Recently we were wondering why our environmental program at SNC has such an impact on children. We thought it might be how we taught or because kids are with others who values nature. Then I found this article which talks about Ecoliteracy and how we can promote this among children and use these skills better at SNC.


Five Ways to Develop “Ecoliteracy”

By Daniel GolemanZenobia BarlowLisa Bennett 
Daniel Goleman, Lisa Bennett, and Zenobia Barlow explain how we can teach kids to care deeply about the environment.The following is adapted from Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence. Ecoliterateshows how educators can extend the principles of social and emotional intelligence to include knowledge of and empathy for all living systems.
For students in a first-grade class at Park Day School in Oakland, California, the most in-depth project of their young academic careers involved several months spent transforming their classroom into an ocean habitat, ripe with coral, jellyfish, leopard sharks, octopi, and deep-sea divers (or, at least, paper facsimiles of them). Their work culminated in one special night when, suited with goggles and homemade air tanks, the boys and girls shared what they had learned with their parents. It was such a successful end to their project that several children had to be gently dragged away as bedtime approached.
Amber Antozak
By the next morning, however, something unexpected had occurred: When the students arrived at their classroom at 8:55 a.m., they found yellow caution tape blocking the entrance. Looking inside, they saw the shades drawn, the lights out, and some kind of black substance covering the birds and otters. Meeting them outside the door, their teacher, Joan Wright-Albertini, explained: “There’s been an oil spill.”
“Oh, it’s just plastic bags,” challenged a few kids, who realized that the “oil” was actually stretched-out black lawn bags. But most of the students were transfixed for several long minutes. Then, deciding that they were unsure if it was safe to enter, they went into another classroom, where Wright-Albertini read from a picture book about oil spills.
The children already knew a little bit about oil spills because of the 2010 accident in the Gulf of Mexico—but having one impact “their ocean” made it suddenly personal. They leaned forward, a few with mouths open, listening to every word. When she finished, several students asked how they could clean up their habitat. Wright-Albertini, who had anticipated the question, showed them footage of an actual cleanup—and, suddenly, they were propelled into action. Wearing gardening gloves, at one boy’s suggestion, they worked to clean up the habitat they had worked so hard to create.
Later, they joined their teacher in a circle to discuss what they learned: why it was important to take care of nature, what they could do to help, and how the experience made them feel. “It broke my heart in two,” said one girl. Wright-Albertini felt the same way. “I could have cried,” she said later. “But it was so rich a life lesson, so deeply felt.” Indeed, through the mock disaster, Wright-Albertini said she saw her students progress from loving the ocean creatures they had created to loving the ocean itself. She also observed them understand a little bit about their connection to nature and gain the knowledge that, even as six and seven year olds, they could make a difference.
It was a tender, and exquisitely planned, teachable moment that reflected what 
a growing number of educators have begun to identify as a deeply felt imperative: To foster learning that genuinely prepares young people for the ecological challenges presented by this entirely unprecedented time in human history. 
“Ecoliterate” is our shorthand for the end goal of this kind of learning, and raising ecoliterate students requires a process that we call “socially and emotionally engaged ecoliteracy”—a process that, we believe, offers an antidote to the fear, anger, and hopelessness that can result from inaction. As we saw in Wright-Albertini’s classroom, the very act of engaging in some of today’s great ecological challenges—on whatever scale is possible or appropriate—develops strength, hope, and resiliency in young people.
Ecoliteracy is founded on a new integration of emotional, social, and ecological intelligence—forms of intelligence popularized by Daniel Goleman. While social and emotional intelligence extend students’ abilities to see from another’s perspective, empathize, and show concern, ecological intelligence applies these capacities to an understanding of natural systems and melds cognitive skills with empathy for all of life. By weaving these forms of intelligence together, ecoliteracy builds on the successes—from reduced behavioral problems to increased academic achievement—of the movement in education to foster social and emotional learning. And it cultivates the knowledge, empathy, and action required for practicing sustainable living.
To help educators foster socially and emotionally engaged ecoliteracy, we have identified the following five practices. These are, of course, not the only ways to do so. But we believe that educators who cultivate these practices offer a strong foundation for becoming ecoliterate, helping themselves and their students build healthier relationships with other people and the planet. Each can be nurtured in age-appropriate ways for students, ranging from pre-kindergarten through adulthood, and help promote the cognitive and affective abilities central to the integration of emotional, social, and ecological intelligence.

1. Develop empathy for all forms of life

At a basic level, all organisms—including humans—need food, water, space, and conditions that support dynamic equilibrium to survive. By recognizing the common needs we share with all organisms, we can begin to shift our perspective from a view of humans as separate and superior to a more authentic view of humans as members of the natural world. From that perspective, we can expand our circles of empathy to consider the quality of life of other life forms, feel genuine concern about their well-being, and act on that concern.
Most young children exhibit care and compassion toward other living beings.
This is one of several indicators that human brains are wired to feel empathy and concern for other living things. Teachers can nurture this capacity to care by creating class lessons that emphasize the important roles that plants and animals play in sustaining the web of life. Empathy also can be developed through direct contact with other living things, such as by keeping live plants and animals in the classroom; taking field trips to nature areas, zoos, botanical gardens, and animal rescue centers; and involving students in field projects such as habitat restoration. 
Another way teachers can help develop empathy for other forms of life is by studying indigenous cultures. From early Australian Aboriginal culture to the Gwich’in First Nation in the Arctic Circle, traditional societies have viewed themselves as intimately connected to plants, animals, the land, and the cycles of life. This worldview of interdependence guides daily living and has helped these societies survive, frequently in delicate ecosystems, for thousands of years. By focusing on their relationship with their surroundings, students learn how a society lives when it values other forms of life.

2. Embrace sustainability as a community practice

Organisms do not survive in isolation. Instead, the web of relationships within any living community determines its collective ability to survive and thrive.
This essay is adapted from Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence (Jossey-Bass), which draws on the work of the Center for Ecoliteracy.
By learning about the wondrous ways that plants, animals, and other living things are interdependent, students are inspired to consider the role of interconnectedness within their communities and see the value in strengthening those relationships by thinking and acting cooperatively.
The notion of sustainability as a community practice, however, embodies some characteristics that fall outside most schools’ definitions of themselves as a “com- munity,” yet these elements are essential to building ecoliteracy. For example, by examining how their community provisions itself—from school food to energy use—students can contemplate whether their everyday practices value the common good. 
Other students might follow the approach taken by a group of high school students in New Orleans known as the “Rethinkers,” who gathered data about the sources of their energy and the amount they used and then surveyed their peers by asking, “How might we change the way we use energy so that we are more resilient and reduce the negative impacts on people, other living beings, and the planet?” As the Rethinkers have shown, these projects can give students the opportunity to start building a community that values diverse perspectives, the common good, a strong network of relationships, and resiliency.

3. Make the invisible visible

Historically—and for some cultures still in existence today—the path between
a decision and its consequences was short and visible. If a homesteading family cleared their land of trees, for example, they might soon experience flooding, soil erosion, a lack of shade, and a huge decrease in biodiversity. 
But the global economy has created blinders that shield many of us from experiencing the far-reaching implications of our actions. As we have increased our use of fossil fuels, for instance, it has been difficult (and remains difficult for many people) to believe that we are disrupting something on the magnitude of the Earth’s climate. Although some places on the planet are beginning to see evidence of climate change, most of us experience no changes. We may notice unusual weather, but daily weather is not the same as climate disruption over time.
If we strive to develop ways of living that are more life-affirming, we must find ways to make visible the things that seem invisible.
Educators can help through a number of strategies. They can use phenomenal web-based tools, such as Google Earth, to enable students to “travel” virtually and view the landscape in other regions and countries. They can also introduce students to technological applications such as GoodGuide and Fooducate, which cull from a great deal of research and “package” it in easy-to-understand formats that reveal the impact of certain household products on our health, the environment, and social justice. Through social networking websites, students can also communicate directly with citizens of distant areas and learn firsthand what the others are experiencing that is invisible to most students. Finally, in some cases, teachers can organize field trips to directly observe places that have been quietly devastated as part of the system that provides most of us with energy.

4. Anticipate unintended consequences

Many of the environmental crises that we face today are the unintended consequences of human behavior. For example, we have experienced many unintended but grave consequences of developing the technological ability to access, produce, and use fossil fuels. These new technological capacities have been largely viewed as progress for our society. Only recently has the public become aware of the downsides of our dependency on fossil fuels, such as pollution, suburban sprawl, international conflicts, and climate change.
Teachers can teach students a couple of noteworthy strategies for anticipating unintended consequences. One strategy—the precautionary principle—can be boiled down to this basic message: When an activity threatens to have a damaging impact on the environment or human health, precautionary actions should be taken regardless
of whether a cause-and-effect relationship has been scientifically confirmed. Historically, to impose restrictions on new products, technologies, or practices, the people concerned about possible negative impacts were expected to prove scientifically that harm would result from them. By contrast, the precautionary principle (which is now in effect in many countries and in some places in the United States) places the burden of proof on the producers to demonstrate harmlessness and accept responsibility should harm occur.
Another strategy is to shift from analyzing a problem by reducing it to its isolated components, to adopting a systems thinking perspective that examines the connections and relationships among
the various components of the problem. Students who can apply systems thinking are usually better at predicting possible consequences of a seemingly small change to one part of the system that can potentially affect the entire system. One easy method for looking at a problem systemically is by mapping it and all of its components and interconnections. It is then easier to grasp the complexity of our decisions and foresee possible implications.
Finally, no matter how adept we are at applying the precautionary principle
and systems thinking, we will still encounter unanticipated consequences of our actions. Building resiliency—for example, by moving away from mono-crop agriculture or by creating local, less centralized food systems or energy networks—is another important strategy for survival in these circumstances. We can turn
to nature and find that the capacity of natural communities to rebound from unintended consequences is vital to survival.

5. Understand how nature sustains life

Ecoliterate people recognize that nature has sustained life for eons; as a result, they have turned to nature as their teacher and learned several crucial tenets. Three of those tenets are particularly imperative to ecoliterate living.
First of all, ecoliterate people have learned from nature that all living organisms are members of a complex, interconnected web of life and that those members inhabiting a particular place depend upon their interconnectedness for survival. Teachers can foster an understanding of the diverse web of relationships within a location by having students study that location as a system.
Second, ecoliterate people tend to be more aware that systems exist on various levels of scale. In nature, organisms are members of systems nested within other systems, from the micro-level to the macro-level. Each level supports the others to sustain life. When students begin to understand the intricate interplay of relation- ships that sustain an ecosystem, they can better appreciate the implications for survival that even a small disturbance may have, or the importance of strengthening relationships that help a system respond to disturbances.
Finally, ecoliterate people collectively practice a way of life that fulfills the needs of the present generation while simultaneously supporting nature’s inherent ability to sustain life into the future. They have learned from nature that members of a healthy ecosystem do not abuse the resources they need in order to survive. They have also learned from nature to take only what they need and to adjust their behavior in times of boom or bust. This requires that students learn to take a long view when making decisions about how to live.
These five practices, developed by the Berkeley-based Center for Ecoliteracy, offer guideposts to exciting, meaningful, and deeply relevant education that builds on social and emotional learning skills. They can also plant the seeds for a positive relationship with the natural world that can sustain a young person’s interest and involvement for a lifetime.

Posted by Jud Millar
It's the time of year when we all take time to reflect on all the things in our lives we have to be thankful for. This may include being grateful family, health, friends, and the little things in life that make every day better.  In the following article, Stephanie and Mitch Reiter explore all the things that families and parents appreciate summer camp!
Many parents ask us about the benefits of sleep away camp, how much they can expect their child to grow and mature in a summer, and whether the changes will last beyond August.
Any veteran camp parent will tell you that camp is not just good for the child, but it's good for the family! If you are a new parent considering camp for the first time, or nervous about whether your child is really ready, we wanted to share some of the changes you can expect after just one summer away from home! It's amazing what seven weeks will do. We of course notice the change in our campers, but we love getting dozens of letters from first-time families who want to know "What's in the bug juice, because we can't believe this is our kid!?"
Here's some of what you can expect even after just one summer at camp.

1. A willingness to try new things

They say the magic happens when you are pushed outside your comfort zone. And that is why they say camp is a magical place. There are activities kids LOVE and activities that may not be "their thing." There is food that they can't wait to eat (pizza day!) and meals that they can't stand to see on the table. Because campers live and operate as a group, they learn to accept their differences, try new tastes and experiences, and learn they may actually like them! One mom shared that her picky-eater used to only eat plain bagels, plain penne pasta, pizza from a particular shop, salad and Hershey Bars. Seven weeks later, she can give him waffles for breakfast (hey -- they have protein), any shape of pasta, any kind of pizza, and whole apples -- not peeled and cut up in slices. She was also amused by his expanded choices at 7-11 (which is like the canteen at home), including Milky Way, Twix and Mug Root Beer. Now while that may sound like a sugary mess... you have to realize that this child seriously expanded his taste palette, made independent choices and may just be ready for Sloppy Joes next summer!
When children experience the reward of trying new things, it makes them want to try more. So many campers look at our climbing wall, and shiver at the thought of reaching the top. After a few weeks of watching their friends and being cheered on by their counselors, most of them will give it a go! The rush and excitement of making it half way, or climbing to the top, or even better, getting to ride down the zip line, is so exhilarating... it makes them more open to trying new things in the future.
What parents are thankful for: Less time spent as short order cook; more time planning new and exciting activities for your child.

2. Pride in taking care of themselves

For seven weeks our campers actually brush their teeth (at least before Visiting Day!), comb their hair, shower and dress themselves. All of these things involve surprisingly very few reminders, negotiating and reluctance. Why? Because they know it's on them to get it done and "everybody is doing it." They also live in close quarters and recognize that good hygiene is important and socially necessary. What a realization! Without mom or dad there to nag them into these responsibilities, it's on them to stay clean and look presentable. Of course there is a learning curve for our younger campers to successfully care for themselves. But once they get it, they feel good to know they can do it themselves! When they come home from camp, they actually find it FUN and empowering!
What parents are thankful for:Shower hour for them is now rest hour for you!

3. Respect for their home and family

We talk a lot about the magic of camp, but we also know there is the magic of home. It's a different kind of magic. The kind where kids drop their dirty clothes on the floor and they magically disappear. The kind where dirty dishes are left on the kitchen table and poof they get cleaned. Does this sound like your home? At camp, nothing magically disappears. Campers are responsible for clearing and stacking their plates, recycling, cleaning their bunk, organizing their belongings, folding their clothes and making their beds. They are held to standards during inspection and feel pressure from their camp family (aka their bunkmates) to uphold their responsibilities. If not, there are consequences. No one wants to let down his or her bunk.
There is also a deeper love between siblings at camp. If your kids are together at camp, they feel more connected in taking care of each other while mom and dad aren't there. Even a couple minutes of sibling time a day at camp increases their love and respect for each other. New campers also enjoy feeling looked after by their camp big brother or sister, and they are more likely to pay those actions forward to their siblings at home. They have a deeper appreciation of what it means to be a big brother or sister.
What parents are thankful for: A child who contributes to the overall tidiness and order of your home. They also may walk their sibling to class, check on them during the day or read them a book at night. And it costs you nothing...unless you want to reward them with allowance!

4. Appreciation for rest time

One of the reasons so many parents say they can't wait for camp is that their child will be unplugged for seven weeks. At camp we are 100 percent disconnected from technology and 100 percent connected to each other. Rest time doesn't equal playing on the iPad, DS or watching television. When your camper comes home, you will be amazed at the activities they gravitate towards during down time. New hobbies like reading, playing cards, making bracelets, writing in a journal, playing ball are a refreshing change for you and them.
What parents are thankful for: Good old-fashioned fun like the old days, such as family game night, bringing a deck of cards to dinner (instead of the iPad) and maybe even a love for books. Imagine a world where you don't have to nag your child to read? Also, your child may enjoy more quiet time in their room... an escape from the hustle of daily life.

5. Awareness and connection to life around them

A few months ago there was a powerful viral video called "Look Up". It was a harsh reminder that many of us (and our children) spend our time looking down at our devices, texting, watching videos, hiding behind technology and living disconnected with our world. At camp we always look up. We look into each other's eyes. Our hands are free for holding, playing and creating. At camp we connect. We are plugged into life. We live in the moment.
Kids learn to really listen to each other at camp. They understand what moves them, what scares them and what it means to be a true friend. They learn the implications of their actions on others, how to resolve differences, how to lead and how to be a part of a group. Because they are forced to live in a bunk with the same people for seven weeks, they understand it's not all about them anymore.
What parents are thankful for: A better child. A better son or daughter. A better sister or brother. A better friend. A better student. A better community member. A better teammate.
And all of that growing can come from just one summer at camp! Imagine what your camper will be like after two summers, five summers, ten summers!? There really are a lot of benefits of summer camp.  Talk about potential!

As parents we always want to try raise the best kids and often I wonder cano I raise a child that is successful and caring? The research seems to show they parents need to start by looking  at the mixed messages we send. 

The Battle Between Success and Compassion By Vicki Zakrzewski

If you were asked to rank in order of importance academic achievement, happiness, and care for others as priorities for our young people today, how would you respond?
If you’re like most parents and teachers in the U.S., you would place the highest importance on care for others—a very worthy choice and one that science suggests can actually increase the other two outcomes



Yet, a recent U.S. survey of 10,000 middle and high school students conducted by Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project revealed that students believe their parents and teachers prioritize academic achievement and happiness over caring. 
In other words, students are receiving the message from adults that personal success is more important than concern for others. With that being the case, it becomes easier to understand why cheating is rampant among students.
This is a wake-up call for us adults. Even though we may view ourselves as very caring people, and think we’re promoting this value to our young ones, somewhere there’s a disconnect that we need to remedy—and the not-so-easy answer lies within ourselves.

The complexity of care

If getting adults to “walk the talk” of care was as easy as reminding them that they need to do so, then our problem would be solved. But care is very complex, impacted by things such as cultural beliefs and attachment security, and making it a priority in our and our children’s lives sometimes requires us to deeply introspect on how care manifests or not in daily life. 
For example, in a game called “Compassion Continuum” designed by compassion-expert Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, adult participants are asked how much compassion they would feel for their child who gave a speech in school and failed. Most people respond that they would feel a lot of compassion. Then they are asked how much compassion they would feel for another child who had given a speech and failed, but who had also bullied the participant’s own child. As you can imagine, the responses are all over the board—a perfect example of how caring for others is not always black and white and perhaps one reason why our youth, who are equipped with hyper-sensitive radar for hypocrisy, are getting mixed messages from adults.
Ultimately, our view of care is wrapped up in who we are—it’s part of our identity. And, according to Harvard professor and adult development expert Robert Kegan, changing part of one’s identity requires transformation at our deepest core. While the process is neither fast nor easy, it can yield great rewards.

Changing our view of care

After decades of research and practice in adult learning, Kegan posits that in order to truly change, we have to become aware of our unconscious emotions, habits, and beliefs that run our lives so that we can instead reflect on these internal constructs and change them if necessary. 
But this unearthing process can elicit anxiety. For example, many parents and teachers know something has to change with the staggering pressure our students are under to succeed academically, particularly as this pressure is leading to an increase in mental illness

Need more ideas on how to cultivate caring children?

Click here for a downloadable, reader-friendly list of research-based suggestions from Harvard's Making Caring Common Project.
However, the thought of having to change our beliefs about success fills many of us with anxiety because it would require us to consider our own identity around success. A parent who is concerned about the academic pressure on his or her child may be forced to examine the belief that getting into a top university will lead to a materially successful life. Upon deeper self-examination, the parent may be surprised to find that this belief is supported by other beliefs such as a materially successful life is the only way a child will be secure and happy in this world. And if a child is not secure and happy, then the parent has potentially failed in his or her parental responsibility. 
The depth of this kind of reflection may be too threatening for many of us. Thus, we unconsciously manage this anxiety by continuing on with status quo. And, hence, our children might get the message that success is more important to us than care.
So how do we start aligning our priority of care with our actions? The process that Kegan and co-author Lisa Lahey outline in their book Immunity to Change is a multi-step approach, the explanation of which would require more room than I have in this blog. However, I can offer these few suggestions based on their work:

1. Start by reflecting on the care you give and receive in your life—or lack thereof—in order to bring to conscious awareness how much care impacts you. Examine how you care for yourself and how you and your loved ones—including your pets—care for each other. Then expand this view to include the care between you and a stranger on the street, the grocery clerk, and/or a difficult work colleague. Now broaden your view of care to examine care at a societal level, from business practices to childcare options to equity to gender roles to political systems.

Did you find yourself getting emotional at any point in this reflection? For example, did a situation that lacks care make you feel angry or scared or sad? If so, why? Kegan and Lahey state that underlying every challenging situation or behavior is an “emotional ecology” that we must explore in order to understand where our potential limitations lie, and their book outlines a very specific and in-depth process to do so. Only when these limitations that have been driving our actions without us realizing it are brought to conscious awareness can we start to change them.

And once you’ve identified these limiting behaviors, Kegan suggests that instead of trying to defend them, admit them with all “their embarrassing glory”. I would also recommend practicing self-compassion, realizing, as self-compassion expert Kristin Neff posits, that you’re not alone. All of humanity struggles with challenging internal constructs. 

2. Ask yourself if there is enough at stake to warrant a change. According to Kegan and Lahey, the process of transformation at this depth can be very challenging, so we have to be sure that we’re willing to try. They have found that people are motivated to change for several reasons, including: if they don’t change, something or someone they love will be harmed; not reaching a goal has become impossible to live with; or there is “deep discrepancy” within themselves.

For instance, a teacher or parent who learns that at the root of a child’s anxiety and panic is the child’s belief that he or she is loved and accepted only when academically successful may be motivated to make some radical changes in his or her own behavior and beliefs.

3. Test out new ways of being. Once you have identified a core limitation, then Kegan and Lahey recommend trying another mode of behavior that acts against this limitation. For example, if you responded with anger to a bullying situation similar to the one described above—anger that was perhaps motivated by your own experience of being bullied—you might try acting compassionately towards the bully and see what happens. If you notice a positive change, then keep doing it.

The reward for all this inner work, according to Kegan and Lahey, is a release from the anxiety caused by the denial of our unconscious emotions, beliefs, and habits. “You [will be able to] scan the world,” write the authors, “for more promising possibilities and bring to your own living a deep restfulness that you may never before have known.” 

By examining and shifting our beliefs and practices of care, we may find that our relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues, strangers on the street, and perhaps the rest of the world are transformed into something we could never have imagined—and we may become more successful and happier as a result.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a begger; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” And I would add that part of that restructuring includes ourselves.

Resilience is just one of the many benefits children receive from camp. Over the years parents have asked us what they can do to increase a child's resilience at home.  The following are some thoughts.
  1. Make connections 

  2. Teach your child how to make friends, including the skill of empathy, or feeling another's pain. Encourage your child to be a friend in order to get friends. Build a strong family network to support your child through his or her inevitable disappointments and hurts. At school, watch to make sure that one child is not being isolated. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience. Some find comfort in connecting with a higher power, whether through organized religion or privately and you may wish to introduce your child to your own traditions of worship.

  3. Help your child by having him or her help others 

  4. Children who may feel helpless can be empowered by helping others. Engage your child in age-appropriate volunteer work, or ask for assistance yourself with some task that he or she can master. At school, brainstorm with children about ways they can help others.

  5. Maintain a daily routine 

  6. Sticking to a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger children who crave structure in their lives. Encourage your child to develop his or her own routines.

  7. Take a break 

  8. While it is important to stick to routines, endlessly worrying can be counter-productive. Teach your child how to focus on something besides what's worrying him. Be aware of what your child is exposed to that can be troubling, whether it be news, the Internet or overheard conversations, and make sure your child takes a break from those things if they trouble her. Although schools are being held accountable for performance on standardized tests, build in unstructured time during the school day to allow children to be creative.

  9. Teach your child self-care 

  10. Make yourself a good example, and teach your child the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise and rest. Make sure your child has time to have fun, and make sure that your child hasn't scheduled every moment of his or her life with no "down time" to relax. Caring for oneself and even having fun will help your child stay balanced and better deal with stressful times.

  11. Move toward your goals 

  12. Teach your child to set reasonable goals and then to move toward them one step at a time. Moving toward that goal — even if it's a tiny step — and receiving praise for doing so will focus your child on what he or she has accomplished rather than on what hasn't been accomplished, and can help build the resilience to move forward in the face of challenges. At school, break down large assignments into small, achievable goals for younger children, and for older children, acknowledge accomplishments on the way to larger goals.

  13. Nurture a positive self-view 

  14. Help your child remember ways that he or she has successfully handled hardships in the past and then help him understand that these past challenges help him build the strength to handle future challenges. Help your child learn to trust himself to solve problems and make appropriate decisions. Teach your child to see the humor in life, and the ability to laugh at one's self. At school, help children see how their individual accomplishments contribute to the wellbeing of the class as a whole.

  15. Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook 

  16. Even when your child is facing very painful events, help him look at the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Although your child may be too young to consider a long-term look on his own, help him or her see that there is a future beyond the current situation and that the future can be good. An optimistic and positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times. In school, use history to show that life moves on after bad events.

  17. Look for opportunities for self-discovery 

  18. Tough times are often the times when children learn the most about themselves. Help your child take a look at how whatever he is facing can teach him "what he is made of." At school, consider leading discussions of what each student has learned after facing down a tough situation.

  19. Accept that change is part of living 

  20. Change often can be scary for children and teens. Help your child see that change is part of life and new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable. In school, point out how students have changed as they moved up in grade levels and discuss how that change has had an impact on the students.

They say in America these days our kids are having less opportunities to be challenged in a positive way and therefore having a negative impact on them as adults.

Please read below and see how camp can help supplement your child's personal growth.

Building Resilience in Children
The world can be a frightening place. As a parent, I am constantly aware of choices that I make to minimize my perception of fear and uncertainty. Death, illness,divorce, crime, war, child abductions, tsunamis, and terrorism — both here and abroad — have defined an evolving landscape for raising our families. How do we manage to parent from a place of love and understanding, not fear and paranoia?
It’s not possible to protect our children from the ups and downs of life. Raising resilient children, however, is possible and can provide them with the tools they need to respond to the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood and to navigate successfully in adulthood. Despite our best efforts, we cannot prevent adversity and daily stress; but we can learn to be more resilient by changing how we think about challenges and adversities.
Today’s families, especially our children, are under tremendous stress with the potential to damage both physical health and psychological well-being.
The stress comes from families who are always on the go, who are overscheduled with extracurricular activities, and ever-present peer pressure. In the teen years, the anxiety and pressure are related to getting into “the” college.
In today’s environment, children and teens need to develop strengths, acquire skills to cope, recover from hardships, and be prepared for future challenges. They need to be resilient in order to succeed in life. 
That is why Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., MS Ed, FAAP, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), has joined forces with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to author A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Your Child Roots and Wings. The new book provides a dynamic resource to help parents and caregivers build resilience in children, teens, and young adults.
Dr. Ginsburg has identified seven “C”s of resilience, recognizing that “resilience isn’t a simple, one-part entity.” Parents can use these guidelines to help their children recognize their abilities and inner resources.



Competence describes the feeling of knowing that you can handle a situation effectively. We can help the development of competence by:
  • Helping children focus on individual strengths
  • Focusing any identified mistakes on specific incidents
  • Empowering children to make decisions
  • Being careful that your desire to protect your child doesn’t mistakenly send a message that you don’t think he or she is competent to handle things
  • Recognizing the competencies of siblings individually and avoiding comparisons



A child’s belief in his own abilities is derived from competence. Build confidence by:
  • Focusing on the best in each child so that he or she can see that, as well 
  • Clearly expressing the best qualities, such as fairness, integrity, persistence, and kindness
  • Recognizing when he or she has done well
  • Praising honestly about specific achievements; not diffusing praise that may lack authenticity
  • Not pushing the child to take on more than he or she can realistically handle



Developing close ties to family and community creates a solid sense of security that helps lead to strong values and prevents alternative destructive paths to love and attention. You can help your child connect with others by:
  • Building a sense of physical safety and emotional security within your home 
  • Allowing the expression of all emotions, so that kids will feel comfortable reaching out during difficult times 
  • Addressing conflict openly in the family to resolve problems
  • Creating a common area where the family can share time (not necessarily TV time)
  • Fostering healthy relationships that will reinforce positive messages



Children need to develop a solid set of morals and values to determine right from wrong and to demonstrate a caring attitude toward others. To strengthen your child’s character, start by:
  • Demonstrating how behaviors affect others
  • Helping your child recognize himself or herself as a caring person
  • Demonstrating the importance of community
  • Encouraging the development of spirituality
  • Avoiding racist or hateful statements or stereotypes



Children need to realize that the world is a better place because they are in it. Understanding the importance of personal contribution can serve as a source of purpose and motivation. Teach your children how to contribute by:
  • Communicating to children that many people in the world do not have what they need 
  • Stressing the importance of serving others by modeling generosity
  • Creating opportunities for each child to contribute in some specific way



Learning to cope effectively with stress will help your child be better prepared to overcome life’s challenges. Positive coping lessons include:
  • Modeling positive coping strategies on a consistent basis
  • Guiding your child to develop positive and effective coping strategies
  • Realizing that telling him or her to stop the negative behavior will not be effective 
  • Understanding that many risky behaviors are attempts to alleviate the stress and pain in kids’ daily lives 
  • Not condemning your child for negative behaviors and, potentially, increasing his or her sense of shame



Children who realize that they can control the outcomes of their decisions are more likely to realize that they have the ability to bounce back. Your child’s understanding that he or she can make a difference further promotes competence and confidence. You can try to empower your child by:
  • Helping your child to understand that life’s events are not purely random and that most things that happen are the result of another individual’s choices and actions 
  • Learning that discipline is about teaching, not punishing or controlling; using discipline to help your child to understand that his actions produce certain consequences
Dr. Ginsburg summarizes what we know for sure about the development of resilience in kids by the following:
  • Children need to know that there is an adult in their life who believes in them and loves them unconditionally.
  • Kids will live “up” or “down” to our expectations. 
There is no simple answer to guarantee resilience in every situation. But we can challenge ourselves to help our children develop the ability to negotiate their own challenges and to be more resilient, more capable, and happier.


Overview of Stress

  • There will always be stress in our lives. 
  • Stress is an important tool that can aid in our survival.
  • Our body’s reaction to stress is mediated through a complex interplay of sensory input—sights and sounds—as well as the brain and nervous system, hormones, and the body’s cells and organs.
  • Emotions play an important role in how we experience stress because the brain is the conductor of this system. The way we think about stress and what we choose to do about it can affect the impact of a stressful event.
This article was featured in Healthy Children Magazine. To view the full issue, click here.

Daily at camp we promote Grataude. It can come in many way from enjoying our nice weather, nature or even friendships. We believe if gratitude was part of very life we would build a kinder group of folks. I recently found this article that we think could help parents continue what we do at SNC.


10 Ways to Build Gratitude In Our Children

by Darcy Kimmel

It’s a scene that we’ve all witnessed and one that’s all too familiar to most moms: a screaming kid having a tantrum in the aisle of some store because he is not getting something that he wants and thinks he deserves. We all feel for the mom because we’ve been there before, and we all whisper a quick prayer of thanks that this time it isn’t our child having the fit.
Many of us, hoping to put a quick end to this embarrassing scene, cave and give our child what he wants, only to have him start the entire process over again in the next aisle. One thing I have learned after raising four children is that giving our children everything they want does not make them more grateful. Instead it makes them more demanding and ungrateful.
I encourage moms to look over the horizon and see the child that they hope to usher into the future and be willing to do the hard work necessary to build that child from the inside out with character.
A compassionate parent—one who is looking out beyond the immediate—knows that gratitude is a life skill that every child needs to learn. An ungrateful person is unpleasant to be around, never satisfied. She lives with an attitude of entitlement and disappointment; she is not a happy camper, in other words, and not likely to succeed in life, love, and work.
Although character building is a 24/7/365 task for us as parents, there are some seasons and events that are custom-made to teach character to our children. This season of Thanksgiving gives us ample opportunities to reinforce the development of gratitude as a vital part of our children’s character.
Below are 10 ways to build gratitude into our children’s hearts: 
1. Start with God. Make sure your children are reminded daily through words and actions that God is the giver of all good gifts. Without a lot of piety but with lots of sincerity, let your kids see you praising God for His daily provision.
2. Lead the way. Express your gratitude to your spouse and your children frequently. Make it a natural part of your conversation to point out the actions, attitudes, and attributes you have observed in them for which you are grateful. You are priming the pump with your children when they know you are grateful for them.
3. Stop your grumbling. Our children not only learn gratitude from us, they learn how to complain and whine from our example as well. The next time you’re tempted to gripe about your circumstances, take stock and have an attitude adjustment.
4. Less is more. Remember that indulging children only makes them less grateful for what they have. Next time you’re tempted to give them more just to keep them happy, stop and help them be happy with what they have.
5. Learn to say no. Our children have the same human nature that all of us are born with, and left unchecked, it will consume them. Don’t be afraid to put a limit on how much stuff they have or how many things they get to do. When you say no to some things, it makes your children notice and be grateful for those times when you say yes.
6. Teach them the value of what they have. One of the best ways to do this is to have them earn the next “want” that they have. When a child actually has to work for the money or privilege to satisfy a “have to have,” he or she will be much more appreciative of its value.
7. Help your children express their gratitude. Make sure you’re training your children to honor those who are serving them—their Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, piano teachers, coaches, and school teachers. Help them bake cookies or frame a special photo for them as a way of saying, “Thanks for all you do for me.”
8. Let them see the other side. Many times our kids are ungrateful because they have no idea how blessed they are compared to most of the world. Make serving others who are less fortunate a lifestyle. My husband, Tim, says in his book, Raising Kids for True Greatness, that the antidote to spoiled, rebellious kids is getting them out of their “me” world and into the world of others.
9. Count your blessings. Whenever possible, have your children recount the many ways God has provided for them that day. Before grace is said at the table, have everyone chime in with their latest blessings. And before evening prayers, review the day with your children as you remind them of God’s many blessings to them. Then encourage them to speak their thanks to God before they drift off to sleep.
10. Be patient. Your children’s natural propensity is to focus on what they want and not what they have. Any character trait takes time and practice to become a habit.
Character building is hard work, but it pays off big time in the lives of our children and in our future relationship with them. Remember to pray for your children and continue to model gratitude in your own life. Someday, they may surprise you with an unprompted “thank you.” When they do, try not to fall off your chair!

What do you know about Wisconsin? Chances are you imagine cows, Harley Davidson motorcycles and the beautiful capitol of Madison. Yet, north of all that is the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Filled with all its natural beauty. In the sky you can see eagles all around swooping down to catch a fish in a nearby lake or stream. If your quiet you might just hear a loon or a wolf in the background. This is what America looked like 100 years ago. Until you experience the simple beauty, you can’t begin to imagine what you will find there. Wisconsin is also home to many children's summer camps. Choosing a summer camp in Wisconsin offers your child a chance to experience nature and the environment unlike any other place in the Midwest. At Camp Nature Swift your child gets the opportunity to play, make friend sand learn new skills, all this in the warm sun of the wonderful northwoods of Wisconsin.

Over the past few years I have been happy to act as the Vice President of the Midwest Association of Independent Camps (M.A.I.C.).We represent the very best independently owned and operated summer camps in the Midwest. MAIC includes kids' summer camps in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana. Our organization educates and inspires camping professionals to be their very best.
MAIC is a group of camp professionals who are dedicated to promoting high quality standards in organized camping, while offering children and their parents the best possible summer camp experience. Members of MAIC have been meeting together and sharing ideas, methods and practices since 1960.
To parents looking for a top quality resident camp or day camp in the Midwest: we are a great place to start your camp search. is a camp directory that represents over 45 of the very best summer camps in the midwest.
If you are looking for an amazing summer camp job working with children, be sure to choose an MAIC camp and start your search 
Remember MAIC camps are family run camps that are concerned for each child’s safety and emotional development. Above all else M.A.I.C. camps = fun, fun, fun, fun!

Ever heard of Google Earth? Well, it lets you find everywhere! Including Swift Nature Camp! Can you find it here? A hint look at the bottom of the photo and you will see town...Maybe even the Village Scoop Ice Cream Shop. From there, go north and to the West. Still not sure? Try signing up for google earth and take a fly by. If you don’t know where to look try just typing in Swift Nature Campand it will fly you right to camp. It is so much easier than taking the bus.

So be sure to go to 
Google Earth and download the special program.
It’s cool to see camp from this view...Maybe this is what it is like being an eagle in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. So tune in to google earth and be you’ll be amazed.

JOIN SMORECAMP....its alot like facebook but only for Summercamp friends!

Its Free and if you join today you can start meeting staff and campers long before you arrive at SNC! is a great way to re-create camp memories and continue to make new ones. Through photos, videos, posts, email and blogs, you can re-live your days as a camper and keep that special camp feeling all year long. You can make and listen to your own camp songbook, as well as post your cabin groups (bunks), activities and levels achieved, trips, pranks, traditions, and so much more.

* Keep in touch with your friends!
* Find new Friends!
* Create your own profile page!
* Upload all your camp photos!
* Prank your Friends


25 Baybrook Ln.

Oak Brook, IL 60523

Phone: 630-654-8036


W7471 Ernie Swift Rd.

Minong, WI 54859

Phone: 715-466-5666