Note: The terms “Left Brain” and “Right Brain” are used in this commentary to explain skill sets that predominately incorporate the appropriate side of the brain. In truth, almost all skill sets use both sides of the brain to some degree.
In modern formal education, much of the focus is on “measurable results”. As such, most of the material taught is methodical, formulaic and with specific answers that can be standardized and compared. Logic and factual data are the foundation of this measurable knowledge. This is a very Left Brain model.
We need Left Brain education. Without it, we would be reinventing the wheel. However, the flaw in the current system is that it is terribly lopsided toward the Left Brain model. The Right Brain attributes – creativity, big picture comprehension, emotional intelligence, inspirational communication and other less easily measured (and definitely non-standard) types of knowledge – are given far less focus and energy. This is unfortunate… because the brightest problem solvers and most influential thinkers of our time are people who tend to have very strong skills in both sides of the brain.
We sometimes hear of parents who don’t enroll their children in our story-based, creative summer camp because they prefer to enroll them in “more structured” camp where they receive more formal education – because the parents view our creative summer camp as “just play”. The truth is that our camps are providing children and teens with a much needed Right Brain supplement to their predominately Left Brain education. Along with exposing campers to extremely important skill sets such as innovation, exploration and communication, our programs also provide a dynamic environment where participants stay physically active and sharpen their social skills (not to mention make friends!).
In today’s society, where kids and teens are inundated with screens (TV, computer, telephone, etc) and many children’s social development is focused on Facebook and online games, getting kids and young adults to “unplug” from the screen and engage in live, dynamic play where they need to use important skills such as reading body language, receiving and providing constructive feedback, active listening, creative problem solving, working within a group, and more, is vital to the development of a modern youth who has been born with the label of “Digital Native”.
At our creative summer camp, kids are taken on an adventure where they get to exercise the Right side of their brain. Too often, play time is seen as a waste of time in a society where Left Brain thinking dominates our educational system. This is an important acknowledgement as we see more and more systematized, linear logic careers being outsourced to other countries. This will continue to progress until the shift in our economy (and hopefully our education) makes us realize that our greatest resource is the well-balanced individual who has been given as much educational opportunity to develop their creative side as their logical side.
At Zombie Summer Camp, we have developed a focus on three important skill sets in our story-based summer camps…
Innovation: Creative problem solving, design, imagination
Exploration: Discovery, experimentation, dynamic open-ended questioning
Communication: Connecting with other people, establishing understanding with the self and others, developing empathy
The power of interactive stories, that do not have a pre-determined ending, is that our tool (the story) can be shaped to the group or individual as necessary. We provide an immersive environment with props and costuming. This helps engage the participant on an emotional level (aiding in stronger development of neurological pathways) and increases the memory retention of the learning experience.
Our age-appropriate stories are selected carefully from tales derived from literature, mythology, and history. The governing concept is based on Joseph Cambell’s The Hero’s Journey. Except that our heroes don’t just read about the journey… they experience it live and have a role in the outcome.
Our staff and counselors are trained on a recurring basis in improvisational methods as well as appropriate content. As well, weekly mandatory meetings keep our program staff current on the latest in teaching methodology, child psychology and event management skills. Feedback is provided in a “Positive Coaching” manner where the emphasis is on learning over winning and our focus as counselors is to “catch our campers doing it right”.
We invest a great deal of time and effort into our programs and camps. We strive to engage our campers in a manner that is often neglected in current education and sorely underrepresented in modern day entertainment: We want to capture as much of their imagination as possible… to have them actually desire a time to unplug from the electronics… and to have them find exciting possibilities through their imagination.s as counselors is to “catch our campers doing it right”.
This, we believe, is worth our effort and our parents’ commitment.
Why, How, and What of Guard Up:
Our goal is to help children:
1) Become well rounded and well balanced individuals
2) Embrace learning as an exciting and lifelong endeavor
3) Become self confident, responsible, and optimistic through creative play
We accomplish this by:
1) Getting kids to unplug from the computer by motivating them to exercise and make friends in person as part of a diverse community
2) Educating children in a manner that is exciting and imaginative… where exploration and possibilities are endless
3) Providing a environment where a child or teen’s actions have consequences and where their decisions can make a difference
We inspire your children by providing the following:
1) A dynamic game filled with physical interaction and constant scenarios that require teamwork, communication and compromise
2) Characters and creatures from real world mythology, literature and history which inspire kids to learn more in order to succeed at their quest
3) An ongoing, interactive storyline in which children’s decisions change the direction and outcome of the story