CosmoKidz goes to Louisianna:
Our first ever Camp CosmoKidz
We have sports camps, art camps, scholastic camps, but have you ever heard of a camp that focuses on helping kids develop better communicating skills? Well, this year there was one. We held our first ever Camp CosmoKidz this summer in Louisiana. The camp and its aftermath is such an extraordinary example of how one small thing can be so positively welcomed and then blossom into more, that we wanted to tell you the story.
The driving force behind the CosmoKidz program is to teach communicative skills to young children so they will have the best chance to grow into socially and emotionally skilled and competent adults. We recently completed a three-year research project at the Mt Vista School in Oracle, Arizona that provided us with convincing evidence that CosmoKidz does work. This year, we are extending the program in Hammond, Louisiana, by offering our first summer camp.
The idea of a summer camp for communication skills had been simmering for some time for communication professor and CMM Institute Board member, John Chetro-Szivos. One of John’s former students, Colleen Santon (who is also a certified elementary teacher), developed curriculum for the camp. So, in one sense, it was a great idea waiting for an opportunity. And that opportunity presented itself in Hammond, Louisiana.
The camp was set up by local resident Chipps Taylor and overseen by Chipps, Omega Taylor, Nannette Soule (Mt. Vista’s recently retired Principal), Kim Pearce and 10 college student camp counselors. Our aim was to see how realistic it is to have a 4 day CosmoKidz camp for young children (incoming first and second graders). The camp curriculum was based on the SOAR behavior principals that form the backbone of the CosmoKidz activities: Sense what’s around you; Open your hands to help others; Act with kindness; Respect other people. Each day focused on one of the SOAR letters. Thirty students attended the camp and they all received free breakfast, lunch, snacks and a certificate of participation. They learned a SOAR rap song that one of the camp counselors and rapper, Howard Taylor, developed and they performed the rap to their parents on the last day of the camp.
A month after the camp, two teachers from Mountain Vista school who have used CosmoKidz in their classrooms for the past several years were in Hammond to train twelve kindergarten through second-grade teachers to use CosmoKidz. This is also our first time using teachers to train other teachers. It was a fantastic day and the teachers in Hammond are very excited to begin the research using CosmoKidz in their classes.
The follow-on from our very first trial of a summer camp and teacher training is still unfolding as we write. All activities are being treated as part of a long-term assessment of how we can teach communicative skills to help young children grow into socially competent adults. Being able to do this assessment in Hammond is quite exciting because we hope to follow these children through 8th grade.
Our next set of goals is to create CosmoTweens (8-11 years old) and CosmoTeens (12-14 years old) to add to the skills children are learning from CosmoKidz. When these goals are completed, schools from kindergarten through 8th grade can teach their children a culture of communication skills and competencies that will carry them into high school and beyond.
Can you see ways that the CosmoKidz program can be spread further? Do you know of schools and/or communities that would love to see their children develop SOARing behaviors? Do you want to be involved?