I was looking at Leah Engelhart's pictures of the Girls Retreat, which took place last weekend, and I couldn't help but think about how valuable that kind of experience is for our kids. Leah, DinoMights Program Assistant, along with Amy, Girls Team Coach, took a group of the middle school aged girls to Northern Wisconsin. The girls stayed at the cabin of Leah's parents, they drank hot chocolate, played games, went for a hike, and reflected on how God has made each one of them special.
Sometime ago there was great pressure on organizations like ours to be solely focused on academics. You see the same pressures on public schools right now and over the past decade. Schools are cutting music, art, drama, sports, etc. Some schools feel so much pressure to succeed academically that they have begun to cut out recess.
It seems to make sense. The thought process goes something like this, "We don't have time for that other stuff. If kids can't read what's the point of art or sports."
Organizations like ours, that seemed to intuitively think that other "non-academic" activities were actually good for kids, protested, "But, then they won't get to go to the cabin." It really feels like being in a box. If you don't solely focus on academics, then kids will not learn to read. But if you do, then kids won't have any fun.
The truth is really something more like this, "If kids have art and sports and other good stuff, then they will most likely be better readers."
The Search Institute is an organization dedicated to researching what kids need to succeed. They have developed a list of 40 assets that kids need to succeed at different ages. Here's a few things on their list for middle school aged girls like the ones on the retreat:
Other Adult Relationships
Middle School kids benefit when they have at least three positive adults other than their parents who show support in their lives. Here Joeny and Sandy pose with their coach, Amy.
Positive Peer InfluenceYouth benefit when a young person's best friends model responsible behavior. Here Lucy, Nancy and Lacy have a fun time being silly during time in the woods.