Smart vs. Good – Adventure Treks Philosphy from Instructor Orientation:

AT Staff17 Jun, 2013

Instructor Orientation is in full swing here in Washington State and I am incredibly impressed with our 2013 instructor team.  They are an exciting and impressive team of role models.   The caring and inclusive camp culture our instructors are forming will serve as a model for our students as we build our Adventure Treks communities.

Adventure Treks Instructor Orientation
Our 2013 Instructor Team (Click to enlarge!)

One of our themes for Instructor Orientation this year is Smart vs. Good.

If you as a parent actually had to choose, would you choose for your child to be a smart kid or a good one?  Of course, it’s a ridiculous question; we want both for our child! But if we had to make an absolute choice, I would imagine most of us would choose “good” without too much hesitation.  But if you look at parental priorities in our country, many of us parents are actually prioritizing the smart, over the good.  Just take a minute and look at where we invest the most time.

By smart, my definition doesn’t mean only grades, SAT scores or admission to elite colleges. It also includes asking our child to become exceptional through their extra-curricular achievements such as soccer, dance, drama or a similar activity.  If we put as much effort in focusing our child towards being exceptionally good rather than exceptionally smart, we might be doing our child (and the world) a greater service.

Rather than focusing on outcomes (like soccer scholarships or admission to an elite college), Edward Hallowell in The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness shows that focusing on creating good habits during youth is the best way to help our children become successful. Creating habits that build joy, self-esteem, social achievement, self – efficacy and optimism in youth equips our kids with the real tools to experience greater success later in life.

Staff in a workshop at orientation.
Staff spend time in clinics covering topics from risk management to the creation of incredible student and staff communities.

Assuming that your child’s spring (like mine) has been filled with standardized tests, recitals and soccer tournaments, we are readying our Adventure Treks Instructor Team to be eager to engage your teenager through exciting activities.  We are eager to get kids away from the, achievement oriented “digital wonderland” in which we live and immerse them in the outdoors. We are going to give them a boundless choice of exciting activities and fun adventures.

We surround our students with optimistic and larger than life role models.  We have specifically designed our counselor orientation this year to help give our team the tools to focus on building confidence and self-esteem, social achievement and self – efficacy in our Adventure Treks kids. All of this while emphasizing “21st century skills,” communication, collaboration, leadership, critical thinking and creativity.

Instructors playing games at orientation
Instructors take a break to play a game of “Ninja” at staff orientation.

We begin by creating a comfortable and cohesive community that appreciates and recognizes both joy and play. We’ll give teenagers the opportunity to try many new activities, most of which they will come to love.  From simply setting up a tent, to rock climbing, rafting or mountaineering, our students get to practice and gain new skills.  These genuine accomplishments build competence which is reinforced through public recognition in our evening meetings.  Competence begets confidence and repeated success builds optimism.  Breaking skill attainment down into small and fun measurable goals builds the belief that one can be in control of their eventual success. This promotes self-efficacy.  Meanwhile the “Good” is constantly being reinforced through modeling and recognition.

We will break a lot more of the theory behind the fun at Adventure Treks down in later blogs throughout the summer, but I wanted to give you a brief overview of some of the philosophy and substance that is permeating our staff orientation this year.

The next blog will have a full report and a video from instructor orientation.  Know for now that we are very hard at work preparing and training for the summer.  We are getting very excited for your child to arrive. We know of nothing that is both as fun and as good for them as Adventure Treks,  A.T. might even be better than “eating your vegetables!”

Have your child arrive ready for fun and adventure, we will let the “Smart” take a break for a little while, and foster the “Good!” After all …it’s finally Summer!

We are counting the days until we can welcome your child to Adventure Treks.

Best, Dock


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