Summer Camp For 21st Century SkillsNovember 14, 2013
Over the years we have developed relationships with the select few other summer camps around the country that also focus on teaching 21st century skills to children. One of them is Camp Champions in Texas. Recently, Steve Baskin, the owner of Champions (and a partner in our day camp Everwood), wrote a piece articulating why 21st century skills are so crucial to today’s children, and how summer camps are the ultimate classroom for teaching them to young people. With his permission and a few adaptations we are happy to share his insights and ideas with our camp community.
Roughly a decade ago, some of the leading employers and educators in the US realized that high school and college graduates were entering the workforce with a deficit of critical skills.
These groups (which includes Apple, Intel, the Children’s Television Workshop and Cisco) decided to do something about it. They came together to form the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). The purpose of the partnership was simple:
Determine what skills are the most important for success after school.
Identify where there are deficits among recent graduates.
Develop plans to address these skill deficits.
Over the years, they have conducted multiple surveys and created reports that have been highly influential. In fact, Singapore completely changed their educational curriculum after reading one of their reports – and this was AFTER they were named one of the top 3 education systems in the world!
The conclusions are powerful and surprising. In particular, the “skills critical to success” were not what most people would anticipate. The most important skills are not math, science or reading. Instead, they are as follows:
Simply put, this is a love letter to summer camps, and in particular, camps like Kenwood & Evergreen. With the exception of written communication, I believe that our overnight camp in NH fosters these skills better than even the best schools. Oral communication and collaboration are difficult skills to teach in a classroom. When teachers need to teach algebra or verb conjugation, they must focus on transferring their knowledge to students, not creating active collaborative environments.
At Camps Kenwood & Evergreen, we focus on developing these skills. Every day, campers become more proficient communicators and collaborators. They practice these skills as a part of our sports and arts activities, in being learning to live away from home, and in working toward creating a good cabin dynamic. Our summer campers work on these skills 16 hours a day.
We are also part of a group of camps that are working with employers to hire counselors who are “certified” in these important skills.
Few parents of elementary school children worry about the workplace, but I think it is exciting to think that summer camp is not just fun, but also a rich learning environment for these vital 21st century skills.
Are you interested in learning more about how much employers values these skills, and how Kenwood & Evergreen is the summer camp for 21st century skill development? If so, we invite you to watch this presentation given by Scott Brody, owner and director of Camps Kenwood & Evergreen in NH.