Tuesday, December 31st 2013
Psychology Today published an article which explored why people might exchange in extreme rituals. Anthropologists studied a group of Mauritius natives who engage in several rituals surrounding a particular religious festival. Without delving into details, the conclusion of their study suggested that 1) rituals increase people’s identity with the group, particularly at the time that those rituals are being performed and, 2) they make people more likely to sacrifice their own personal resources for the group.
Well that sounds familiar. Doing something special as a group that helps connect the members and make them stronger? Anyone who has ever chanted their color war team color as they watch the final strands of a rope burn down can probably relate to this. Summer camp, at its core, is filled with rituals and traditions. Acts that might seem “silly” or “insignificant” to an outsider are often the glue that holds the members (campers/staff/admin) together – and it is able to do so for that very reason. Camp rituals are unique and cannot be shared with just anyone. They help campers identify with a common ground, appreciating their fellow members who have too, experienced this special occurrence. Feelings of acceptance, solidarity, community – these are feelings that camp professionals strive to create during the course of a summer. And are able to do so through practices you might think are crazy!
And maybe more importantly, as noted by the anthropological study, rituals make people more likely to sacrifice their own personal resources for the group. As a parent, I would love to know that my child understands the beauty in offering help to benefit the group as a whole.
So the next time your child stacks their cups too loudly after dinner, or sings the birthday chant one too many times, remember that these silly rituals are going on in households all over the country (frankly, the world) and probably mean a lot more to your child than you could ever understand (unless you too were a camper)!