Values and Code of Conduct
The cornerstones of our code of conduct are respect, solidarity and individual responsibility. Our principal objective is the safety and well-being of all involved. We talk to the children about this and all our house rules serve this purpose.
Before the actual camp begins, I sit down with the children and explain the rules governing our time together. The aim of this is to come to an agreement with each of them to accept and commit to following the rules. What will be our collective objective for the week? How are rights and duties allocated? What are the consequences of breaking with our agreement?
In order to give you a better idea of such a talk with the children, here is a short description of the principal contents and context.
Safety and Well-Being
To provide Safety and Well-Being of everybody involved is core-business. And it is essential to make clear, that it takes pro active participation of everybody to fully develop these two qualities. Was sind nun die Aspekte, die dafür wichtig sind? Now what are the aspects that are important.
Respect and Consideration for Others
We remain mindful of the existence and presence of others and we recognize and appreciate diversity. We concern ourselves with our fellow human beings and with all that is alive; the fauna, flora as well as the micro and macrocosm. It is important to us to interact mindfully with our camp and with our nutrition.
An overall feeling of well-being at camp can only be established if every one of us makes sure that all the others in the camp are doing as well as can be. If each of us were only to look after ourselves, the rule of the survival of the fittest would take over life at camp, and that would be no fun at all.
My Personal Protection
How is all this to be implemented in practice? Basically, its quite simple: we behave in a pro-active way. We don’t wait until someone else is nice to us, we get on with the job of being nice ourselves from the outset.
And to ensure that no-one draws the short straw, I personally guarantee each participant my protection and guardianship. I would immediately intervene if anyone were to be disrespectful in any way.
Individual Responsibility and Freedom of Movement
We firmly believe that trust is far better than control! We gift each child with a leap of faith and we know (from 20 years of experience) that children intuitively know how to handle this trust with due diligence. They become proud of being treated as equals.
Along with this trust, we give the children opportunities for individual responsibility – just enough and not too much for them to handle; for brushing their teeth, for their bush knife, their entertainment and especially for keeping our agreement.
In return, we allow them a large measure of freedom. The other adults accompanying the children guarantee on my behalf that all rules are followed.
When we recognize that a child is unable to cope with the trust we have granted them, or that the agreement is not being kept, or that disrespectful behavior occurs, it is practically always a bid for attention. Often times, children have learned that rule breakers will get their peers’ attention or that it is still better to be feared than to be ignored.
Since we are committed to the safety and well-being of everyone and have guaranteed all children our personal protection, we would take immediate action in such a case.
The first consequence would the loss of freedom for the offending child. The second and final consequence would be the return of the child into the care of the parents. We would do this solely for the sake of community and self-protection but, up to now, it has never been necessary.
Caring rather than Punishment
The loss of individual freedom is only one side of the coin and should not be understood as a punishment. If a child loses its freedom, they in turn are allotted a personal companion with their undivided attention. Usually this quickly defuses the situation and the child returns to the community. Sometimes they prefer to stay with their companions, which is also good.