The Honors program has been a part of Camp Edwards since the camp’s inception. Used as a tool to build character and success in the campers, the program has maintained its intent, although it’s been slightly tweaked throughout the years to stay relevant to the changing times.
Campers are inducted into the program the first day when the program is explained to them and they are given their first neckerchief (green). From that point, the campers can either choose to participate in the program or not. We do not mandate participation but encourage good camp citizenry regardless of their decision.
Campers create goals to achieve in their session that identifies with the next neckerchief color. Sponsored by their cabin leaders, they put into action their goals, and by the end of the week, if they have succeeded and exhibited good behavior, the campers will retire their previous neckerchief color and receive the new neckerchief.
After five successful summers of obtaining their Honors, they are inducted into the Tribe of the Nani Ba Zhu and achieve the title of Senior Master Camper.
Whether or not the camper participates, Honors is taken very seriously at camp and campers not completing their goals or being disciplined for behavioral matters can be denied their Honors. However, the camper can always come back and try again.
Every person at camp displays their current colored neckerchief or the color they think they need to work in bettering. Neckerchiefs do not represent a superiority, but rather a reminder to the camper of their successes, and are to be treated with respect and worn to dinner every night. That is why our dinner meal is considered our respectful meal.
Campers are given this neckerchief to start them in the program. Green represents newness and growth and inspires other campers to respect the new ideas of all campers. During their session as a new camper donning the green neckerchief, the campers will make goals to work toward that represent Bravery and Courage. Goals are different for everyone but could range from overcoming a fear of heights, trying something new, being brave during a storm, to simply making it through their first week as a camper away from home. With successful completion of their week, they will receive their next neckerchief color at the Honors ceremony.
The red neckerchief signifies the camper completed their first year of camp and received their Honors by exhibiting bravery and courage. During their second year, the campers will be making goals to gain their blue neckerchief that symbolizes True Blue Friendship and Honesty.
The blue neckerchief demonstrates that the camper successfully made it through their second year at camp, learned the second year secret, and was a good friend and camp citizen. While at camp for their third year, they will make goals to become a visible leader, represented by a gold neckerchief.
The next three neckerchiefs become slightly more difficult to obtain because the campers must begin to demonstrate their leadership abilities to all campers and staff.
Receiving their gold neckerchief, campers have demonstrated their ability to be a visible leader, accepting recognition for their efforts, and helping younger campers succeed. The third year provides the campers with a sense of accomplishment as they take pride in their hard work. However, in their fourth year, they will be making goals that show their invisible leadership, earning them their black neckerchief.
While attempting to earn their black neckerchief, the camper is an invisible leader; someone who leads without recognition; someone who quietly goes about their day helping others, helping camp, and quietly learning the importance of humility and self-perseverance. During this 5th year, they have a difficult challenge; that of becoming a Senior Master Camper and earning their purple neckerchief.
A camper who receives their purple neckerchief is said to embody all the qualities of the previous neckerchiefs. They have attained Senior Master Camper and pledge to conduct themselves in a manner that honors the original Senior Master Camper, Jesus Christ. By earning their purple neckerchief, they are inducted into the Tribe of the Nani Ba Zhu.
Even though a camper earns all of their neckerchiefs, it does not mark the end for the camper. Many of our campers come back year after year to re-earn their purple neckerchief or work specifically on a characteristic they feel they need to improve.
The Honors program is a fantastic supplement to the experience of Camp Edwards. We don’t only help the campers have a blast, but also encourage good values, kindness, friendship, and the desire to succeed in life.