Summer Camp & Social Emotional Learning

3 December 2019 Our trainers are one of a kind. They possess the skills to create programs to engage their students, educate their participants, and sneak learning into fun activities. Camille Oosterman is one of these trainers. She takes great pride in the work she does to coordinate the logistics of our summer camp AND deliver training to camp directors and staff so their campers have memorable experiences.  Camille writes about the important role summer camps play in the lives of our youth and how investing in their learning is important all year long. Camp can be transformative for many who experience it. It is often the first time a child is away from home for an extended length of time, and the opportunities for growth are numerous. Whether we are aware of it or not, most camp communities are the next place outside of home or school where a child gets to learn, practice, and experiment with their social and emotional skills. Self-AwarenessOne of the major issues that camp professionals have to deal with is the issue of homesickness, especially with young campers. Helping these children become more aware of and connected to their own thoughts and feeling can help alleviate the anxiety that comes with being away from home. When a child can more accurately name what is bothering them, it becomes easier to accept and manage that emotion. Social Awareness & Self-ManagementCampers are often given different responsibilities than they might have at home. It's hard to ignore a pile of dirty clothes when you're sharing a small cabin with five other people! It's important to help campers become aware of the impact their actions can have on those around them, from cleaning up after themselves to treating their fellow campers with kindness. Relationship SkillsCamp is about building community and developing deep, lasting relationships, so provide opportunities for these to happen.Encourage your campers to interact in a kind and respectful manner. Use your Full Value Commitment, or create a safe space.Set up programming to ease campers into the experience and facilitate productive activities that foster a greater sense of community. Responsible Decision-MakingHelp your campers learn how to make decisions that benefit themselves and their camp community. By doing this, campers will take greater pride in their space, their friendships, and themselves.Eat the right food. Show campers why it's not the best decision to eat ice cream at every meal even though it might be all you really want. Explain their food options and how these foods benefit them physically and mentally.Allow campers the opportunity to experience the natural consequences for the choices they make. Need an activity for that? We've got plenty! None of this is revolutionary to the seasoned camp professional. With a few small tweaks to your staff training and providing your counselors with a few additional tools, it's easy to integrate the language of social and emotional learning skills into your camp community. Find more about how your camp can support the ongoing social and emotional learning work of your neighboring school districts by emailing Camille. She'll design a program that benefits your broader camp community.

Experiential Learning for SEL

9 October 2019We have conversations with clients that typically start with, "I thought you ONLY did ropes courses." While designing and installing challenge courses is definitely part of what we do, we also service schools and youth-serving organizations without using a challenge course. In fact, we design high-impact curricula to be used within a classroom or after-school setting by any educator. The purpose of experiential learning is to engage students in their learning, make it relevant to their life experiences, and encourage them to apply that knowledge to other areas of their lives.On October 8, 2019, Caitlin McCormick Small and Josie Martin hosted a free, introductory webinar for ​anyone interested in learning more about the basics of our Experiential Learning Cycle – the methodology that anchors every Project Adventure activity – and why experiential learning is so essential to SEL.Since this webinar was just the tip of the iceberg, we encourage all of our participants to experience their learning with us by joining our workshops. There are still plenty of opportunities to enroll before the end of the year.We also like to share, because sharing is caring. Below are links to our resources from the webinar as well as a feedback form.  Please leave us feedback to help us inform our future webinars and workshops.Presentation SlidesWebinarFeedback Form

Project Adventure Welcomes New Director of Social and Emotional Learning

 â€‹Defining What PA's Whole School Programming Looks Like through Social and Emotional Learning BEVERLY, Mass., Sept. 18, 2019 – Project Adventure (PA) announced that Caitlin McCormick Small, joined the adventure education staff as the Director of Social and Emotional Learning to continue the coordination of comprehensive social and emotional programming for whole school communities. She joins PA after six years as a trainer, manager, and coach of training and curriculum at The PEAR Institute of McLean and Harvard. As the Director of Social and Emotional Learning, Ms. Small 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. Her extensive background in research-based school improvement and assessments and the development of afterschool partnerships will help expand existing PA programs and enhance the Project Empower advisory curriculum designed for whole-school implementation. “I am thrilled to join the Project Adventure team. PA’s experiential learning model is such an important contribution to the SEL field. I look forward to helping our partners utilize this approach to support their students’ growth and to make real, lasting change in their schools.”  Richard Ross, the Executive Director at Project Adventure, believes that “Ms. Small’s experience with school reform and change management, coaching, and SEL program development will be a great asset to our mission of creating whole school programs for all learning communities. Her energy and understanding of the curricula and the importance of data collection and assessment will help move our work forward, extend our reach, and make lasting positive change in more school communities.” ABOUT PROJECT ADVENTURE Project Adventure is an innovative non-profit teaching organization and a respected leader in experiential programming offering a wide range of programs as well as challenge course design and installation. Since 1971, Project Adventure has created and facilitated shared learning experiences that empower individuals to be responsible leaders and strengthen their communities. For more information, visit 

Embracing the Awkward

23 August 2019Meeting people for the first time has the potential to be VERY awkward. What do you do? What do you say? Maybe you offer your hand, or maybe not. Handshakes vary from culture to culture. Maybe you're used to a kiss on the cheeks, a hug between friends, or a turkey, salmon, or butterfly.   Yup. A turkey, salmon, or butterfly.  Since breaking the ice puts everyone in an awkward and vulnerable position, why not embrace it. Acknowledge that you're in a space that few people enjoy being in and everyone wants to get out of as quickly as possible. Shout about it! "We're in this awkward space so we might as well make the most of it!"  Try these three ways to greet someone new AND learn something about that person. With each handshake, find a new person and embrace the awkward. By the end, you'll have met three new people and learned three new things about that person, and possibly about yourself.  Turkeys make a silly, gobble noise. Use your turkey handshake and answer the question, "what do you do that might be silly to others, but makes you feel comfortable?"             Fish often swim together in a school. Use your salmon handshake and answer the question, "what can you learn from a school of fish?"             Butterflies begin as caterpillars and grow through phases. Use your butterfly handshake and answer the question, "what do you need in your environment to grow?"                          Are these weird? Yeah. Will they get your group talking? They sure will. Use what your group learned from each other to build a learning community that values each other’s opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Once you’ve embraced the awkward, that’s when your community begins to grow.   Find your turkey, your fish, your butterfly, and your community. 


19 July 2019 Maybe you garden, and you define growth in terms of the flowers that bloom or the vegetables that fill your kitchen table. Sometimes it feels like those string beans will never grow, or the hydrangea will never blossom. “Did I use the right fertilizer? Did I forget to water?” And then one day, as if by magic, your garden is in full bloom, and that salad never tasted better.   Maybe you teach, and you define growth by how well your students can apply their knowledge from one context to the next. There might be some days when you think they have no idea what’s going on. “Did I forget to tell them something? Did I not give them the resources?” And then from the far corner of the room, you hear the most insightful response that changes your perspective, and you smile.   Regardless of what you do, growth happens, so embrace it. (I feel like that should be our catchphrase.) Meet it head-on instead of shying away from it and saying, “I’ll do it next time.”    No. Do it now! Staying in your comfort zone is easy. It’s what you know, and it’ll be there when you’re ready for a break. But for now, step out of your comfort zone, and join us in the stretch zone. You know, that fuzzy area between what’s comfortable and what scares the crap out of you. That’s where growth happens. Because, as one of our Harvard Graduate School of Education leaders recently said, “Great things never came from comfort zones.”   So try that thing you’ve been putting off: implement that cooperative learning strategy that frightens you, plant that fickle flower that you’ve coveted for years, surf that gnarly set, bro, or climb the crux you've been avoiding. Whatever you do, we encourage you to get uncomfortable because great things will happen.  

Project Adventure