Let’s get GRITTY ACA Tri-State CAMP Conference 2016
On March 7–10, the 34th Annual Tri-State CAMP Conference took take place in Atlantic City. This conference, heralded as the Premier Conference on Youth Development in the country, brings together the largest audience of summer camp professionals in one venue from all over the country and even the world!
In its 34th year, the Camp Conference continues to be the most important off-season event for over 3,500 attendees each year. Camp directors, seasonal staff, youth development professionals, and “out-of-school” experiential educators gather annually to participate in over 150 educational sessions, visit the 300-booth exhibit hall, and network among a group of people dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children. Appel Farm was proud to have 11 of our camp staff among those dedicated people. Each year, the conference is an amazing time for our staff to be inspired, develop new skills, and learn new and best practices to infuse into our current camp program.
Some of the biggest take aways from this year’s conference came from the closing keynote speaker, Dr. Angela Duckworth, a Psychologist and leading researcher in GRIT. Many of us in the youth development world are familiar with the term “grit” as it has been making its way on to assessments and success measures, but what exactly is it and why is it important? Duckworth defines grit as the combination of passion and perseverance in relation to long-term goals. She has studied groups like West Point cadets, National Spelling Bee competitors, rookie teachers, students from the Chicago Public Schools- all people performing in high-stress environments- to look at the correlation between grit and achievement. Research indicates that people with the higher levels of grit and self-control are more successful. The power in these correlations is the evidence it provides that success in life is independent of any perceived “talent” or “intelligence”, because grit can be cultivated and instilled in anyone, anywhere, and at any time in their lives.
At Appel Farm we were founded on the belief that all people have some artistic talent waiting to be developed. Discovering and developing that talent doesn’t happen overnight; it is a process that takes great passion and great perseverance. It takes GRIT. Throughout the summer we help our campers not only develop as artists, but also as gritty people by providing them a safe environment to explore, take risks, try, fail, and try again. One of the key concepts addressed as a step in cultivating grit was the idea of a growth mindset. A growth mindset is one that focuses on the possibilities; it is an optimistic outlook in which failure is not seen as a permanent condition, but rather one from which to grow. The non-competitive environment of Appel Farm supports this philosophy fully. In a high stakes world of academic competitiveness, sometimes children just need a safe place to make mistakes. A place where they can embrace the power of possibility; the power of “yet.” It’s not that you can’t make friends, it’s that you have not made one YET. It’s not that you are not good at drums, it’s that you are not as good as you would like to be YET. As inspirational writer John Maxwell says, “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”
For more information on GRIT and Dr. Duckworth’s work check out her TED talk here.