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Summer Resiliency CAMP in full swing at Accompsett MS

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Students participated in several sessions on Wednesday morning, including yoga.
Jennifer Bradshaw and Elizabeth Stein collaborated eight years ago to launch the Summer Resiliency CAMP for middle-school students in the Smithtown Central School District. The annual summer program now has blossomed, with a wide array of available subjects, which on Wednesday included science-fiction writing, yoga, nutrition, art and music.

The free summer program, based at Accompsett Middle School, runs three hours a day, three days a week, for five weeks. It is open to students in the district entering the seventh, eighth and ninth grades in the fall. Transportation is provided.

The CAMP acronym in Summer Resiliency CAMP stands for Character, Academic, Mindfulness and Preparedness.

“We all learn together in an all-inclusive place,” said Stein, the camp’s coordinator and a 19-year staff member in the district specializing in special education.

When the program launched, the instructional support team — composed of principals, counselors, nurses, special education teachers, general education teachers and social workers — primarily referred middle-school students in need. Now, through word of mouth and the program’s popularity, parents can enroll students of any ability level.

The open enrollment aligns with Stein’s vision from the program’s outset.

“We’re all learners together,” Stein said. “The ultimate goal is to have kids who connect with themselves as learners. We teach them strategies. We expose them to different types of activities, so they tap into that side of themselves. And when the schoolyear starts, they can transfer some of those strategies and mindsets, so that they can push through challenges during the schoolyear.”

Bradshaw, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction and administration, led a science-fiction writing workshop on Wednesday morning. She long has been a fan of that genre, and used to teach the subject and advise a student magazine.

“I love to get them thinking about not just different genres, but using their imaginations to create ‘what-if’ scenarios and think outside the box,” Bradshaw said.

Stein is proud that some of the subjects taught now come directly from suggestions from the campers based on their interests. The attendees can pick which sessions they would like to join.

The camp idea was born from a think tank involving Smithtown administrators, including Bradshaw, nearly a decade ago. The group brainstormed ideas to assist children who were struggling in classes, but for no particularly identifiable reason. The administrators incorporated the studies of Carol Dweck, a professor and psychologist at Stanford University. Dweck espouses the “power of yet”— that learning is a road, not a dead end.

“That’s the real anchor of this,” Stein said. “We have kids who come in here and say, ‘I’m not good at science.’ Or, ‘I’m not good at math.’ And we say, ‘OK, add YET to the end of that sentence. … I’m not good at science YET.’ It just changes their mindset.”

For more information on the Summer Resiliency CAMP, contact Elizabeth Stein at estein@smithtown.k12.ny.us.