In 2013, best-selling author, Paul Tough, wrote a book called “How Children Succeed”. Paul writes extensively about education, parenting and poverty - issues Camp Scully is closely involved with. The book focuses on a simple question: “what are the skills that children need to be successful, particularly in college?”

Tough summarizes the best current research in Education, Cognitive Development, Developmental Psychology and Youth Development. The conclusion of the research was unexpected and remarkable and is as follows:

We, as a society, have placed too much emphasis on the “cognitive theory” that holds that success in college is a function of IQ, academic skills and SAT scores. These measurements have some relationship to collegiate success, but not as much as certain “non-cognitive skills”, including grit, self-control, optimism and gratitude. Tough also calls these “character skills”.

In other words, a child with self-control, grit and optimism is more likely to graduate from college than a student with high IQ or top SAT scores. The research is very compelling and leads us to a difficult question: if these are the most important skills, then how do we encourage them in our children?

The good news is that these “character skills” are, in fact, skills and not inherited attributes. Children can develop grit, learn self-control and cultivate optimism. Our traditional school system, however, is not designed to produce these outcomes. While great teachers can help with some of these skills, teachers are limited. They only get a few hours a week with students. More importantly, they are evaluated on how they teach specific knowledge (math and reading) and not on character. Schools focus on test scores and what they can measure as this is where their funding comes from. As a result, schools spend most of their time and effort on academic skills and not on character skills.

Camp Scully, on the other hand, focuses on character skills all day. In fact, we hire extraordinary role models and have them model resilience, love, optimism, gratitude, self-control and other valuable character skills. We focus on the 6 values of Camp Scully: Service, Caring, Understanding, Love, Loyalty and Youthfulness.