Thursday, March 24, 2011

21st Century Competencies... Found at CAMP!

The epicenter of the Camp Industry off-season is the Tri-State Camp Conference (preceded by the National Camp Conference in San Diego this year).  Put together by volunteers of the American Camp Association (including Andy, Jason and Brandi), these conferences offer tremendous professional development opportunities, hundreds of exhibitors with new products, and opportunities to meet and learn from hundreds of other Camp Directors from across the country.

I was fortunate to be a part of facilitating seven sessions this year, and attended over a dozen others.  Many of these workshops had a common thread that will become a big part of Camping in the future, and a big part of Liberty Lake Day Camp immediately- There is lots of data from studies showing the "21st Century Competencies" that Fortune 500 employers and colleges are seeking from their applicants and new hires- These are not the 3-R's that they teach in school, but "applied skills" such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication collaboration and creativity... All things that kids learn from being outside and playing with others at Camp.  Another study glaringly shows that the #1 Deficiency is LEADERSHIP- something we take so seriously at LLDC, that we have dedicated our entire 9th/10th grade program to it.

So starting this summer, Liberty Lake is going to be much more "intentional" about things.  We will constantly ask the question "Why are we here?" - and it's not just to "have fun".  It's to help children be better thinkers, problem solvers, communicators, collaborators- and to teach them what it means to be a "good friend".  We will strive to make this happen EVERYWHERE- from the soccer fields to the changing rooms, to the high ropes to the boating docks.  It will be in our Parent Guide, our Team Handbook, our Team Evaluations, and our marketing materials.  Our goal is to make children into successful adults, good people and contributing citizens to society- and while "the Magic of Camp" is an awesome thing, we plan on going about it very seriously and intentionally!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tri-State Camp Conference This Week!

This coming week is the BIGGEST WEEK in the Camp Industry- It's the Tri-State Camp Conference- The largest gathering of Camp professionals in the entire world gathers each March in Atlantic City for over 180 educational sessions ranging from staff training to youth development to facility management.  In addition, there is an exhibit hall with close to 300 vendors selling everything from waterslides to frozen pizza to database systems.

Our own Andy Pritikin is an American Camp Association Board Member has been  one of the curators of this conference for the past 17 years, serving as the Program Chair, the Conference Chair, and currently the Professional Development Chair.  This year, Andy Pritikin is leading SIX educational sessions for his colleagues to learn from.  When you ask "what do you do the rest of the year", this is one of the big ones for Andy- and Jason, Brandi, Jill, Ellyn, Stu, Joe, Caitlin, Emmy, Chris, Justin, Casey, and Miss Michelle- all of whom plan on being in Atlantic City to energize us for the next 100 days leading up to the first day of Camp- Yipeeeee!!!!!

Look out for a quick blog next week on what we learned (and bought) for Summer 2011...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Waiting for Superman

“Every morning, in big cities, suburbs and small towns across America, parents send their children off to school with the highest of hopes. But a shocking number of students in the United States attend schools where they have virtually no chance of learning.”

Waiting for Superman, the documentary that is sweeping across the nation, paints a grim picture of the American public school system. The documentary tells the story of 5 students, all of whom struggle to get a decent education from dysfunctional school systems.

Here are some of the startling statistics that the documentary brings to light:
  • Out of 30 developed countries, students in the United States rank 21st in science and 25th in math testing.
  • There are 2,000 “dropout factories” in our country. A dropout factory is defined as a high school in which at least 40% of students do not graduate.
  • Every year, 1.2 million students exit high school without a diploma.
  • 68% of 8th graders cannot read at grade level

As the documentary explains, it will take many Supermen to help fix the system, and Camps across the country can play a huge role. Researchers have identified a phenomenon known as Summer Learning Loss in which kids experience a significant loss in skills and knowledge during summer vacation. Too many kids across the country spend their summers floundering in front of their televisions and computers-when they could and should be enriching and expanding themselves. Social skills, character building, physical fitness and self-esteem are just some of the many positive things that happen at Camp. Here’s an excerpt from an article from the American Camping Association-

“According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and research conducted by Johns Hopkins sociology professor Karl Alexander, intentional summer programs, like camp, help stem summer learning loss – providing experiences that challenge children, develop talents, keep them engaged, and expand horizons.”

Summer Camps may not be Superman for all of the issues in education today, but Camp does have Super Powers than can help kids grow.

Waiting for Superman -- Official Website

Summer Learning Loss -- An Overview

American Camp Association -- Camp's Added Benefit-Summer Learning