Buddies are great to have in new situations where non routine instructions are given and unfamiliar expectations are present. During summer activities and camps, it is important to have a buddy or partner. This can be a sibling, friend, or appointed partner. Buddies can help increase social interaction and build on self-esteem.
If a child has a partner at camp or during an activity they can help support the buddy with:
• Instruction clarification – Example – Demonstrating instructions to go with verbal instructions
• Organizing their play skills – Example - Modeling how to use toys
• Transitions – Example - Knowing when to start cleanup activities
• Scheduling of the day’s activities – Example – Sharing what comes next in the day or when a specific activity will take place. “We will swim after we eat lunch.”
• Sharing or Turn Taking – Example – Helping to stay focused while waiting in line or assisting with turn taking skills during a game or activity.
• Conversation starters – Example – Helping a partner join in conversation by asking questions or modeling answering of questions.
• Working together or assisting each other - Example - The development of the helper role not only receiving help but being a helper. Being asked to help by holding the door. Modeling the need to help others by cleaning up your own trash.
• Social interactions - Example – Greetings and Goodbyes are important parts of the day. These can be modeled by the buddy and they can also encourage participation in giving social positives of high fives and good jobs.
• Defined expectations for being a buddy. When and how to get additional support if needed.
• Specific praise for being a supportive buddy.
• Guidance and role-play on how to respond to partners that may need additional support in social settings.
• Priming on how to ask questions to encourage responses.
• Opportunity to rotate buddies.
Helpful Hints on Matching up Buddies:
• Find someone of common interests.
• Help identify buddies by matching t-shirts, badges or jewelry.
• Allow choices in buddies, if possible.
• Have different buddies for different activities.
• Have buddies for meeting certain goals – Greeting buddy – A buddy for building conversation.
There are specific skills that influence our abilities to build friendships. Building these skills in to a buddy support system helps with the character development of both partners. Having and being a buddy to another person in a camp setting or during an activity will help create a climate where children support each other and build a cooperative, compassionate community.