It is our intent that Camp Pinnacle is a place where campers from across the country and even around the world come together for an incredible summer experience. Our aim is that the Camp Pinnacle experience will be so unique and valuable that campers will be willing to travel great distances to experience Camp Pinnacle. After all, one of the joys of a Pinnacle summer is becoming close friends with people from beyond your school and hometown. It’s great to discover the differences that culture and geography can have in our perception of things as well as the similarities we all share as part of our human experience. This year, campers and counselors will come together at Pinnacle from 31 states and 14 countries!
As part of our global outreach, Executive Director, Steve Baskin just returned from a week in China where he was meeting with Chinese education leaders about the educational benefits of summer camp, engaged role models, and alternative teaching methods. He was visiting at the request of thought leaders within the Chinese Government.
Steve has been talking with this group since they met last year at the National Conference of the American Camp Association. At the conference, they were investigating ways that “camp education” could impact children in China. They agree with us that Camp is a particularly effective way to teach critical skills; these include character skills (grit, self control and optimism) and “21st Century Skills” (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and leadership).
The group from China is a serious one. They have already built an impressive facility. Even more important, they have created a team of committed and creative individuals with knowledge regarding the current challenges of the Chinese education system. China wants to become a leader in innovation and doubts that their current schools are fostering innovation. The current Chinese education system (“drill and kill” and “test, test, test”) is creating a group of children who become very disciplined manufacturers, but not entrepreneurs or innovators.
Some of the Chinese leadership are looking at new ways to create long term advantage for their citizens. The government has reduced homework until the 4th grade and mandated non-academic after school programs. The group Steve is working with believes that camp offers powerful lessons in teaching the very skills needed to flourish in the future. They have come to us to learn about how to create this kind of experience for their campers.
We also hope that by working with the Chinese, we can learn better ways to impact our campers here in North Carolina. It is exciting to see children in different cultures and their responses to camp (or “camp education” as the Chinese call it). It helps us understand other ways that we can impact campers at Camp Pinnacle.
All in all, we are excited about working to spread the value of the camp experience internationally. Our camp parents have always appreciated camp’s educational potential. It has been interesting to note the reaction of non-camp folks when they find out that China is now pursuing camp: “Well there must be some educational value to it if the Chinese are interested and they don’t value fun.” Of course, Camp Pinnacle families have known all along, that Camp promotes both fun AND education!