Summer Camp Provides 21st Century Skills for Life


    Growing up I have been surrounded by technological conveniences which create a life of relative ease. 60 second meals in the microwave, instant access to the internet to find the answers to everything from how deep do ants tunnel to the meaning of life, and thousands of different ways to distract ourselves from reality. This is the world we live in and our children will go grow up in. For all the conveniences we have this life should be easy but all this convenience has taken a toll. Typing a question into a search bar on Google has taken away most of our ability to think critically and our connection to millions of people through Facebook and Youtube has created an inability to connect on deep levels with real people who we walk by every day. The ability to think for ourselves and have meaningful relationships has suffered. It is a given that this affects our personal lives but others have noticed it has negatively affected the desirability of people looking for jobs.

    Graduates today are deficient and companies including Apple, Intel, and Cisco have noticed. These companies created P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Skills) which spearheaded numerous surveys to identify their employees top deficiencies. Many have failed to realize that there are a set of skills which cannot be learned in the classroom and that it is these skills that many employers desire. The top five skills identified by P21 are oral communication, collaboration, work ethic, written communication, and critical thinking. Camp cannot compete with schools for written communication but I believe camp is superior in developing and nurturing the other four traits.

    A classroom may provide the computer science or engineering skills necessary to do a job well but studies show that attending camp drastically improves students abilities to orally communicate, effectively collaborate with one another, think critically, while also improving work ethic. One of the essential elements of Pathfinders is team building. Campers go through 16 hours a day of constant interaction. There is no way around it. As both a camper and self-proclaimed introvert I discovered this. The uneasy feelings that come with meeting new people and the anxiety created by not having a moment alone seemed to be constant.  But these are the very problems that frustrate the most successful companies and attending summer camp forced me to address these issues. From the moment you set foot at camp on that Monday morning you are forced to interact with dozens of unknown faces. I never cared much for this part but it is a necessary skill to learn for life. Following the usual icebreakers of trying to get to know one another we went through the grueling trials of team building activities designed to force everyone to work together and problem solve. Believe me, there is no such thing as an easy team building exercise at Pathfinders. But through this trial comes triumph and triumph comes much more quickly for the team that collaborates together than those who bicker endlessly. For days students are forced to live together and work together to accomplish their tasks and it creates the perfect environment to teach students these exact skills top companies are looking for today.  -Phil Connors-

 Fun and camp are synonyms but so are education and camp.