At the turn of the century, some of the leading employers and educators in the United States realized that high school and college graduates were entering the workforce with a deficit of critical skills.
Groups including Apple, Disney, the Children’s Television Workshop and Ford decided to do something about it and they came together to form The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). They had three simple goals:
- Determine what skills are the most important for success after school.
- Identify where there are deficits among recent graduates.
- Develop plans to address these skill deficits.
Over the years, multiple surveys have been conducted and reports created that have been highly influential. In fact, Singapore completely changed their educational curriculum after reading one of their reports – and this was AFTER they were named one of the top 3 education systems in the world!
The conclusions are powerful and surprising. In particular, the “skills critical to success” were not what most people would anticipate. The most important skills are not math, science or reading. Instead, they are as follows:
- Oral communication
- Work ethic
- Written communication
- Critical thinking
This is great news for summer camps! With the exception of written communication, I believe that Camp Scully promotes these skills better than even the top universities. Oral communication and collaboration are difficult skills to teach in a classroom. When teachers need to teach calculus or grammar, they must focus on transferring their knowledge to students, not creating active, positive, collaborative environments.
At Camp Scully, these skills are a cornerstone of the way we work. Every day, campers work on their communication and collaboration skills: it is the indispensable quality of a good cabin dynamic. They work on these skills all day, every day.
Few parents of elementary school children worry about the workplace, but I think it is exciting to think that camp is not just fun, but also a rich learning environment.