Friday, September 19, 2008

Good wishes, Lisa Faulkingham Hunt

Today, Project Adventure says good bye to a long term trainer and consultant, Lisa Faulkingham Hunt.

Lisa's career at PA has spanned nearly 10 years and her influence has ranged from Youth and College Program Facilitator, working on our Association of Experiential Education Accreditation, co-author of our Adventure Curriculum for Physical Education k-12 series and co-author of Achieving Fitness Activity Guide. Most recently, Lisa has lead our Physical Education Core Team.

We wish her well. With Lisa's permission, we've included her reflections on her time at PA.

"I love the moments on the Challenge Course when decisions are made – the big “go for it” dives of the pamper pole, or the screaming dismount onto the zip wire. But what I love even more are the quiet decisions that people make, not so dramatic but full of growth and thought, toward the next right thing. The quiet decision to leave the comfort of the tree and walk out one step onto the Catwalk; as if it were just simply their time to do it. It has become my time to make that quiet decision to leave the comfort of my Project Adventure family, and I am able to make this critical next move because of what you have taught me.

It is a simple task to reflect on the highlights of my experience working at Project Adventure. The images, the people, the moments and the sounds come to mind quickly. The opportunities that have been presented to me are ones I don’t expect to find anywhere else. It is simple too to reflect on the relationships, who you all are, and how you have impacted me and my work, because all of the relationships are so dear and special to me, and they are right there, right up close in my thoughts. Lists of moments that I’m proud of come easily too, as do the memories of making mistakes in my leadership that you’ve allowed me to take as learning opportunities.

But you’ve taught me that my responsibility is to step into my stretch zone, so to write about the highlights, the relationships, the memories, the accomplishments, the pride isn’t going to cut it.

You’ve taught me to set goals, to revisit them often and to say them out loud. So, my goal is to reflect on, and share with you, moments when I felt the mission being lived. Moments that really have nothing to do with me.

Project Adventure seeks to develop responsible individuals, productive organizations and sustainable communities. Where have I seen that? What happened?

A second grader at the Arch School in Greenwich, Connecticut is waiting for a program to start. Bart (fellow trainer) and I are present, but behind the curtain of the stage. The girl observes two boys arguing over which one gets to play with a HulaHoop. She approaches them and gently reminds them that they agreed to Be Gentle, Be Kind and Be Safe, and encourages them toward a gentle solution. Not because a teacher was watching. Not because someone suggested that she intervene. She was empowered to use a tool that had been taught to her, that she demonstrated a complete understanding of. This is the young girl who would later ask if Bart and I were “named after Bart and Lisa Simpson.”

Cindy Simpson and I spent about ten days in Rutland, Vermont doing some BMTA (Behavior Management through Adventure) training in 2000. We went back several months later to observe and support their program. A teacher started the day in the gym with a game of Giants, Wizards and Elves. “They are learning, through playing this game day after day, that they can communicate. They can solve problems. They can have fun and laugh. I remind them of this throughout the day,” their teacher tells me. I watch the game. Each side decides quickly which characters they will represent, but with all voices heard. Students are eager to efficiently solve the problem so they can continue the joy of play. They give and take; they strategize. And I saw that over and over again in that classroom. This teacher went on to say that “it doesn’t mean much if I tell them to go and work it out. I have to remind them they have the skills and the tools to work it out. That kind of thing has never happened in this school, or for these kids before.”

Greg Cowen is a teacher from Putnam, CT, one of the early recipients of the PEP grant. Putnam has accessed almost every resource that Project Adventure has to offer. Greg has emerged as the Challenge Course Manager and over the years he has taken 15 Project Adventure Workshops. A combination of Greg’s intelligence and excitement, his trainers over the years and the resources that the school has received have come together to make a truly sustainable program. Each grade level has a Full Value Contract and a thoughtful PE program that reflects the best of what we have to offer made even better by the outstanding work of the teachers in this district. Greg recently completed his third Advanced Skills and Standards workshop and what I saw was a person who has developed over seven years and who has brought an entire program behind him. He will continue his ASAS every couple of years, he will certainly stay in touch with us, but he has what it takes now, it’s just a part of him. I said to him this summer “Greg, I have nothing left to teach you,” and as a client who has soaked up our mission, he has so much to teach us.

And most significantly for me now, I feel proud of Project Adventure’s mission to “bring the adventure home” because I have brought Adventure into my home and to my son, and you all taught me how. The best parts of me as a mother have come from my experience with you. You have taught me:

That we each will act out in different ways when we are in our panic zones, or have been pushed too fast into our stretch zones.

That sometimes we just need to curl up in our comfort zone.

That we will thrive when we understand our behavioral guidelines and that we can contribute to them.

That “good job” can be the end of a conversation, and “how was that?” can be an invitation to share and explore feelings.

The value of a check-in at the beginning of the day and reflection at the end of the day.

The best games are simple, provide opportunity for creativity and can include everyone.(My son and his cousins played “race the acorns down the playground slide” for an hour last weekend, and eventually had all the other kids on the playground involved)

That bursts of physical activity are a natural and critical part of every day.

That in the end my job is to maintain a safe environment and to support the growth of those in my care.

That is not only what you have taught me, but what you have provided that for me while I have been in your care. I am very excited for the opportunities that are ahead for each of you, and the organization that is the sum of you. I leave Project Adventure very humbly, and I will take the lessons you have taught me wherever I go.

And to Lisa, we say "Peace Out". Your friends and colleagues!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Project Adventure's 20 Year Safety Study

Back by popular demand once again, Project Adventure's 20 year safety study is the most comprehensive of its kind and the most referred to the industry. To download your own copy, click here.