Summer Programs

Madeline Levine on Summer Camp

This spring, I had the chance to speak with Dr. Madeline Levine, author of “The Price of Privilege” and “Teach Your Children Well”. She was a keynote speaker at the American Camp Association’s National Conference.

Her books do an exceptional job describing the challenges of successful people raising children. She has excellent advice on academic pressures, family values, the importance of sleep and (ultimately) the goals of parenting.

She also describes many of the failings of our education system and various other sources of stress that affect our children.

During her talk, she detailed the summer camp experiences of her three (very different) children. Each of them had grown meaningfully during their time at camp. What struck me was the fact that each of them had been impacted in very different ways. For her over-achiever, camp was a place to set and accomplish goals (which led to increased confidence) and to experience occasional failures (which led to resilience). Her introverted and “unusual” child found friends and acceptance. The third child had struggled to understand his place in the world. At camp, he found significance impacting other people, particularly younger campers.

In short, camp scratched each of their itches.

After her talk, she and I exchanged emails. She has said that she “should use camp, in its best sense, as an example for parents of an environment that moves kids forward.”

In “Teach Your Children Well,” she describes 7 attributes that predict for success, contentment and fulfillment. They are as follows:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Creativity
  • Resourcefulness
  • Work ethic
  • Self-control
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-efficacy

Compare these attributes to the skills discussed in Paul Tough’s book “How Children Succeed” and described by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. You will see a substantial overlap in skills/attributes.

In short, these are the outcomes that we focus on at American Seafarers. We have intentional as well as environmentally inherent ways to foster self-esteem, teach resourcefulness, harness enthusiasm and develop self-control.

We are also actively studying the research so that we will know the best ways to provide these skills to our young seafarers. Of course, we start with excellent role models and a loving environment, but we are always looking for ways to be even more effective with our seafarers.