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"Berkshire Outdoor Center understands the value of reaching back into under-served communities to provide its renowned service to all students, which is a truly unique facet of their outreach. Their engagement strategy is keenly framed around equity and opportunity, which is integral to the development of our students around college and career readiness, preparedness, and persistence. Their dedicated staff along with engaging programs, allowed our students, many of whom had never traveled outside of the South Bronx before, to experience life in a new way. As an educator, what I experienced firsthand on numerous occasions was both refreshing and enlightening. Our students were not only challenging themselves to be better individuals, but were enjoying every minute of it."
- Bronx Academy of Letters, Bronx NY
Designed for middle school, this program could include any component as follows. Each component is a progression for the other, so all are recommended. However, where price and available time are issues, we highly recommend the overnight retreat and the at-school day program as introductions.
Importantly, I would love to do a variant of the Rites of Passage program with all your schools, or at least all of your 7th and 8th graders. You could either blend schools or they could be managed independently. If District 7 were willing to spread out the visits to Becket to encompass October-May, then we could incorporate winter programming, such as Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing, and we could offer winterized lodges.
This is the program I am most excited about, as we have seen the greatest success in students through this program. It is a summer 4 week program (although students can enroll in 8 weeks). It is run at-school (the school would provide classroom space/large room space/outdoor space (when possible) and lunches. We would provide the staff, program equipment.
The program is a long-term (4 week) version of what we do with students who come to Becket from KAPPA III - teambuilding games and activities with debriefing to help develop self-awareness/management and social awareness/relationship management along with problem-solving and responsible decision-making. It is also heavily focused on community service and developing a community-mindset. Students identify community-based problems, work together to research solutions to those problems, and then present those solutions to stakeholders in the community. The program requires no effort from the school or teachers, other than that we would like to have them present at the presentations if available.
This is much more affordable than:
There is an article here that illustrates how one school worked with us to adapt the program. We can make this program whatever each school needs it to be.
Students can attend 4 weeks or 8 weeks and it is geared towards middle school students. It is a great opportunity for kids to be engaged in wholesome, healthy summer-long programs that are physically and mentally healthy, stimulate SEL and help prevent summer learning loss. Post-Summer, students return to school with a community mindset, new friends and a healthier understanding of themselves and their relationships.