Welcome to the Summer Camp Leadership blog. For those of us who lead summer camps, making a positive difference in the lives of young people is our passion. Turning that passion into a reality, however, takes more than the ability to lead songs, teach archery or plan craft projects. Creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes leadership. Leadership that creates a vision for the future, leadership that inspires and engages others, leadership that remains focused and stays the course. My hope is through this blog you'll find ideas, inspiration and tools to help you be a great summer camp leader.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Drivers of Human Behavior

The burgeoning field of neuroscience is now enabling researchers to discover the brain science behind motivation and other human behaviors. Advanced tools like MRI machines are helping us get glimpses into how the brain operates. This is allowing researchers to begin to blend traditional human behavior theory with neuroscience.

In their book Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices, Harvard professors Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria connect motivational theory and neuroscience to create a model of fundamental patterns of human behaviors. They suggest that brain science indicates that human behavior is based on the drive to fulfill four needs:

The drive to acquire - need to seek, control and retain objects and experiences that provide immediate gratification.

The drive to defend - need defend against threats to our physical, emotional and psychological safety.

The desire to bond - need to build meaningful relationships with others.

The desire to learn - need to make sense of the world and themselves.

While this model might sound familiar to those who have studied the motivational theories of Maslow, McGregor or others, it's important to recognize that this model adds underlying brain science that was unavailable to the earlier researchers into motivation.

This model could be a very helpful tool as we work with camp staff and as we train them to work with campers. It can help us understand why staff and campers do what they do. It can also help us create camp communities that proactively are structured and operated to meet these fundamental human needs.