The Future of Education and the Role of Summer Camps
Camp Golden Gate founder José Luis Lomeli discusses summer camps as a tool of empowering a more independent and organic learning process and the role they have come to play around the world.
by José Luis Lomeli
To understand the plausible future of education we must acknowledge its history. In the beginning, for hundreds of thousands of years, children educated themselves through self-directed play and exploration. But then with the rise of agriculture, and later of industry, children became forced laborers. Play and exploration were suppressed. Willfulness, which had been a virtue, became a vice that had to be beaten out of children. As a society we made education a systematic process.
For various reasons, some religious and some secular, the idea of universal, compulsory education arose and gradually spread. Education was understood as inculcation. The same power-assertive methods that had been used to make children work in fields and factories were quite naturally transferred to the classroom.
The problem with the evolution of education is that the models of education have stayed stagnant. We still have an education system addressing the market needs of the past. Human beings have evolved, but education has not changed sufficiently to stay aligned with societal needs and the learning process that best fit the globalized world we live in today.
Аristotle once said that education is a process of creation of sound mind in a sound body. Unfortunately, the education system currently in place in many countries around the world promotes a stressful environment that hence diminishes the productivity and happiness of students.
In the late 1800’s summer camps were introduced in the USA. Back then summer camps were viewed as a way for students to escape increasingly urban modern life. Then in the 1930’s the purpose of summer camps was shifted to the core idea that children would learn to balance the needs of individuals and society, and to be helpful citizens.
Nowadays, many summer camps around the world, like Camp Golden Gate, have become a fundamental mechanism in the education development of children because in a camp setting, children develop a sense of independence as they try new adventures away from home.
We believe that providing a safe environment free of societal stress allows students to gain confidence and develop a unique point of view of who they are and who they want to be. The strengths of camps like Camp Golden Gate are: the freedom they give children to choose what they want to do, an international setting that promotes diversity, the ability to feel independent and ready to take risks without everyone pointing a finger, and the opportunity to cultivate a more diverse network of new friends that give human value to their lives.
For example, Camp Golden Gate has put in place a simple interactive learning Program for our campers. From Monday to Friday, for two weeks, they take 3 hours of classes in the morning (One course per week. Courses available are: College Preparation, Drama, Introduction to Business, Communications and Cultural Behavior, and Journalism and Creative Writing), two hours of sports in the afternoon and two hours of Team Building in the evening. On Saturdays, they have an all-day excursion and Sunday is a free day.
Through these activities our campers: Experience success and become more confident, Develop life-long skills, Grow more independent, Learn social skills, Unplug from technology, Have free time for unstructured play, become more diverse and tolerant to new cultures and people, and make true lasting friends.
Camps are an education model that should be studied and implemented more in formal school settings because they are proven to promote a better well-rounded learning experience.