive research on gratitude and the impact that it has on people.

  • Children who practice gratitude are generally happier, more positive and more satisfied with life. They experience less depression and envy.
  • Children who are grateful feel healthier and may even develop more healthy physical habits as they reach teenage years.
  • Grateful children are generally more content at school and get better grades.
  • Being grateful can even lead to more community minded behavior; children show more generosity, feel more connected to their communities and are more likely to use their unique gifts to benefit others.
  • Practicing gratitude can also lead to more prosocial behavior and positive relationships because children feel more supported (they recognize what others are doing for them).

Each morning, camp starts with a gratitude prompt; this opportunity helps to teach children to recognize the good around them – everything from music to people to nature. By helping campers to look for the good in a variety of situations, they learn to notice what they’ve been given and the positive things they are experiencing. Our STARFISH Goal of the Week program encourages kids to show appreciation. The outdoor, natural setting of camp allows campers to experience nature and awe (studies we’ve previously shared have shown a connection between nature and awe and gratitude.)

We know that a summer at Banner is just one portion of a child’s year. We are intentional about providing significant opportunities for growth and are looking forward to a wonderful summer with your campers.

Leadership Team member gives a piggy back ride to a camper

Kindness and Compassion

Kindness is described as compassion in action. To be compassionate, we must have sensitivity, empathy and a motivation to care for others. When we put these things into action, kindness emerges. A person’s natural tendency is to be compassionate. We see even our youngest campers worried when another child is hurt or sad; they want to help relieve that upset early on. This instinct can get lost in certain settings – like competition.

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley supports these beliefs and suggests that we are all benefit from being kind.

  • Kindness benefits the receiver and the giver by making people overall more happy (think about how you feel both when you’ve received kindness and when you’ve been kind.)
  • Being compassionate can help children become more resilient as they are able to better handle strong emotions.
  • Our physical health – blood pressure, heart disease, stress and our immune system – benefits from being kind and compassionate.
  • Being kind and compassionate leads to more positive friendships and more altruistic behavior.
  • Children who demonstrate prosocial behaviors like kindness and experience their schools as kind places experience higher academic achievement and are more motivated to learn.

As adults, it is our responsibility to provide situations where our children can show and develop their innate tendencies of kindness. Banner provides opportunities each day – even when competition is provided – to practice putting compassion into action. We’ve long known the importance of kindness in a community. Banner participates in Camp Kindness Week and regularly offers tangible opportunities to practice being kind. The daily interaction with peers allows them to feel compassion towards others and we regularly see them reaching out and helping to alleviate upsets, sadness and disappointments of others. Through teaching sportsmanship and giving children opportunities to win and lose, they experience how to navigate competitive environments while staying true to themselves and being kind to others.

We know that a summer at Banner is just one portion of a child’s year. We are intentional about providing significant opportunities for growth and are looking forward to a wonderful summer with your campers.

Male and female camper hold hands after getting off the bus

Force For Good

At Banner, we have a belief that whenever we enter a situation, we can either make it better or we can make it worse, but it won’t stay the same.

Our focus, in everything we do at camp, is to prepare Banner campers to be a force for good wherever they go.

We envision a world where kindness and compassion supersede conflict and division. We reflect on the message from the starfish story throughout the summer – that each person can make a difference in the world – even a small child. We take steps to create a community that practices patience, gives the benefit of the doubt, validates feelings and demonstrates empathy. We model conflict resolution and collaboration. We teach children to name and accept emotions without letting them take control. We practice gratitude and reward kindness. We show empathy and care for one another.

We know that Banner campers are destined to do great things now, and in the future. They are change makers and will help to usher in a future that is positive and bright. Just look at their smiles and hopeful eyes, watch them comfort a friend or include a new camper, see them practice resilience and perseverance in pursuing their goals and you will see, as clearly as we do, that positivity and hope reign over the tension and negativity that we face in our world every day.

Banner campers are indeed a force for good and we can’t wait to cheer them at camp, during the school year and well into the future.


The lyrics of a favorite Bannerama song say, “I believe in myself, there’s nothing I can’t do, follow my dreams, I’ll make them come true.”

If resilience is the mindset to overcome challenges, perseverance is the action that keeps us going until we get to where we want to be. This steadfastness to keep moving forward, keep making progress through easy times and over hurdles is a vital component of helping us achieve our dreams.  Perseverance is defined as the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition. At Banner, we intentionally work with campers to develop this quality so that nothing will stand in the way of their hopes and dreams.


If practice makes perfect, practice also helps us persevere. At Banner, campers are faced with new challenges. Whether it be learning to back float, climb the wall or build a rocket, chances are we aren’t going to do it the first time. With the encouragement of staff, and fellow teammates, campers begin to internalize that challenge isn’t to be avoided but to be met head on, with practice and perseverance, to learn new skills.

Small Steps

Curriculums and instruction at Banner are designed using small steps. We know that campers need to learn basics before they can swim across the pool without assistance or before they can hit a home run. These small steps are integral in success and provide opportunities for campers to accomplish their goals.

Problem Solving

Sometimes, we are required to adjust before we keep moving forward. If something isn’t working, it doesn’t make sense to keep doing the same thing. Programs at Banner are designed to help campers problem solve with the support of their peers, counselors and specialty staff.


Learning and mastering new skills takes time. Our staff encourage campers to be kind and compassionate to others and to themselves. By taking away the pressure and competition to succeed quickly, campers can focus on the product and not the outcome. This patience is an important quality that helps campers stick with it and keep moving forward towards their goals and being successful in life.

Perhaps the Banner motto says it best: “It may be hard, it may take time, but stick with it, and you’ll be fine. YOU CAN DO IT!” Banner campers are preparing to change the world in the most positive ways and we know that with resilience and perseverance, they really can do it.



Resilience is the ability to cope with and recover from setbacks.

Each of us, child and adult alike, have encountered times that require a capacity to adjust after disappointment, change or sometimes even in response to our preferences being unmet. While resilience is talked about in practically every academic setting, a summer at Banner provides the perfect environment to develop and practice the skills required to truly become resilient.


Banner provides a loving and nurturing community that promotes safe risks. Because campers feel the support of their peers and counselors, they are willing to try new and difficult things. Without the unconditional encouragement of the Banner community, it is all too easy to give up when facing a roadblock. Being able to ask for help and seek the support of others is an important aspect of building resilience.

Purpose & Accomplishment

It is impossible to find resilience without the opposite feeling of accomplishment. To be resilient requires using our past experiences and strengths to move forward. Banner gives plenty of opportunities for campers to feel accomplishments. From learning new skills in sports, to passing swim levels and earning STARFISH Awards, accomplishments build a positive, authentic self-esteem to give children the confidence to keep going after setbacks. At Banner, we intentionally focus on building those accomplishments and confidence.


Occasionally, struggles come with new experiences. Pushing through these challenges and working through fears with the support of others teaches campers that they can overcome hurdles – even if it doesn’t happen the first time, or even if it’s challenging. Each time a camper practices resilience through these experiences helps to build their knowledge and skill for the future.

Gratitude & Hope

Banner has been called the “Disneyland of Camps” for good reason. Beyond the wealth of activities, fun and spirit that campers experience each day, there is a palatable feeling of positivity walking around the grounds. Campers and staff practice and share gratitude each morning and celebrate positive behaviors and experiences all day long. This helps campers focus on the good and the present instead of on the bad and the past. By looking forward, there is always hope of what is to come.

Healthy Habits

The physical activity, time spent outdoors and positive relationships help campers learn to take care of themselves. It is difficult to remain resilient if you aren’t caring for your body and being. These healthy habits begin to take hold and continue throughout the school year.

Being Proactive

At Banner, our staff and Leadership are trained to look for ways to help campers develop skills. We don’t ignore challenges – we help campers learn to work through them. We acknowledge and name emotions and then practice moving forward. As an extra step, we communicate what we are seeing with parents so that we can partner together to help each camper grow to their fullest potential.

A summer at Banner is more than just fun – it is about learning and growing and helping campers become the best versions of themselves. Building resilience is key to our overall emotional competency. When we are able to recognize and validate our feelings without letting them take over, we are able to bounce back from adversity – often even stronger than before. Campers leave a Banner summer more confident and ready to make a difference at school, at home and in their communities.


Our daily focus on teamwork and friendship are just the tip of the iceberg; the true heart of our Banner community revolves around empathy, curiosity and belonging.

With all that is going on in our local towns, our country and the world, we recognize our responsibility as caretakers of our campers and staff to create an environment of inclusion and love that continues to permeate far beyond our campgrounds.

At Banner, we are committed to creating and being the strong and healthy community that leads to lasting change.

  • We intentionally help campers build relationships with each other and the staff members.
  • We develop empathy by helping children identify and accept emotions within themselves and others.
  • We value each person for who they are and their distinctiveness.
  • We help campers cultivate curiosity by spending time in nature with new friends who may come from other schools or neighborhoods but with whom we share so many similarities and can celebrate our uniqueness.
  • We encourage campers and staff to step out of their comfort zones and learn or try something new. The humility that develops from needing and asking for help and the experience of not knowing how to do something builds resilience and understanding for others.
  • Instead of avoiding it, we work through conflict in a respectful way through listening and taking responsibility for our own role in the upset.
  • We practice mindfulness and gratitude to help us see the good and share our thanks with those around us.
  • We partner with parents in order to provide the most meaningful and growthful camp experience possible.

We are thankful for each and every camper, staff member and family who make up our community. We’ve said it before and we will continue to shout it from the roof tops: Banner campers are change makers! The skills they practice within the safety and warmth of our camp community will help to create a world that is better, stronger and healthier for future generations.