What Really Happens at Kids Summer Camp

IMG_6419Each year when school lets out for summer break, dance and yoga studios transition into summer camps for kids. Many families travel throughout the summer making it difficult to commit to a weekly class, and with dual income households on the rise, finding affordable childcare can be difficult. Voila! The week-long summer camp is born!

The number one question I get when I mention summer camp is: WHAT DO YOU DO WITH LITTLE KIDS FOR THAT LONG?

Well, we do a lot of things.

Obviously, we dance and/or do yoga. We sing songs, do art projects, and eat snacks. That’s the basic stuff you can read about on a studio’s website.

But we’re learning a lot more than that…

We practice counting and colors, rhythm, tempo, levels, and work on basic locomotor skills. We practice both movement and stillness, and learn why each is important. We learn spatial awareness and how to navigate through space safely. As children progress, we learn to link movements together, and practice recall through games, songs, and movement sequences. All activities and exercises are designed specifically to meet where the students are developmentally.

But that’s not all…

We learn patience through taking turns, build confidence by sharing about ourselves, and practice respect by listening to others when it’s their turn to share. We work on our manners (even the 2-year-olds know to use the “magic word” if they want a shoe tied or juice box opened), and are energetically praised for each please and thank you. We learn to rephrase in ways that others will be more open and receptive – “Please keep your hands to yourself,” or “I’d like some space, please,” vs. “Don’t touch me!” to the kid reaching over for a new crayon.

But even THAT isn’t all…

We learn to identify and acknowledge our emotions without shame. Last week, a four-year-old burst into tears during our warm up because Lionel Richie’s song “Hello” (featured in the kid’s hit movie, Trolls) made her sad. We changed the song, but took time as a class to discover how music can make us feel different emotions – happy, sad, silly, scared, etc. We resolved that feeling sad is okay – and that we all have sad moments as well as the happy ones.

When another little boy had a meltdown because his art project didn’t look like everyone else’s, we took the time to talk about how each person is different and that’s a good thing! We are ALL special and bring different gifts to share – especially through our art. We then took turns presenting our art, and without prompt these beautiful, shining souls began to encourage one another with “oohs” and “ahhhs” over cotton ball cloud placement and colors chosen.

The kiddos aren’t the only ones learning. Working with children reminds me to check the energy I’m bringing into the room. When a little one is extra whiny and difficult, instead of getting irritated I remember that they’re usually either tired, lonely, or hungry (this is pretty accurate for adults too), give them a hug and remind them that we all have sad days. It’s amazing how being heard and feeling understood can alter one’s mood. My students have taught me to set boundaries in loving ways, watch my tone of voice, choose my words wisely, and avoid making reactionary decisions. They’re still teaching me to love freely, without inhibition, and to be okay verbalizing it. Vulnerability does not equate to weakness, it is a show of strength.

So that is what we do at summer camp. Or a short list, anyway.

Interested in yoga and/or dance camp for your kiddo?  Learn more here, or email me at hello@meganbettis.com.

kids yoga


Prop Party: Increasing Flexibility

A few months ago, I noticed a student struggling to interlace his fingers behind his back in a deep stretch class. As most yoga instructors would do, I grabbed a strap and nonchalantly placed it in his hands to make the pose accessible. No brainer, right? Wrong.

The student approached me after class, thanking me for the adjustment. It was the first time he’d been able to move into a standing forward fold with his hands bound behind his back. He could feel more openness in his chest and shoulders already!

Over the years, I’ve always assumed that most yogis not utilizing props in their practice are riding the mini ego wave. The, “Oh, I can get into that pose (even if it’s super difficult and I’m on the hardcore struggle bus), so I don’t need any props.” I get it. I was one of those yogis for a really long time. Confession: Sometimes I’m still one of those yogis. 

But now? I’m beginning to think it’s because people don’t know how to incorporate props into their regular practice in a way that truly benefits them. I’m finding a lot of yogis don’t understand is that not only are props a way to make challenging asanas accessible, but props are a vehicle for growth and change. They can further your flexibility and actually move you more deeply into a pose.

As a result, I’ve designed a series of workshops to explore increasing your flexibility. Our bodies are unique. We’re going to have different trouble areas, strengths, and needs. We’ll move through modifications and variations which can be adapted and incorporated into many practices. Space is limited for these workshops so that we have time to breakdown the mechanics of poses so that you, as an individual, are getting the most out of each asana. Each workshop will have an area of focus: heart-openers and backbends, hips and hamstrings, and shoulders, neck, and upper back.

Check out the workshop dates and times held in Little Rock at Barefoot studio. I’ll be posting Memphis dates soon!