21st Century Skills has been a buzzword circulating the educator community for over ten years. In 2011 bipartisan legislation, the 21st Century Readiness Act, was introduced to Congress to support state and local innovation around 21st century readiness initiatives. More and more, schools are reflecting the need for 21st Century Skills in their school missions. Last week, a multifaceted group of 200 education experts, school principals, leaders of industry, and other national organizations, all dedicated to the education of our country’s youth, gathered in our nation’s capital to support and promote 21st Century Skills at The Summit on 21st Century Learning presented by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
21st Century Skills. I’m sure you’ve seen it enough now to wonder, “What are 21st Century Skills? And, why should I care?”
Well, that is a great question.
Fun teambuilding game
“Between 1999 and 2003, there was more new knowledge created in the world than in the entire history of the world preceding “, stated Dr Linda Darling-Hammond as the opening remark to The Summit on 21st Century Learning last week, “Students will be working with knowledge that hasn’t been invented yet, to solve problems that we can hardly envision, using technologies that don’t yet exist!” We are living in a changing world, changing so rapidly that our traditional methods of educating children is no longer as effective as it once was. We can no longer expect students to simply mimic back information and expect them to succeed in college, careers or life. Our goal for education needs to shift from outcome goals to learning goals, and this is where 21st Century Skills learning comes into the discussion.
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of representing Camp Pinnacle at the Summit on 21st Century Learning in Washington DC. Surrounded by the best and brightest minds in education today, the importance of this forward-thinking movement and the energy behind it became vividly clear. Successful education is no longer exclusively about teaching students what to think and learn, it is teaching them how to think and learn. While we can still lead with content, teaching students to think critically, to innovate, to collaborate, to be creative, to think critically, to communicate, and how to learn is the key to future success. As a society we need to be intentional about ensuring this deeper learning happens for our children. It is the best way to adequately prepare every young person for the uncertain future.
As the educational director, I am excited to see the same energy here, at Camp Pinnacle on a daily basis, that I saw at the Summit on 21st Century Learning last week. The Camp Pinnacle team is passionate about not only providing every Camp Pinnacle camper with the experience of a lifetime, but facilitating an experience that will benefit them for their lifetime. We believe it is important to take the unique opportunity we have with young people in the outdoors, to prepare the next generation for future success. Camp Pinnacle activities, by nature, asks students to practice 21st Century Skills. For example, in cabin groups, students practice:
- Critical thinking while learning new outdoor skills.
- Collaboration with other cabin groups during the fun and exciting, camp-wide, “Hunger Games” event.
- Communication when presenting trip reports after activity outings and for parents at the closing ceremony.
- Innovation by taking a prompt and creating a skit to be presented at “Skit Night”.
- Creativity choreographing a dance for the, much looked forward to, “Cabin Dance”.
Many times students are having so much fun they don’t even realize the lessons learned until they return home and are put into familiar school or social situations again.
As we look forward to next summer, we aim to be even more intentional in fostering life lessons and 21st Century Skills to every Camp Pinnacle Camper. We hope to do our part in supporting this important shift in educational thought, but more importantly, we want to support our students in reaching their future goals. We are fortunate that Camp Pinnacle has the unique opportunity to subtly build these skills in an environment that, first and foremost, is incredibly fun and facilitates lifetime friendships!
Thanksgiving is just a few days away and this year I am grateful for the fun times I have shared with students, having had the opportunity to be a positive influence on their lives, and learning just as much from them in the process as I hope they have learned from me.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,
Adventure Treks/Camp Pinnacle
Many of you are back in school. We wanted to say THANK YOU for a great summer and tell our campers, We Miss You!
We made a short video to share some memories from Camp Pinnacle summer 2013. We hope this puts a smile on your face as a reminder of fun, friends, great counselors, time outdoors and exciting activities.
Camp Pinnacle, N.C | 2013 Summer Memories from Camp Pinnacle on Vimeo.
You may have to give the video time to load up if you have a slow connection. We were only able to film over a few days this summer so we hope even if you aren’t in the video, the scenes will still bring back many great memories of the fun we shared this summer. Thanks for being part of the Camp Pinnacle community!
We have been busy here at Camp this month. Between weddings, family reunions, company picnics and now the outdoor education programs we run in conjunction with Adventure Treks, there is rarely a day when we don’t have people here enjoying Camp Pinnacle.
However, none of this compares to the magic of sharing Summer Camp with our wonderful campers. We are already hard at work to make summer 2014 even better! We miss you and are eager to see you next summer.
Best, Dock, Jane, Ben, Maggie, Cait, Charlie and your counselors.
Pinnacle Campers Hiking Tenant Mountain
This is one special camp.
Before I share any more observations, please allow me to introduce myself. I am Steve Baskin. My wife Susie and I are the owner/directors of Camp Champions in Marble Falls, TX. We are also partners with Jane and John Dockendorf in Camp Pinnacle, a project that is creating great excitement and joy in our lives.
I have been a camp professional ever since I graduated from business school in 1993. Prior to that, I was an investment banker. Susie also has a graduate degree and was a health services professional. Camp has been an unusual career decision for the two of us, but a wonderful one.
Since we run our camp in Texas, we do not have much of an opportunity to visit Pinnacle during camp season. Of course, having people as wonderful as Jane, Dock, Ben, Maggie, Cait, and Charlie, make it possible to be a distant partner.
But I make it a point to visit each summer. I spent this Saturday at Camp and I would love to share my observations.
I should also add that I am an unapologetic camp geek (at least, that is what Susie calls me). My idea of a fun vacation is to visit camps, attend camp conferences, read articles on youth development and dream about making camps better. As a result, I have physically visited well over 100 camps (think about visiting just 100 homes and then make the homes 200 acres) and talked with literally thousands of camp professionals. I like to benchmark the best practices, the most interesting activities, the most functional structures and most transformative philosophies.
With that rambling introduction behind me, I will get back to the core of this blog.
Camp Pinnacle is one special camp.
When I met Dock two years ago, we realized we were kindred souls. He showed me the amazing campus of Camp Pinnacle and we agreed we had to accept the challenge to help it become a great camp once again.
Since then, I have watched as he, Ben, Cait, Maggie and the maintenance team of Nick and Tom tirelessly pursue improvements to every aspect of camp.
View of the Waterfront from Across the Lake.
He has overseen a massive series of repairs and improvements. Some are boring (fixing leaks) while others spectacular (I rode the new water slide 4 times and it is a blast!). From the decking and new porches to the miniature golf course to the bike trails to the paddleboards, virtually every aspect of the physical plant is a quantum better than it was just 20 months ago. I marvel at how stunning this property is – both its natural beauty and the structures.
I also love the program and philosophy. The proximity to a million acres of Forest and Parks creates outdoor experiences that I could only dream of in Texas. The activities at camp are fun, engaging and challenging. But most important to me is the focus on the growth of our campers. I believe that camp is an almost unique youth development experience. In a world inundated with technology (the average teen will spend 52 hours a WEEK looking at an electronic screen), few children are honing their interpersonal skills. Not so at Camp Pinnacle. Every day is 16 hours of face-to-face interaction (rather than screen-to-screen), which builds skills like communication, collaboration and leadership.
Camp also develops important character skills that predict for success in college and beyond, especially grit, self control and optimism. We have designed our program to foster these character skills. We build experiences into the camp program that specifically address these skills. Learning a new skill or climbing a challenging rock face helps develop grit. The nightly cabin meetings where we talk about the high points of each day is an exercise known to make children become more optimistic.
I am so impressed with the intentionality of the Pinnacle program.
The food is ridiculously good. On Friday, I apparently missed sushi and ahi tuna (are you kidding me). But I did enjoy a breakfast with 10 different options and a dinner that featured competition-quality chicken and ribs that had been smoking all day long. I try not to be jealous, but I can tell you that I would love the Pinnacle food at my camp.
Learning How to Kayak on Wolfe Lake
Of course, all of this is made possible with a great team. It starts with the exceptional full-timers that Dock has hired: Ben and Maggie (program and counselor management), Tom and Nick (site improvement and repair), and Mike and Richard (kitchen aficionados). These are all committed and delightful people. When I ask them about their days, the quickly deflect the conversation from themselves and instead talk about your children and the experiences they are having. The chef wanted to brag on the campers that love to do small acts of kindness rather than brag on his own cooking. Maggie wants me to know about the triumphs of the campers that overcame a fear of heights or a cabin that has learned to resolve their conflicts.
But the true “secret sauce” is the counselors. Camp Pinnacle has an advantage in counselor hiring that no other camp has that I am aware of. Lets call it the Adventure Treks Gap.
Since 1993, Dock has run a top-notch adventure camp called Adventure Treks or AT. AT takes groups on trips from North Carolina to the Rockies to Canada to Alaska. The students that attend learn about the “5 R’s” and a love of nature. They are often exceptionally talented young people. They can continue as students with AT until they are 17 or 18. They, however, cannot become Adventure Treks instructos until they are at least 21, and the average age is 25. Since these groups go into the wilderness, the instructors must be highly trained and experienced. A 20 year-old is generally not ready to be the sole decision maker with a group of 15-year-olds.
But 20 year olds make fantastic camp counselors when there are older and more experienced people around, as is the case at Camp Pinnacle.
Adventure Treks Leadership Summit Students learn how to lead a Backpack in Washington State
This is the Adventure Treks Gap – the time between when these young people can be Adventure Treks students and when they are eligible to become Adventure Treks instructors. In the past, they would simply not be part of Dock’s life for 4-6 years. Now, with Camp Pinnacle, we can take the best of the pool of great Adventure Treks students and train them to become your child’s counselor. Remember, since most of these candidates attended between 3 and 5 years of AT trips, Dock and his team knows them incredibly well. I like to think of those trips as incredibly thorough job interviews for a counselor at Camp Pinnacle.
Last year when I visited, here are the first 4 counselors I met: a Morehead Scholar at UNC, a student of architecture from Stanford, a woman from Hong Kong who attended the University of Edinborough, and a member of the varsity crew team at UVA. More important than these accolades was the fact that every counselor was engaged, fully present and full of fun. In short, I would love to have my own children see them as role models.
I was not expecting this summer to be quite the same. I was right. I think this year’s counselor team is even better. What I have seen in the counselors are sparkling eyes, ready smiles and easy enthusiasm. They are obsessed with their campers (your children) – sharing stories of triumphs, jokes and trips. These counselors have been wonderfully polite to this greying camp director, but they quickly turn the conversation to their camper who went on the zip line after 15 minutes of fretting or the one that conquered a fear of the mountain slide.
In short, I am honored to be a part of a place that is committed to children and creates a loving community that fosters growth.
Visiting Looking Glass Falls!
PS – Your children are adorable. The Pinnacle team told them that my camp name is “Steve Sir” and they have been having great fun with that. I think virtually every camper has taken the time to introduce themselves to me and strike up a conversation. I feel wonderfully welcomed!