Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Old Bridge High School, New Jersey Flies With PA

Cheryl Mackey, PE Teacher at Old Bridge wrote to tell us what a great experience she had in her training with PA trainer Bill Klag. When we asked her to say more, she told us:

"My Project Adventure expierence has been awesome. Our school, Old Bridge High School, was awarded the Carol White Pep Grant. " PA built both the indoor and outdoor challenge courses at Old Bridge. Carol says, "We have both an indoor course and an amazing outdoor course. My collegues and I signed up for the Adventure Programming and had a blast. We met so many new people and made some good friends. The sequencing of the activities permitted myself and other individuals to challenge ourselves at a comfortable pace. Even though I am petrified of heights I was able to do almost all the high elements because I had faith in my belay team. I was able to step outside my comfort zone and expierence an amazing rush. As of right now at least 4 of my co-workers, including myself are working towards getting our Masters degree in Adventure Learning/Project Adventure".

"I am currently teaching both an indoor class and an outdoor class of Project Adventure. Our curriculum requires that the sophomores take Project Adventure indoors, while the juniors and seniors can take the outdoor course as an elective for Phys. Ed. The kids love the program and its a great feeling to watch them open up, grow and challenge themselves more and more as the year goes on. Project Adventure has helped my sophomore class become the amazing Phys. Ed. class I knew they could be".

In speaking about some of the less engaged student's in P.E., Cheryl talks with excitement about taking this group on next year. And "getting them to like P.E more by giving them the opportunity to experience Project Adventure. We also just started a Project Adventure club, which I am 1 of 4 advisors".

We look forward to hearing from Cheryl and from her Project Adventure Club attendees about how the year progresses!

Fitness, Self-efficacy and Hoop Me Rhonda

The alarm goes off before six, and the moments between deep sleep and jittery excitement lapse quickly.

This is the morning. This is when we’re going to test it out. I told them I’d be there, and soon! I begin my preparations…

The day before, my colleague Renee Cavaluzzi and I were enjoying teaching the first day of a two-day open enrollment workshop called Achieving Fitness, based on Project Adventure’s newest book Achieving Fitness : An Adventure Activity Guide.

We had perfect weather, exciting participants and a brand new bag of tricks that are really effective in improving health-related fitness. We played a game called Hoop Me Rhonda, from the Cardiovascular Health chapter. Essentially, Hoop Me Rhonda is a partner activity, where one partner (Lisa) runs past the other (Renee) and puts her hands together over her head, and shouts “Hoop Me Rhonda! ” Renee then throws the hoop and hopefully it lands over Lisa’s clasped hands. If it does, Renee runs past Lisa, and it becomes Lisa’s turn to throw. The challenge is to run a specified distance in this relay method, after a round of skill building.
Reflecting on the activity, the professionals attending the workshop were sharing thoughts that I now find typical when teaching this model: “I didn’t even realize I was working out!” “It was exciting to get skilled in it so quickly,” “I felt so encouraged by my partner.”
And then this: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn this into the (dreaded) MILE RUN!? ”
As a group we talked about what the mile run is like in the different cities represented in the workshop, and we all shared our own experiences (mostly negative) about having to perform it in high school.
One of the things I love about adventure, and about working at Project Adventure, in particular, is the opportunity to take a question that starts with “Wouldn’t it be great if…” and then turn it into “Let's do something exciting.” In that spirit, an invitation was issued for an early morning “Hoop Me Rhonda” mile the next day.

I talked with participants about the determinants for Physical Activity and we made connections between Adventure and fitness that are profound and exhilarating. Achieving Fitness describes the four determinants for physical activity as:
· Self Efficacy
· Perceived Barriers
· Social Support
· Enjoyment

In the moments between the deep sleep, the jittery excitement and the rendezvous at the starting line, in anticipation of the Hoop Me Rhonda mile, I actually experienced those determinants happening to me.
My self efficacy (in essence, my belief that I could do the Hoop Me Rhonda mile is as important as my actual ability to perform that task) was raised because I had early and frequent performance accomplishments while learning how to throw the hoop. I saw other people whom I regard as peers do well in the activity and I had appropriate cheering. (For a more detailed explanation, read the introduction to Achieving Fitness)
The perceived barriers that I usually have around physical activity were reduced because I had made a commitment to participants that I would be there, and I actually didn’t have any other engagements at 6 a.m. on that particular day.
Social support was a key factor here. In this group we had talked about Challenge by Choice and the Full Value Contract. I knew that we were in a positive group, that we were not going to laugh at each other, and that we had the right and responsibility to our own stretch zone.
And Enjoyment – the most essential determinant for physical activity. If it’s fun, we’ll do it and we’ll stick with it. We were about to try something for the first time, something wacky and something that would make for a good story. It was enjoyable just thinking about it.
I open the front door to the Moraine Farm conference center, and there they are – Joyce, Lauren and Barbara. Smiling! Laughing! We partner up and we go for it. By the half mile mark we’ve invented tricks – the 'no look pass,' the 'sprint by pass', the' two handed shot put throw'. And the mile is over in what seems like minutes. We all wish we had time to do it again! We talk about how different it was from a traditional mile run.
I run most mornings, but not since that morning, and hardly ever before, has it been so memorable. I wish I had an adventure activity, a fun group with established norms, a goal set, a new record to be made – I wish I had that every day. And I realize that the students who are taught with an adventure approach do.
Educators like you who have learned and are using the Achieving Fitness model and other adventure approaches are creating opportunities like this for students every day. You are creating those exciting moments that improve self efficacy, eliminate barriers, are socially supportive and are, most importantly, enjoyable and can put students on a path to life-long fitness.

Lisa Faulkingham Hunt is a runner, mother, PA traininer, Coordinator of our Physical Education, Health and Fitness Team and co-author of our Physical Education Curriculum Series and Achieveing Fitness. In just a few days, Lisa leaves for Bombay, India to do adventure training and credentialing work.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Project Adventure - Adventure Stimulus Package!

Stimulate your academic content Stimulate Social and Emotional skill development!

Stimulate your group counseling sessions!

Stimulate your thinking about managing your challenge course!

Project Adventure is offering excellent savings on some of our best workshops! Register one person and get a second tuition free! This is a great way to maximize professional development dollars at the end of the budget year...while preparing folks for a great start to the season or new year!

For registration info and details- contact or call 800-468-8898 x4638

Adventure Programming
June 11-14 Beverly MA
July 7-10 Beverly MA
July 8-11 Stockton CA
July 14-17 Flemington NJ

Adventure Based Counseling
July 8-11 Hummelstown PA

"This course was amazing. Our trainer was very knowledgeable, encouraging, and insightful. She made this course better (than I expected)." Participant in ABC workshop, May 2008

Engaging Activities for Social and Emotional Learning
June 17-18 Stockton CA

Portable Adventure
June 19-21 Stockton CA
July 22-24 Hummelstown PA

"This workshop provided me with several tools to meet my program's needs of developing confidence and trust through teambuilding." Workshop participant, May 2008)

Advanced Skills and Standards
June 23-26 Beverly MA

Technical Skills Intensive
July 16-18 Hummelstown PA

Adventure with Youth at Risk Institute – Intro to Behavior Management through Adventure
July 7-13 Covington GA

Adventure in the Classroom
July 14-17 Covington GA

Adventure with Youth at Risk – Intro to Behavior Management through Adventure
July 14-17 Hummelstown PA
July 23-25 Beverly MA

Adventure Program Management – Critical Knowledge for the Challenge Course Manager
July 14-16 Beverly MA

For a full list of all workshop offerings, go to

Trainings at your site Project Adventure is the leader in facility-based adventure training and professional development. Call 978-524-4554 or email for more info!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Carol White PEP Grant Update

Our good friend, Rosalie Mangino-Crandall ( of Insight Grants, LLC, has just informed us that the US Education Department has just begun sending our "requests for more info" to the PEP grant applications that are being considered for funding.

If you submitted a 2008 Carol White PEP Grant application, be on the lookout for an email.
This means that you should be VIGILANTLY watching your email from now until you receive notification that the grant award list has come out.

If you are not certain who was listed as the program contact on the cover page of your application, check a copy of your submission and notify that person. If ED contacts you, it will almost certainly be by email and you will have a very short amount of time to respond with answers to their questions—this could be as little as two business days. Hence, it is critical you check your email frequently.

If you receive an email from ED, this does not guarantee you will win an award, but it does mean your application has scored well and you MAY be considered for an award. If you do not receive an email from ED, that does not necessarily mean you won’t win—they will only contact you if they have questions.

Your responses should be sent to ED in a single email (possibly supplemented by fax if you are asked to fax items). Do not send separate emails for each question! Provide as much detail in your responses as possible—too much information is better than too little. Request confirmation that your email was received.

This is an exciting time. Good luck.

If you did not submit a Carol White PEP Grant for 2008, but are considering one for 2009, be sure Project Adventure has your contact info so we can keep you posted of timelines and grant writing support. (email with the subject line - add to PEP grant mail list and include your name, school, title, mailing address, phone number and email address in body.)

Historically, the RFP is posted in Jan/Feb with a March/April deadline.

Adventure Based Counseling and Mentally Ill Adults

Facilitating Adventure Based Counseling programs absolutely takes skill and Paul Radcliffe, Project Adventure senior trainer, co-creator of Adventure Based Counseling and former school psychologist is one of the best. Last week Paul had the opportunity to work with five participants, all men diagnosed with a major mental illness. Their medical forms were sometimes multiple pages in length, including powerful medications such as prolixin, depakote and seroquel.

In a recent interview, Paul described some of the highlights of the day.

In the program, the Full Value Contract was the basis of their weekly group meetings. Before getting started the men gathered under the tent and talked about what the FVC meant to them. The most talkative of the group spoke about the concept of Being Here. He said, "We all have some psychological problems. We take a lot of meds and sometimes it is hard to be present."

Paul noticed right away that three of the five men were responsive. One was hardly participatory and another seemed nearly mute. Paul moved on to get a sense of their motor control by introducing Group Juggle, connected to a name game. The men and the staff stood in a close circle. Paul said, "Today we're going to learn something new about each other. As we go around the circle, say your name and a nickname that you have had and tell how you got it."

"My name is Robert and my nickname is Fred Flintstone 'cause my best dog's name was Barney." Everyone, including the staff, participated, calling a person by his or her nickname and tossing them the ball. Even the seemingly mute participant called out,
"My name's Eugene and I have a nickname, Skip because when I was little, I skipped all over town." It seemed to be the beginning of building a new rapport.

They continued on, through
Stepping Stones and Mass Pass, making adjustments, increasingly engaged, increasingly relying on one another. Paul noted how valuable it was having the staff participate in the activities. It was important for the men to see the ways in which they shared common emotions, from fear to jubilation.

After lunch, they participated in a warm-up activity that required them to hold hands. Paul asked if they were comfortable with this. At first, they were somewhat reluctant, but after three rounds, they were all focused on and ecstatic about their improved time. After a shaky but enlightening initiative of finding balance on the Whale Watch, the debriefing session was spirited. Everyone participated. The mute was mute no more. They all shared the satisfaction of having found balance together. "We need to slow down and be patient with one another." "I see how my behavior can affect your behavior and how our behavior can affect the whole group."

The last activity of the day was the Mohawk Traverse. This is a balance activity in which a knee-high wire is strung between two trees; using a series of hanging guide ropes for support. The challenge is to get from one tree to the other in the best way they can. At this point, Paul emphasized the importance of assessing the group every step of the way, modifying the activity when necessary, always having spotters in place. After some real effort and true team work, in single file partnerships, they all made it across. Paul said that they were jubilant afterward and instantly talked about how important it was to know and encourage one another.

Skip smiled broadly and said, "Yup, I'm takin' all this with me back to the house!" Everyone nodded in vigorous and radiant agreement.

Adventure Based Counseling is one of the foundational models developed by Project Adventure (Radcliffe, Dick Prouty and Jim Schoel) in the early 1970s. Cindy Simpson, Director of Project Adventure Kids (PA’s direct service residential and day treatment program for children and youth) took the ABC model and expanded it to develop Behavior Management through Adventure, a holistic, social and emotional skill building program implemented for over 20 years and now licensed to other alternative schools and treatment agencies nationally.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What can fifth graders learn from Project Adventure Programs?

“If we don’t work together we won’t accomplish what our goal is,” said Austin

Megan, 11, said, “You’ve always got to give it a try. It’s important to believe you can do it.”

Jenna, 10, said she loved learning about teamwork. “It’s awesome.”

Christopher, also 10, said he enjoyed the program. “We made new friends from Bungay,” he said of the program designed to introduce students who are from different schools but will all be merging for their sixth grade year.
Facilitator Suzanna Collinson was the lead trainer.

Using Project Adventure methodology and programming has been a key component of transition programs for over 25 years. Bill Bates, former Director of PE, Health and Athletics at the Cambridge Public Schools in Cambridge MA and now a PA consultant created a highly successful transition program for students moving up from middle school to high school.

Students who participate in teambuilding activities at the end of their last year of elementary school or middle school with students from other feeder schools become more engaged, less nervous, feel a sense of belonging. To make the experience even more valuable, educators who the students will be working with at their new school should be equal participants.

What does your school or district do for a transition program? What works well? Do you believe it positively impacts student success?

Swampscott Middle School Holds Project Adventure Photo Contest

According to Wicked Local - a website with news from the Swampscott MA Reporter, Jan Rushton, the teacher for Swampscott Middle School's Project Adventure class has found a new way to add to the PA curriculum experience.

Student's were asked to depict "adventure" in a photo. The photos could be of a student, by a student or by someone else but capturing the essence and meaning of adventure.

Photos of rock climbing, challenge courses, surfing and one that was more conceptual included a match igniting.

Rushton and her colleagues have completed Project Adventure trainings both at our Moraine Farm setting and customized professional development at their school Swampscott Public School installed challenge course elements as part of their capital project while doing a school renovation project.

What unique ways do you bring additional technology and tools into your Project Adventure programming? We'd love to hear about them.