“Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?” – A question that’s all too familiar during a round of Oozies Woozies and Doozies at Camp Kintail, a “get-to-know-you” game of questions that start off easy and get progressively more serious. I spent over 13 years attending Camp Kintail as a camper and then as a staff member, and while I may not have known it at the time, playing games like Oozies Woozies and Doozies would become an integral part of my life in Toronto as a Circle Keeper working with youth in conflict with the law.
As a Circle Keeper, I co-facilitate discussions with youth who have been referred by a judge to our diversion program. We meet with the youth to discuss themes related to the crime such as accountability for their actions, how to deal with emotions, what makes healthy relationships, and future goals. After having co-facilitated many Circles over the years, I have determined that it’s essentially an important game of Oozies Woozies and Doozies. We begin with a couple of “ice breakers” (oozies) such as, “what super power would you want to have?” And after we develop trust and create an environment based on mutual respect and honesty, we move on to more personal questions about their school or family life (woozies). We may spend 2-3 sessions solely on oozies and woozies, but by the 4th session or so, the youth generally feels comfortable answering tough questions about identity, life choices and the criminal incident (doozies).
Some of the youth that we work with have never considered the questions that we ask. It may be the first time that they admit to being involved in certain activities, express their emotions, or experience adults genuinely listening to them without fear of consequences. Creating a safe space for these youth makes a huge impact on the potential and value of the Circle process. To be present in court when a deserving youth has their charges dropped is a truly rewarding experience! I want to thank every counselor I have ever had for coming up with fun oozies and thoughtful doozies. You didn’t know it then, but because of you, and my experience at Camp Kintail, I am fortunate to be able to make a difference in the lives of youth in Toronto.
Olivia “Lua” Henrich