This fall, former campers taking part in Sherwood Forest’s Supports for Success program will continue turning their sights to the future and having some fun along the way. Since 2016, Supports for Success (S4S) has been working with camp alumni to explore next steps in their personal journeys. While laying the groundwork for success involves a mix of career readiness, college access, independent living skills, and financial literacy, equally emphasized in the program is working on socio-emotional learning, which benefits both their inter and intra personal worlds. By putting in the work to learn more about themselves, they are better poised to become engaged in their communities. It’s no surprise that the tenacious spirit camp nurtures in Sherwood Forest campers prepares them for real world challenges and we are ready to help elevate them to this exciting next phase in their lives.
“I think we are really trying to help solidify our S4S participants as lifelong learners/growers, which is at the foundation of what starts at camp”, shares Supports for Success Manager, Emily Mess. “We try to continue to build on instilling that so our kids are equipped with setting and following up on continuous goals they set for themselves, making them flexible and adaptable adults who will advocate for themselves and others.”
At a time when the landscape of college and career is changing, it’s more important than ever that Sherwood Forest alumni are provided a framework enabling them to become resourceful and independent, while also being open to help and support in planning their post-secondary pursuits. For many students, they not only need help navigating crucial steps, but also need to educate themselves on how to do so while accumulating as little debt as possible. Supports for Success seeks to bridge the gap that exists in many under-resourced schools where assistance from counselors and social workers may not be widely available or sufficiently in-depth. It also provides a valuable opportunity for strengthening camp connections, fostering young leadership, and becoming role models to younger Sherwood Forest campers. Designed to be highly individualized and human-centered, those in Supports for Success are in the driving seat when it comes to the route they take. By working closely with Sherwood staff, they are encouraged to map out their dreams, determine the short and long terms goals they want to achieve, and with the guidance of staff work through any roadblocks that may present themselves along the way.
This summer, S4S participants also working as counselors-in-training were an integral part of hosting our virtual camp program, Stay Camp. They led various online cabin meetings, guided reflective conversations with campers, read books together, and created numerous activity videos, all of which serves as a gateway to taking on further supervisory positions at camp. In addition to continued individual meetings with program staff, the current S4S cohort started a virtual “Supper Club” through which they prepared and shared meals as a group and even took ukulele lessons together!
Fall 2020 will prove to be different than those in the past, but the summer was great practice in staying connected while apart. Online monthly workshops for Support for Success begin this month and will include a mix of group sessions and targeted breakout groups. Tailored support for our camp alumni will also continue via open office hours after school and on weekends where they can seek guidance on a variety of needs – academic or personal. While 11th and 12th graders will zero in on career readiness and education exploration, 10th graders in the program will do the same plus trying something new. Having missed out on the impactful last summer at camp, staff will guide them through processing their experiences through journaling and storytelling. Particularly exciting are program plans to utilize audio/visual software to create content inspired by the hugely popular StoryCorps series. By reflecting on their own personal story and what camp has meant to them, we hope to facilitate open communication about their experiences and begin conversations about their futures. The practice of articulating these thoughts and emotions will also serve as a valuable life skill and therapeutic habit as they enter into adulthood.
Summer may be over but Sherwood Forest never stops. This fall, we are looking forward to growing alongside our camp alumni in Support for Success. By providing guidance to removing barriers and creating an environment of trust and safety, we want every kid to feel supported for exactly who they are. And while we are hopeful to make up for a lost summer at camp soon, for now we still have ‘Supper Club”.