比尔老师:内向孩子去夏令营(How To Enjoy Summer Camp As An Introvert)

The school was over. The summer finally came. As a certified introvert, you’d be perfectly happy to spend the summer staying at home with your computer and smartphone, and occasionally venture out with a couple of your buddies for a lunch somewhere. Yet your parents kept insisting you to go out more and “make more friends” (I don’t need more friends. I’ve already got my buddies thank you). Now they just presented to you with this amazing summer camp idea. You loved the camp theme. Your parents would happily pay the camp tuition. The only downside was that the camp was several hour drive from home and you’d have to stay at a strange place with a bunch of unknown kids for three weeks, which would be 21 days (nights included). Over there, you’d be all alone and without smartphone. After careful deliberation, you decided to go.

The ride to summer camp was uneventful. The young camp counselors at the drop station welcomed you like long lost friends. They helped you to unload the luggages and checked you in with practiced efficiency.  You got your name tag and room assignment. After bidding goodbye with your parents, you carried all belongings into the dorm room that you’d call home for the next three weeks.

In contrary to popular belief, summer camp can be fun for introverts. TV shows tend to portray summer camps as endless parties of jubilant teenagers. In reality, most summer camps have their particular themes, and camp parties are only one of many aspects of camp life. In a quality summer camp, there are many new things to learn and new territory to explore. All these activities can be so much fun for introverts. However, since summer camp is most frequently a short term gathering of similar age teenagers who had no knowledge of each other, extroverts do have natural advantage at quickly forming new friend circles and taking lead in activities. Instead of trying to compete with extroverts on things they do well, introverts should focus on stuffs that matter more to them.

During the first day of camp, you are usually assigned to share a dorm room with one or a few other campers. Your roommate could be any teenager of your age. You have no control over who you share room with. This kind of close quarter coexistence can be an issue for an introvert. Even you are not a shy person, you do prefer to have a solitary personal space where you can quietly reflect and concentrate on things without being randomly disturbed. To make the best of the situation, whenever possible, choose a bed or upper bunk that is furthest away from the door. A bed near the door will be frequently sit on by all kinds of kids coming in and out of dorm room. That’s not something introverts enjoy. To save the burden of small talk, you can put your name, hometown, main hobbies, and “I’m an introvert” on a 4’’x6” index card and hang it on your bedpost. By declaring early to other kids that you are an introvert, you avoid extrovert kids coming to ask you to do things you don’t enjoy. You also attract other introvert kids, especially if they share one or more of your hobbies.  

Frequently the camp counselors try to break ice between campers by asking kids on the first meeting to say “hello” and introduce themselves to persons next to them. Introverts may feel this kind of ice breaking awkward. Instead of trying haltingly to initiate small talk with a stranger whose physical presence is already too close for comfort, introverts can choose to talk about themselves only: “Hi, I’m Matt. I like to play puzzle games.” Naturally the other person will respond in kind with his/her own information. Mission accomplished. In fact, anytime you want to talk to someone but feel like your inquiry is intruding the other person’s private space, you can always use this simply trick: “Hi, I’m Matt.”, “Oh hi, I’m Sara.”. If the other person is an extrovert, then you can rest your case and keep listening to the other person. You may make a quick friend simply by patiently paying attention to an extrovert’s talk. On the other hand, if your new conversation partner is an introvert, then you guys can take turn to talk about things each person is interested in. If both of you share any common interests, you may end up spending rest of the summer camp talking to this person. All you need is one or two buddies to spend time together.  

Introverts hate to become the center of attention. However, camp counselors love to make kids taking turns to perform something in front of the entire group. Although extroverts love these kinds of opportunities, introverts can become very nervous while waiting for his/her terrible turn. Yet all that camp counselors want is to create a festival atmosphere for the group. It’s not a test of each camper’s capability. So it’s totally not required for each and everyone to perform. If you don’t feel like to do things in front of people, you may simply call one of the happy extrovert to show everyone his/her talent one more time in your place. While the extrovert gets another chance to showcase, you can quietly enjoy the show.            

Once you manage to establish your personal space, find someone to share interests and views, as well as be able to quietly enjoy those parties and shows, your summer camp experience can become very homey. Of course you will still miss your buddies at home. But your new buddies are fun too. Chances are your new buddies will keep talking to you on Snapchat long after the summer camp is over.

 

比尔老师是人大附中校友,1984年从北京大学生物系毕业,1989年来美后获埃默里大学MBA学位并从事大学管理工作多年,拥有强大中文和英文写作交谈能力,可以与学生用英语深度沟通并指导其文书写作。他根据学生的特点志向爱好制定个性化大学申请方案,指导的学生全部成功进入的美国著名大学及文理学院。如希望与比尔老师咨询有关美国名校升学,选校,或文书写作指导事宜,请长按下面二维码和比尔老师微信联系:

 

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