NEWS AT PROJECT ADVENTURE

Walking the Walk

BEVERLY, Mass., October 17, 2017 The idea of social and emotional learning is a hot topic amongst educators everywhere. These “soft” skills are often seen as one more thing to evaluate, include, and measure over the course of the school year; one more thing on a list of a hundred that educators need to make sure they impart upon their students in a day that never seems long enough. So how do we turn the practice of social and emotional competencies into a way of life so that it’s not just one more thing? We hosted a webinar to overview the importance of having students experience the somewhat complex social and emotional learning competencies that often mirror their school and district core values. We believe that if you can feel your learning, and make connections to the skills, you’ll have a higher chance of retaining what you learned. That is the foundation of Project Adventure, and we continue to practice what it’s like to “walk the walk” through our programs with students, faculty, and administrators. We seek to incorporate the practice of social and emotional competencies in all the work we do through the use of adventure.​

Building More Than Just A Team​

While on the course, athletes work to support each other physically and emotionally while acknowledging the level of challenge their teammates chose. After their first visit last year, the women on the Endicott College volleyball team realized that much of the support and strategies they provided each other on the challenge course was not unlike the support they provided for their teammates on and off the court. It was a lesson on being a stronger and more compassionate human who was able to navigate difficult circumstances. This year, they wanted to strengthen their communication skills, so they all practiced using tools that would help them when confronting uncomfortable situations while being professional and productive. The football players on the Waltham High School team also returned this year to develop a stronger team. Their coach, John Bourque, brought his athletes to our course in hopes to further unify and strengthen his team while building a foundation for a successful season. Coach Bourque brought teams to Project Adventure twice before and won championships after each of those visits. He attributes the previous teams' successes to having student athletes who were given strategies to use when working in stressful situations to maintain a clear head, knowing that every athlete on the field was united with a shared vision for what success looked like. His hope for this year is that the team will take their Project Adventure experience back with them and have another winning season. Athletes already have a high level of skill, determination, and focus, but sometimes the need and want to win is blinding, and instead of working together, a team goes into survival mode and becomes a group of individuals. Our goal in athletics, the classroom, or even the office, isn’t just to build a team but to grow the skills within individuals, so each member feels a sense of belonging and is committed to the vision and its attainment. Cheers to a successful season! Go Gulls! Go Hawks! ​

Lobster Fest - More Than Just Good Food

BEVERLY, Mass. Aug. 7, 2017 Beverly is an incredible city with amazing people, and a small town community feel that was never so apparent to us as it was at the Lobster Fest last week. We spent the morning meeting community members who had stories to share about Project Adventure from decades ago. Who knew I would meet someone who worked in Salem, knew Karl Rhonke and was trained by him? We started as strangers, but after the end of our five-minute conversation, it’s like we knew each other for years, and Project Adventure was a giant family to which we belonged. But it wasn’t just the historic conversations that excited us; it was also the kids who came up to us and played 20 questions until they recalled every minute of their time spent with us through their school. Their energy and desire to be given a puzzle to work through were great to see and the all too familiar, “hold on, mom! I need to get out of the maze. I’m almost there,” was heard as kids from three years old to 13 years old struggled to crack Josie’s code. Every single one of their stories was magical, and they reminded us of the fun we have, the good we do, and the great people we interact with every single day. We love your stories, we love being part of your memories, but more importantly, we love being part of your community. We are fortunate to call Beverly our home and look forward to more time spent with the people who have helped to make it what it is today. ​

Project Adventure Hires Director of Social & Emotional LearningFocusing On Long Term Benefits To Whole School Implementation Of SEL Curriculum 

BEVERLY, Mass., July 26, 2017  Project Adventure (PA) announced that Jen Dirga, LICSW, joined the adventure education staff as the Director of Social Emotional Learning to coordinate comprehensive social and emotional programming for whole school communities. She joins PA after 15 years as a Program Manager, trainer, and coach for an SEL program through the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. As the Director of Social Emotional Learning, Ms. Dirga plans to continue the foundational work set forth by PA and offer an engaging and practical approach to the teaching and learning of SEL skills allowing students to live the skills throughout the school day. “Project Adventure offers a model of experiential learning that allows students to develop the critical skills for life success while fostering the application and mastery of these skills through real experiences. It is exciting to be working with an SEL program like Project Adventure’s that already has such strong partnerships with school communities and is the leader in experiential learning. I look forward to supporting such innovative practices and approaches to SEL.” Richard Ross, the Executive Director at Project Adventure, believes that “Ms. Dirga’s wealth of experience with education and social emotional learning will be a great asset to our mission of creating inclusive environments for all our learners. Her energy and understanding of the curricula will help drive our work, extend our reach, and make lasting positive change in even more school communities.” ABOUT PROJECT ADVENTUREProject Adventure is an innovative non-profit teaching organization and a respected leader in adventure-based experiential programming offering a wide range of programming as well as challenge course design and installation. Since 1971, Project Adventure has been committed to its mission of producing life-changing outcomes by facilitating transformative group experiences. For more information, visit www.pa.org. ​

Stop Thinking So Much​

BEVERLY, Mass., July 14, 2017 Watch kids play sometime. There’s a whole lot of thought going on in their heads, but they just play. They figure out the rules (even if they’re entirely made up and changed every 30 seconds), they resolve their problems (after some arguing, tears, or both at the same time), they just let go, move on, and have fun. Now watch adults play. It’s not the same, huh? How many of them struggle with the rules? How many questions are asked? How many of them back away because they feel left out? How many of them hold resentment toward another group member after the game and into a new situation? Yeah, adults forget how to relax and play, so it was refreshing when I watched a couple of adults follow the kids’ lead, play by their rules, and just have fun. Last night, a couple of our Youth and College Program staff members and a current Leader in Training spent an hour and a half playing with the kids from the Gloucester Crossing neighborhood. I admired their energy after a long day, and I know the kids were grateful for their time. However, there was one thing that stood out above everything else: their adaptability. Not once did they force rules on the kids or raise their voices. There were no threats of taking games away or the use of the word “no.”  If a new rule or variation of a game was introduced, they played along without skipping a beat. Some of the new games didn’t work out, but how were they going to know until it was tested? As adults, I think we’re too concerned about the what ifs that we forget what it’s like to just be present. I’m thankful that I work in an organization that encourages alternative solutions and different points of view. I’m also glad that our staff seeks to infuse this positive mentality with the curriculum they write and trainings they facilitate. Learning through play isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that should be revisited often. It’s what we do every day, and it’s how we hope to influence the communities and schools we work with. I mean, what’s the worst thing that could happen, you have fun and learn a new way of doing something?

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