On October 1-3 we held a 2 night and 3 day retreat for 120 seventh grade students from Sycamore Canyon Middle School. This retreat takes an entire seventh grade class from one community to a campsite in the Angeles National Park to focus on how to become positive change-makers on their campus.
Each day is structured to cover the three components of our framework: Notice Choose Act (r). Notice focuses on bringing awareness to our present situation.
Choose is stating what you would like to feel and see instead of. Act is committing to certain actions or behaviors that will contribute to making what you stated in Choose into reality.
We work with many students who will point out what’s wrong all day then wait for their teacher or parent to fix it for them. Our goal is empower students to take responsibility to make change that they want to see. This means if they’re unhappy with their grade in a class, they won’t just complain they’ll reach out to a teacher and ask them how they can improve. If they want a friendly school environment then they’ll sit next to someone new at lunch or learn someone’s name.
At this retreat, students work through these lessons participating in several experience such as team building activities, journaling, rope courses, art projects, and a variety of other activities. During different workshops, students are taught new lessons that surround Notice Choose Act (r) and are immediately put in practice throughout the camp. Our staff and mentors are trained in how to bring awareness to certain behavior in order to improve them in real time or to appreciate positive behaviors.
At the end of this retreat, students filled out surveys to reflect on their experience at this retreat:
“My experience here put me through things I never thought I could do. I pushed myself this week and I want to take this training to school to only make it better.”
“I learned that people around me are always doing things for me without me knowing and I want to start appreciating them for what they do.”
“I learned to be more confident in my actions and what I can do. I never thought I would have been able to achieve what I did. I faced so many of my fears and overcame things I never thought I could.”
“I learned to support others and be a leader. We worked on communicating and listening to our group through tough and easier team building experiences. I think I became a better leader, more confident in myself, and really supportive to my school.”
Surveys from 120 students reported: