Generosity is “your ability to contribute,” says Gina Faubert. “[It’s] a value of the spirit. When you give to somebody, it feels so good,” she says. For her, the ability to contribute and provide value to the lives of others is a key indicator of personal success.
Faubert is the owner, head facilitator and camp director of Radiant Girls, a camp for girls and young women that’s been running for over ten years. “The concept” of her camp “is really about taking care of their minds and bodies, while simultaneously having fun and making friends. [We create] space for girls to be able to open up and really talk about what’s going on within them.” Radiant Girls teaches topics like self-esteem, navigating relationships, dealing with stress, and overall well-being.
“Teens and tweens especially can really get into ruts where they [focus on themselves],” she says. “There’s not as many experiences [where they’re] able to give, serve or help.” At her camp, she creates an environment where these experiences are foregrounded, so female youth can have a safe space to be in, while simultaneously learning the importance of generosity.
Generosity and mental health
Faubert sees a correlation between a lack of generosity and mental health issues like anxiety or depression. “When you’re self-focused and you’re looking at how you’re not enough, you’re focused on your failures [and] things you don’t have,” she explains. “[Generosity] allows you to see how you can give [of] yourself, provide value and … create meaning not only in your own life but to the lives of others.”
Faubert has witnessed firsthand the effect of kids’ over-emphasis on the self. She remembers a time coaching a girl who was experiencing bouts of depression. This young woman was also not very giving to others, or to herself. In Faubert’s experience, this lack of generosity is “the root of depression.” In a private conversation with the child’s mom, Faubert advised her that children “really need to be able to see and give ... to [learn they] can provide value.” The daughter’s best way out of her mindset was to discover ways “that her life can help others.” She joined the March Break program at Radiant Girls and led the show. By the end of the week, her mom saw a big improvement, as her daughter practiced generosity both to others and herself.
“When I work with kids who are [depressed], they feel like their life doesn’t matter,” she says. “They feel like no one would even notice if they were gone and like they provide no value.” It’s a cycle that can be disrupted by learning generosity. Through this, they see for themselves that this is “simply not true.” In her camp, she emphasizes demonstrations of generosity. “Everybody who has a youth or supports youth should really recognize and look for opportunities [to] teach this,” as a means of benefiting positive mental health development.
We live in a world where it’s so easy to be focused inward rather than outward. Generosity is one of the ways you can provide meaning in your life.
The benefits of generosity
As Faubert says, “I think [generosity] is one of the critical factors, especially for girls today. We live in a world where it’s so easy to be focused on the self whether that’s through social media, wanting to be in the limelight, or focusing inward rather than outward.” Generosity is one of the ways you can provide meaning in your life. When you provide value for others, this gives you a wonderful feeling that you’ve made a difference in somebody’s life.
Sophie Schneider, a parent of one of the campers from Consciousness For Kids, agrees. “I think [generosity] is key” for a child’s development, she says. “It brings ease [into a] community and in relationships. When we’re more aware of others’ needs and [we] address and respond to that, I think it brings a lot of peace [and] ease.” Not only does generosity make the recipient feel good, but it makes the giver feel better. “It’s such a great joy to be heard [and supported by] others.”
Ideally, generosity comes from a place of empathy, kindness, and wanting to help others (not for any personal gain). This results in happiness, reduced stress, higher self-esteem and a positive outlook. Faubert is certain that “the more value you provide, the more successful you are … and the more meaning you bring to your life.” Generosity results in stronger relationships, increased togetherness, satisfaction with what you have, and a deeper sense of personal fulfillment.
How does camp foster generosity?
Faubert sees many demonstrations of generosity at camp. When someone gives away their seat or offers the last cookie to someone else, they’re demonstrating generosity. “These little things might not mean much to the person who’s offering it but the feeling of receiving it when someone extended a hand to you or gave you an opportunity is [wonderful].” This builds “bonds, friendships, relationships, [and] fuels inclusion.” Generosity, for her, is more than merely “an important skill,” but “it’s the root of everything” of lasting value.
Camp is the “perfect environment for” learning the value of generosity, Faubert explains. “To have girls step in, be a leader, be a teammate, support the group and make sure everyone has their connection or fair share” is built right into the camp environment. Often, campers can’t help but both learn and “teach [each other] generosity.”
Nell, a camper at Consciousness for Kids, believes camp has given him personal understanding of generosity. “[It’s] when you help someone that’s in need [of] help and when you’re kind to someone that needs kindness.” Through camp, he learned about sharing, working with peers and showing kindness to others. And he understands generosity helps him. I “get more friends and have good relationships with people,” he says.
His mom, Sophie, acknowledges a change in his behaviour, after camp. While at camp, “he made space for [a younger camper] and he was like a big brother to her,” she says. “He really responded to her needs.” In turn, she complimented him on his energy and care. He learned “what generosity [could look like] in different situations,” says Sophie. For her, generosity comes in many shapes and sizes, and camp is a unique environment for learning and demonstrating generosity. “[Nell and I] talked about it afterwards. When he does that with people, he just knows that he’s being [generous]. It’s empowering, [how] he’s aware of the impact,” she acknowledges.
Want your child to enhance their generosity?
There are a multitude of camps that encourage children’s growth in generosity. Camps listed below give kids a chance to see generosity in action, and develop this trait for themselves. It’s a skill or trait that the best of us spend our entire lives developing.