Posts Tagged ‘learning at camp’

21st Century Skills at Weequahic

Posted Monday, May 22nd, 2017 by

As a parent, I find myself falling into the trap of wanting my kids to “grow up” too quickly. In my more impatient moments, I find myself thinking, “Why can’t they make/do/think/etc. like I can?” Why can’t they grow up?

 

And then I see one of the greatest coaches of all time talk about the importance of attitude and joy and the consequences of college kids acting like 12 year olds.

 

Which reminds me – my boys are young! And, while I’ve taught them what it means to make good decisions, treat others kind, be thoughtful of others feelings, know and how to stand up for what’s important, they are still kids and they are supposed to make mistakes.

 

They aren’t grown ups and that’s a good thing. A very sweet story from Fredrik Backman illustrates this point beautifully:

 

“Tell me about school, Noahnoah,” Grandpa asks.

 

He always wants to know everything about school, but not like other adults who want to know if Noah is behaving. Grandpa wants to know if the school is behaving. It hardly ever is.

 

“Our teacher made us write a story about what we want to be when we’re big,” Noah tells him.

 

 “What did you write?”

 

“I wrote that I wanted to concentrate on being little first.”

 

I like that. And, it helps me explain the gift of camp. We want our kids to concentrate on being kids before anything else. They’ll grow up soon enough and we’ll have done our part in equipping them for that growth.

 

But what does that mean? At Weequahic, we think it means:

 

Play

Our campers get to play. They turn off, unplug, and engage with other kids who want to do the same. The get to explore with no expectations other than their safety, adventure without knowing the end result, and laugh without a care.

 

This leads to….

 

Experiential Learning

These big words really just means ‘figuring things out.’ You get your hands dirty. You sweat. You get confused and then break it apart and try again. Then, you figure it out and that knowledge is yours… forever. And, it not just about doing things – its about emotions and handling missing home and everything else. (This is where independence starts to blossom.)

 

This is helps and is helped by….

 

Making new friends

The more our campers get excited about something, the more likely they are to get connected with kids doing the same thing – they want to learn together. They want to build community. They want to reach out and trust and explore with others who feel the same. PLUS, they are surrounded by mentors excited to guide, prod, and team along the way.

 

This leads to….

 

Building Courage

Here’s the thing we don’t realize all the time: Courage is a muscle that is built with use. It’s not about being ‘unafraid.’ Being uncomfortable is the only time we can practice courage. And, the more friends/support we have around us, the easier it is to build those courage muscles.

 

Higher levels of personal courage allows us to be a peace with ourselves, more comfortable in our own skin.

 

This leads to…

 

Practicing Gratitude

It’s pretty simple: grateful people are happier people. And, it actually takes some courage to express gratitude since it might make you feel awkward the first time or two you do it. It takes even more courage to live by those grateful words. But the more we do, the more we get to experience….

 

Wonder and Joy

This is the final step in that ‘what do we campers out of camp’ chain. If they’ve played, learned without knowing it, made some friends, built their courage, and started practicing a grateful outlook, the are MUCH more likely to live with wonder and joy.

 

So, are these 21st Century Skills? Well, I think they are. We’ll still need to be able to cook our meals, change a tire, etc. But, with the rise of automation and technology, we’ll need to prepare our kids to become adults with these important skills. And, to me, camp is a great place to get them rolling.

 

Can’t wait to get everyone to camp! With GAC,
Cole

 

Important Questions Asked at Weequahic

Posted Friday, October 21st, 2016 by

 

ac9u4327At Weequahic, we ask our campers. Sometimes, they are straight up questions like “What evening activity are you excited about?” or “How do you like the meals?” or “What activity do you want to add to your schedule?”

Other questions come in the form of challenges such as “How will your team get a person from the dock to the beach using cardboard and duct tape?”, “Do you think that steak is done?”, or “How amazing can you make up the guys for Ms. Weequahic?”

My favorite evening of questions involves Weequahic’s oldest campers and their counselors. After a great evening snack, we sit around the campfire while I ask our young men “Who is the best man that you know?” and our young ladies “What choices are you going to make in your life?” The discussion that follows both questions is always engaging and interesting.ac9u7603

Those are just some of the questions we ask at camp. But our time at Weequahic lasts only six weeks each year. That leaves forty-six weeks to enjoy in the world before returning our summer home. So, when you are back in the world, what questions do you ask yourself?

The normal questions students ask themselves are pretty similar and widespread: What college should I go to? Will I make the team? What will make me happy? How much money can I make? What is my passion? What do I want out of life?

The problem with these questions is that they keep your focus solely on yourself. I don’t know about you, but the learning I get from just me is pretty limited… ok, it’s incredibly limited! In order to learn and improve, I’ve got to be connected with others and get some real experience.

Dr. Tim Elmore suggests we replace the ‘normal’ questions with different ones. What problem do I want to solve? How can I add value? What are the needs or opportunities around me? What do I have to give? And, what is life asking of me?

These questions keep us focused on those around us and their answers provide a clearer personal path ahead both in the short and the long term.

So, take a few moments back home to imagine yourself around the campfire ac9u2457with your closest friends. The sun is setting over Main Campus, the fish nip at the water from time to time, and you can hear the crackle of the wood as it lights our faces. Once you are in that place, ask yourself a question….

Have a great weekend, everyone!