Camp Kushindwa

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

-Albert Einstein

It is amazing to see the breath of life that this camp has taken this past week. I have created an awesome pin board with a feeling of Africa behind it. Kushindwa is Swahili for failure as this whole camp is based on surviving failure. Swahili being native to Africa it is only right that this camp have the brilliant colors and wild feel that is associated with this country. Link to the Board.

Now to move onto the research behind this camp, I met with Dr. Heidi Ramsbottom on Tuesday to discuss child development and what role failure plays in the development of the child. We concentrated on girls ages 9-12 as that is the age group that I am focusing on. While talking to Dr. Ramsbottom we identified two commonalities of children that struggle with failure:

  1. Children with anxiety tend to set up a world of predictability and control to avoid failure.
  2. Children that fear failure tend to retreat inward and feel lousy because they are not strong enough to overcome.

A key step in overcoming fear in both of these situations are to activate motivation through a peer. Explore different processes that kids go through to get over failure. For example have a kid identify a situation where they had a difficulty yet you found success, how did they get from A to B. Find that process and implement it to overcome future difficulties. Kids that struggle with failure constantly tend to have a low self esteem, worth and value, in those cases it is the goal to grow self esteem and self worth in order to get to a place where they can overcome failure, bullying and other negative life experiences.

Another topic of discussion was how do we create a positive core in these children in order for them to have the increased self worth and value to use against their fear of David Cooperrider created The 4-D process of Appreciative Inquiry:



The definition of Appreciative Inquiry is; the co-evolutionary, co-operative search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them … AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate and heighten positive potential … AI practice focuses on the speed of the imagination and innovation.  Instead of negative, critical, and spiraling diagnoses commonly used in our organizations … there is discovery, dream, design and destiny.” Appreciative Inquiry is a perspective on the world that invites us to see ourselves and the world through an appreciative or valuing eye.  We are made aware that how we use language, how we ask questions, and what stories we tell shape our own and collective destinies.

Step 1: Discover

  • Discover high-point experiences and identify strengths and capabilities—all of which add up to the “positive core.”

Step 2: Dream

  • Dream—imaginatively and collectively envision what else is possible.

Step 3: Design

  • Design—co-construct what can be done to build capacity (practically) and what should be done (morally).

Step 4: Destiny

  • Destiny—commit to the iterative exploration of learning, innovation, and delivering results all stakeholders care about.

One of the most important take aways from this methodology for me to apply to the evolution of this camp was, change methodology. It has the perspective that every system, human and otherwise, has something that works right already —things that contribute to its aliveness, effectiveness, and success, connecting it in healthy ways to its stakeholders and the wider community.   With the Appreciative Inquiry perspective, we can create positive change that can be sustainable, thereby expanding capacity for wellbeing and flourishing. Children that may not have a high self esteem or worth may not be aware of or utilizing the assets and strengths that they have innately so with this methodology we can bring awareness to them and start to change their thinking and rebuild themselves mentally.

As a life-centric change process, Appreciative Inquiry pays attention to the best in us, not the worst; to our strengths, not our weaknesses; to possibility thinking, not problem thinking.

Positivity Strategist - Robyn Stratton-Berkessel

Appreciative Inquiry emphasizes the art of crafting positive questions. The following summarizes the Appreciative Inquiry perspective on questions:

  • We live in a world our questions create.
  • Our questions determine the results we achieve.
  • The more positive our question, the more it will create the possible.
  • Our questions create movement and change.

Below are the four foundational interview questions for a wellness regime situation.

  1. What has been a high-point experience in your life when you felt most alive, successful, and effective?
  2. Without being humble, what do you value most about yourself?
  3. What are the core factors that make you function at your best, when you feel great about yourself, and without which that happiness would cease to exist?
  4. Imagine it is three years into the future and you are just as you would want to be. What’s happening that makes you vibrant and successful? What has changed? What has stayed the same, and how have you contributed to this future?
    • What can you continue doing to keep the good?
    • What can you begin to do to make you better?
    • What can you stop doing because it no longer serves or gets in the way?

When you ask:  “What is a high point experience in your life – a time when you were most alive and engaged?” you uncover stories about times when people are most engaged, effective, successful and connected, leaders and solution givers allowing their own leadership to rise to the top.  It is an opportunity to take note of what they are most proud of.

The Five Principles of Appreciative Inquiry:

The Principle of Simultaneity

This Appreciative Inquiry Principle states that inquiry and change are simultaneous events. When you ask a question, it creates some response.  A change happens between the inquirer and the responder.  As stated above, the way we ask questions will determine what we find.  It provides a moment of choice. The practice of Appreciative Inquiry involves the art of crafting and asking questions that elicit possibility and inspire hopeful images of the future.

What’s the best thing that happened to you today?

The Anticipatory Principle

This Appreciative Inquiry Principle reminds us that, when we envision a positive future, we are more likely to act positively and live ourselves into that positive future.  Cultures are shaped in the images we hold.

Image inspires action.

The Poetic Principle

This Appreciative Inquiry Principle states that the topics or subjects we choose to put our attention to, or study, are fateful in the sense that they not only determine what we learn, but they actually create it.

What we focus on grows.

The Constructionist Principle

This Appreciative Inquiry Principle emphasizes the role of language and places human communication and conversation at the center of human organizing and change. As people converse and create meaning together, they sow the seeds for action. Our realities are created in communication with others, and knowledge is generated through social interaction.

Words create worlds.

The Positive Principle

This Appreciative Inquiry Principle reminds us that, when we feel positive, we are more likely to act positively. Being able to experience positive emotions is a foundation to strengthening our general sense of well-being, thereby nurturing caring relationships, and increasing energy and vitality.

When you feel good you do good.

Research indicates there is a ratio of 3:1, which is the tipping point for building our reserves of positive emotion.  If we can, at minimum, think, talk, and behave three times positive to one time negative, then we are on the way to building emotional resiliency that will help us flourish instead of languish. – Professor Barbara Fredrickson.

Affirmative Inquiry is a way to engage with, and affirm life in all its magnificence. I believe with this methodology used in a camp environment we can begin coaching our youth to live life in a more appreciative and positive way that will make them stronger and braver.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: