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.

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When your dog steals the show.

Let’s face it: No matter how brilliant, attractive, funny, or charming you are… If there’s a baby or a dog around, they steal the show. No questions asked. Cute wins every time.

I should have known better. But I let Mr. Darcy tag along to a Nativ photoshoot a few weeks ago. Not only did he photobomb about 70% of the images, but he stole the show with his excess of sass, style, class, side eye, and superior athletic ability.

No, seriously. I’m almost 5ft2. Dude has jumps.

Images by Mandy Yelvington. 


Nativ | Texan

When people ask where I’m from, I almost always reply: Texas.

I spent my childhood in Little Rock, but I was born in Dallas, transitioned into womanhood in Austin, found my true calling in the great state of Texas. Theoretically, we all continue to grow and evolve as the years pass, but from ages 18-32 I feel like that change is pretty profound. Maybe it’s because so many of the experiences are unprecedented, or perhaps with newfound understanding of yourself and the world you interpret and absorb things differently. I have spent literally half of my life in Texas. It is home.

You can guess my answer when Mandy Yelvington messaged me asking my origin for a project she was working on with, Nativ, a local apparel company. Nativ believes that no matter where you roam, adventure, explore, or wander – your roots are with you always. Home isn’t a location, it’s a part of who you are, and how you experience the world around you. Nativ has finally introduced state collections so that we non-Arkansans can enjoy their clean designs, bright colors, and super soft t-shirts and tanks. You can check out all of their awesome products at www.livenativ.com. And as they say… Wander far. 

Images by Mandy Yelvington.



Weekend in Little Rock

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas wasn’t exactly the most thrilling of experiences. I spent the majority of my teens plotting my escape, and my present day visits are fewer and further in between than either of my parents would like. It’s a sleepy spot in a forest-covered state caught somewhere between a town and a city. There are no professional sports teams (in the entire state), no opera (they barely have a ballet company) the restaurants all seem to close by 9pm (midnight on the weekends if you’re lucky), and there’s not even a real Lululemon (it’s a “pop up” store or something like that). However, when a former schoolmate asked me to teach at her studio’s summer intensive, I found that I couldn’t say no. So I spent the beginning of this week in Little Rock.

Rock City Dance Center is nestled in a shopping center in West Little Rock next to the only Whole Foods in the state (score!). Four studios (one underground) painted in bright colors, with new marley flooring in 3 of them (one remains wood for the tappers), an awesome health vending machine, a vibrant faculty, and enthusiastic students! The class slots were too short for a full master class, so I taught ballet variations (Silver Fairy & Aurora’s Variation from Act II of “Sleeping Beauty”) on two days and yoga for dancers on one. The mentality was very similar to my current studio and I felt right at home with the friendly staff and dancers.

I was also able to catch up with another former schoolmate who started Little Rock Urban Farming which grows, processes, markets and distributes produce in the Little Rock community. They do tons of community outreach, education, and training as well as dining events. It was so exciting to see the farm and how much it’s grown (no pun intended) over the past few years! Here are some photos I took while visiting the farm in between yoga classes on Tuesday.

Little Rock is growing and progressing in leaps and bounds, and it’s a joy to see the success of so many friends!

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