Saturday, February 14, 2009

It is the time of year we start planning for 7th grade camp. Along with the obvious planning - class schedules, staffing, etc... the subject of who to take and who not to take comes up.

The initial philosophy of camp was always to take everyone, and part of me agrees 100% with that.

However...... what about some accountability for students? Is it OK to get suspended over and over again, for a variety of issues from truancy to fighting to insubordination, and still be allowed to go? For some of the students, the issue is fairly clear cut - too many issues, period. End of discussion.

For others though, the question rides a wavery gray line for me.

Is it a matter of the ones I like and the ones I don't like?

Should it be based on what our predictions will be for that student's success while at camp?

Should it be based only on past performance at school behavior-wise?

Is it acceptable to not include a student because you know s/he will not survive the experience because of maturity issues?

Can exceptions be made for those who are showing dramatic improvement, but had serious issues early on?

Should we create more clear cut black and white rules to enforce?

Every year I struggle to think through these questions for the students I love dearly and want to take along but for reasons outside my realm of control, are being excluded.

The student who misses school so frequently he struggles to keep up despite being incredibly bright and working hard while he is there. I would love to take this little guy. He is so funny, so smart, so likeable. But he misses school so often. When he does come to school, most of the time he is tardy. But these issues are out of his control. It is a parenting issue. Does that mean he should be excluded from camp?

The girl who lives with grandpa and skips school more days than not. When she is there, she is amazing - bright, talented, a real knack for learning, pleasant, friendly. She does have some other issues - bullying, smoking.... But I like her, I enjoy her. Camp would be a wonderful experience for her.

Then the ones I simply do not want to take. The mouthy, sneaky one who seems to usually avoid trouble himself but is central to almost every issue in the class or hall. I *know* he will cause problems in his cabin at camp. He will be the one throwing food in the lodge at meal time, refusing to pick up trash on the greens, and jumping up to break branches off trees on hikes.

How do we justify camp, period? Is it truly a worthwhile educational endeavor anymore?

Not many answers..... just lots of questions....

1 comment:

montgorp said...

I think that your last paragraph is the key one. Why camp?

Our Year 7s don't do any form of camp any more. They have to wait till year 8.