January 24, 2012

What are SKAAs?

Posted by Christopher Colahan, Managing Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp

What are SKAAs? Music characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat popularized in the US by bands like The Toasters and The Uptones? No! Not ska. SKAAs! SKAA is an acronym for skills, knowledge, attitudes, and awareness.

Every parent wants his or her child to grow up to be happy. That’s why parents try to provide their children with every opportunity that they think will help their child grow. Growth is usually measured in small successes, like learning how to tie one’s shoes, or memorizing the multiplication tables. Parents understand that each successive challenge, resulting in either success or failure, adds another brick to their child’s foundation of skills, knowledge, attitudes, and awareness. SKAAs are achievable, short-term outcomes with research-based connections to long-term outcomes that every parent ultimately wants for his or her grown child: employment, healthy family and social relationships, and community involvement.

A lot of people don’t know this, but Peconic Dunes uses a research-based, evaluation-proven curriculum that our counselors and instructors follow to help each camper achieve about a hundred short-term outcomes each week. The most critical outcomes come from The Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents. Our program’s short-term outcomes (SKAAs) were chosen because of research showing their connection to long-term outcomes.

Every Sunday, not long after check-in, our counselors sit down with your child to discuss what needs to happen for everyone in the cabin to have an enjoyable week. One item that always comes up is chores. You’d think that given the choice, most kids would opt out of chores for the week. Not so. Kids like a relatively clean place just as much as anybody. The kids then discuss what chores need to be done and how to fairly distribute the responsibilities. (This is also influenced by the fact that cabins are inspected with rewards going to the cleanest cabins and penalties to the very worst.) Some kids turn out to be better at making a bed or sweeping, so they work together, teaching and supporting one another. This silly situation, sometimes motivated by ice cream, other times motivated by a desire to be the best...in anything, yields positive peer relationships, responsibility, and high expectations. Your child gets 3 of the 40 Developmental Assets before they’ve even had breakfast.

This curriculum spans the entire Peconic Dunes program, from every activity, to meals, chores, and the Thursday night dance. At Peconic Dunes we’re creating amazingly fun experiences… memories… that will benefit our campers today and the day they teach their children to fish, sing out loud, and make new friends.

When most people think of camp they probably think about fun, outdoors, friends, and activities. Peconic Dunes is fun because we believe that fun is the best way to learn.

If you're jonesing to get out of the classroom sooner than later, check out our Spring Break Camp. As always, you can continue the conversation on Facebook.

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