NEWS AT PROJECT 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?

Do You Trust Me?​

BEVERLY, Mass., July 12, 2017Trust is a word that holds a lot of weight. It was the word your best friend used when she promised that she didn’t just rat you out to your middle school crush; the word the dentist uses when she has a pick in her hand explaining that it won’t hurt, and the word your belay team uses when you’re 40 feet off the ground, and you only met them 24 hours ago. Trust me. We’ve all been in a situation where the words “trust me” make the hair on the back of our necks stand up. How do you build trust in people who have a history of betrayal and self-doubt? How do you become the leader that people will follow because they trust you and believe in the work you do? Theses questions are asked by change agents looking to create meaningful transformations and a building-wide culture to maintain and evolve it.  Each year, we host administrators from around the world for the start of the Art of Leadership and Leadership: An Evolving Vision programs coordinated by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It’s during their day at Moraine Farm that they are allowed the opportunity to experience situations where their listening and communication skills are tested, and each person must trust his or her team. These school leaders are pushed out their comfort zones, into their stretch zones to make a lasting impact on their future practice. Through the use of activities, participants quickly realize how each team member juggles multiple responsibilities, and it was easy to get lost in the short term goals while forgetting about the bigger picture. Many administrators noted that one of the hardest parts of the activities was trusting their teams, letting go of holding all the responsibilities, and releasing control to others. The struggles these leaders faced on our course were the same ones they encountered in their school settings. On the course, participants were given the space to experience trust and how much weight it held as each teammate was safely lowered to the ground. Their experiences lead to thoughtful conversations around knowing when to lead, when to build leadership in others, and when to step back and be supportive. Experience is often the best educator, and when you feel the impact of an activity and are allowed the time to reflect afterward, you allow yourself a greater chance of bringing that learning back to your community so that others can share in the experience and be active in their success. The schools that will be impacted by the talented leaders from these programs will lead their communities towards a healthier future. ​

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