Sharing and Talking About News with Children

It seems like every day in the news lately, there’s something about a death, a natural disaster, a shooting or unrest in other parts of the world. As much as we try to protect our children and shield them from anything that is potentially frightening, even if our kids don’t happen to see something on a TV screen, they are still bound to catch a glimpse of a headline or hear a conversation among teachers or even peers. We are all bombarded with media and in today’s world, it’s hard not to become aware of what’s going on around us.

With this kind of exposure to what’s is going on in the world,  it’s important to know what to say to children, or even what not to say when something bad happens. An article at the end of last year in Real Simple Magazine presented some valuable perspective for families by providing expert advice on when, how and if to share bad news with children of all different ages when that seemingly unanswerable question pops into your head: What am I going to say to my kids?

“As parents, we want to feel that we can protect our children, so it causes us a lot of stress to have to tell them that the world isn’t perfect and that bad things happen,” says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of Freeing Your Child From Anxiety. “And it can be a struggle to explain things that we ourselves don’t understand.”

Of course, when you don’t know what to say, it can be tempting to say nothing at all-and that’s perfectly fine if your children are four or under and the event doesn’t directly affect your family. “At that age, the news is too abstract for kids to understand,” says Linda Whitehead, Ph.D., the vice president of education and development at the national day-care chain Bright Horizons Family Solutions. Just make sure that friends, caregivers, and relatives are in on the plan, too, so that they don’t accidentally tune in to CNN (or talk about what happened) while your child is around.

Once your kids start school and you can no longer control what they see and hear much of the time, it’s important to talk about tragic events with them, so you can frame the facts in an age-appropriate way and answer their questions. Perhaps you’ve improvised (or avoided) these tough conversations. But next time-and, alas, there is always a next time-you can be prepared. Here’s how to broach tragic topics with children of any age.

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Ages 5 to 7
Like preschoolers, kids in kindergarten, first grade and second grade live in a world that revolves tightly around themselves, their families and their activities. While they’re unlikely to hear about something from their friends at recess, they might still catch wind of it in the halls or on the school bus, when older children are around.

WHAT TO SAY: If you don’t think your child is at risk of hearing about a tragedy, then it’s OK to continue the news-blackout philosophy that you relied on in the preschool years. Just tell your child that if he ever encounters a scary story-whether it’s in a movie, a book, a story from a friend, or a newspaper headline-he should tell you about it, suggests Dana Dorfman, Ph.D., a family therapist in New York City.

If your child has older friends or siblings who might talk about news events, then you should address the tragedy before your child brings it up. Take a moment to collect yourself and prepare what to say, since you want to comfort your child, not alarm him. “Think of one or two lines that briefly explain what happened, and emphasize that it’s over,” says Chansky. For example, when describing what took place at Sandy Hook, you could say, “A man with a gun shot some children, but the teachers were able to help many others escape. And the police caught the man, so he will never hurt anyone again, and the people who needed help got it.” At this age, it’s OK to soften the news by not giving too many details.

“But if your child then asks, ‘Did any of the kids die?’ be honest and say, ‘Yes, sadly, some of them did,’ ” says Dorfman. Avoid metaphors like “They went to sleep.” Why? “Kids are very literal,” says Dorfman. “A seemingly harmless lie can make them anxious about going to bed.” Ultimately the biggest concern for your children will be the question “Am I safe?” And the best answer to that is “Yes, Mommy and Daddy will always do everything to protect you.” Sometimes parents are hesitant to say that, says Whitehead, “because no one knows with 100 percent certainty that something else won’t happen. But you need to reassure your child.”

End the discussion by asking your kid if he has any questions. And don’t be disturbed if his most pressing query is “Can I have some cheese puffs?” “It takes most kids a while to internalize the news,” says Dorfman, adding that even if kids seem disinterested at first, they may have questions in the future.

BEAR IN MIND: After the conversation, you may well see your child acting out a shooting with his toys or drawing a picture of a plane crash. This kind of behavior is actually a healthy way for kids to work through their feelings, says Whitehead. In other words, don’t fret unless your child displays serious signs of anxiety, such as regressive behaviors like bed-wetting. In that case, ask your pediatrician for a referral to a therapist.

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Ages 8 to 11
As kids progress through grade school, they become more aware of the world around them. If bad news breaks during the day, there’s a good chance that they’ll talk about it with their peers.

WHAT TO SAY: At the first opportunity, ask your child what he already knows and how he’s feeling about it. For example: “What did you hear about the hurricane? Is there anything you’re concerned about?” Then correct any inaccuracies. And accept your child’s emotional state, whether he seems sad, worried, or totally indifferent. “Reactions differ based on a child’s temperament, age, and history with sad events,” says Glenn Saxe, M.D., a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine.

Confronted with news of a natural disaster, kids usually worry that a similar event could happen where they live. To quell this concern, deliver facts. Point out that technology helps weather forecasters to predict storms in advance, often giving people time to evacuate, as many did prior to 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. And share your own safety plans, too. Try something like “If a storm is coming, we will go to Grandma’s house, because she doesn’t live near the water.”

Man-made tragedies, such as shootings, are harder to explain. It can help to point out that millions of children go to school safely every day, says Chansky: “Tell your child, ‘One person did a terrible thing, but there are thousands more people working to prevent that kind of terrible thing in the future.’ “

BEAR IN MIND: No matter how carefully you curate the news, your child may accidentally glimpse a gruesome photo that you had hoped he would never see. If you learn that this happened, ask him what he saw, then give him a more concrete story of the photo, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, says Chansky. For example, if your child saw a graphic photo from the Boston Marathon bombing, you could say, “Yes, that man lost his legs, but a lot of people ran to help him, and doctors are working hard to make sure that he can walk again.”

Father Talking To Son

Ages 12 and Up
Hormonal and stressed-out, adolescents are constantly assessing the world and their place in it-and starting to realize that life is not always fair. A catastrophe has the capacity to cement that notion in their minds.

WHAT TO SAY: Instead of just parceling out information to your child, give him an opening to share his own fears and beliefs. Kids this age don’t expect you to have all the answers, nor do they need you to. If you have to break the news, offer a brief summary of what happened, then ask if he wants to learn more about the event online or on TV. Ask him open-ended questions: “How do you think people around the country could help the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary?” or “How do you think the government should respond to the Boston Marathon bombing?”

The only rule: Be genuine. Adolescents can tell when adults are trying to diminish their fears with platitudes or false promises, says Saxe. Avoid saying, “Nothing like this will ever happen here.” Don’t forget that at age 5, 15, or 50, everyone wants to feel safe. Your teen won’t believe that you can protect him in all circumstances, says Saxe, but he’ll feel comforted if you say, “Our job is your safety, and we’ll always do everything possible to keep you safe, no matter what.”

BEAR IN MIND: Like adults, teens develop strong opinions about current events, and you may not always agree with them. The more you and your teen share your feelings, the more polarized your viewpoints on hot-button topics, like gun control and national security, may become. If you notice a chasm forming, “tell your child that there are many different ways to look at each situation and that two people who respect and love each other can disagree,” says Dorfman.

Forces for Good
Can you help your kids to feel hopeful instead of helpless? Yes-by encouraging them to make the world a better place, says psychologist Tamar Chansky. Learn how the families of Real Simple readers responded to tragic news with positive action:

  • Ask for Donations

“After the Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes in June, my kids, then nine and six, collected hundreds of stuffed animals from other kids and their own bedrooms and sent them to children who had lost everything. They’re still seeking donations for the victims through their website” -Jason Wright, Woodstock, Virginia

  • Buy Necessities

“I took my kids, then ages six and eight, to buy backpacks and fill them with school supplies, pajamas, clothes, toiletries, and games after Hurricane Katrina. We mailed them to Houston, where so many people from New Orleans were taking refuge.” -Crystal Owensby, Lumberton, New Jersey

  • Write a Letter

“A few weeks after Sandy Hook, my daughter, then nine, wrote a letter to President Obama and asked him to pass laws that would require people to be tested for mental-health issues before they were allowed to buy guns. We were very proud of her for taking action.” -Meredith Simpson, New York City

  • Lend a Hand

“At age 15, my amazing niece joined a church group that headed out for a week in the Midwest to help rebuild houses that had been destroyed by tornadoes.” -Ruth Bacher, Pittsburgh

  • Offer a Simple “Thank You”

“I live in the town where the Boston Marathon bombing suspect was found in a boat. Now, every time we pass a police officer or a firefighter, my kids, ages three and five, wave and say hi as a way of acknowledging what they did to protect us.” -Lisa Parsons, Watertown, Massachusetts

 

Being a CIT at Camp Brings Learning, and Fun!

A lot of people want to be a Counselor-in-Training (CIT) because they get power or they just need volunteer hours. To me, it’s more than that. As a CIT you need to have a high level of responsibility to care for the children and keep them safe.  Although we are not paid, it’s still a job and with any job, comes responsibility.

I love being a CIT at Camp Edmo for six main reasons:

  1. I love working with kids.
  2. I will acquire leadership qualities through this experience.
  3. I can strengthen the leadership qualities I already have.
  4. I had a great camp experience at Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech and want others to have the same.
  5. Edventure More is like a second home and I cannot imagine my summers without it.
  6. Being a CIT is fun!

Reason six is something I want to expand on. Although we have to work, I don’t think that any camp would deprive their CITs of having some fun…:) And who wouldn’t say that running rallies and activities, getting pied, being with adorable kids all day, and listening to their funny remarks isn’t fun? Two of my favorite quotes are, “It’s not sunny so I can’t photosynthesize,” and “Why does everyone have hoses?”

CIT

Another great part of being a CIT is that it has also allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone. The new CIT Kimochi’s Button System has definitely pushed me to do so. For reasons I cannot explain, I’m more openly crazy and energetic with those around me when I’m in a camp environment. This summer I became a level-two CIT by receiving the Bug Button for opening up my wings and exposing my true colors, the Lovey Dove Button for being caring, the Cat Button for being a leader and taking initiative, the Hugtopus Button for being lively and making camp fun, and the Cloud Button. Now I’m working towards becoming a level-three CIT and possibly a counselor in years to come.

As a CIT, you’re learning, even though you might not realize it at the time. Most kids my age would say that fun doesn’t mix well with work and learning, but this is one scenario where that is not the case.

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Guest Blog written by Sydney S., a three year CIT 

 

 

 

 

One Marketing Director’s Musings

There is nothing like summer, and of course, nothing like summer at Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech. I was thinking about it this morning and realized how engrained I’ve truly become in the organization and what we do for kids and families throughout the Bay. I see that impact daily in my own 13 1/2 year old twins who have been campers for eight years and Counselors in Training for three, and in our referrals, parent survey comments, facebook posts, summer staff members, the contagious enthusiasm and commitment of our home office team, and more.  The “Vibe” and our passion for what we do really is evident in every person and detail that helps get all of us and our camps ready for summer.

As an employee, I’ve worked for Edventure More since 2010.  My role is as Marketing Director but in working as part of a team dedicated to giving kids the best summer enrichment experience possible, there is always an opportunity to do much more.  This summer, aside from my usual responsibilities, I’ve been lucky to get a chance to:

  • Answer phone calls with a direct line to returning families and those just learning about us for the first time
  • Help with camp set up and unpack boxes, set up a first aid station and staple handouts in Palo Alto
  • Participate in CD training as the example to Instructors and Counselors of how not to sing the joke song
  • Read and respond to parent comments in reviews, surveys and on facebook
  • Practice for “Friday Schmiday” with some Mill Valley CITs so they can share this camp’s special language with staff and campers
  • Play in Mo’s Treehouse, making sure that all of our jokes are “giggle-worthy”, and more…

With all that I am fortunate to experience as a part of Edventure More and our camps, I think it all gives validity to our words so when we say, “kids learn science, art or technology and build life skills like curiosity, confidence and kindness at camp”, I know first hand that they do.

Next summer, I’m hoping that I can expand the list of what I do and get a chance to drive the U-haul that brings all our supplies to camp on set-up day. Ed? Sharon?

- Margot Segal, Marketing Director and Very Happy Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech Parent AlumniMargot

What Makes Edventure More’s Camps Different?

I’m sure everyone has seen the checklists online that provide questions to ask a Camp Director or information you should seek out when you are looking at a prospective camp’s website. There are a variety of resources and selection criteria out there that we’ve tried to whittle down to an even dozen pieces of information that should be considered. Our Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech websites answer all of these questions, and more…

  1. What is the camp’s philosophy and programming structure?
  2. Do you want a traditional camp or a specialty camp and what is the camp’s focus?
  3. Are the location and hours convenient?
  4. What Is the makeup and size of camp groups?
  5. Who are the Camp Directors and what are their qualifications?
  6. How does the camp recruit, screen and train its staff?
  7. What about return rates, how many families come back to camp each year?
  8. What’s the ratio of counselors to campers?
  9. What measures does the camp take to ensure the safety of the campers?
  10. What is the camp’s approach to discipline and how does the camp handle conflicts between campers?
  11. What does a typical daily schedule look like?
  12. What do other’s say about the camp?

When it comes to answers, you may have a hard time seeing exactly what the differences are between some camps. Two of the things you may want to add to list above are:

  • Does the camp meet the needs of my individual child?
  • What does the camp want campers to take away with them at the end of their camping experience?

To make the camp selection process easier (and to make those who have chosen our camps year after year feel even better about their decision), we’ve highlighted on our website those things that we think make up The Edmo and EdTech Difference. As you’ll see when you read through out list, the big difference is that Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech truly do offer MORE; more learning methodologies to account for different learning styles, opportunities to develop multiple types of intelligence to prepare children for success in the future, more programs that help kids learn and develop life skills, an environment that lets them celebrate their own and other’s uniqueness…and more!

Any questions on our checklist that you don’t know the answer to? Feel free to give us a call and we’d be happy to answer them for you.

Getting Back to (and Out in) Nature

Want your child to spend more time outdoors? You’re not alone. This past week the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act was reintroduced in Congress.  The issue behind this Act, as stated on the American Camp Association (ACA) website, is  that “Today’s youth are experiencing less free and unstructured outdoor playtime in nature than previous generations — devoting an average of just four to seven minutes a day in unstructured play time…” There are health issues related to this and, according to the ACA, evidence that:

  • Alternative and expanded learning environments (such as the outdoors) can significantly improve academic achievement in reading, math, and science, and
  • Those who do not spend time in nature are less likely to protect it.

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As we know, young people benefit emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually from spending time in close contact with the natural world. The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act will help get Americans active outdoors through natural play, outdoor recreation, health initiatives and the creation of more outdoor learning environments. More specifically, according to the ACA’s website, this act will:

  • Provide state-level incentives to develop strategies that connect children, youth and families with the natural world
  • Require that these strategies include partnering with non-governmental organizations (such as camps)
  • Ensure that each state provide opportunities for the public (including camps and other youth-serving organizations) to be involved in the development and implementation of any strategies involving outdoor opportunities for kids
  • Support research documenting the health, conservation and other benefits of active time spent outdoors in nature
  • Direct the President of the United States to develop a similar strategy at the Federal level by bringing together federal agencies and national partners to create a national plan

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The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act is supported by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, and YMCA of the USA, to name just a few. 

Both Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech include indoor and outdoor time and our weekly sessions help kids learn to see the world around them in new ways. Our Camp Edmo Park Program is hosted in nature at local or regional parks and campers spend the day outdoors on nature hikes, field trips, completing arts & science projects, playing organized recreation games, and doing nature activities.

We know all about the benefits of outdoor activity for children. It’s nice to see those same benefits being championed by so many others.

Getting in “Gear” for Camp

All of Edventure More’s staff loves camp gear. Among our staff, it’s an honor to earn a camp jacket, or to get your first t-shirt with the name Edventure More or Camp Edmo or Camp EdTech on the front. Office members covet the bright blue sweatshirt in their wardrobe with I “heart” Edmo on the front that has now become a collectible. Or the shirts from year one, where only a few remain. Now our 10 year anniversary shirts are in demand, both because of the great colors and the pride that goes with being an organization that has served Bay Area families and communities for 10 years.

Every year we brainstorm on new items to offer and discuss what our campers and staff would like more; a white shirt with blue arms or a blue shirt with white arms. Or is it sweatpants for the staff this year? Hats for campers or sunglasses? As you might imagine, none of this is a quick discussion.

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Then it comes time to figure out all of the quantities and sizes (1500 small orange shirts, 900 large red shirts, etc.) and place our order for “gear”, making sure that each new camper gets their proper color shirt and each returning camper gets the item equal to the years they’ve been with us. Being a returning camper is rewarding but Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech camper rewards are something that all campers look forward to receiving.

Aside from outfitting our campers, returning campers know, there is the T-shirt Challenge. We can’t have our campers all dressed up with no place to go. The T-shirt Challenge is one of the opportunities we provide campers to wear their camp t-shirts and rock the camp vibe, outside of camp. Challenges can be anything from spelling out the name “Edmo” or “EdTech” with found objects or doing something nice for a family member or for someone in the community, all of course while wearing your spanking new camp t-shirt!

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This year, as every year, we’ve been wracking our brains to come up with new and exciting challenges for our campers.  There are also a few favorites that we’ve brought back – who doesn’t want to see their child wearing their t-shirt in a silly or creative way? If you haven’t seen the pictures posted in prior years, take a look on our Edventure More Facebook Page as there are some classics.

Although we’ve posted this year’s challenges on the Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech websites, we do think it’s time we start hearing from you, our families, and see what new challenges you’d like.

If you have any great ideas for a t-shirt challenge, “like” us and post it on our facebook wallChallenges are written like “Post a photo of you in your camp t-shirt (YOUR SUGGESTION). 

Have fun and let us know how you (and your t-shirt) would like to be challenged.

Fun Activities Happening at Our Partners

The Bay Area holds all sorts of great activities for families. Take a look at some of the things happening at our partners this weekend…

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California Academy of Sciences
Discover the Clues Skulls Hold About Vertebrates’ Past, Present, and Future – “Skulls” – Opens Today, May 16th!

Before your eyes, thousands of tiny, flesh-eating beetle larvae strip a skull clean. Just steps away, an ancient skull allows you to gaze 3.3 million years into humanity’s past. Behind you, two deer skulls are locked together, their entwined antlers attesting to one final, deadly battle. Before you, on a wall stretching 90 feet wide, video projections of swimming sea lions add life to more than 400 skulls.

Beginning today, over one million wide-eyed visitors will start to see skulls in a whole new light. From an enormous African bull elephant to a tiny elephant shrew, the stories skulls tell us about the lives, deaths and evolution of vertebrates will fill 4,000 square feet at the California Academy of Sciences, offering more than 640 skulls for people to touch, examine and interpret. Learn more on the California Academy of Sciences website.

 

carouselChildren’s Creativity Museum
Celebrate the Grand Reopening of the historic 1906 Carousel at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco!  Saturday, May 17th, 11:00am to 2:00pm.  Enjoy FREE rides and entertainment for all ages.

After over a century of service, the Children’s Creativity Museum carousel was temporarily closed in September, 2013 for repair. The historic carousel, hand-carved by craftsman Charles Looff in 1906 has been undergoing scheduled improvements. This multi-month restoration project included a meticulous disassembling and rebuilding of the carousel, as well as the creation of new parts to replace the 100-year-old originals. Learn more at the Children’s Creativity Museum website.

 

Sports Basementfood
Take part in Food Revolution Day at Sports Basement – Saturday May 17th. Sports Basement on Bryant Street will be participating in the cause and hosting a food demonstration. Several presenters will be on hand, showing everyone how to make yummy food simply, especially for an on-the-go lifestyle, including ideas for school and camp! Presentations are from 11:00am to 3:00pm at the 1590 Bryant Street (cross street is 15th), San Francisco location.

Food Revolution Day is about celebrating the importance of cooking good food from scratch and raising awareness of how it impacts our health and happiness. Everyone should know about food and it starts with getting kids food smart, making cooking fun and inspiring a love of food that will last a lifetime. Food Revolution Day is a campaign by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation in the UK and USA and The Good Foundation in Australia. To date, 74 countries have taken part and over 900 ambassadors are championing the cause worldwide. Learn more about Sports Basement and Food Revolution Day on their websites.

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Hands-on Play

stephanieAs a member of Edventure More’s Board of Directors, a long time Camp Edmo/Camp EdTech camper family and founder of Let’s Go Chipperan eco-educational program that playfully teaches good character and respect for the environment, I’m a strong advocate of play-based learning. The idea of “play” has a number of benefits and Jeff Pinkser, President of Klutz toys, is an expert on developing products that inspire creativity in kids and on how they provide fun and learning. We’re thrilled to have him as a guest blogger.
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What do you see as the benefits of hands-on learning activities?

Kids learn in a wide range of ways, but there’s plenty of research that shows that in addition to benefits such as improved motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination, hands-on activities provide cognitive benefits. Reading instructions and applying them to make a craft, for example, activates multiple parts of kids’ brains. This helps kids retain information, and strengthens connections between different parts of the brain. At Klutz, our products also help kids develop critical skills that will serve them throughout their lives, like reading and following instructions.

Can you tell us why  “play” is so good for children and their development?

tissue paper crafts_KlutzPlay comes naturally to children and there’s ample research to demonstrate that it helps kids develop cognitive and social skills that prepare them for life. These skills are the foundation for learning more complex skills later on. What’s more, different play patterns provide different developmental benefits, from pretend play to arts and crafts. The way that kids play is evolving, but there are plenty of play patterns that haven’t changed. One of the things we do best at Klutz is to take a classic play pattern that cuts across cultural and geographic boundaries, then update it with a fun or novel twist. For example, our Tissue Paper Crafts book provides a simpler system of folding tissue paper, but it also extends the subject matter beyond the traditional flowers to cute birds—we even include a punch-out bird cage. We have a number of books that update the classic paper doll play pattern: Fashion Forms lets kids make 3-D outfits, and our Magical Horses and Magical Mermaids books extend the play pattern, not only because of their subject matter, but because we include luscious backgrounds for pretend play.

What do you think about the Importance of allowing kids to be themselves?

We work really hard to find the right “voice” for our products—we don’t want to talk down to kids and we want to make sure they have plenty of room to create what they want to create. We give them the tools they need—detailed instructions, complete sets of components, and plenty of inspiration, but it’s up to them to create their own unique applications. When they read and play with one of our Friendship Bracelet books, for example, we want them to experiment with different weaves and different colors of the cord that comes in the book. That way, kids can make finished products that are unique expressions of themselves.

What are some of the ways that Klutz toys inspire self-expression and creativity?

klutzAs we develop our products, we try to make sure that we focus on process rather than product. If you give the same Klutz book to five different kids, we hope to see five different creations come out of it. But even more importantly, we want kids to learn a skill they can use over and over again to make what they want to make. For example, our Toolbox Jewelry book uses real hardware—nuts, washers, fasteners—to help kids create jewelry. We hope that when they’re done with the book they’ll expand their creativity and raid their parents’ stockpile of hardware in the garage to make even more of their own designs. Better yet, we want them to look at everyday household objects in a different light, so that they come up with new and exciting uses for toothpicks or cotton balls or safety pins.

Can you tell us more about the role of “toys” in teaching children?

More and more, we find that parents are looking for toys that provide great play value and teach children important skills—pure fun on its own isn’t enough any more. I often say that Klutz is based on failure; our first book, Juggling for the Complete Klutz, starts by teaching kids the correct way to drop juggling balls. After all, beginning jugglers spend a lot more time dropping balls than catching them. But the goal of the book, and of so many of the books we create, is to build kids’ resilience. Whether it’s doing needle felting, making stickers out of washi tape, or learning to draw, everything we make teaches essential skills and gives kids the tools and encouragement they need to overcome obstacles and do things they didn’t think they were capable of doing. Klutz is a division of Scholastic, so we make sure that learning is built into our products.

How do you come up with the ideas for your products? Do you integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) principles into what you develop?

Straw Shooter Jets_KlutzOne of the neatest things about working at Klutz is that everyone has the chance to come up with product concepts, not just the people who work in Product Development. We then work together as a team to figure out which concepts we think are the best. Ideas can come from anywhere. For example, some Klutzniks were out to lunch one day and they started shooting the paper wrappers from straws at each other.  After the floor was littered with paper and the laughter subsided, someone said, “That was really fun. I wonder how we could make it into a product.” And that’s how Straw Shooter Jets was invented. The final book includes information on the real-life airplanes that inspired our models, as well as a crash course (without too many crashes, I hope!) in aerodynamics—we explain concepts such as draft, lift, balance, symmetry, and vertical stabilizers. But the best part is that this is a fun new twist on a traditional, hands-on activity. That’s one of the things that I think Klutz does best.

Jeff Pinsker has been Vice President and President of Children’s Activity Products Division, Klutz of Scholastic Corporation since December 3, 2012. Jeff began his career as CEO of Amazing Events, a corporate event and practical joke company. He has served on numerous boards, including Infinitoy, University Games, Stanford University Hospital’s The Health Library, Educational Direct, Yoga Tales, The New Curiosity Shop, ePlay, and a retail clothing chain.  His volunteer activities have included Big Brothers, The Health Library, Special Olympics, Stanford Alumni Mentoring, Stanford Fundraising, Rebuilding Together, and volunteering in local schools.

The Many Faces of Sarah Wells – CIT Leadership Program Coordinator

sarah headshot_1We were lucky to sit down with our Counselor-in-Training (CIT) Leadership Program Coordinator, Sarah Wells, and ask her a little about all of her different roles with Edventure More and what she’s most excited for this summer. As we’re sure you’ll see from the interview, our CITs are in good hands and are sure to experience fun and growth this summer.

 

You’ve been with Edventure More a long time. What brought you to us and how has your role changed
This will be, officially, my sixth summer with Edventure More. It was the first job that I got after moving to San Francisco from Florida. I had been working with youth in some capacity for a while; first as a teacher and then doing in-school presentations on peace making, conflict resolution and violence prevention. I had always wanted to attend summer camp, but hadn’t gotten the chance as a child. It was a very cool experience to attend camp for the first time as an adult. Since starting to work for Edventure More back in 2009, I have taken on many different roles, both in and out of camp.  I started as an Art Instructor, then became a Curriculum Writer during the school year and have been Camp Director for the last couple of summers at our Noe Valley/Twin Peaks location.

What do you like most about working for Edventure More?
One thing that I appreciate most about working for Edventure More is the diversity of individuals and the various walks of life they come from, something that I feel is reflected in the overall culture of the San Francisco Bay Area. We have such an eclectic rainbow of people that work for us and that are drawn to us because of what we do.  I find the ability to provide children with the message that “there are so many ways to be in the world” to be truly inspiring.

How did you come to take on the role of CIT Program Coordinator?
The role of coordinator for the CIT Program kind of found me through a natural progression of a space being created and the right elements being present. I have been exploring new roads in my career since completing my Master’s in Creative Expression and have been interning and thinking about the next step. The majority of my youth work has concentrated on working with elementary-aged children. I feel a real calling towards beginning a more mature conversation with older youth, coming to an understanding of their passions and motivations and helping them to develop their potential.

sarah piedWhat three things you think participants can expect to gain from the CIT Program?
My overall goal is for the CIT’s to understand their role as a valued, integral part of the Edventure More family. The things that I think participants will notice that will be different from years past are a:
1. Real emphasis in supporting them in their developmental goals, and
2. Niche to pursue their passions in the camp environment.
I want everyone to come away from the CIT Leadership Development Program experience knowing that Edventure More is invested in helping them navigate a deeper sense of accountability, responsibility, leadership, and life skills.

Anything noteworthy in the applications you’ve received and what “wows” you in an application?
Oh yes — there was one application in particular where the child put together a whole resume listing all of his skills (many of which he and his mother attributed to years at Edmo/EdTech) and included a photo of himself in professional attire. It was seriously a better resume than I sometimes get from adult applicants! Although I am not expecting this caliber of application from everyone, one thing that is impressing me from simply reading the online submissions is the level of excitement that comes across. That’s what can wow me — excitement, motivation, initiative/drive, and honestly, the applicant’s personal story. I love personal narrative and believe that we each have our own important stories to share. Each person is unique and it’s our responsibility to be who we are and share that with others.

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I know you’ve held some interviews already, but what should remaining CIT candidates expect in the group interview and then in training?
The group interview is an opportunity to meet other applicants in your region, several of whom you might be working with. It is even more of an opportunity for me to put faces to names, get a feel for personalities and to ask questions regarding the motivation for applying to be a CIT. One thing that CIT’s should know is that the interview is exactly that — it is an interview for a job and it is their chance to make a first impression. It shouldn’t be scary, it’s an opportunity to meet, share and shine.

Training is more formal than the initial interview. At this point, I will have had the opportunity to dive a little deeper with each CIT as an individual; gauging their skills, passions, areas that they want to work on, etc. The training will formalize the leadership process, set expectations and prepare CITs more fully for the role that they will be taking on at camp. We will also include lots of fun, campy, getting-to-know-you activities, team building challenges, and an introduction to camp language, tools, and procedures. All Counselors in Training should expect to demonstrate their ability to work well as a contributing, collaborative member of a team.

Anything else we should know about you or this year’s program?
I really believe that the point of life is to be able to show up as your fullest and most authentic self as much of the time as possible. It’s each person’s responsibility to be who they truly are and to live their truth. I really feel that there is no one else that is quite like you or who can contribute to the world the exact gifts that you can. The teenage years can be really hard and I feel like many of us lose or are asked to give up parts of ourselves during this time. I would really love for camp to be an environment that fosters curiosity about who we are and creative exploration of the world around us. For me, camp has been a place where I can bring my full self and where I don’t have to “check parts of myself at the door”. My ultimate dream would be to provide a safe, encouraging space for each CIT to feel the same way.

Sit, Look, and Listen – A Daily Practice in Getting Connected

Do you have a favorite magical hideaway from your childhood? Perhaps it was sitting up against a fruit tree in your backyard, or maybe it was lying in the grass amidst the wildflowers at the top of a hill. The natural environment is strongly tied to our sense of place and returning to a place regularly can create powerful connections. Establishing a routine “sit spot” is a very simple activity you can do at home with your children to connect them with their surroundings, and at the same time, encourage creativity in the outdoors.

To find your perfect sit spot:

  1. Select a place within walking distance of your home – either in your yard or at a local park – and visit that spot for a few minutes each day. This spot should be easy to get to – ideally no more than a two-minute walk from home.
  2. Then, make yourself comfortable. If you are doing this activity with your children, your sit spots should be in the same general area so that you can keep an eye on them, but far enough apart that you still feel in your own space and are free to enjoy your own moment.
  3. Once you are sitting, be as still as you can and try to become part of your surroundings. I have friends who have done this and birds have come to land on them because they were so much a part of the environment! How’s that for a connection to a place?

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Start small. Aim to sit there for two minutes and just observe the sights and sounds around you. Then gradually increase the time. Eventually, you can work up to sitting for 20-30 minutes. You will be amazed at how your children look forward to and crave this activity. You can also introduce sit spot activities like sketching and journaling once the routine has been established.

In doing sit spots with students, I have noticed that their observational skills are sharpened and they develop a deep personal connection with the world around them. The sketches, poetry and writings that result are incredibly thoughtful, observant and reflective. One Bay Area mother blogs about how this practice has influenced her son’s worldview. With all the stimulation we are exposed to on a daily basis, being in a sit spot can act as an antidote. It is a restorative practice that allows you to just be in the moment. Try it out and let us know how you like it. Happy sitting!

This blog was written by Christina Chung. Christina Chung is the Camp Director for our Cupertino Park Program and she comes to us with years of experience as a naturalist, teaching students in the outdoors. She enjoys dangling from trees, showering in duff and squishing mud between her toes. Christina is also an avid crafter who spends much of her free time creating new things from old things, as well as making things from scratch. This is her first time blogging for Edventure More, but you can look forward to more contributions from her soon!

 

Forming and Fostering Friendships at Camp & at Home

At Camp, kids build four types of intelligence, one of which is social. During the course of camp, kids play get to know you games, develop cheers and do team challenges, all of which show them ways to reach out to one another and help them build confidence and respect while working together. Take an inside peek at a few of the team building cheers and songs that came out of camp last summer.

Of all the skills we encourage children to develop, social intelligence is one of those deemed essential for predicting a fulfilling, successful life.  It’s also the aspect of development that parents influence most profoundly.  According to Dr. Laura Markham from Aha Parenting, there are a number of ways parents can help their children develop social skills:

  • Honor and reinforce your child’s developing friendships. Talk about them, remember them, create opportunities to play.
  • Model respectful relating. Remember that your child will treat others as you treat them.
  • Teach your child that people are important. All parents have to choose their battles, so put up with messiness and dawdling if you must, but teach your child consideration for others. Model it for them, praise it, help them brainstorm to solve peer problems, and don’t let your child intentionally or unintentionally disrespect another person.
  • Help your kids how to repair rifts in relationships. When we think about repairing relationships, we usually focus on apologizing. But premature apologies won’t be heartfelt and may backfire by causing the child to hold a grudge. Giving them a chance to cool down first always works better.
  • Understand and teach the emotional intelligence skills necessary in all relationships. Examples include listening and “I” statements, which will pave the way in all your’s child’s relationships.

As Dr. Markham states, “…healthy kids generally make healthy choices even in the context of difficult peer situations. That means that if children have good relationships at home they have a healthy head start, but they still need your help in learning to navigate a complex social world.”  Read more about some of Dr. Markham’s thoughts on ways to support your child socially.

What’s Better, Making Friends or Being with Old Friends at Camp?

When it comes to camp, some kids like to come with friends. Summer camp is a great way to hang out with your “besties”, be with people you know have similar interests, spend time with people you don’t get to see as much as you’d like, or reconnect with one of the great kids you met at camp last year. A friend can be a security blanket or someone to be brave with when you want to try something new or start a conversation with someone you haven’t talked to before.

There are still others who look at camp as a chance to break away from the regular routine and prefer to go to camp on their own. Camp gives kids a chance to be their silliest selves when no one is looking, grow that part of themselves they haven’t had a chance to before, reach out, make new connections, and expand their friendship circles.

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Camp is actually a great opportunity to be with friends AND make new friends. Here are some great ways to teach your kids to make new friends at camp, or any time:

  1. Give someone a High Five! It is an easy way to make someone feel special and a great way to break the ice when meeting someone new.
  2. Be Inclusive! Show that you’re open to meeting new friends and getting to know everyone. It’s a bummer to be left out of a fun game, so invite EVERYONE to play!
  3. Try something new! Trying out new activities allows you to branch out and reach outside of your comfort zone–both will open you up to making new friends.
  4. Be yourself! You’re going to make friends with lots of different people, be yourself and you’ll be on your way to making lasting friendships.
  5. Smile—it makes a great first impression: you’ll look approachable and friendly. People want to become friends with people who are nice, so show them you’re just that!
  6. Say hi first. You may think you’re the only one who is nervous about making friends, but you’re not alone! Someone else is probably feeling exactly the same way, and they may be too shy to say something first. So, go up, introduce yourself, and say hey.
  7. Find common ground. Talk about the activity you’re doing or ask them what they like. Chances are you’ll like some of the same stuff, too!

Most importantly, your child shouldn’t worry about about making friends. If they’re too busy thinking about making friends, they may miss their opportunity to make one. Just tell them to focus on the “Y-O-U” all their other friends totally love.

Here’s a great article featured in a Minnesota newspaper about the benefits of going solo to camp. Tell us what your child prefers and some of the reasons they like going to camp on their own or with friends.

 

Time to Stop and Smell the Roses, or Just Play in the Yard…

Spring is about to start and there isn’t a better time to start to move your children’s education outdoors. At school, more and more teachers are trying to include time outside as part of their daily schedule. Not only does outdoor time help with “antsy” children who are anxious for the school year to end and are beginning to have a harder time focusing, but many educators find that taking kids beyond the classroom can help kids feel free to explore and makes learning relevant in a much larger context.

As parents plan for summer, bloggers are talking about summertime learning opportunities and what parents can do to keep their child outdoors. There is even now a National Get Outdoors Day (June 14), a National Park and Recreation Month (July), and an Institute for Outdoor Learning, all focused on nature and spending time outdoors and its important role in children’s development – intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically.

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Children learn more when they’re happy and engaged.  Learning outside provides the opportunity to teach children about the environment and the local area.  It’s a chance for fresh air, exercise and to slow down the pace of our busy lives.  Outdoor education and time is connected with wide-ranging benefits. Take a look at 11 Proven Benefits of Outdoor Learning. As this blog states, “No doubt the first people to use a stone-age dwelling as a primitive schoolhouse thought themselves the originators of a magnificent breakthrough in education. ‘No more cave drawings for us!’ But in so doing, something was lost: the ability of children to touch, to smell, to walk, to climb, to experience.”

When Spring starts tomorrow, we hope everyone finds time to stop and smell the roses. The benefits are more than you can imagine.

What, It’s Okay to Use My Cell Phone at School?

At least in some schools, now it is…Over the past couple of years, many schools are considering creating BYOD (Bring your Own Device) or BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) programs. With schools moving into the 21st Century and more and more digital learning, many public schools in particular don’t have the budgets for all of the electronic devices needed or for keeping both the hardware and software up to date. Where this has led, is with schools asking students to bring their own devices to class.

Although some BYOD programs have been successful and some school districts believe that that these types of programs are the best and only available option, many teachers, public education advocates, and parents are wondering, where will BYOD lead?

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Some of the concerns raised include:

  1. Potential misuse of devices, and will students be able to resist the lure of texting, watching videos or playing games while lessons are being taught
  2. Whether all students have access to a device, and even if they do, will the disparity in quality or type of device be a source of conflict within a classroom
  3. What happens if a device is lost or stolen
  4. E-Safety and how do we keep students from accessing inappropriate content, etc.

As well as being cheaper for the school, BYOD has many perceived advantages. As each student learns differently, he or she could learn through the device that fits his or her needs best. BYOD teaches responsibility as students are inclined to take more care of their own property. There are no compatibility issues. It also requires little or no technical support, saving both time and money. Teachers can send homework reminders electronically, physical notes won’t be lost in backpacks, and more.

Advocates of BYOD, like Roger Broadie, a former teacher and now a consultant and board member of Naace, the IT teachers’ association, says that BYOD means “…hugely more tools, hugely more resources and hugely more opportunities for collaboration and conversation. If children have a device in their pockets that can add to their learning, it would be a crime not to use it.”

Which side of BYOD are you on? Is BYOD being adopted at your child’s school? What guidelines do you think need to be in place for a BYOD policy? Please share your thoughts on this new trend in schools.

Building Emotional Intelligence at School, Home and Camp

A lot of people are talking about EQ or Emotional Intelligence. What it is according to the dictionary and experts, is the ability someone has to manage their emotions in a healthy way. It is also the key to interacting with others, being happy and to becoming a successful adult. So, how is Emotional Intelligence built and how do we foster it in our children? It takes a village…

Dr. Laura Markham, a trained Clinical Psychologist and Mom, believes Emotional Intelligence is important in raising a child and really starts with parents at home. One of her recent blogs talks about how Emotional Intelligence can determine the quality of life in a more fundamental way than IQ and how you can lay a solid foundation for your emotionally intelligent child.

Clinical psychologist and author Daniel Goleman agrees on the basis of research which shows that children whose Emotional Intelligence skills are well developed tend to be more successful at school, have deeper and healthier relationships, grow up to have more fulfilling work lives, and become valuable and contributing members of their communities. His second assertion is that these Emotional Intelligence skills can be taught. Here is more on Daniel Goleman’s view on the role of schools and teachers in readying children for success.

As for summer camp, it isn’t just a great way to get your child out of the house in the summer…Experts have shown that children at summer camps learn vital life skills that will help them grow. The American Camp Association shares some perspective on why it’s important for children to go to camp and the skill development that takes place there.

Three different perspectives, but one more case for how teachers, parents and other outside enrichment and recreational providers like summer camps, can work together to ready our children for the challenges ahead.

 

Are you Stumped?

One of the many things that kids love about Camp Edmo is our Edmo Vibe Game. The Edmo Vibe Game reinforces and measures the intangible skills campers develop each day. When kids rock “The Edmo Vibe” of curiosity, confidence and kindness through special actions, our staff recognizes their efforts with a specific type of Edmo Card.

There are six different Edmo Vibe Card but one of the favorites is the Stump Card.  Campers can earn a STUMP CARD by asking an Instructor or Camp Director a trivia question that is NOT something covered during their arts & science or animation station. When we’re not at camp, it’s still a great time to have your kids ask questions and try and stump you. Or better yet, ask them a few questions and see if you can stump them!

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Here are a few questions about Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech. Ask your kids about them and see if they are stumped! Be careful though, our questions can be kind of tricky. HINT: you can probably find most answers on our website but you don’t need to tell your children that…we’ll put them in the next newsletter too!

  1. When did Camp Edmo start?
  2. What favorite Camp Director will be back in Palo Alto this coming summer?
  3. Which of these animals can fly; squirrels, frogs, or monkeys?
  4. In what Camp Edmo theme can you learn the language of hieroglyphics?
  5. What was the life skills game that preceded the Vibe Game?
  6. What was our first Peninsula/South Bay location?
  7. Where at Camp EdTech will you find “Raspberry Pi”?
  8. What type of animal is our mascot at Camp Edmo? (Bonus points if you know his name!)

Have a question you’d like to stump the Edventure More home office with? Post it on our Edventure More Facebook page!

Adventure into Your Imagination or Space – Without Leaving the Bay Area!

Edventure More partners with a number of organizations to develop our programs. Each of our museum partners, for example, helps in the design and staff training for the hands-on activities we feature in our School Year and Summer Camp Programs.  This coming summer, our Critterville and Planet Power themes at Camp Edmo feature activities designed in cooperation with the California Academy of Sciences. We also partner with the Children’s Creativity Museum for the development of our Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech Animation sessions.

If you love our camps, you’ll also love visiting our museum partners and these special exhibits. It’s a great way to get a taste of summer and develop your interests in science and technology. Plus, they’re both open next week on President’s Day!

California Academy of Sciences: Dark Universe – January 31 – October 9, 2014
Playing daily in the Morrison Planetarium

Take an exhilarating voyage through the known and unknown, Dark Universe plunges audiences into two of today’s biggest cosmic mysteries—dark matter and dark energy—and the scientific discoveries that preceded them. Narrated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, this immersive planetarium show features exquisite renderings of enigmatic cosmic phenomena, seminal scientific instruments, and spectacular scenes in deep space. Hurtle through Jupiter’s atmosphere, sail out to the far reaches of space and be there for the birth of our own galaxy, while exploring how our understanding of the Universe has evolved over time. Celebrate what we don’t yet know by confronting the invisible 95% of the cosmos that scientists continue to grapple with, but which may in fact govern how the Universe behaves.

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Dark Universe was developed by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, and GOTO INC, Tokyo, Japan.

Children’s Creativity Museum 

At the Children’s Creativity Museum, they go beyond the conventional environment of play by inspiring kids to imagine, create and share in their multimedia environment. All of their programs and exhibits are designed to spark the imagination and build creative confidence. With every visit, families create unique media projects and experiences that reflect and celebrate creativity. Plus, all of the Children’s Creativity Museum’s core studios and exhibits are facilitated by skilled artists and their C.I.T.Y. Guides who can help guide museum visitors of all ages through the creative process. Stop by CCM’s Animation, Design or Music Studios. Or their Imagination, Innovation and Community Labs!

The Whole Child Approach to Learning

Each child, in each school and in each of our communities deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. These are the things that the Whole Child Approach to learning that we have all heard about really addresses. In 2007, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) created the Whole Child Initiative in an effort to change the conversation about education from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long term development and success of children. The organization recognized that the demands of the 21st century required a new approach to education to fully prepare students for college and careers. Research and practice have both confirmed that a whole child approach to education prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of today, and tomorrow, by addressing students’ comprehensive needs through the shared responsibility of students, families, schools, and communities.

Edventure More, as an educational partner and year round program provider, recognizes children’s comprehensive needs and has integrated the whole child approach into our programs. In fact, it’s part of the science behind our famous vibe, or what we call Vibeology. At our summer camps, the combination of our hands-on activities, role model staff and the Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech Vibe programs, all play a role in developing the life skills that prepare children for the 21st century and put them on the road to being happy and successful adults.

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The Edmo Vibe

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The EdTech Vibe

Learning does not begin or end in school, or at camp. As we are now seeing, the learning and development that does—or does not—happen outside of school can often be as much or more important than the formal learning that does.

What’s All The Buzz About Grit?

If you thought grit was the dirt your child brings in after playing in the yard, you’re right. But did you also know that grit is one of the factors that can lead to happiness and achievement? Or that grit, also defined as passion or perseverance, can be taught? The latest research has shown that character skills like curiosity, generosity and grit are even more indicative of a child’s future success than their IQ, and the topic has educational experts and bloggers talking.

An article featured on Edutopia in early January, “True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It” by Teacher Vicky Davis, shared some ideas on how to tackle the topic. For the full article, visit Edutopia.

1. Read Books About Grit

Read books, hold book studies and discuss trends. Measuring noncognitive factors like grit will be controversial, but just because we struggle to measure it doesn’t mean that we can stop trying.

2. Talk About Grit

First, I give my students the grit scale test and let them score it. Then we watch Angela Duckworth’s TED video together and talk about the decisions we make that impact grit. Empower students to educate themselves — they can’t wait for educators to figure this out.

3. Share Examples

In my ninth grade classroom, January starts with a video about John Foppe, born with no arms, who excelled as an honor student, drove his own car, and became a successful psychologist and speaker while creatively using his feet. We also talk to Westwood alum Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to complete an Ironman competition. These are gritty people. Life is hard, and luck is an illusion.

4. Help Students Develop a Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck from Stanford University teaches us that students who have a growth mindset are more successful than those who think that intelligence is fixed.

5. Reframe Problems

Using stories and examples from Malcom Gladwell’s book David and Goliath, we talk about “desirable difficulties.” Students need perspective about problems to prevent them from giving up, quitting or losing hope.

6. Find a Framework

I use Angela Maiers’ Classroom Habitudes as my framework. The KIPP framework specifically includes grit as one of its seven traits. Find one that works for your school and includes clear performance values.

7. Live Grittily

You teach with your life. Perhaps that is why Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture and David Menasche’s Priority List resonate. These teachers used their own battle with death itself as a way to teach. But you don’t have to die to be an effective teacher. Our own work ethic yells so loudly that kids know exactly what we think about grit.

8. Foster Safe Circumstances That Encourage Grit

Never mistake engaging, fun or even interesting for easy. We don’t jump up and down when we tear off a piece of tape because “I did it.” No one celebrates easy, but everyone celebrates championships and winners because those take grit (and more). We need more circumstances to help kids to develop grit before they can “have it.”

Tough academic requirements, sports and outdoor opportunities are all ways to provide opportunities for developing grit. Verena Roberts, Chief Innovation Officer of CANeLearn says:

One of the best ways to learn about grit is to focus on outdoor education and go out into the wild. Grit is about not freaking out, taking a deep breath, and moving on.

9. Help Students Develop Intentional Habits

Read about best practices for creating habits, because habits and self-control require grit.

10. Acknowledge the Sacrifice Grit Requires

Grit takes time, and many students aren’t giving it. In their 2010 paper “The Falling Time Cost of College“, Babcock and Marks demonstrate that, in 1961, U.S. undergraduates studied 24 hours a week outside of class. In 1981, that fell to 20 hours, and in 2003, it was 14 hours per week. This is not to create a blame or generation gap discussion, but rather to point out the cost of being well educated. We are what we do, and if we study less and work less, then we will learn less.

Helping Kids Succeed – A Letter From Our Founders

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Have you ever done something because it intuitively felt right, then later been validated by science? Eating a healthy breakfast, having a glass of red wine with dinner, walking rather than driving, hugging.…well, that keeps happening to us.

When Sharon and I founded Edventure More in 2004, we knew that summer was a magical time. We knew that creating a camp where kids could relate positively to learning and each other in a fun-filled environment was good for them. How good? How magical? We had no idea.

Then in 2008, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell was published. Gladwell examined the “achievement gap” in school between poor kids and rich kids. Study after study showed that the rate of learning during the school year between the two groups was about the same. Where one group moved significantly ahead of the other was during the summer! While the group with less means fell behind 2-3 months during the summer, the affluent group participated in activities that enabled them to plateau or even excel. With every summer that passed between a child’s K-8 experience, the gap widened. Now there were light bulbs…wait, no, fireworks!…going off in our heads. We had scientific validation that we were doing something powerful to increase a child’s academic potential.

However, there was something more going on at camp than just building academic skills. Stories kept coming back from parents and staff, that kids were becoming better people. They were being nicer to their siblings and other campers. They were excited to learn more at home. They wanted to teach others. They were more confident and articulate. What was truly amazing or better yet, “magical”, was that these effects didn’t stop at summer. Parents were witnessing these skills being carried through to their children’s friendships, studies and hobbies during the school year too!

We decided it was time to be more intentional about what was being learned at camp and distilled the character traits down to three words: Curiosity, Confidence and Kindness. These were traits that we would concentrate on building through all of our projects, games and activities. As a result of this focus, we launched the first iteration of The Edmo Vibe Game in 2009, which has became our unique, kid-friendly way of identifying, measuring and encouraging these life skills.

Then in 2012, studies outlined in Paul Tough’s book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, demonstrated that a child’s EQ (Emotional Quotient) or score on a “grit scale” was more indicative of their future success than their IQ. One study even paired down the set of seven strengths that were likely to predict life satisfaction. Imagine the fireworks that went off in our brains as we read these words off the page:

Grit
Self-control
Zest
Social Intelligence
Gratitude
Optimism
Curiosity

We tell you this now, not as scientific validation of Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech, but as validation of your decision this summer. By choosing Edventure More camps, you are actively supporting a cause to bring equal access to high quality summer programming to kids across the Bay Area. By choosing Edventure More camps, you are choosing to develop your child not just intellectually, but socially, emotional and physically as well. By choosing Edventure More camps, you are setting up your child to build the skills that will help them succeed in any life path they choose…and isn’t that what we all intuitively want for our kids?

In gratitude and service,

Ed Caballero & Sharon Mor,
Edventure More Co-founders

A Sneak Peak at Summer

With Summer Camp enrollment starting in just a few short days, we thought we’d give you a sneak peek at what’s in store at Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech this coming summer:

There’s more fun than ever at Camp Edmo with some of our new Arts & Science, Animation and Park Program Summer 2014 themes:

    • Planet Power: How does our incredible Earth work? Assemble terrariums, experiment with water, recreate wild weather patterns, and taste edible plants!

        • Sea Creatures: Uncover the mysteries of the deep as you measure whales, create coral specimens, spy ocean floor dwellers, and design your own monsters of the sea!

This summer we have two brand new Camp EdTech sessions so our 5th – 8th grade campers can continue to make what they play AND play what they make:

      • App Creation: Campers are introduced to the world for computer science using Raspberry Pi – a single board computer that’s about the size of a credit card!
      • Maker Studio: Campers learn the science of using software and hardware to control analog components, such as lights, motors, and more!

We’ve added new locations in San Francisco, Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties too!

Want to know more about what’s happening next summer?  Visit our Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech websites on January 7th to learn more about our Summer 2014 sessions, to see what camps are in your community and of course, to enroll in camp!

Moms Raising Daughters

We’re thrilled to announce that starting in January, one of our favorite guest bloggers and internationally respected tween/teen expert, Annie Fox, M.Ed. is going to be leading an amazing Parenting Seminar entitled “Moms Raising Daughters” in Marin.  As Annie puts it “Think “book club” without the required reading!” Her seminar is a unique opportunity for you and a group of your friends to tune into your daughter’s experience growing up in the 21st century. Take a look at Annie’s website and the details about her seminar below:
  • Goal: Improve your mom-daughter relationship and place yourself at the center of your daughter’s support network
  • Timing: Starting in January
  • Location: In private homes throughout Marin
  • Meetings: Once a month for six months at a scheduled time that works for your group
  • Where: Group members will host monthly meetings rotating from home to home
  • Cost:  $150 for 6 ninety-minute group sessions (Fee must be paid up front to insure a commitment, as the objective is a cohesive ongoing group eager to learn from and support each other vs. casual drop in.)
  • Topics to be covered: The group can choose whatever they want to focus on depending on what’s going on with their daughters. You can also choose from a wide range range of topics in which Annie has expertise: mom-daughter communication, girl friendship challenges, peer harassment and social courage, body-image, self-esteem, stress and anger management, mindfulness and the relaxation response, emotional intelligence (EQ), the Bf/Gf Zone and relationships smarts.
annie foxFor more information contact Annie@AnnieFox.com

‘Tis the Season for Science

The California Academy of Sciences’ ‘Tis the Season for Science exhibit celebrates the winter holidays by exploring the amazing adaptations of reindeer. Join the festivities by sharing your own reindeer self-portrait! Visit the holiday exhibit or find the California Academy of Science’s bus shelter ads around San Francisco and strike a pose in front of reindeer antlers – or make your own.  Join the herd. Upload your reindeer selfies to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter tagged with #ReindeerSelfie and #calacademy.

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When visiting the California Academy of Sciences, exploring the park or even playing at home with toys, kids discover new things, make observations, and come to you with their questions. You don’t need a degree in science or engineering to play a crucial role in shaping your child’s learning. When you approach the world with curiosity and a willingness to explore, whether you are helping your child solve a problem or build a tower out of blocks, you can spark an interest in science or in technology, engineering, and math.

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Over the next decade, related job opportunities in the U.S. are expected to increase by nearly 17 percent. Making time to support your child’s interests and providing opportunities to explore different careers can set your child on a path to discovering lifelong passions. Learn more in the “Science: It’s a Family Affair” guide for parents and have fun exploring and learning with your child this holiday season.

The Scholarship Story By Ed Caballero, Executive Director

EdFrom our very first summer, we have always subsidized the cost of scholarship spots at our camps. When we started however, we had no idea the impact those summers of enrichment we provided would have on the children we served. In the last 10 years, a wealth of data has come out supporting the need for kids to have an enriching summer.

Summer school has been cut back by 75% across the state. Over half of Bay Area 5th graders are failing science proficiency tests and 52% of schools said they “do not have capacity in their district office to support science education.”  Summer Learning Loss, accounting for 2/3 of the achievement gap nationally, compounds this deficit of resources during out-of-school time.

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In fact, while 42% of affluent families send their children to summer programs, only 5% of low-income families are able to give their children this vital support.  This means six weeks of “brain drain,” lack of positive adult-youth relationships, and exposure to the harmful behavior that still exists during out of school time.

Access to quality enrichment programs leads to:

  • Prevention of Summer Learning Loss
  • Increased confidence, collaboration and critical thinking skills
  • Increased literacy rates
  • Decreased obesity rates
  • Increased high school graduation rates

We founded Edventure More as a non-profit organization because we are committed to the cause of creating equal access to high quality summer programs to all children. Unlike privately-owned camps, we reinvest our proceeds in the communities we serve. We openly pledge to redistribute 5% of camp proceeds to camp scholarships and subsidized science programs in local schools. In addition we’ve also employed a full time Development Director for the past four years who is dedicated to writing grants, planning fundraisers, donation campaigns, community advocacy, and managing our scholarship process.

anniversaryIn Summer 2013, we supported 193 families through our Scholarship Program offering a total of 717 weeks of camp to children in need. That’s a full 10% of our total camper weeks!  We were also awarded a $56,000 grant from the Children’s Fund of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to provide an almost fully-subsidized camp in San Francisco’s Mission District.  Through this grant, over 50 low-income kids from predominately Latino and African-American backgrounds were able to experience Camp Edmo for six weeks.

Just by choosing Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech this summer you’ve helped us close the achievement gap and work towards an equally enriching summer experience for all Bay Area kids.

 “Thank you for making my son smile, inspiring him in new ways, and being his home away from home. See you next year!” – Shareetha, Mom, SF DCYF-funded camp

The Curriculum Season

Every year around this time, we get asked the question, “What do you do during the off season?”. Although nothing quite compares to the pace of running 14 camps concurrently during the summer, our Home Office team does manage to stay busy year-round. Probably the busiest group at Edventure More is our curriculum development team made up of Blaine Vossler, Curriculum & Supply Manager, Sara Statler, Summer Programs Manager and Ed Caballero, Executive Director.  In fact, this team has already been planning next summer’s activities for over a month!

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Here’s just some of what our curriculum development team does between September 1st and December 31st:

  1. Study Education: We’re constantly keeping up with current education trends, attending and presenting at conferences, researching new kid-friendly software and hardware, and exploring new partnership possibilities.
  2. Analyze Feedback: Right after the summer, our team collects and reads every bit of valuable curriculum feedback from our Science, Art and Digital Media Instructors, as well as reviews our parent survey results.
  3. Edit Past Curriculum: Since many of our Arts & Science themes don’t rotate back for another 3-4 years, we update that summer’s curriculum immediately so we don’t lose all that we learned. We get each activity down to a science…literally.
  4. Identify New Priorities: Next we decide which new topics we should explore offering the following summer. In addition to analyzing our feedback, we also consult with our museum partners and our digital media instructors to learn of any new emerging technologies, or arts & science subjects that could be appropriate for our camper age groups.
  5. Recruit Curriculum Writers: Every year we re-establish which museum partner staff we will work with to create the next year’s exciting theme line up. For Camp EdTech curriculum, we also recruit passionate professionals in the field to create new digital media and computer science activities.
  6. Select Activities: All new curriculum proposals are then vetted by our team, and the projects that are most educational, scalable, relevant and have the greatest potential for “wow factor” are chosen for development.
  7. Test Activities: Every project featured at camp goes through a rigorous testing process. We explode, download, sniff, program, bounce, paint, and stitch every single one to make sure both the staff and kids have a blast doing them.
  8. Design the Lesson: It’s not enough to have a great project.  Important questions must be answered to create the excitement our camps are famous for: What classroom set up or lead-in questions will generate curiosity in campers from the outset? How can we scale the learning to build confidence? How can we maximize individual creativity within each project? How can we challenge campers to take the project to the next level at camp or at home?
  9. Finalize Curriculum: All of our testing feedback and lesson elements are integrated into the final curriculum draft including relevant CA State standards, 21st Century Life Skills each activity builds, instructor tips, detailed supply lists and lots of pretty pictures.
  10. Create Descriptions & Videos: Website and brochure theme descriptions are written, videos of our staff demonstrating projects are recorded and daily Give Me More Sheet content is created so you know what you’re getting into ….and getting out of camp!

So in June, when your kids proudly shows you their rocket, or their slime, or their animated movie, or their 3-D video game and tells you all the cool stuff they learned by making it…know that magical moment has been lovingly cultivated by our team since last September.

SNAPS to YOU!

Have you heard the sound of “Pat-Pat-Clap-Clap-Snap-Snap-YEEAAAH!” in your house? Then you’ve heard the sound of SNAPS! Two pats on the legs, two claps of the hands, two snaps of the fingers, then double point and let out a “Yeeeeahhhh”.  Suddenly a surge of positive energy is transmitted from one person to another!

SNAPS were brought to Edmo by a rock star Camp Director, Melanie Mitchell, back in 2007.  It was her way of having campers recognize someone for doing something that exemplified “The Edmo Vibe”. When a camper showed courage by a doing a dance in front of the camp…they got SNAPS.  If a counselor came up with a great skit…they got SNAPS.  If the EdTech kids made a cool video project for the camp…they got SNAPS.  At the end of the day, campers would sit around in a circle to recount nice things that another camper or staff member did for them, and of course…give them SNAPS.

SNAPS has now become the favorite way of teaching and expressing gratitude at all our camps.  We hope they’ve spread to your home and your community too!

Check out some videos and pics of staff and kids giving SNAPS:

Videos of Edmo staff giving SNAPS to people working on a Sunday…

Home Office staff singing a song with a SNAPS finale to our camp staff on Summer Learning Day…

Savoring the End of Summer by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

annie foxSummer is a hard thing to let go of. Even if you have worked full time through July and August and your kids were involved in summer programs, there’s something special about long days outside and not having homework waiting to devour your evening.

Back in the day, summer officially ended right after Labor Day and that’s when we kids resumed “The Routine”. Times have changed though and school has already started for many children.  Families can still take advantage of opportunities on weekends and while it’s still light until after 8 pm, to savor the last of the season.

Here are some tips to make something special out of the end of this summer:

  1. Go for a hike. Look for adventure. Search online for local hiking trails. If you and your family are regular hikers/bikers, blaze a new trail. Slather on the sunscreen. Bring a hat and water. Pack a lunch and don’t forget your phone for taking pictures and sharing them. Seeing your family having fun together outside might inspire your friends to throw a few energy bars in a backpack and head out the door with their own kids.
  2. Go to the Farmers’ Market. We’re into the peak of the season for the best fresh and locally grown fruits and veggies. The variety you’ll find at farmers’ markets is truly impressive. Knowledgeable growers and free samples are everywhere. Encourage your kids to try something unusual. Ask questions, “What is that?” “How do you prepare it?” “How long does it take to grow a zucchini that big?” When you model openness and curiosity you encourage your kids to be life-long learners.
  3. Cook together. Make a “locally grown” meal with what you bought and don’t forget dessert. Peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and blackberries, can be thrown together into a fantastic cobbler. For me, prepping, cooking, and eating together is one of the true joys of being a family. During the chaos of the school term, most of us rarely make the time to cook. But it’s still August for a few more weeks. Hopefully, you and your kids are still in (quasi) summer mode. Use some of your free time to be together in the kitchen. NOTE: For real family connections, year-round, unplug digital devices at the table.
  4. Star Gaze. While the nights are still warm and the sky is clear and it’s ok to let bedtimes slide. Find a place away from city lights, bring a blanket, snuggle, and watch the star show. Before you head out, download Star Walk, a stellar stargazing app. Contemplate the cosmos with your kids. Listen more than you talk and you’re likely to gain priceless insights into your child’s way of thinking about the “big stuff.”

Enjoy what’s left of the summer season. It only comes once a year.

In friendship,
Annie

School Year Programs: The True Story of an Odd-looking First-born Duckling that Blossomed into a Powerful Enrichment Eagle by Ed Caballero–Edventure More, Executive Director

“I wish I had someone who would come to my class and teach that!” That’s what our teacher friends always said when Sharon and I began describing the kinds of projects we were designing for our first summer camp.  “Stomp rockets? Slime? Motion detectors? I don’t have the time to prep, the money to buy, or energy to lead those kinds of projects with my students!”, they said. After a hearing this several times, Sharon and I looked and each other and decided, “Why don’t we bring projects like these to schools!?”

At first, our science curriculum was being ghost written by an education specialist at the Exploratorium. We tested the activities ourselves, but leading them with a group of kids was going to be much different. Offering our services to teachers in the spring though would allow us to test the activities in a real classroom situation, align them with CA State Science Standards, get feedback from teachers, provide a service to schools, drum up interest in camp, and get kids excited about hands-on science! It was win-win-win all around.

So in a strange way, even though the idea for camp was conceived first, the School Year Program was actually born first…and my, oh my, was it a silly-looking, two-headed, nervous duckling that first day. Our first class was group of 5th graders at Old Mill Elementary School in Mill Valley.  To add to the “fun factor”, we decided it would be a good idea to sport funny hats. I got to wear the headband with green Shrek ears. Sharon wore a purple, pointed, fuzzy magician hat. As soon as we walked into the classroom, we were greeted with skeptical looks from the kids. Perhaps the hats were not the most brilliant idea we’d ever had?

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Thankfully the strength of the projects and our natural enthusiasm won their hearts and their minds. By the end of the hour we had all the kids standing on their desk chairs trying to see who could roll the longest slime snake…and we had managed to teach them about non-Newtonian fluids, polymers and the 3 states of matter in the process. As for the Shrek ears and magician hat, those were safely tucked away into one of our bins, never to be seen again.

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The School Year Program has truly spread its wings and soared since those early days. Our elite team of School Year Presenters now leads In Class Programs featuring hands-on science experiments in over 400 classrooms every year. Since 2011 we’ve also begun offering Science & Technology After School Programs . We also participate in School & Community Events including Science Nights, Book Fairs, Tech Fairs, Family Carnivals and Auctions. Not only do kids leave with hands-on projects from our programs, but they can also foster their curiosity at home by visiting Mo’s Treehouse, our online enrichment resource.

If you’re interested in bringing the Edmo Vibe to your child’s school this year please have your teacher or after school coordinator contact us at outreach@edventuremore.org or 415.282.6673 (MORE).

The Scoop on Edmo in the Park by Ed Caballero, Edventure More Co-Founder

I didn’t want to do it. There, I admit it. Do Arts Camp; Science projects in a park? No classrooms or permanent shelters? Go on field trips? Rent buses? All of it sounded like a minefield of unknown problems. The credit for Edmo in the Park goes to Edventure More’s other co-founder, Sharon Mor, who saw the potential of Edmo in the Park through all of these challenges.

Since our very first summer in 2004, parents have asked us about camp in August. For years we always responded the same way: “Because schools require their classrooms back in late July for deep cleaning and teacher set up, we unfortunately can’t offer our camps late into the summer.”

Then in the Fall of 2010, Sharon began floating a new idea around the office…what if instead of a school, we rented a park site for the last weeks of summer? By now you know what my initial feelings were. There were, however, several staff members with naturalist backgrounds who loved the idea and were excited about all the possibilities that a new verdant setting would open up.

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Suddenly kids would be able to go on hikes, explore the local geography, see animals in the wild, and visit the plethora of museums and wildlife sanctuaries the Bay Area offers. Of course safety measures would have to be taken. Since the camp would take place after our traditional camp, only seasoned all-star staff would be chosen to lead the camp. How would we distinguish our campers from other kids in the park? Bright green t-shirts and orange bandanas would do the trick! Transportation? We’ll charter our own private buses. No building? No problem. Pop-up tents and all-terrain wagons would become our portable classrooms. What about a special Edmo Vibe Card for being a good naturalist? Enter…The Wild Card.

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Every challenge became an opportunity. Our first Edmo in the Park location opened in Summer 2011 in The Presidio of San Francisco. Just three years later, its popularity has made it the fastest camp to sell out in the entire organization. In Summer 2012 we added our Lake Temescal location in Oakland and this summer we’ve expanded the program to almost every region with locations in San Francisco, Oakland, Lafayette, San Mateo and Cupertino. We’re even running a exclusive one-week pilot of an EdTech in the Park program August 12-16th in the SF Presidio featuring a combination of nature, field trips and multi-media for middle school campers.

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Blaine, our resident Curriculum Manager and long-time naturalist, spent hours visiting each park site to create custom field guides for the kids to learn about all the incredible life that surrounds them. Our life skills partner, Let’s Go Chipper®, has provided additional outdoor activity guides and Chipper himself will be visiting each of our Edmo in the Park locations this summer!

If you haven’t had a chance to experience Edmo in the Park (or EdTech in the Park), be like Sharon and GO FOR IT! It’s a great way to spend your last few weeks before heading back into the classroom.

Independence Day for Our Children

As everyone gets ready for July 4th, the focus is on independence. Not just of our great country but also what this means for us and to our children. The big question is, how do we raise today’s youth to be independent? Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected educator, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for teens and parents. The latest installment in her blog “Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century”, gives thought to this issue and the desire of kids to be free, and the need of parents that they use good judgment when they are. Read Annie’s Blog here.

T-shirts & Buttons Mean A Lot by Ed Caballero, Edventure More Co-founder

T-shirts and buttons have had a long a storied history at camp, but their meaning has stayed the same. When your kids go to camp this summer, they’ll receive a one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-handed-out-again, commemorative 10 Year Anniversary Camp Edmo or Camp EdTech t-shirt. At the end of each week, our Camp Edmo campers will also earn our famous camper-designed theme buttons!

I still remember the pride Sharon and I felt when our first box of camper t-shirts arrived in the Spring of 2004. It was the first tangible representation that we had created something in this world. We hadn’t even run a camp yet, but we had a box of t-shirts with the bright yellow, blue and orange “Camp Edventure More” logo screen-printed on baby blue t-shirts.

After the Summer of 2008, our Camp Directors had the brilliant idea of having kids design buttons to encourage camper creativity, get kids excited about the next summer’s theme and recognize them for completing each weekly session. The first Edmo Button Design Contest was launched in Fall 2008 and the first winning designs were featured on the Summer of 2009 buttons.

Today, our camp t-shirts and buttons are still symbols for the pride both parents and kids have in being a part of our camps.  A button means you’ve completed a week of challenging art, science or tehcnology projects. A t-shirt tells the world you were part of of something special during the summer and invites people to ask you what you learned at camp.

Here’s a gallery of some of our  t-shirt and button designs through the years!

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Summer 2004-2007: Baby blue Camp Edventure More T-shirts and Red Edventure Tech T-shirts

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Summer 2008: White Camp Edmo Arts & Science and Yellow Animation T-shirts

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Summer 2009: 5 Year Anniversary “Catch the Vibe” and “Get Animated” T-shirts

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2010-2012: Arts & Science Orange Camp Edmo and Red Camp EdTech T-shirts Introduced

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Summer 2011-Present: Green Edmo in the Park T-shirts Introduced

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Summer 2013: Commemorative 10 Year T-shirts

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Summer 2009-Present: Camp Edmo Buttons!

The Importance of Art in Child Development

Over the past couple of years, there has been an increasing shift towards math, reading, and the sciences in school curricula. Conversely, there has been an increase in research done on the importance of art in child development. Research shows that both practicing art and learning to appreciate visual aesthetics are extremely important for our children’s development. According to art author and educator MaryAnn F. Kohl, “Creating art expands a child’s ability to interact with the world around them, and provides a new set of skills for self-expression and communication. Not only does art help to develop the right side of the brain, it also cultivates important skills that benefit a child’s development…Art matters the same way language matters — or the way breathing matters! It is a fundamental component of what makes us uniquely human.”

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There are many life skills that a child gains through art and art-related activities:

  1. Communication Skills: As a child scribbles in crayon on a piece of paper, finger paints, or creates a diorama, he or she participates in communicating visually. Like language, art communicates thoughts and ideas.
  2. Motor Skills: Many of the motions that are associated with the physical act of creating art help refine a child’s motor skills (ie: holding a colored pencil, carefully swishing a paint brush across a canvas). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) marks the drawing of a circle and use of safety scissors as a developmental milestone for children around the age of three. Moreover, children around the age of four should be able to cut straight lines with safety scissors and draw a freehand square.
  3. Problem-Solving Skills: As a child goes through the creative process of creating a piece of art, they test several possibilities and eventually choose what they deem best. For example, if a child is creating a mobile, they will often unconsciously ask themselves questions such as: Should I use a shorter piece of string to balance my mobile? How do I make the color green? This material is heavy—what should I use instead? With this experimentation, a child is continually solving problems, facing challenges, and coming up with innovative ways to handle various outcomes.
  4. Language Development: The practice of art for young children gives them the chance to learn vocabulary for colors, shapes, and actions. Moreover, it gives children the chance to learn about different styles of art and the way that emotion is communicated through various pieces of art.

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As evidenced, art is extremely important in child development. Not only does art allow children to gain many life skills, but it also helps children helps children express themselves—whether it is through the process of creating art, or the actual piece of physical art.

Summer Family Time: Leisure and Learning By Annie Fox, M.Ed.

The “blissed out” little girl, was swinging in front of her house. What cool parents to have tied that swing to the tree! Watching her, I smiled recalling the childhood freedom of endless sunny days, with no particular place to go.

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Summer is a portal to the land of “Who Knows Where Until You’re There.” It’s also a golden pass from the Scheduling Gods. (Or it should be.) Because, let’s face it, time away from our routine provides the breather we need to step back, relax, try something different, have fun, and then return to “normal life” with renewed interest and energy.

When I was kid, summer was the only time when I got to plan my days and each one radiated possibilities. When summer ended, my new level of self-reliance stayed with me. June, July and August hold that potential for every kid, provided he/she has the freedom and enough time without a whole lot of other stuff to do. But that doesn’t mean we should permit vacationing kids to veg out for days in front of one screen or another. That’s as unhealthy as pressuring them into daily drill and practice. Please don’t do either. But please do encourage learning.

Let’s define terms. Learning is anything that exposes kids to new ideas and information, stretches the mind, promotes new ways of thinking, builds skills and knowledge, and/or encourages creativity

Summer break can be a wonderful time for all sorts of special learning experiences. And because most parents are also “on break” during parts of the summer, families can be learning together.

Here are a few tips to make learning happen this summer:

1.   Call a family meeting. Discuss special projects and activities the family can take on during the summer. Let the kids take the lead but bring some ideas of your own by first checking the Events section of your local newspaper or search for “Summer Activities for Kids and Families (your city name).” Educational/cultural institutions have plenty of program offerings. Find out what’s available, talk it up to your kids and take part.

2.   Be creative. Don’t let the close of school, close the mind. Since many schools have cut out creative arts, summer is a great time to bring back those opportunities. Make arts and crafts. Make music and home videos. Make food and share the delicious goodies with your neighbors. When you do that, you’re also teaching generosity.

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3.   Have an adventure. Gorgeous weather is a terrible thing to waste. Seize the day and tap into a child’s natural desire for adventure. Unfortunately, many kids only satisfy this by playing computer games. But real trails, parks, streams, and shorelines are out there waiting for young adventurers. Google “Hiking (your city name)” and discover nearby natural environments for your family to explore. Print out maps before you go and let the kids help navigate.

4.   Borrow great books from the public library. (We remember books, don’t we?) Ask a librarian for recommendations. Gather the family together each evening for a story or chapter or two. Whatever you’re reading, talk about the use of language, characters, and plot points. Rather tell stories than read them? Here are some storytelling tips from a master.

5.   Watch classic films. Summer themed or otherwise, a great film is a treasure trove of educational possibilities. Share some of your favorite films from childhood and let your kids choose their favorites. Discover new ones, including kid-friendly foreign films. Make popcorn! Snuggle! Critique the films! It’s all learning, as in learning what it feels like to be part of a loving family. (How else will your children be able to re-create this sense of togetherness for their own kids some day?)

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Twenty-first century childhoods are different from the ones we had. Yet, summer still has the power to inspire dreaming. Our kids carry a lot on their shoulders and in their psyches. They need down time this summer. You probably do too. When we use vacation time to engage with our kids in creative, thoughtful activities, we strengthen family bonds and instill our kids with the love of learning. A balance of structured and unstructured time is healthy. Kids don’t get much of the latter from September to June, so if not now, when? Why not try taking it a little easier this summer and encourage your kids to do the same? When we slow down, and have no particular place to go, we meet new parts of ourselves.

Have a happy healthy and safe summer from my family to yours.

A Story of Partnerships

The story of Edventure More is truly a story of partnerships. We teach kids about friendship, teamwork and collaboration because Edventure More itself is a product of these same qualities. At the heart of the organization is the friendship between Sharon and Ed, Edventure More Co-founders, which formed while they both worked at SCORE! Educational Centers in 1999. Becoming friends in a work environment meant that inherent in their relationship is an ability to work towards a common goal, never to take things personally and always try to make the workplace a fun place to be.

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From Edventure More’s start, Ed and Sharon’s goal was not to reinvent the wheel, but utilize already established expertise as the foundation for their programs. They did this by bringing together the Bay Area’s leaders in science, art, animation, and recreation to help design the curriculum for their new camp. These partnerships proved vital to establishing the quality of the curriculum from the onset as well as being the key to successful growth into new communities over the next 10 years.

In 2004, the YMCA of Marin officially came on board to help with the design and staffing of our outdoor recreation program. Soon afterwards, a seven-year partnership was forged with the Exploratorium, as well as a partnership with the California Academy of Sciences that goes on until this day. Most of the Exploratorium-designed themes, activities and methodology are still used today in our physical science themes. The Academy continues to design our life science curriculum both for camp and our School Year Programs and also helps lead our annual Science Instructor trainings.

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The following year, two more museums joined in on the collaboration with the Museum of Children’s Art and The Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly known as “Zeum”) signing on to help in the design and training of our hands-on art curriculum and stopmotion animation sessions respectively.   These wonderful institutions still continue today to ensure that our campers have access to the highest quality enrichment activities.

Even after 10 years, Edventure More hasn’t stopped making friends!  This year we will partner with the national non-profit, Playworks, to enhance our staff’s game facilitation skills and incorporate more life skills into our physical activities.  We’re also expanding the staff’s use of Kimochis, another life skills partner, to all our sites. Kimochis provides their “toys with feelings” and guided activities to help campers build emotional intelligence and healthy social skills. As our Edmo in the Park program expands, so does our partnership with Let’s Go Chipper, a cast of cartoon characters that help kids develop a love for the environment and developing healthy lifestyles.

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So this summer, when your child comes home telling you about the new friend he/she made, the team cheer their group invented or all the teamwork it took to make their animated movie, know that these skills may one day help them form grand partnerships the likes of which you would never imagine. 

Emotional Communication | More than words

Dr. Donna Housman writes, “Learning to communicate effectively and constructively and to manage our own emotions and those of others is what helps us connect. This “emotional intelligence” allows for empathy and compassion to develop and is what encourages others to stick with us through life’s ups and downs.”

The ability to express and manage emotions and to recognize the same in others is critical to social competence. The foundation of these skills must be supported and taught in early childhood. When children are taught how to express and manage their feelings, they learn to understand and be sensitive to all those who are significant in their lives. Children develop the ability to empathize, negotiate, compromise, solve problems and resolve conflicts. The results are friendships and skills that can last a lifetime.

Kimochi Communication Dolls are interactive and tactile toys that teach children about their emotions, how to manage them, and how to help others understand them. “Toys with feelings inside,” these quirky dolls have a special place, for storing emotions.  Teachers, camp counselors and therapists have made great use of these and other tools in their work with children.

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Parents also hold a responsibility to nurture the emotional development of their children and it begins with helping them to define and acknowledge their feelings.  Whether by employing Kimochi dolls or simply making a concerted effort to focus on emotional intelligence, parents can make a huge difference in how their children are perceived and accepted in the greater world.  Here are some areas of focus to get you started.

  • Eye Contact – with adults and other children
  • Tone of Voice – listen to “how” you say it as much as “what” you are saying
  • Facial Expression and Body Language – take note of what works
  • Be brave and try again when you’ve made communication mistakes
  • Be kind and let people try again
  • Assume the best of others – remember everyone is trying to figure it out together.

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Effective communication and emotional intelligence cannot be achieved while on the computer, phone, email or the like.  It must be taught and modeled through connection, attention and deliberate effort.  Home, school and camp are some of the best places to practice and observe these skills in action in children (and adults) and provide the safe and guided opportunity for emotionally intelligent growth and communication skill building.

The Love in Letting Go | Fostering Resilience and Independence

It’s the age-old question:  What happens when a tree falls in the forest?  Does it make a sound?

Parenting can be a bit like that from time to time.  Consider these questions:

“If I don’t see them fall, will they just get back up?  Does it hurt the same amount?”
“If I don’t remind them to put on their shoes, will they stub their toe?”
“If they don’t eat their broccoli at 6:30pm sharp, will they never eat broccoli again.”
“When I’m not there, are they okay?”
“Will they recover if I let them fail?”
“If I’m not there to introduce them, will they make a friend?’

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Of course, no one wants to see our child struggle, get hurt or fail.  As parents, it is in our inherent nature to protect them from all manner of harm – physical, social and emotional.  But sometimes, the best protection may be to support their growth by stepping back, giving space, letting the failures and struggles happen so they can promote resilience, courage and flexibility.

Clinical psychologist Maureen Monaghan of Children’s National Medical Center is quoted as saying, “It is a great idea to give kids an experience of being on their own in a structured, supportive, supervised environment…even just one night away from parents can be valuable. … It definitely challenges kids — it takes them out of their comfort environment — but it’s usually really positive, and we see a lot of growth and maturing.”

Perhaps the biggest psychological impact of camp is on resilience, on character and on learning to be a member of a community that’s separate from your family; who always cut you some slack and who have preconceived notions about you.  We often want to challenge our children in academic pursuits, but we hesitate to challenge them on an emotional level.  How can you know if a child will be able to handle the ups and downs in life if they are not allowed to try to cross the street alone, climb a tree (and possibly fall), order and pay for their own popcorn at a movie or go off to camp without you, to make friends and memories without you and to navigate the inherent social and emotional challenges that are part of those experiences without you?  Resilience is a learned behavior, easier for some than others, but it must be cultivated and honed through life experience – it’s what gets you through the hard times in life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sometimes the problem is that we find it hard to recognize we have a regressive effect on the lives of our children, and sometimes in order for kids to reach their full potential, they have to get away from that regressive pull – and that means we need to “get away” from them.

So as you consider camps, either day camp or sleep-away camps this summer, realize that in sending them off on their own, you are quite possibly sending them into a stronger, more secure future.

21st Century Learning and Principles | Redefining Learning Beyond the 3 R’s

Educating kids

In today’s world, being literate requires more than it did in our own upbringing. The National Council of Teachers of English believe twenty-first century readers and writers need to:

  • Gain proficiency with tools of technology
  • Develop relationships with others and confront and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally

  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes

  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information

  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts

  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

So what do you get when you add the 3 R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic and the new tenets of 21st Century Learning, the 4 C’s.  Try to name the 4C’s, and you might have more trouble. Yet blending Communication, Collaboration, Critical thinking and Creativity, into elementary education may just be the educational cocktail for which we have been waiting.  As American students lag behind their counterparts, we are forced to recognize that old methods and standards may not be enough to prepare them for their futures.

As our world becomes smaller and technology outpaces itself, children are faced with challenges far beyond what would have been “normal” less than ten years ago.  It is a difficult task for schools and teachers to find ways to meld the R’s and C’s in the classroom AND continue to teach the basic building blocks.

21st Century Learning

Edutopia has an excellent easy to understand guide, A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning, that gives an overview, by grade level, of the principles of 21st Century learning and strategies to implement it in the classroom.

Regardless of the school situation, public or private, there is one important thing parents can do to help their children.  Get involved and stay involved!  Help your school and teachers secure the funding and tools they need to stay ahead of the curve and propel our children into the future with all the knowledge and preparation possible.

Edventure More Camp

Edventure More programs exercise the balance between STEM/21st Century Education and empowering the social and emotional skills children need to communicate effectively. Summer camp is so close and our directors, counselors, and CIT’s continue to impress us with the skills they bring to our programs each year. The enthusiasm for teaching and the intuitiveness to help children navigate each day is what we strive for when building our summer team. We delight in a society embracing new tools to educate our children and celebrate the realization that we have been doing this for ten years.

A Long Way from the Driveway By Ed Caballero, Co-Founder and Executive Director

During Camp Edmo’s first summer in 2004, Sharon, the other Co-Founder, and I wore almost every hat possible…figuratively and literally. The camp was very small and we were the Camp Directors, Science Instructors, Recreation Instructors, and Counselors….and Shrek-ear hats were all the rage. The only Instructor hired was an Art Instructor as neither of us was that confident in our paper mache skills.

Sharon & Ed

Sharon & Ed

Staff training consisted of Sharon and I testing ways to make the most efficient and explosive volcano possible in the driveway of my parents’ house. My parent’s garage also served as our first storage space. Today, we employ over 100 full time staff during the summer months. Each of them brings their own array of experience, talents and charisma to camp. Now the purpose of training is to build on to the skills of every individual staff member to ensure they leave with more than they brought.

Camp EdTech and Camp Edmo

  • Counselors now receive approximately 30 hours of training each on safety, behavior management, building life skills and on leading recreation time. This summer we’ve also added enhanced recreation training from Playworks, a national non-profit, educating us on more inclusive and meaningful games. Counselors will also learn to use Kimochi’s “toys with feelings” to build campers’ emotional intelligence during Team Time.
  • Instructors get approximately 50 hours of live onsite training at our museum partners including the California Academy of Sciences, Museum of Children’s Art and the Children’s Creativity Museum. In addition to their museum training, they also receive specialized Edventure More classroom management training to weave techniques that build curiosity, confidence and kindness into their daily lesson plans.
  • Camp Directors will have completed over 100 hours of training between January and the time summer rolls around. Nowhere is this focus on personal and professional growth at camp more evident than their “Question of the Season,” a technique Sharon instituted into training as a certified Life Coach. Each Director fills out a question that reads like a mad lib: “As someone who______(something you’d like to change)___________, how do I ______(your vision of change)_______________in order to _________(your desired outcome of change)___________.”

For example: “As someone who tends to be hard on myself, how do I recognize the good things I do, in order to better praise and recognize those around me.” These powerful questions give Directors focus and help them facilitate similar goal setting with their own staff. Ready to make a “Question of the Season” for yourself?

Camp Edmo - Stomp Rocket Explosion

Here are a few other topics that will make it into staff training this year:

  • How to make kids feel welcome the instant they step out of the car
  • How to give, receive and facilitate SNAPS (our way of expressing gratitude towards others at camp)
  • How to sing A-Boom-Chick-a-Boom underwater style
  • How to convince kids to eat their lunch before going to play
  • How to fish for gummy worms with your face in a pile of whip cream
  • How to cultivate a safe environment for creativity and play
  • How to help kids who come to camp on their own, make new friends
  • How to award an Edmo Vibe Card so that a child can explain WHY s/he earned it
  • How to identify a granola bar that might trigger a peanut allergy
  • How to treat a scraped knee…or bruised ego

We hope you enjoy these and many other fruits of our staff training this summer!

iBook Interactive | A new tool for engaged learning

Edventure More exists to inspire the playful pursuit of enrichment in the next generation.   Our commitment to nurturing creativity and curiosity is a principle we hold fast.  If we expect to keep our children engaged both in and out of the classroom, we must be willing to nurture our own curiosity and embrace the new creativity afforded all of us with new and emerging technologies.  Engagement is key.

Student Engagement

Among industrialized nations, the US has fallen well behind, coming in at 17th in reading, 21st in math and 23rd in the sciences, globally. ”No one company can fix it all,” said Apple’s Head of Marketing Phil Schiller. “One place we think we can help is in student engagement.”

ebooks-for-kids

One new tech tool is the interactive iBook.  iBooks have begun to replace physical textbooks in the classroom and now, as publishers and institutions the world over embrace the idea, iBooks are becoming not only “books”, but places of wonder.  NASA recently released a free interactive iBook entitled Hubble Space Telescope: Discoveries.  It’s filled with high-resolution images, video, and animations of all manner of stellar wonders relating to the Hubble.  Touchcore, LLC, a company that aims to “meld technology and dynamic instruction,” has recently released two iBooks.  Touch the Earth (with over 35 interactive activities to teach and engage children about the Earth) and Touch the Sky (“join an Air Force Pilot as he leads you through exciting missions to learn about astronomy from the ground to outer space” – with over 70 interactive activities).

Hubble's Universe iBook

Many other iBooks, for all ages, are available.  A great place to start would be bestinteractiveebooks.com.  This website includes picture books, books on science, art, cooking, geography, etc. and is updated with new titles all the time.

True, we all know there is nothing like sitting under a tree with a favorite book and a child next to us, arms entwined, enjoying the feel of the pages as you turn them and the wonder created only within their young minds.  Never stop doing that.  But know that there are also new wonders to behold and new ways to experience them…together.

Natural Technology | Tips and ideas for merging gadgets and the great outdoor

Edventure More exists to inspire the playful pursuit of enrichment in the next generation. Our programs provide a place for all kids to nurture their innate curiosity, confidence and kindness through hands-on science, art, technology and outdoor activities. In a recent blog post, we challenged you to bring more “play” into the “work.” This week, let’s look at some ideas for merging those gadgets and getting kids outside in new and interesting ways – ways that will expand their minds, their skill sets AND their horizons (literally).
Edventure More - geocaching with kids
While there may always be moments of struggle in the process of learning, the more we can enrich the learning through play, the more messages of pleasure, ease and organization of body and mind we will bring into the experience.
Edventure More - Learning with TechnologyHow often have you been asked, “Can I play something on your iPhone, iPad?” Maybe with the following ideas, that answer just might be, “YES!” Here are some interesting tips, ideas and apps that allow everyone to feel like they won:

  1.  Low-tech: take that iPhone or iPad outside and start snapping! Put together a photo book with nature photos from your neighborhood, favorite walk, even the one to school. You may be surprised to see what your kids discover. Offer then to spend some time editing, cropping, making black and white prints, etc.
  2. Movie: make your own! Have your kids/students create a documentary, an adventure film with friends. Set up a screening and make it a movie night. Here’s a free and easy online video editing website!
  3. Apps, apps, apps: Geocache, Project NOAH and many others offer easily available ways to explore, learn and enjoy the great outdoors. Mark Patrick Meyers offers interesting ideas in this post, “Using Fun Technology in Nature With Kids,” and you can find a number of them here as well: Science Kids
  4. Photo Bomb: See how many different places your children can photograph themselves, a favorite toy, a pet – even Mo, the Camp Edmo mascot. Click here to print out MO! Challenge family and friends to identify the location. Where’s Waldo…with a twist.
    Edventure More - Mo Photo Bomb

It doesn’t matter what you do or what you choose, just get out there and experiment. There are unending opportunities for learning and creativity just outside your door. And if getting out that door is the problem, guide them through their handheld devices. You may be surprised how quickly they abandon them for dirt and a stick. Edventure More outdoors with technology!

Social Courage: Doing the Right Thing by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

By kindergarten, most kids know the difference between “nice” and “mean.” They still know it by the time they get to middle school. And all high school students can tell you how awful it feels to be treated unkindly. And yet, kids are often disrespectful to their peers and their parents.Annie Fox

Why this disconnect between knowing what’s right and doing what’s right? Part of the explanation is the fact that our children are growing up in a Culture of Cruelty. That sounds harsh, but we can’t change what we don’t see. Consider what passes for entertainment in the media. It’s often mean-spirited. So are many of the conversations we have at the office, on the sidelines at the game, and in the teachers lounge. Character assassination in public discourse is pretty much the air we breathe. So are put downs, gossip, and snarkiness. The resulting pollution is a hazard to our well-being. It’s also a huge problem for parents who want to raise nice kids who do good in the world.

Good Kids

Our kids are good kids. They really are! But they are also constantly challenged by the less-than-compassionate standards of their peers with whom they are mind-linked 24/7. Today’s t(w)eens suffer from status anxiety at levels no other generation has endured. This compels them to do whatever it takes to fit in, including things they are not particularly proud of. Despite these challenges, we can teach our kids to be people with good intentions and social courage, i.e., the ability and the will to do the right thing.

Adults who live and work with kids often give lip service to the importance of teaching young people to do the right thing. But how much actual teaching is being done at home and at school? If we don’t prioritize character development, we’re failing our kids. We can do better.

Here is a simple way to get the ball rolling in the right direction:

  1. Talk with your child. Have a friendly conversation about the concept of a “pecking order” in the animal kingdom. Maybe you’ve observed two dogs or two cats at close range. Often it’s clear which animal is “dominant” or “bossy” and which is more submissive. Talk about how there can also be a pecking order amongst people. We usually feel uncomfortable when we are on the bottom, getting bossed around. But when we’re not on the bottom, we don’t often give much thought to those who are.
  2. Listen to your child. Ask your son/daughter about who is on the bottom at school. (Even kids as young as second or third grade have a keen awareness of social strata.) Ask, “Why do you think s/he’s on the bottom? How do other people treat that child? How do you treat him/her? What might happen if you stood up for that child?
  3. Challenge your child to be a hero. Encourage him/her to shake up the pecking order by standing up for someone who needs a friend. Take the challenge yourself!
  4. Follow up. In a week, have another friendly conversation with your child and share what happened on the challenge. Discuss whether you want to keep the challenge going.

We parents are gardeners. We plant seeds and nurture those seeds through conversations, modeling, and real world experiences. Of course, we are not our children’s only influencers but we can provide the tools they need to do the right thing, online and off. Whether they actually step up, is their choice. But at least we’ll know we’ve done our part well.
AnnieFox
ANNIE FOX, M.Ed. is an internationally respected character educator and the author of five books for teens about growing up and getting along, plus three picture books. Her latest book for adults: Teaching Kids to Be Good People is now available on Kindle and in print. Annie may be reached through her website, AnnieFox.com

Mo Activity: Get Outdoors Daily!

“Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.” – David PolisChildren hiking in autumn

Everyone, not just kids, should have a daily “green hour” scheduled into their day. We all have busy lives filled with obligations but it’s worth it to yourself and your kids to appreciate nature in some way at least once a day. At least start out with a bi-weekly “green hour” or try 15 minutes of outdoor playtime per day, everyday! The key here is to put nature on the calendar so that spending time together, outdoors, becomes a habit instead of a rare occasion.Playing kids outdoors

The National Wildlife Federation recommends parents set aside an hour every day to play outside and interact with the natural world. This time should be unstructured (self-guided) and fun! If kids are reluctant or want to play their video games instead, show them how fun it is by joining the activity. Collect natural artifacts to share, or listen and identify all the sounds you hear outside! Get to know local trees and animals so you can test each other. There is so much fun to be had outdoors if you just get out there and start playing!Puddles

Even on a rainy day, you can still get out and play together as long as you’re dressed for the weather. As E.E. Cummings wrote, the world is “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.” Being prepared to go outdoors is always a good idea! Check out GreenHour.org for more suggestions and tips. In 2007, the National Wildlife Federation launched GreenHour.org, an online resource providing parents the inspiration and tools to make the outdoors a part of daily life. There are many ideas to inspire all ages! Explore with Mo today: click here to print out MO! Then color in, cut out, and take photos of Mo outdoors to share on our Facebook Page!

Mo - Edventure More

Meet Mo and Check out his Treehouse of Activities online!

Scheduling your green hour with another family can also help you time manage. Arrange a regular “Outdoor Date” with one or two other families with kids around the same age. Depending on weather, and the ages and interests of your participants, this could be as simple as meeting at the playground every week or month, or something heartier, like a series of hikes or an ongoing flag football game. Do the same thing every meeting or let a different participant choose each meetings activity. Or just let the kids play with no plan! The important thing is that once it’s on the calendar, and others are depending on you, you’re less likely to make excuses and skip it. Make it a family affair by inviting grandparents, cousins, and other family members to join in. Nature is a great place to connect with family and enjoy each others time.

Neuroscience of Play | How play eases the “work” in homework

Edventure More exists to inspire the playful pursuit of enrichment in the next generation. Our programs provide a place for all kids to nurture their innate curiosity, confidence and kindness through hands-on science, art, technology and outdoor activities.

Edventure More | Helping Kids Learn and Play

Research supports not only the notion that play enhances and supports the social/emotional health of children, but it also is a factor in helping them organize their thoughts and calm their minds. In Jill Howlett Mays, MS, OTR/L research article  Importance of Play for Kids, Tweens, and Teens , she says, “When we move, nerves send messages to the areas of the brain that are key to organization.  The more input, the better these areas work.”  Mays further asserts, “We’re wondering why there’s an increase in ADHD and other behavioral issues.  As kids play less, statistics show huge decreases in physical activity, these conditions increase.  Also let’s not forget about health issues like child obesity?”

It follows that when children, including tweens and teens, spend time playing games, running with friends, enjoying the outdoors, they are more able to work efficiently when the time comes – thus reducing stress and the time it takes to focus and complete assignments both in and out of the classroom.  Maybe the next time your child is complaining about that “homework first” rule or you are being told they are unable to concentrate in class, you should toy with the idea that some time spent playing, while it may seem to “rile them up,” is actually calming their minds and will allow them better focus and thus less stressful and more efficient (shorter) periods of work.  Or better yet, follow the example of Edventure More: bring more “play” into the “work” with educational games and activities. Check out Mo’s Treehouse for some FREE ideas!

Edventure More | Playfully Learning Life SkillsWhile there may always be moments of struggle in the process of learning, the more we can enrich the learning through play, the more messages of pleasure, ease and organization of body and mind we will bring into the experience.

What’s In a Name

Edventure More Original Sketch

As we kick-off our tenth anniversary we can’t help but admit that Edventure More was founded on a passion to truly provide more for children – in school, and socially. Today, we share how it all began:

The story behind the name “Edventure More” begins in November of 2003 as Ed Caballero, one of the co-founders, was on a 9-month backpacking trip through South America. Not only had he learned a great deal about the 6 countries he had trekked, but along the way an approach to life had developed. In fact, it was these life lessons that Ed cherished most about the journey.

Ed learned that some of life’s greatest blessings come disguised as seeming misfortune. He learned that kindness could be shown and received in the most unexpected forms. He learned that the hardest challenges to overcome are often the experiences we most appreciate. He learned that the mind could be trained to interpret fear as excitement and transform doubt into confidence. He learned that when you align your passions with your path, the universe has a funny way of helping you along the way.

On the tail end of this 9 month journey, Ed received an e-mail from his dear friend and former manager at an after school tutoring center, Sharon Mor. “What are you going to do when you come back to the States?” she wrote. “If you want to start that camp you’ve always talked about, you’ve got a partner. You can lead the curriculum design and I will lead the staff development.” Ed had spent every summer for 16 years either attending or working at camp. There was nothing he’d rather do than start a summer camp. To top it off, there was no one he’d rather start a camp with than Sharon. Ed and Sharon traded excited e-mails, envisioning a day camp where kids would associate learning with the same wonder, enthusiasm, curiosity and joy of an adventure. They would learn, not just in a classroom, but on the play yard, in nature, and from each other. Life lessons would be as important as scholastic ones.

In his final month of travel, Ed continued to hike amidst glaciers, through canyons and along mountain ranges. It was on one of these final treks that he pondered a name for the exciting new venture Sharon and he would soon embark upon. Then it came to him…Edventure. They both wanted education to feel like an adventure. He liked the name, and coincidentally his own name was in it too. He sketched the name and some sample logos out in a notebook. He liked it, but something was missing. Then it struck him. Sharon’s last name is Mor. Add an “e” to the end of it and you’ve got “Edventure More”. Now it wasn’t just a name…it was a call to action! Edventure More!

This call to action has guided the design and staffing of every program Edventure More has created since 2004. Around 2007, campers started calling Camp Edventure More, “Edmo” for short, and by 2009 the nickname was so popular that the name was officially changed to Camp Edmo. Edventure Tech, which Edventure More had started in 2007, was shortened to Camp EdTech. Although the names evolved, the mission of the parent organization, Edventure More, remained constant. Every project featured and every word of encouragement uttered is meant to teach kids to approach life’s grand adventure with curiosity, confidence and kindness.

Celebrate ten years – check out Mo’s Treehouse for a variety of free online activities and ideas conveniently organized by grade (K-5th). From science project ideas to educational videos and don’t forget to color in Mo and capture him on your adventures! Let your kids capture adve

ntures with Mo and share on Facebook – especially on photo-bomb Friday.

HOW TO MAKE MO:

First, click here to print out MO!

Then, have your little one(s) color him!

Color Mo!

Color Mo!

Glue your colored Mo onto a recycled cardboard box or any thick paper you have around the house.

Edventure More - MO

Glue Mo onto cardboard!

Now, cut Mo out carefully!

Edventure More - Mo

Now, tape a Popsicle stick to Mo’s back so he can easily photo bomb any picture!

Edventure More - Mo

Now Mo is ready to go! Take him with you outdoors or to school, snap a photo, and share on Facebook!

Give Mo Love

Give Mo’ love and visit his Treehouse online today!

Importance of Play + Love Bug Valentine’s Day Craft

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.”

Leo F. Buscaglia

Through play, children try out new skills, explore their imagination and creativity, and develop relationships with other people in their lives. Play can be an especially powerful bonding time for you, as a parent or caregiver. Playtime with your child also brings out the best in you. The beauty of this learning and growing time is that the motivation for a young child to play is already there – it is enjoyable!

One form of play that also encourages creativity and motor skills is crafting. Show your appreciation to your friends, family and loved ones in this month of love by making them a Valentine’s Day card or decoration. Nothing shows your love like a home-made craft!

valentines-craft

Appreciate and care for the planet by making recycled crafts! It’s amazing what you can make from “trash.” Save some trees by reusing old Valentine’s Day cards: just cut off the cover from an old card then attach it to a piece of recycled scrap paper. Color it, add decorations, or cut it out in the shape of a heart. The sky’s the limit when crafting with recycled materials; just use what you have around the house: buttons, recycled food boxes and cans, string, cardboard, paper, etc!

Make a “Love Bug!” 

What you'll need!

What you’ll need!

First, cut out a heart (it’s easiest to fold a paper in half, draw a half heart from the fold, then cut a long the line) from a recycled cereal or food box or any paper product that’s a bit thick.Draw half-hearts along the folded edge or your paper.

Heart!

Heart!

IMAG1087

IMAG1088

For her Love Bug antennae, she folded strips of black paper and glued on fuzzy pom pom’s.Fold to make antennae She used glue but tape can be used here as well. Add some googly eyes or some legs to your bug. Put it on a Popsicle stick and play or hang it on the fridge.

Use your scraps to make more crafts!

Use your scraps to make more crafts!

Spread the love this February!

5 Tips to Develop Healthy Learning Habits

Edventure More exists to inspire the playful pursuit of enrichment in the next generation. Our programs provide a place for all kids to nurture their innate curiosity, confidence and kindness through hands-on science, art, technology and outdoor activities.
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We are a local force in the national movement to prevent Summer Learning Loss, build 21st Century Life Skills and save hands-on learning in schools. Now, more than ever, kids need resources to develop healthy habits in a playful way. According to a recent article from Scientific American Magazine, “Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed.”
Here are 5 tips for parents and teachers to help their children develop healthy learning habits:
    • Encourage play. Playing alone and with others not only builds brain development, it also helps children develop social skills and a sense of ethics. The most effective play is free of evaluation and correction (after all, throwing a ball shouldn’t be “right” or “wrong”), while promoting autonomy.
    • Play together. In addition to their ABCs and 123s, preschool children are learning and developing life skills that will shape who they grow into as adults.  One of these building blocks is learning to play well with others and accepting one another’s differences. Camp is a great place for kids to interact with each other.
    • Get adequate sleep and proper nutrition. Your child will do their best if they get to sleep early and eat a healthy breakfast each day before school. A daily diet of junk food is not compatible with learning. It can cause listlessness and hyperactivity, which can impair a child’s ability to learn. Skipping breakfast, especially, is a detriment to a child’s education.
    • Continue year-long education. Routine provides structure, which is often lacking during the summer months when children all too quickly become detached from the lessons they learned throughout the school year.  Maintaining a schedule throughout the summer supports an environment that is less of a contrast to the classroom and provides a healthy balance between building skills, play and rest. An easy way for parents to keep their kids learning throughout the summer is by signing them up for camp.
    • Monitor screen-time. While there are quite a few educational and engaging mobile apps and games to play on TV today, balance the tech time with “climb a tree” time.  Curious exploration, social interaction and play should be on the daily to-do list.
Play helps a child learn to solve problems, promotes flexibility and motivation, teaches regulation of emotions and builds resilience and confidence. It is also essential to the development of the child’s brain, forming the basis of healthy cognitive function and mastery of the child’s physical world.
If you take just a moment to reflect on your own childhood you will most likely recall days playing hide-and-seek, kick-the-can, or just riding bikes to the local park. Now think about what your child will remember back to when they are an adult. From the camp or school program you choose to the activities you provide at home, see each decision as an opportunity to enrich your child’s life and excite their motivation to play and explore their own interests.