For most of the 20th century, two letters—IQ—have been used to define human intelligence. But lately, especially in academic and behavioral theory circles, people are rethinking whether intelligence quotient is actually so important. Instead, they’re increasingly replacing the “I” with an “E”—for emotional intelligence. It’s still good to be smart, but EQ is the new IQ.

That’s because research is showing that for those of us not pondering the mysteries of space-time relativity or interstellar wormholes, EQ—and the ability to work in groups, communicate effectively, and speak with good purpose—is actually king.

Dr. Travis Bradberry, best-selling author and co-founder of TalentSmart, as well as a leading researcher on EQ, has found the following:


If these stats are surprising to you, they should offer hope as well. Unlike IQ, which is supposed to be immutable and unteachable, EQ is completely learnable. The key is getting an early start.

As children develop, they are more responsive to their moods and emotions than adults. Learning to regulate and appropriately channel this responsiveness is key to success later in life. Though we teach children everything from how to tie their shoes to multiplication tables, we often neglect emotional learning. At SuperCamp, we recognize the importance of getting a jump on EQ.

EQ Can Be Taught: The Super Camp Way

Before I explain why SuperCamp is so effective at teaching emotional intelligence, we should first take a look at exactly what this term means.

First coined by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer, the pair defined the concept as “the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”

Daniel Goleman, a science journalist who wrote the best seller Emotional Intelligence, broke the concept down into five components. As we look at each one, I’ll explain just how some of the core tenets of SuperCamp—including the 8 Keys of Excellence and 6 Areas of Life Skills Training—tie in.

Self-Awareness, defined as understanding moods and emotions—both your own and others—and acting appropriately in reaction to them. Self-aware people are typically self-confident, but not afraid to tell a joke at their own expense.

A lot of building strong self-awareness has to do with one of our Keys of Excellence: balance. We define this concept as “living your best life,” and what we mean by that is remembering that there is more to life than midterms, acing the SATs, or a prestigious college degree. Sometimes it’s the straight-A students that need this reminder the most!

When we create an environment of acceptance, we allow students the space to be who they want to be. Building self-confidence through group sharing and trust-building activities creates self-aware learners (e.g., “I am nervous to stand up and share, but I can overcome my nerves.”).

Self-Regulation is the ability to use rational thinking to override disruptive emotional impulses. People with strong self-regulation skills adapt easily to new situations, display calm in the face of adversity, and inspire confidence in others.

That’s why we teach flexibility, defined as the willingness to do things differently. On a basic level, this can mean new techniques for problem resolution, such as Hebbian learning. Maybe even more importantly, empowering students to take risks shows that it is okay to fail and that failure promotes growth.

In the same vein, expanding, one of our Areas of Life Skills Training, is all about moving students out of their comfort zones. In the words of one student, “By day three, I had cried with my team, laughed with my team, and hugged everyone on my team.” At SuperCamp, we believe in students diving into change headfirst.

Internal Motivation is a drive to achieve and accomplish that exists independently of external rewards such as money, status, or grades. High internal motivation usually manifests as a passion for learning and knowledge, as well as optimism and the ability to overlook monetary or professional setbacks.

To this end, we teach that character (“establishing a code for personal excellence”) is of the utmost importance. This means recognizing that self-actualization exists within oneself. Typically, students come to us believing that good grades or test scores are the ends and that learning and knowledge acquisition are simply a means.

By flipping this paradigm on its head—i.e., good grades are a byproduct of a passion for learning, but not the ultimate reward—we create resilient and curious young adults. This can be critical for students who have trouble adjusting to high school or college; a bad semester shouldn’t kill a student’s quest for knowledge!

Empathy, commonly lacking in teenagers and young adults, is usually thought of as being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Seeing from different perspectives increases potential for successful client relationships, teambuilding, and working with a variety of personality types.

Many of our campers are already highly motivated students (and those who aren’t will be headed that direction by the end of their session!). Naturally, these students will be looked on to help their peers and classmates when they return to school. That’s why another Area of Life Skills Training we focus on is leadership.

In addition to confidence and communication, the ability to lead successfully is largely predicated on empathy. We teach problem resolution, and specifically how seeing from someone else’s perspective can change your own viewpoint. Here at SuperCamp, we believe in students using their skills for good. After all, with great power comes great responsibility

Social Skills is maybe the facet of EQ that we are the most familiar with. While we mostly think of social skills as making friends and maintaining relationships, it also typically includes an ability to affect change and persuade others. Like empathy, it is a critical component to successful leadership.

This is where speaking with good purpose, one of our Keys of Excellence comes into play. This means choosing our words wisely so that we are honest and kind when we communicate with one another. In speak with good purpose activities, we increase awareness of what our words mean and the impact they have.

As is often the case, a young student summed up the concept best. “I’m going to be thinking about what I’m saying, knowing what I’m saying, and having an impact in what I’m saying.” Many adults still don’t possess this skill set. By mastering speaking with good purpose as teenagers, our students are on a fast track for success.

Think About It

It’s not a coincidence that we teach our campers to seek excellence academically, professionally, and in life. We don’t just believe in creating successful students. At SuperCamp we impart skills that last a lifetime.