Monday, February 23, 2015

Summer Camp: The Ultimate 21st Century Skills Learning Environment

Summer Camp: The Ultimate 21st Century Skills Learning Environment
It used to be so easy...

Mom was home, and kids wanted to play outside, as we only had seven channels on the television (and no central air). Boy, how times have changed. Technological advances have profoundly affected life, as we know it, including how we raise our children.

Most families rely on two sources for child rearing,(1) What we as parents teach our children at home, and (2) what educators teach our children in school. But there is a third, very important arena that many parents do not consider: What is taught to our children when we, the parents, aren’t with them, when they are away from us and away from school. This is when they are actually most able and willing to learn. This is where the SUMMER CAMP experience comes into play!

PROBLEM: Too Much Technology Consumption

Technology is a drug, and we are the drug pushers.  It’s right in front of our eyes- the two year old scrolling through Mom’s iPhone, kids who can’t ride in a car for more than 2 minutes without a movie playing or a handheld electronic device, and older children addicted to violent video games. We give our children these technological gadgets thinking that it relaxes them, when in fact they are being greatly STIMULATED, suppressing their capability to control their emotions (self-regulate). Today’s children are less able to cope with challenging situations, as most lack resiliency and patience. Kindergarten teachers tell us how their students are no longer able to build large-scale projects, as they get frustrated and quit.

It’s hard to figure out how to mitigate it technology consumption, but when summer comes around and school obligations end, the opportunity is out there for a digital detox in the sun, dirt and sweat of Summer Camp- the only place that kids give up their phones, xBoxes, TVs, computers and THANK YOU for it!

In an unplugged environment, Camp helps children develop emotional self-control, allowing them to find connections within themselves- a vital part of growing up. Camp also provides a unique environment for kids to learn how to share, co-create and collaborate with one another, developing friendship skills along the way.

PROBLEM: 21st Century Skills NOT Taught in School

“21st Century Skills” are defined as the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be competitive in the modern day workforce. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills ( is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. which is comprised of some of the biggest, most successful businesses in the USA. The p21 organization researched and compiled a list of the specific skills that these companies seek in their new hires. The answers were not the “3 R’s” which our schools focus on, but “the 3 C’s”:
1.    Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
2.    Creativity & Innovation
3.    Communication & Collaboration

They also listed the following life skills as most important for their new employees:
•    Flexibility & Adaptability
•    Initiative & Self Direction
•    Social & Cross-Cultural Skills
•    Productivity & Accountability
•    Leadership & Responsibility

Unfortunately, the newest educational reform uses a term called “Depth of Knowledge” (DOK) which measures the process of transferring and applying knowledge to different situations. While this is a step in the right direction, the new Core Curriculum does not measure collaboration, creativity, initiative, leadership or responsibility- skills that are taught extensively at Summer Camp.

SOLUTION: Children’s Summer Camp

Below is a typical Camp experience, acknowledging 21st Century Life Skills:
•    Parents sign up their children for Summer Camp, children anticipate it for the upcoming months, having inner-conversations, keeping their emotions in check, and imagining what it will be like. (self-control, emotional control, self-distraction).
•    Children get dropped off at Camp, breaking free of their parents and embarking on exciting new experiences (independence, initiative, courage, optimism).
•    Children become part of a group at Camp, sharing responsibilities and working together, all while being a good person. (teamwork, responsibility, accountability, integrity)
•    Children participate in activities throughout their day, including athletics, arts and adventure. They try new things, listen to the staff members, and push themselves and their peers to new heights (aspiration, curiosity, respect, leadership).
•    Children experience the ups and downs of making and keeping friendships (integrity, communication, adaptability, patience).

Camp is the ultimate “depth of knowledge” environment for teaching 21st Century Life Skills.
Like a life-skills multi-vitamin, Summer Camp is supplement for modern society. In a world where parents battle for their children’s attention from video screens, and school teachers focus on teaching for the tests, Summer Camp provides a wonderfully unique environment for learning the skills that parents and future employers yearn for our children to develop- Skills of Character, Skills for Life!

The Village of Bellevue is now taking Summer Camp registrations for 2015. Please visit the Village’s website to download the parent handbook for more details at:

Parent handbooks can also be picked up at the Village Offices or online after January 26th.

All camp REGISTRATION forms are required and must be submitted at the time of registration. Forms are online at or at the Village Offices, 2828 Allouez Avenue.
Register for camp between Feb 9-28
Receive 10% off on all camp related fees!
Residents Starting Feb 9
Non-Residents Starting Feb 16

Article written by Andy Pritikin is the Owner/Director of Liberty Lake Day Camp in Mansfield Township, NJ and the President of the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey.