SuperCamp teaches 8 Keys of Excellence as foundational principles during academic summer camps

By Doug Schlesser

One of my favorite parts of SuperCamp is our discussion that leads up to the Ownership key talk. The Campers come into our Main Room to a message displayed on a flip chart that says, “Whatever you are doing, saying – even wearing – at any given moment is sending a message to the people in the world around you about who you are.”

This idea is one that I think about a lot. The messages that we send are very important as individuals, and as Facilitators at SuperCamp, we live in a fishbowl.

When I came across a study linked on the LA Times’ blog Booster Shots that ties social networks to grade point average, I was reminded of it again.

The study, which reconstructed the social networks of 158 students at Maine-Endwell High School in Endwell, New York (a sample of 92% of the junior class), produced an interesting result.

Not 24 hours before reading this article I had a very similar conversation with a student of my own who was being heavily distracted by a friend in class. I asked him to do his best to stay on task and help bring his friend up to his own level of achievement, instead of the other way around.

Sure enough, this study concluded that students who were surrounded by friends with higher GPAs at the start of the year increased their own GPA during the year. Of course, the opposite was also true. Surround yourself with students who aren’t as high achieving and you’re likely to mimic them as well.

It seems to me that one of the most difficult conversations to have with a student is about the messages that they send. In fact, we may find that the messages adults interpret as negative are the messages that teenagers actually want to send.

At SuperCamp, where our methods and intentions live in a vacuum, a conversation like the one above can go smoothly and easily re-direct a behavior. In a school, however, it is much more difficult to consistently send positive messages. SuperCamp does a lot to offer support to our graduates to help transition this behavior and others we learn at SuperCamp into daily life.

But here’s the kicker – when it comes down to it, on paper the end result of a high school career is a grade point average. It is the first indicator, a number assigned that is theoretically representative of a student’s intelligence and level of success.

A student may ask us, “Who cares about my GPA?” And  the answer is simple: colleges, universities, trade schools, parents, future employers, etc.

It’s a hard concept to grasp for anyone that our actions in one space can affect the perception of us in another arena seemingly unrelated at the moment.

The job of stressing the fact to our SuperCamp students that their GPA sends a message about themselves, and supporting them daily in an effort to shape that message, is a difficult one. For me, it starts as a SuperCamp Facilitator. I happen to be lucky enough to continue that as a teacher during the rest of the school year.

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About the Author:
Doug Schlesser is a graduate of Illinois State University. He has been a Quantum Learning Network SuperCamp Facilitator since 2011. During the school year, he is a High School English Teacher in Thornton, Illinois.

About SuperCamp:
SuperCamp offers academic and personal enrichment program summer camps for teens, including specifically designed summer programs for high school students, middle school students, and college students respectively. These educational summer camps provide ideal college prep skills and help instill positive values for life based on The 8 Keys of Excellence by Bobbi DePorter. SuperCamp’s academic summer programs for teens help students increase their grades, confidence and motivation.