Empowering Kids with Daily Routines

Michele-at-waterfall-200x300The following in an interview with Michele Berman, Founder of MyZAZOO. We were interested in talking with Michele as MyZAZOO is all about creating healthy family habits, making them fun and empowering and raising confident, independent kids!

First, tell us a little bit about MyZAZOO and how you came up with the idea?
I had night owls as kids; they were up in the middle of the night, and they truly did not understand the concept that nighttime was sleep time. I took to standing at the window with my child in my arms and pointing to the moon to talk about what we do at nighttime. This was the beginning. Of course, the natural moon is inconsistent with the time kids go to bed so I created a photoclock to help tell the story and prompt the action. It has evolved into “ZazooTime.”

What do you feel are the keys to helping children build independence?
Consistency is key along with giving kids the chance to do something on their own. Become a prompt and acknowledge each step of the process. Kids also need to know what is expected of them. They are so pleased with themselves when they are able to accomplish tasks on their own.

What are some of the routines you think are important to create?
Bedtime and morning routines, as well as naptime or rest time is key to healthy sleep habits. The bedtime routine can take on many forms but almost always contains the same components: change clothes; bath/shower; brush teeth; go to the bathroom; sip of water; reading a story and lights out. Parents and caregivers begin to sound like a broken record so kids love it when the pictures do the talking.

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Are there different routines for different ages?
Being mindful of capabilities is half the battle for parents moving through the day. Age-appropriate tasks like putting shoes away, bathroom time and so on for children up to five, and older kids can have routines related to housework, chores and homework just to name a few.

You wrote a blog about generating a spirit of giving. What are your suggestions?
It is amazing when a young child is exposed to anyone less fortunate and realize for the first time that not everyone on earth has equal life needs and wants. Also, just by baking cookies for a neighbor or watering plants empowers empathy in a child which will lead to a greater sense of contribution as they age and can take on bigger volunteer roles. Taking a pre-teen to a soup kitchen or dropping off canned food at a local pantry as a family are great first steps. There are also organizations my kids are involved with such as Love4Lacey that help to send cards to sick children in hospitals.

MyZAZOO features the ZAZOO KiDS PhotoClock which gives creative visual cues to actions so children have a non verbal way to learn routines and feel pride in accomplishing things on their own. The ZAZOO ClockManager provides more robust media featuring music, audio books and playful icons to symbolize specific action items.  Learn more about MyZAZOO, their PhotoClock, the ZAZOO ClockManager and their new mobile app on their website.

A Day in the Life of an Edventure More School Year Presenter…

As part of the School Year team with Edventure More, I get to live the very exciting and glamorous summer camp life, all year long! During the school year, teachers invite us into their classrooms to give 1-hour science or tech presentations. The job is fast-paced, requires lots of preparation and is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. For a sneak peek into what my day looks like, keep reading!

As I mentioned, each presentation requires a certain amount of preparation. This is not only for the materials, but for the presenter so we know what our day looks like; what school and area we’re going to, what presentation we’re giving and whether or not we have an after school program in another location on that day. A lot of how smoothly our day goes is based on how well we prepare the night before.

Arrive on Campus

Each day has a different starting time based on when the teachers have us scheduled to come in. As a rule of thumb, presenters arrive about 30 minutes in advance of a presentation to check in at the main office, triple check all supplies are ready for the next action-packed hour and find the classroom that we’re expected in! By the time we arrive at a school, a presenter has been preparing either materials or mentally for the presentation for the last 12-24 hours.

Enter the Classroom

When we first roll into a classroom with our very stylish hand cart, a lot of very important steps happen very quickly. One skill that each presenter has finely honed is being able to ‘read’ a classroom. This includes noting the relationship the teacher has with their students and the layout of the room so we know how to best utilize the space. We also quickly meet with the teacher and figure out how we’d like to work together in creating the best possible experience for their students. Of course, we’ve also got our best fun-face on because we are now in front of the students we’ll be teaching in just a few minutes!

Present!

We are on! We introduce ourselves to the kids, we talk as a group about the expectations of student behavior in a science or tech setting and we jump right into the lesson! We bring not only the materials for each lesson, but more importantly the Edmo Vibe! We do our best to ensure each student participates fully and has a positive experience! It’s really important not only to me, but to our entire School Year staff that students really recognize that learning can be a fun experience and that for science (or tech), whether its oobleck or volcanoes that they are learning about, can be absolutely amazing! After each presentation, we do a quick re-set of our supplies and then head into the next classroom and start the process all over again!

After School

Once our In Class Presentations are done for the day, we make our way to our After School Programs (ASPs)! I get the honor of being at Montclair Elementary twice a week to have a fun science lesson with a handful of kindergarteners! We offer various After School arts and science themes (either 5 or 10 week programs) and tech themes to older students! The After School Programs are very dear to us, because this is the chance where we really get to make the program our own and get to know the students on a more in-depth level. While all of us make great connections at schools for an hour at a time, we’re lucky if we get to run into those kids twice. At an ASP, we really get the chance to become influential educators in the lives of students.

After our ASPs, we head back to drop off today’s materials and pick up what we need for the next day to start it all over again!

alyssaBlog provided by Alyssa Scharf, School Year Programs Presenter 
Although a presenter during the school year, Alyssa Scharf is ecstatic to be a Camp Director at our Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech, Noe Valley/Twin Peaks location this coming summer! Alysa graduated with her Bachelors at Dominican University in 2014 and is currently applying to graduate programs to earn her masters and teaching credential! When she’s not at work, Alyssa can be found either exploring the Bay for new places to eat or at home trying to finish reading the Game of Thrones series!

The Many Benefits of Summer Camp

“It’s so critically important that summers be seen as a time for innovation, for something new, for something different that can help drive these broader systemic changes and ways that we address the whole child.” —Ron Fairchild, former CEO, National Summer Learning Association

At Edventure More we couldn’t agree with the above quote more and believe that all children should have access to high quality Summer Camp and School Year enrichment programs that contribute to children’s whole child development. We feel so strongly that we allocate 5% of camp proceeds and 100% of donations to fund camp scholarships for underserved kids and subsidize science and technology programs in local schools. As another way to make camp accessible, we’ve also developed our Sliding Scale (Financial Aid) Program so that even those families who just need a little help can come to camp.

We could list all of the reasons we think that kids should go to camp but we’re not alone in our beliefs with both educational experts like Madeline Levine, PhD, and other summer camp representatives agreeing.

An Inside Look at Edventure More Events

We have an extraordinary team at Edventure More. Our home office, school year and summer camp staff is made up of a variety of individuals coming from a range of backgrounds and experience. Our staff also wear many hats. Some of our home office staff works at our camp sites in the summer (and visa versa) and some of our presenters, not only rock the vibe at In Class or After School Programs but also work at our many Bay Area camp fairs and hands-on activity booths at events. Having Edventure More at events has in fact become so popular that we wanted to share a little bit more about them. The following guest blog was provided by Jessica Tong, one of our stellar Edventure More team members.

Hello! My name is Jessica and I’m a member of the event staff for Edventure More. Over the last two summers I served as a counselor for Camp Edmo, so I know what goes on during camp. Now I’m working behind the scenes to help prepare for this year’s fun camp season.

For the past few months, we have been part of science nights, fairs and all sorts of events. One of my favorite events so far has been the AAAS Family Science Days at the San Jose Convention Center. There were so many great booths set up where families could explore the realm of science. There were booths about volcanoes, big cats, marine life, outer space, and many more. We even got to hear performers transform a few pop songs into songs about carbon dioxide and the the Ozone layer!

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The first thing we do at every event is to set up our stations. We have one station with all our camp information for interested parents and we have another station where kids (and adults!) can do some hands-on activities with the staff. We always have someone readily available to answer questions. We also encourage parents to participate in our Win-a-Free-Week-at-Camp raffle and to use our coupon codes for $50 off when registering new campers.

Some of our staff members facilitate the activities station. The activities we bring with us to events allow people to get a sample of what kinds of things campers learn in a day at Camp Edmo. One of our newest and coolest activities is called “LED Bling”, where campers have the opportunity to learn to utilize the positive and negative sides of a battery as they attach LEDs to make them light up. They then use pipe cleaners and various art supplies to turn their LED component into a piece of light-up jewelry or decoration. We brought our LED Bling to Strawberry Point School recently and this is what Catherine Marhefka, from the Strawberry Point PTA, had to say: “Thank you so much for your great booth on Science Night!! The kids had a blast with the LED lights, especially in the dark. The people manning your booth were fantastic too.”

LED Bling is an activity that is a part of our new Makers and Technology options for event booths this year. During summer camp season, we offer programs such as Tinker Town, Circuit Station, Gaming Studio, and Animation Studio in order to have Makers and Tech activities like LED Bling available for all ages.

I really enjoy being part of Edventure More’s event staff. It’s like having a slice of camp before summer starts! I can already tell that this camp season is going to be great and I’m looking forward to another summer with Camp Edmo! Be sure to take a look at our website to see what events are happening in your community!

Jessica Tong Art Instructor and CounselorJessica Tong – Field Marketing Team Member and Palo Alto Counselor

A Day in the Life of a Camp Director

courtneyAs we begin our countdown to the start of Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech, we thought we’d provide you all with an inside peek into a typical day at camp for one of our stellar Camp Directors. Although at our camps, no day is typical, we do know that each day is enriching and lots of fun for campers, and staff. Here is Courtney Hann’s (4-year veteran Camp Director in Palo Alto) day…

This past summer as I sat in my office, I was enthusiastically visited by a camper who couldn’t wait to tell me that he had figured out what he wanted to be when he grows up! He had decided that he wanted to work for Camp Edmo! With equal amounts of excitement,, I asked him which role at Camp Edmo he would want to take on; a Counselor or an Instructor, or even a Camp Director like me? Without a second’s hesitation, he responded back, “I don’t want to be a Camp Director, I want to have fun!”

This is not the first time I heard about the position of Director and what it looks like from a camper’s point of view. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I once had a camper tell her Counselor, “Courtney’s job looks so easy – she doesn’t even do anything!” Rather than simply explain that in actuality my job is a TON of fun, (and yes, I actually am rather busy throughout the day) I think it is time to break down the walls and give everyone a sneak peek into the day of an Edventure More Camp Director and what it is that keeps us pumped, smiling (and busy) during camp.

7:15 – 7:45 Open Camp

The day starts the second I walk in the door. While navigating questions from early arriving staff, I multi-task to get that day’s schedule written and printed and to get the school unlocked before everyone arrives.Palo Alto Staff Dressed up

7:45 – 8:00 Staff Meeting

Then comes our AM staff meeting. Each day, I lay out a list of announcements and points for the staff to concentrate on throughout the day. I also work to create a level of energy that will be duplicated by the staff once our excited campers start to arrive.

8:00 – 8:45 Beginning of AM Care

Next, our AM Campers begin walking in and all of the staff jumps into gear. I walk around checking in with each staff member and classroom to make sure we are prepared for the day. I field staff questions, make adjustments and greet our campers.

8:45 – 9:15 Check-In

Check-in begins with a bang as we work to seamlessly check-in an average of over 100 campers and get the fun started. I make myself available for all special questions and requests from parents, while addressing any and all concerns and auditing our staffing numbers and flow as more campers enter our site for the day.

9:15 – 9:30 RallyPalo Alto Staff Pie

It is time to lead rally – my personal favorite time of the day! I call out “What’s up, Camp Edmo?” to be greeted with a loud response of “What’s up, Courtney?” I then get the exciting task of using skits and songs to get our campers pumped for the day!

9:30 – 2:30

During the bulk of the day, there are endless tasks on my plate. I take roll, making sure the information on our clipboards matches the campers in each group. I make any data updates and changes to information that we received during check in. I audit each classroom and provide in-the-moment feedback to a staff of fourteen, trying to give each of them tips and hints on ways to improve the experience for each of our campers. Meanwhile, I work to learn the names of all of our campers and make personal connections with each of them. One way I do this is with STUMP TIME! I make sure to visit Team Time for each of our 5 groups to give them a chance to try to “stump” me with their awesome science, art and animation knowledge. I also make myself available with office time for coaching and mentoring any staff that needs it, while simultaneously being present for any camper who needs to spend time in my first-aid/nap station. I make sure to send out our daily emails to give our parents a sneak peek into what we have going on at camp that day, trying to add a meaningful Director’s note with any additional notes I think will be relevant to our parents in providing a better experience for our campers.

Palo Alto Staff Hula Hoop2:30 – 3:00 Rally

Again, it is time for exciting skits and songs! These moments make all of the time I spend on administrative and logistic details during the day so worth it! I love the opportunity to sing, dance, and just be “goofy” with my fantastic staff and amazing group of campers.

3:00 – 3:30 Check-out/Transition into PM Care

Every day we strive to provide the smoothest check-out for our families that we possibly can. Counselors pass out projects and work to keep the kids engaged at the picnic tables, while others walk each individual child out to their parents. Staff members check IDs and lists vigorously to make sure we are keeping our campers safe and sending them home with the correct person. Again, I audit the flow and efficiency, while making myself available for any concerns or special requests our families might have.

3:30 – 6:30

Though camp is over, my day is far from done! I oversee our three extended day programs (LEGO, Media Lab, and PM Care), run an end of the day staff meeting hearing staff’s feedback on the day, and finish any administrative tasks that did not get done. I check in with the staff working our extended day programs to make sure they have what they need for their lessons and to make sure they are prepared. Once everyone has been picked up, I count computers, check windows and lock up our site. On a smooth day with limited interruptions, I leave camp around 6:30, over 11 hours after I arrived. On a busy day, it is even later. Many days, I stop at the store on the way home to pick up any supplies we still need at site while fighting the Bay Area traffic home.

9:30 I’m asleep!

Running camp is rewarding but exhausting, and I am lucky to squeeze in dinner when I get home before I make a beeline for bed. I am fast asleep the second my head hits the pillow. After all, I probably have to get up early the next day to dress for costume day, run to the store on my way to camp, or both!

Courtney Hann has been working to educate children in a variety of settings for 10+ years.  Starting out working with children as the manager of a kid’s martial arts program, she then found her passion for summer camp when she began directing a Humane Education camp while working towards her Animal Science degree.  After graduating from Calpoly San Luis Obispo and spending many years in the shelter industry, including working for two years as a surgery technician for veterinary medicine, she decided to make the exciting switch to a full time emphasis on summer camp with her move to the Bay Area to join Edventure More.  At Edventure More, she has the exciting role of Outreach Manager during the year and a Camp Director during the summer.

Former Campers Debut Movie at School Film Festival

DSCF0182We don’t always get to hear about the digital media interests our campers pursue outside of camp so were pretty excited to get a chance to follow two of our longer term campers turned CITs, Harrison S. and Charlie W., to a film festival at Hall Middle School and the debut of a film they created. It was hard to get through all the paparazzi but we did manage to not only get a copy of the film (see below) but ask them a few questions about their film and the thoughts behind it.

What’s the name of your film and how did you come up with it?
“The name of the film is Break Free. We came up with the name when we were discussing the film. It comes from the idea of ‘breaking free’ of the clutch of technology and actually looking at the world around you.”, explained Harrison.

Was there a message you want people who watch your movie to take away from the film? According to Charlie, “The film shows what might happen if you look away from your device.” Added Harrison, “The message that people should take from this film is that they should get off their phone. They should look up and realize that life only happens once and they should enjoy it.”

How does your film making process work? Do you collaborate on all aspects from script writing to final editing or do you divide up the tasks? “We all worked together” said Charlie. “The process takes a long time”, added Harrison. “We worked for 2 to 3 months. We, Charlie and I, spent a lot of time discussing various shots, props, and VFX. Then we talked to our director, Helen, about what we thought the best ideas were.”

As for how we did the various tasks, Harrison added, “I wrote the script, did a lot of discussing, some editing, and all the on set work except for operating the camera. Charlie did most of the casting, a lot of discussing, the rest of the editing, and the on set camera operating. There are a lot more details, but they are kind of boring to talk about.”

What first sparked your interest in making movies?
Charlie explained, “My older brother is a cinematographer and he sparked my interest.“ As for Harrison, he got his inspiration from the various YouTube channels he watches. “If I had to choose one channel, it would be RocketJump. They made the incredibly popular web series, “VGHS.” They started out as a bunch of guys with a camera and an imagination. Now they are making a popular web series, which is incredible. I would love to be on their level someday, but as of right now I am at the beginning and have a lot of learning to do.”

I know you both took animation at camp, are there things at Camp Edmo or Camp EdTech that played a part in developing your interest? Or things you learned at camp that you were able to apply?  “In the animation class, we learned how to storyboard, and come up with a good story” explained Charlie. For Harrison, he said his learning was “from examples and demonstrations from RocketJump and others.”

What advice do each of you have for those coming to camp and making a movie for the first time?
Charlie: “Come to camp!  It is really fun and you learn good stuff.  If you are making a movie, my only advice is if it doesn’t work out the first time, keep trying.”

Harrison: “My biggest piece of advice is don’t give up. Yes, this advice is a bit cliche, and film makers should avoid cliches, but it is the singularly most important piece of advice. We were originally planning on something way more complicated, but we quickly realized that we needed to keep it simple. It’s a process, don’t give up at the first difficulty. It’s hard to do. I know this, Charlie knows this. Every single film maker knows this. The only way you will become better is doing it again, and again, and again. As for technical advice, keep it simple, only use actors/crew/extras that are committed to your project. Gear does not matter. It helps, but what makes or breaks a film is the story or lack thereof.”

Watch Charlie and Harrison’s film “Break Free”, winner of the coveted “Best Message” Award.

Charlie and Harrison have been friends since before they were a year old, campers since 2005 and CITs in Mill Valley the past two summers.

Have a camper who has pursued their interest in art, science, nature, making, or tech outside of camp? Email their story to margot@edventuremore.org and maybe we’ll feature it in our next blog or newsletter!

The Scoop on our School Year Programs

Everyone loves the inside “scoop” on what goes on at Edventure More. As result, we thought we’d give you a peek into our School Year Programs; what goes into training our enthusiastic presenters, one of our newest presenters and our new technology In Class Programs and new City Builders After School Program.
Stomp RocketA School Year Presenter’s Journey
What goes into preparing an Edventure More School Year Presenter for the excitement of bringing hands-on science and technology programs to schools throughout the Bay Area? It might be more than you think! Before going out to train in a classroom, all presenters spend their first month becoming experts on program curriculum and practicing rocking the Edmo Vibe with other presenters. Once presenters have an understanding of the curriculum, it is time to head out into a classroom to practice their newly honed skills with the full support of the School Year Team behind them. Then, throughout the school year, presenters are continuously afforded the opportunity to enhance their skills through professional development that aligns with new movements in education so they can bring fresh ideas and methods into classrooms. Along with all the technical trainings that go into preparing presenters, they also get to have a little fun and grow personally along the way. Each presenter gets in touch with their inner child while testing out each project and putting their unique twist on each presentation. Being a School Year Presenter is like being at camp all year round, and we all know there is nothing better than that! Look for our amazing School Year Presenters at a school near you!
DannyKirkMeet Danny Kirk – New School Year Presenter 
This is my first year with Edventure More, and I am so excited to be joining the school year presenter team. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in history, and have spent many years teaching, tutoring and working at summer camps. My first jobs were counselor-in-training positions at summer camps, and more recently I was a summer activity leader and counselor at a UC Berkeley Rec Sports camp, and an after school teacher in San Francisco. I loved all of this work and I am thrilled to continue bringing awesome In Class and After School opportunities to schools around the Bay Area as part of the 2015 Edventure More team.When I am not working at Edventure More…you can find me cooking, trying new restaurants, watching movies or playing Scrabble or Settlers of Catan!

New Technology In Class Programs Featuring Coding and Design
Edventure More is now offering two technology programs as part of the In Class Programs we offer to schools. These exciting hands-on sessions are taught by spirited presenters and make kids want to learn more.

  • 2-D Video Gaming: Students will unlock the power of Scratch and create their very own maze-themed video games with treasure, opponents, obstacles, and motion.
  • Makers Lab: Students will create “LED Bling” while exploring the power of conductivity and creativity by creating their very own LED-powered jewelry.
City Builders After School Program
In this new engineering focused After School Program, students will be faced with a unique design challenge each week! From designing, building and redesigning structures such as skyscrapers, bridges and cable cars, participants will hone their skills working with the design process to create solutions! We bet you want your school to have one of our After School Programs like City Builders!

 

If you can’t wait until summer camp to experience the fun of camp, tell your child’s Teacher or School Principal you’d like Edventure More to come to your school. Visit our website for more information about our School Year Programs, Events and Summer Camps!

Great Ideas for your Family’s Time Off

This weekend marks the start of a couple of days or the whole week off for many families around the Bay. To keep your time off fun-filled, here are a few ideas for things to make or do!

borax-crystal-decorationsValentines Day Craft: Crystal Hearts
Make simple but elegant Valentine’s Day decorations for your home or to send to class as a cute little gift for teachers or classmates!

Materials:
Borax (found in the laundry aisle at most stores)
Empty Jars
Boiling Water
Pipe Cleaners (colored or white)
Popsicle Sticks
Yarn
Paper Towels
Ribbon (optional)

Food Coloring (optional)

Activity:
1. Use pipe cleaners to create heart shapes (or any other shapes).
2. Attach each pipe cleaner to a popsicle stick with yarn.
3. Fill jars with boiling water and add about 1/3 cup of borax. Stir to dissolve. Add food coloring if you want to create colored crystals.
4. Place your hanging shapes in the solution and let it sit overnight.
5. In morning, remove crystals and place on paper towels to dry.
6. To add extra flare to the hearts, add some ribbon to the yarn and any other decorations and then hang them up in a window or any other place around the house.

FSD-AAASAAAS Family Science Days – Free Science for Everyone!
February 14 – 15, 2015, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm at the San Jose Convention Center
Explore interactive science exhibits, learn about cool science jobs and have your questions answered by scientists! Science Days are FREE and feature hands-on demos, shows, talks by scientists, and other activities appropriate for K-12 children and their families. Science Days will also include a rocking booth by us – Edventure More! Make sure to swing by, say hello and sign up for our raffle to win a free week of camp! Learn more about Family Science Days.

Photo exhibitCalifornia Academy of Sciences
Big Picture: Natural World Photography Competition
What on Earth have you photographed? Enter your photos now through March 31st to win prizes and fame. Winners will be featured in an exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. The adult division welcomes photography enthusiasts and professionals alike to compete for a chance to win the $5,000 grand prize. Young photographers, up through the age of 17 on the closing date of the competition, may enter images, too! Visit Big Picture’s website for more details.

CCMChildren’s Creativity Museum
NASA is landing in San Francisco on Thursday, February 19 to share a unique experience with families! Stop by the Children’s Creativity Museum and enjoy a full day of “Destination Station” activities led by NASA’s team of experts. Learn how space suits are designed, build your own robotic arm and participate in challenges that you might encounter in outer space. Doors open at 10:00 am.
Visit the Children’s Creativity Museum website for more details.

computer history museumEven Computers Have a History
Visit the Bay Area’s Computer History Museum at 1401 N Shoreline Blvd. Mountain View. The Computer History Museum is the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society.

The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours and an award-winning education program. If you have a child who loves computers, take them to the museum so they can see the history of computers and maybe even get a peek into where they are headed in the future.

 

A Mindful Journey By Charles Higgins

charles higginsIt takes many great minds to make one great camp. One of those talented individuals who lends their expertise and works with us in developing our curriculum is Charles Higgins. We feel fortunate to not only have Charles consult with us, but to also have him share the following article about how parents can bring Mindfulness into their homes.

Soon after my first child was born in 2001, I started to practice Yoga. I experienced a tremendous feeling of euphoric clarity after the second and third sessions. When I made it a twice weekly part of my schedule, I started to understand more deeply how breathing and stillness affected my general well-being and ability to cope with anxiety and stress.

For many years, I relied on yoga to reboot my system and strengthen my core. It was a powerful fortifier in the face of debilitating disappointments and losses. When I lost a job or experienced the deaths of people close to me, I turned to yoga.

The yoga I practice is characterized as a 90-minute open-eye meditation, but I did not learn mindful meditation until I was given a mantra by a teacher who coached me on the Vedic method. Once I integrated twice-daily meditation into my routine, I experienced a new kind of euphoric clarity.

For people working with or raising children, patience and awareness of thoughts and feelings while listening to others are critical attributes. We want children to feel good about themselves while expressing their thoughts and questions.

The practice of Mindfulness is very much about building an awareness of how things work, particularly those things rattling around in our brains constantly. The brain is always firing and conspiring to make us react to stimuli. It never stops.

We react to triggers that cause us to feel fear, anger and sadness. We are overwhelmed by a sense of despair when we can’t make sense of all the things our brains want us to think about, usually things from the past or in the future.

With a practice of Mindfulness, the focus is drawn to the present and we are able to press “PAUSE” for that moment between the stimulus and the response rather than reacting with the natural fear, anger or sadness that might be triggered. We may still FEEL those tough feelings, but now we are aware of them and can decide, make a choice, how to proceed – in a more mindful and measured way.

Building a practice of meditation and Mindfulness is just like learning anything that helps the brain learn. It takes dedication and practice to regulate the impulses that cause us to be reactive. When it doesn’t take the first time, you have to be kind and forgiving to yourself while finding your way back to the practice.

As a parent, the best thing I can do for my kids is model Mindfulness and let them see me practicing. Sometimes I’ll ask them to sit quietly with me and close their eyes, but I don’t force them to do it. From early on, however, when either of them is experiencing anger, I ask if he needs to take some time for himself. Quiet time.

For families or groups that want to try meditation and explore Mindfulness, I suggest a simple ten-minute method for getting started:

Sit quietly in chairs or on the ground, indoors or outdoors, and close your eyes. Allow the sounds around you to flow over you gently, even if they are loud.

Think of something that makes you feel really safe and happy. It might be a place or being anywhere with certain people. While you are thinking of this, relax your shoulders and make your belly soft so that when you breathe, your belly goes in and out. Sit so that your head is balanced lightly atop your neck and they are balanced lightly above your straight back. Feel your soft belly rise and fall as you breathe. Keep thinking of that safe and happy place and feel your belly go in and out.

This exercise can be expanded with other visualizations of stillness (e.g. water or a forest of trees) and integrated into a twice daily routine. It can be challenging to fit with all the other things we have to do, but I have found that the practice makes all the other things easier and more joyful.

 

Charles Higgins, MSW, one of Edventure More’s Curriculum Advisory Board members, is the Executive Director of the Richmond District Neighborhood Center in San Francisco. He was in the same role at Slide Ranch, Enterprise for High School Students, Youth Tennis Advantage, and the Bicycle Community Project.   Charles leads workshops and retreats for teachers, counselors and others working with children. Learn more about Charles on the Edventure More website.

Applying Inquiry Based Learning to Our Programs

As an organization, we want to deliver the best enrichment opportunities we can to Bay Area families, schools and communities. To do this, we are constantly attending workshops, talking with experts in different educational fields, conferring with our partners and Executive and Curriculum Advisory Boards, keeping abreast of new information through publications and webinars, working together to brainstorm fresh ideas, and more. Below is a blog from Kendra Watkins, our School Year Programs Coordinator, focusing on a workshop she attended whose content is being woven into our School Year Programs and staff training this year.

In October, I had the pleasure of attending a week-long workshop on the Fundamentals of Inquiry hosted by The Institute for Inquiry at the Exploratorium. During this week I gained invaluable knowledge that will assist our team in revitalizing and improving our School Year Programs! The Institute for Inquiry, as outlined on the Institute’s website, grew out of a desire to transfer to other settings the Exploratorium’s approach to engaging people of all ages in hands-on exploration.

We began the week at the workshop exploring the Next Generation Science Standards and shift in science practices, focusing on the connection to inquiry-based learning. As the week continued, we went on to discover the concepts of inquiry and spent time participating in a full inquiry unit to further our understanding even more.

inquiry-based-learning

An example of applying what we’ve learned is our new City Builders After School Program. This program is focused on engineering with students working through the engineering process each day to create a unique product. Providing students with the materials to create, as well as a challenge they need to meet, allows them the freedom and creativity to explore engineering in their own way.

Another area where Institute for Inquiry ideals are being implemented at Edventure More is in staff training. By training our staff using inquiry-based techniques, such as questioning and observing, we are able to give staff a thorough knowledge of what inquiry is all about and its impact on science learning and increasing student understanding.

Edventure More would like to thank the Institute for Inquiry for this wonderful opportunity and we look forward to creating a program-wide shift towards inquiry for years to come!

Kendra PicKendra Watkins has been with Edventure More for several years as a Camp Director, Instructor and School Year Presenter prior to her latest position as School Year Programs Coordinator. Kendra graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  

 

Throwback Founder Pics & Interview

As we start out the new year, it’s always fun to look back and reflect on the years that have passed. At Edventure More, we’re now going into year twelve and our founders, Ed Caballero and Sharon Mor, are just as involved as ever, steering the organization to fulfill its mission of creating “equal access to high-quality enrichment programs that prepare children for a successful, fulfilled future.”

Take a look at the organization’s history to see where we’ve been, what gives us The Edventure More Edge, how we’re bringing our quality enrichment programs to even more children in Bay Area communities through our Sliding Scale (Financial Aid) Program, as well as  all of the unique, new sessions we’re bringing to Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech this summer.

Here are also some snippets from an interview with our famous founders and some “throwback” pics that show how Ed and Sharon have evolved themselves over the years:

Ed and Sharon, how would you say you’ve grown over the organizations last 11-12 years?

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One of the biggest things we’ve learned since we first began in 2004, is to let go of what we’ve started and empower others to shine through our organization. We’re really only as good as our people. What we focus on now is not just doing everything ourselves, but creating an organizational culture that promotes productivity, ingenuity, self growth, and of course lots of fun.  Having fun while working keeps everyone motivated. It’s incredible how much of what we do at camps with kids makes it into the office. We’re all still just a bunch of kids inside.

What do you think makes people so receptive to Edventure More’s Summer Camp and School Year Programs?

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Why have we grown so much over the years? We started with a great product and then adapted and changed along with the educational landscape and the needs of the community; we enhanced curriculum, The Vibe Game, hours, extended day options…We never do things exactly like last year. We’re always growing, evolving and staying balanced. Our field staff are also incredibly talented, heartfelt and mission-driven.  They also adapt based on feedback from other staff members and parents and kids. It’s that culture of self-growth with the home office, kids and staff that ultimately have led to the growth of the entire organization.

Is Edventure More today what you imagined it would be before you launched in 2004?

“When we launched, I wanted to have one really “kick-butt” summer camp”, said Ed. “Sharon on the other hand, saw camps all over California. Obviously we met in the middle.”

One thing we didn’t imagine at the beginning, was how crucial an enriching summer experience was to a child’s future. Sure we wanted every day to feel like an adventure coming to camp, but we never imagined that experience could ultimately affect the graduation rates of children. We didn’t realize we were part of a national movement to reduce Summer Learning Loss. Now that we fully understand the impact of summer, we feel a tremendous responsibility to get as many children as possible into our programs.

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What fun things have you learned about each other in the years you’ve been friends and business partners?

“I learned about unconditional love from Ed,” said Sharon.  “I learned patience from Sharon,” said Ed. “Partnership isn’t just in business – you need to stay focused on the big picture and have some give and take in the process. I’ve also learned from Sharon’s genuine management approach. She truly takes the time to get to learn what moves someone first, then moves on to the responsibilities – she’s very person centered and heart centered.  It’s the right way.”

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We’re curious, is there a favorite moment in the organization’s history you’d like to share?

We really have a favorite moment type, more than a favorite moment. It’s those times we look at each other and no words are needed.  One example is when we left a meeting with the California Academy of Sciences and they agreed to be our partner. We looked at each other but were poker faced until we got into our car, then we jumped for joy. Or at our Thanksgiving potluck last year, we had people come that were no longer with Edventure More. We both looked at each other during the meal and saw the impact their experience with us still had on their lives. We knew at that event, that our team and our organization are something special.

 

Ways to While Away Winter

Want something to do? You could try and put together sentences with lots of words starting with the same letter like we just did in our header, or you could do something much more fun. We know you’re ready for summer camp but since it doesn’t start until June, we had a few ideas on fun activities to keep you and your kids busy until then…

Habitat Earth_networksHabitat Earth at the California Academy of Sciences
Narrated by Frances McDormand, the Academy’s latest original planetarium show takes audiences on a journey through the vast networks of life on Earth.

Habitat Earth viewers will discover what it means to live in today’s connected world, where biological networks intersect with our own increasingly complex environment. Through stunning visualizations, audiences will dive beneath the ocean’s surface to witness the dynamic ecological relationships within kelp forests, burrow beneath the forest floor to see how some of Earth’s tallest trees depend on tiny fungi to survive, and journey to new heights to witness the intricate intersection between human and ecological networks—all from within the world’s largest all digital planetarium dome.

Habitat Earth will play several times daily in Morrison Planetarium starting today. In addition, the Academy will host a special one-day festival on Saturday, January 17, highlighting the people and technology behind the show’s cutting-edge science visualization. Academy visitors can also enjoy a daily suite of interactive, ecology-themed programs within the Academy’s walls and beyond, including a presenter-led show in Hohfeld Hall titled Extreme Life, walking tours that explore the ecological corridors around the museum, citizen science bioblitzes, and more.  Visit www.calacademy.org/habitat-earth to learn more!

MLK DayThe Children’s Creativity Museum is Open Monday, January 19, 2015 
Celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a variety of events and activities hosted throughout San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens. Contribute to a collaborative mural at the Children’s Creativity Museum, visit the MLK, Jr. Memorial Waterfall, and more. In addition to special events, the Children’s Creativity Museum will be open from 10:00am to 4:00pm for general admission. Visit www.creativity.org for more details.

IMG_3197Science Saturdays at Heron’s Head Park EcoCenter
The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is an incredible space for environmental education, public outreach and for connecting people with the beauty of San Francisco’s wild landscapes. It represents San Francisco’s best example of sustainable solutions to adverse human impacts on the environment and is a model for green building, sustainable resource use, environmental justice, and experiential learning. Visit the EcoCenter website to see what is happening each Saturday in this living classroom! Science Saturdays take place all year round!

PaloAltoBoys sharingFun Reading Ideas to Share
Edutopia has some great ideas for reading apps that can be used at school and by parents. If you have an ipad or iphone or an android device, use an ebook to read-aloud. Or if you’re simply looking for an alternative to tablet games, these interactive storybooks suggested on Edutopia will support and engage young readers, keeping them busy on winter afternoons.

sbShop Sports Basement
If you’re a skier, our partner Sports Basement has all you need to hit the slopes. Plus, if you use this coupon when you make a purchase at their store, you get 10% off and 10% of the sale goes to our scholarship fund. You get to ski, save and contribute to camp scholarships.

Connecting the Blocks for a Great Summer!

ConradThis blog is courtesy of Conrad Guevera, Edventure More Curriculum Manager…

I have to admit that since I have been researching and exploring gaming options for camp, I have also been having fun creating games with the Scratch programs we are going to be using.  One of the things I like best is that In Scratch and Scratch Jr., you can arrange and connect coding blocks that create the action in your games. Recently, I was programming a game that featured a pegasus moving through a maze and avoiding a flying fire hydrant in order to reach a magical bowl of cheese puffs!

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While I really loved the design of my game, I was more drawn to the scripting area of the program. This is the section where you can see your blocks link up and see how your instructions connect.  As a Scratch game designer, you first create your goal for winning.  From there, you reverse design all of the elements of your game so that you can reach your goal. This includes the movement of characters, the size of obstacles and the intensity of hilarious noises that occur at each stage.  It was the scripting or sequencing of the coding blocks that really had me thinking, not just about the game I created, but more in terms of  Edventure More’s winning goal for Summer 2015 – awakening your camper’s awesome!

This Summer we are folding a number of educational approaches into our camp day to give campers the skills needed to become their most honest, kind, curious, creative, flexible selves. These strategies include the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening, Design Thinking, the Makers Mindset, Integrated Literacy, Mindfulness, Social and Emotional Learning, and 21st Century Life Skills. From all of my Scratch designing time, I have come to see these strategies as coding blocks leading up to our goal.

Let’s use a Design Challenge from one of our new 2015 Summer Themes at Camp Edmo: Tinker Town, and consider how’d we’d script a thoughtful lesson plan.

  1. First, we’d need to drag the Design Challenge block into the Scripting Area.
  2. Next we’d snap in the Work in Teams block and choose 20 minutes from the Timing Tool Bar. So far we have teams of campers creating a design within a 20 minute time limit.
  3. We now need to input blocks to give our campers the tools to solve this Design Challenge. We’d then start the next sequence of block by snapping the Design Thinking block under the Work in Team block.  Our campers are going to strategize using deductive reasoning to create a solution to the Design Challenge.
  4. Next, we’d add in the Common Core block and select the Standards for Speaking and Listening. Campers will need to communicate, evaluate and combine ideas together to work successfully.
  5. Following that, our campers will need some Science knowledge, so let’s snap in the Next Generation Science Standards block.
  6. Finally, let’s give our campers the skills to put those Next Generation Science Standards to use by clicking in the Makers Mindset block.

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Additional upgrades could include snapping in the Social and Emotional Learning block to give our campers tools in self management, empathy and conflict resolution.  We could also add in the block for Integrated Literacy to give our campers the skills to verbalize and record their steps and processes involved during the Challenge.  When these strategies are linked together, our campers  have access to an incredible tool kit of skills for our modern age and what they need to awaken their awesome and become their best selves. Now that’s a game win for everyone!

We can’t wait to hit the “Green Flag” and see our campers spring into action! Make sure you visit our websites at Camp Edmo and Camp EdTech to learn more about Tinker Town and all of our themes and sessions and the skills your campers can develop in each.

 

 

How Will You Spend Your Hour of Code?

It’s Computer Science Education Week, a week celebrated every year to emphasize that, in our information economy, students need  a strong set of coding and computer science skills. The Hour of Code, introduced by code.org which you may have heard about, is one of the most popular ways to take part and is a great introduction to coding for students of all ages! Learning how a computer works and understanding how to solve problems with computers are foundational skills for kids. The increasing importance of technology means that tomorrow’s leaders will need a strong understanding of computer science and programming, no matter what their field of study.

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You’ll seeing coding in our 2015 Summer Camp curriculum when we launch enrollment in January, but in the meantime, here are links to some for places like the Apple and Microsoft stores where classes are taking place and activities teachers, parents and/or kids can do to participate in an Hour of Code this week. Take a look at all of those who support an Hour of Code. Be sure to comment on this blog or post on our Facebook page, the ways in which you’ve taken part in an Hour of Code!

Holiday Happenings

Looking for some fun holiday activities? Here are some happening in the Bay Area, as well as one to keep kids busy at home!

nutcrackerNutcracker Under the Dome – San Francisco
The Westfield Mall’s iconic Dome in San Francisco comes to life each night with this 3D light show that showcases the beloved holiday tradition in a new format, promising to capture the imagination of young and old. In addition to nightly screenings of Nutcracker Under the Dome, shoppers will enjoy exciting activities for the holiday season including San Francisco Ballet Meet and Greets, a magical holiday Sugar Plum Fairy Breakfast with Santa, a Hanukkah celebration with the Bill Graham Menorah Project, and more. Nutcracker Under the Dome runs nightly from November 20 through December 31, every half hour from 5:00pm until the Centre’s closing.

christmas in the parkChristmas in the Park – San Jose
Each year, this two-acre park is transformed into a holiday fantasy with over 60 musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and the 60-foot Community Giving Tree. Guests enter a winter wonderland of lights, songs and local entertainment while strolling through an enchanted forest of trees decorated by San José schools, community groups and businesses. Christmas in the Park is a non-profit organization that is supported through fundraising efforts and is free to the public. Children can have their photograph taken with Santa, watch nightly entertainment and enjoy holiday themed refreshments.

tistheseasonHoliday Activities at Our Museum Partners
Don’t forget to visit our Museum Partners the California Academy of Sciences and the Children’s Creativity Museum this season and once your children are off from school. They have lots of holiday activities and are the perfect place to spend  any day!

 

 

carCreative Cars
To get ready for our new City Builders After School Program, we’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of structures there are in the city and how these are affected by the forces of nature. If you were to create a city structure, how do you think it would fare in a windstorm? What would it look like? Would the winds make it move? Make these creative cars and your own “wind storm” to see how they move!

Materials Needed: 3 straws, 4 Lifesavers, 1 piece of paper, 2 paper clips, 50 centimeters of tape
Instructions:
1. Make a car out of 3 straws, 4 Lifesavers, 1 piece of paper, 2 paper clips and 50 centimeters of tape
2. Race them
3. Here’s the catch: you can only blow on them to make them move!

 

pop-rockets-aweHaving Your Own Event in 2015?
It is that magical time of year …. when you can start booking your Edventure More events! Edventure More hosts thrilling hands-on science, hands-on technology and marketing events January through May, and we are starting to take reservations now! Check out our website and make sure you think of us for your next school or community event!

Making An Impact on Art and Kids

Conrad ArtEdventure More’s Home Office, School Year and Summer Camp staff are all from a variety of different backgrounds and educational fields. What most have in common though is an amazing energy and passion for what they do both inside and outside of our organization.

One of the more recent additions to the Edventure More Home Office team is Conrad Guevara, our Curriculum Manager. Conrad is not only passionate about developing curriculum that brings together all of the latest educational trends, engages and excites kids and helps them develop life skills, but about art.

Conrad, also a sculptor and painter, is involved in something called LLA’s Guest Artist Workshop at the Life Learning Academy. Learn more about the workshop, Conrad and the impact his artistic experience has had on students. “I learned that art is about more than just creating something ‘pretty,’” reflected sophomore Karla Ceja. “It’s about making things that are different, weird. It’s about making you think.”

Take a look at some of what Conrad has created on his website.

Holiday Happenings from Our Partners

Take a look at what’s going on with our fabulous partners this season:

penguins_and_pajamas-4173California Academy of Sciences
Book an unforgettable sleepover at the California Academy of Sciences! Listen to the evening songs of rainforest birds and sing “twinkle twinkle” to a sea star. When the lights go out, unroll your sleeping bag in African Hall, next to the swaying kelp of the California Coast, or outside the Swamp of our albino alligator, Claude. Tickets are now on sale for Penguins+Pajamas events through June 2015 and they do sell out in advance.  Learn more at the California Academy of Science’s website.

 

Children's Creativity Carousel - NightChildren’s Creativity Museum
SAVE THE DATE: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29 – 4:30PM to 6:30PM
Put a new spin on a classic holiday tradition. Join the Children’s Creativity Museum in lighting the Bay Area’s oldest carousel. This event welcomes all ages to enjoy an evening of free rides and holiday-themed activities in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens. Visit the Children’s Creativity Museum website for details and to RSVP.

kimochisKimochis
Take advantage of Kimochis Holiday Special for Edventure More Families and Friends! 30% off Mini Kimochis! Fun, collectible stocking stuffers, each mini Kimochis character comes with a feeling keychain (emotional attachment) and a comic book. At 30% off, you can collect all 7! Use promo code: Minis4Edmo14 at the Kimochis website through December 15.

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Sports Basement

Getting ready for the cooler Bay Area weather? Get everything you and your children need at Sports Basement! Use this coupon when you go and not only will you save 10% on your purchase, but Sports Basement will give 10% to our Scholarship Program so even more kids can come to camp next summer. Located in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Sunnyvale, Campbell and soon to be Berkeley, make sure you check off all your needs for this fall!

 

A Story of Friendship & Innovation

LP_SamCharlieFratShotWe were very excited to be introduced to Charley and Sam from LivingPlug. Their story is inspiring for two reasons. First, it’s a story of friendship and how it grew and later turned into a business partnership. But it’s also a great story of innovation where two men recognized a need and with creativity and ingenuity found, per their website, “a smart, functional and attractive solution”.
We asked Sam, one of the Co-Founders of LivingPlug, a few questions about his friendship with his partner Charley, and how their business was formed.


How did you and your partner Charley meet?
Charley and I met my Freshman and his Sophomore year at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware Ohio. We ended up pledging the same fraternity together and ultimately both settled in California.

Did you always know you were going to form a business together?
Charley and I had been close ever since we met in college. We did a lot of things socially, but it was pretty serendipitous that we found ourselves in related fields (he is an architect and I worked for the design retailer Design Within Reach). Our discovery of wanting to do more with the outlet had less to do with a vision of starting a business and more about a fun way to socialize and ask ourselves challenging questions like, how can we do something like this better?

Your product, LivingPlug, was created for a few reasons, one being safety as kids were sticking hairpins into traditional outlets and getting hurt.  How does the LivingPlug system address this? 
There is an attitude of complacency when it comes to the electrical outlet. As our attention grew to fixation on what is literally a century old design, we found four key issues that are endemic and do not need a hi-tech solution: child safety, energy efficiency, overall aesthetics, and general utility.
We replaced the two outlets with three tamper resistant outlets – in a nutshell, the tamper resistant outlets will not produce a charge if only one point of contact is made with a metal object like a hairpin. Two points of contact must be made simultaneously to yield a current. Last year over 2400 children went to the ER for shocks and burns associated with electrical outlets, many of those visits could have been avoided with the tamper resistant outlets. Additionally, there is the option to secure the unit to the wall via the center anchor screw, thus protecting children from the dangerous outlets underneath.

What suggestions do you have for our campers as to how they can come up with cool ideas like yours?
The secret is really just to have fun. The idea was not born out of the prospect of getting rich, but really just hanging out and letting our imaginations run wild.

This blog is courtesy of Charley Curran and Samuel Leichman, Co-Founders of LivingPlug. LivingPlug is a simple, innovative system that improves the utility, safety and looks of the humble electrical outlet.

Life Lessons, Learned Every Day

me and leo at ice creamAll parents want their kids to grow into happy adults, or at least into adults with a great propensity for experiencing happy moments, right? There are no methods I know of to guarantee happiness, but one thing is clear to me: It takes skill and real-life knowhow, and these lessons are picked up starting in infancy. As a mom, I’ve seen this in action and it’s amazing. From conflict resolution to delaying gratification, life skills are not only garnered in summer camp or in the classroom but in everyday life at home, and in everything children do.

Consider a recent conversation I overheard in my boys’ room one Sunday afternoon as they engaged in building a fort using their bunkbed frame as support along with every sheet and blanket in our linen closet.

“You go over there and hold the corner. I’ll stay here and keep it tight,” said August, the natural leader and initiator.

“Ok, but we need something tall in the middle,” Leo added, not to be overwhelmed by August.
At this point August’s voice took on a more strident, aggressive note. “No we don’t. This will work.”

“It won’t. We will not be able to fit. Our heads will hit the top,” Leo said, keeping his cool.
I was dying to chime in and prevent a full-blown fight. The thought of refolding all those sheets was heavy on my mind. But I stayed in the hallway to give the kids a chance to work out their problem on their own.

Following his intuition, Leo left the room and returned with a standing lamp, which he wriggled under the sheet to create a large, comfortable space beneath.  “Wow,” said his brother, squeezing himself enthusiastically inside the new hideout and almost immediately upending the lamp, fatally bending the (fortunately Ikea- made) lampshade.

Before I could begin my mean-mommy lecture, Leo stepped between me and a teary August and offered: “It was my fault, mom. I decided to use the lamp in the first place.”

In just one 20-minute exchange on a lazy afternoon my kids came face-to-face with a few of life’s most crucial skills: collaboration, conflict resolution, problem solving, and accountability. Plus, I learned something, too. I learned a little about letting go of my compulsive need for an obsessively organized linen closet!

headshotBlog courtesy of Elisabeth Schriber, Camp Edmo Parent and Writer

 

Enriching Children’s Out-of-School Time

The Bay Area has always been in the forefront in terms of providing programs for children that are outside of the school day and year. These after school, inter-session and summer opportunities give many children something to do when parents are working but also provide academic support and offer enrichment opportunities that may not always be available during the traditional school day. Research on these types of “expanded learning” programs shows not only increased academic success, but a positive effect on student attendance at school, increased graduation rates and in some areas, less involvement in negative and unsafe behavior.

As you know, the hours after school and during summer can be opportunities for students to build on what they learn in the classroom. Researchers have also identified the characteristics of the most effective after school programs and activities. Robert Halpern, of Chicago’s Erikson Institute for Graduate Study in Child Development, names two characteristics of effective programs:

  • Support and complement classroom learning by emphasizing social, emotional and physical development.
  • Provide opportunities for informal learning.

blaine and bugs

Other research identifies these additional characteristics of successful after school programs:

  • Provide activities that support socialization with peers.
  • Include time for physical and/or creative activity.

As former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley noted, “Children’s minds don’t close down at 3 p.m.” (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). Fortunately, organizations like Edventure More don’t either and provide School Year and Summer Programs that meet the demands of the 21st Century and enrich the whole child, keeping their minds and bodies active and helping them build the social and emotional, as well as other life skills critical for a successful future.

 

 

 

 

How our Camper’s See Things

Chloe_Final_1_8x10Zain

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During Camp EdTech’s Digital Photography sessions, campers capture images and express their unique perspective of the world.

If your child wants to keep up their photography skills before camp begins again next summer, here are some great pointers and photography contests they might want to check out.

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What’s Your Mindset?

Many schools are currently teaching their students about Mindset. Mindset is a simple idea discovered by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in years of research on achievement and success, and as Dr. Dweck states, Mindset is “a simple idea that makes all the difference”.

In her studies, Dr. Dweck realized that there are two mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
mindset

As defined by Dr. Dweck on her website, in a:

  • Fixed Mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.
  • Growth Mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

When students and educators have a growth mindset, they understand that intelligence can be developed. Students focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are. They work hard to learn more and to get smarter.

According to the Fairfield County Public School’s “Mindset Intro for Parents”, the most important thing you can do as a parent to help your child instill a growth mindset is to praise them for effort rather than for talent. Messages such as “I like the way you approached that problem”, or “good job to hang in there and find a different strategy that did work”, or “sorry, that seemed to be too easy for you, let’s do something more challenging”, teaches kids that effort is something we can all benefit from to reach our full potential, and that they need to be working purposefully in order to grow.

How would you describe your mindset? Take a test and find out.

Creative Ways to Meet a Challenge

As we know, children use problem-solving skills on a constant basis – in social settings, when they experiment during science at school, when they select materials for an art project, when they work together with others as part of a team, and when they respond to something even as simple as our summertime T-Shirt Challenge. The T-Shirt Challenge and the activities it highlights each week were originally designed to help campers rock the Edmo or EdTech vibe at home. As we went through all of pictures families posted on Facebook and those handed in this summer though, we started to realize that some of our challenges did even more. The T-Shirt Challenge gave our campers another way, outside of camp, to express themselves creatively. From doing what they enjoy most, finding an unusual place to show off their t-shirt, hamming it up for the camera, or even just sitting quietly, we saw our camper’s expressing themselves.

10365363_245972435599789_5698987415417914766_o 10553861_10154513631315604_3581679765122344361_o Dog in T-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What also got our attention though, were those camera shy campers who preferred to be creative in different ways, thinking outside the proverbial “box” and contributing to the challenge in two unique ways that some of us hadn’t seen before.

Hand Drawn T-Shirt Challenge Hand Drawn T-Shirt Challenge 2

Creative-thinking, is the ability to look at a problem from many different perspectives. This might involve seeing a different way to do something, generating new ideas or approaching a challenge using a unique method. Basic to being a creative thinker is a willingness to take risks and to experiment, and even to make mistakes.

 

More to Do in the Beautiful Bay

Living in the Bay Area, many of us never need to go anywhere else. Our area is beautiful, offers innumerable opportunities for travel and exploration, a variety of cultural experiences, a myriad of outdoor excursions, and more. It’s especially exciting when we have an opportunity to talk about one of our partners and how in this case, one of their exhibits brings all of the above together and is truly, right up our camp’s natural science and digital photography “alley”!

BigPicture—the California Academy of Sciences first major photography exhibit, is open. This amazing exhibit illustrates, and celebrates, the incredible diversity of life on Earth through 45 stunning works from professional-level nature and conservation photographers. Representing 12 different countries, images were chosen from among more than 6,300 entries in the Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition, and judged by a panel of some of the most highly esteemed nature photographers and photo editors in the world.

Academy Photo 2

It all began with one simple yet profound call to action: What on Earth have you photographed? Featuring the work of award-winning nature, wildlife and conservation photographers from around the world—and the perspectives of California Academy of Sciences scientists—BigPicture puts a visual lens on the Academy’s mission to explore, explain and sustain life.

Academy Photo

Here are the details:
Where: California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays; closes Nov. 2
Tickets: $24.95 to $34.95
Contact: (415) 379-8000, calacademy.org

Families can become members at the California Academy of Sciences on their website. So that no one misses out however, the California Academy of Sciences is free to everyone on selected Sundays throughout the year with guests receiving free admission next on September 14. San Francisco residents also enjoy free admission on a designated weekend each spring and fall, according to ZIP code. View the SF Neighborhoods free Weekend Schedule on the California Academy of Science’s website. Admission is on a first-come, first served basis, and early arrival is recommended due to the likelihood of high demand.

Looking for more fun Bay Area activities for your family? Check these out…

Moon FestivalHands-on Fun at the Children’s Moon Festival
September 14th from 3 – 6 pm at Mitchell Park Bowl in Palo Alto
Come out and join in the fun at the 9th Annual Children’s Moon Festival. Edventure More will be pairing with Camperoo to bring new, fun hands-on activities to this event.

blues Festival

 

Polk Street Blues Festival
September 20-21 from 10 AM – 6 PM: Polk Street between Pacific and Union
San Francisco loves the blues! The Polk Street Blues Festival features two main stages, a merchant marketplace, arts and crafts, gourmet food booths, a large family area, cafe seating areas, and much more.

 

kidsyoga2Kids Yoga at Sports Basement
Every Sunday from 12:30 – 1:15: Sports Basement, Presidio
Free yoga for little ones. Bring your kids for 45 minutes of downward dog fun!

 

 

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.