Confidence building is the number one reason to come to Benchmark Camp. For kids with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and other diverse ways of learning, the academic program at Benchmark Camp is so much more than “summer school”; it’s a different way of looking at learning.
“It’s an introduction to It’s an introduction to strategies and processes that may work better for them. Summer teachers provide instruction and guided practice in a way that lots of kinds of learners can understand and then take with them beyond the summer,” explains Megan Wonderland, a longtime teacher in the Benchmark Camp program and now Benchmark School’s Director of Admissions. “I remember a mother telling me about the unbelievable difference she noticed in her child. This was a student who had previously been reluctant to pull out a book changed into a child who learned to engage with a book, and love it. She’d learned so much—she’d make predictions, she’d apply background knowledge, and good reader skills were created.”
Setting Up for Success
Campers in the Benchmark program are set up to create success. The combination of individualized teacher support and personal goal setting lays the groundwork for huge confidence boosts. Kids are in class with other kids who are similar to them, both in terms of skills and age, which makes them willing to take risks.
For some students, this is the first time that they feel truly supported and free to ask questions and engage academically. They feel empowered to take risks, and that risk-taking builds confidence. Benchmark campers carry that newfound confidence with them into the academic school year.
Megan Wonderland explains, “We’re not just teaching subject matter, we’re explicitly teaching strategies for learning. Strategies for decoding words, for building executive function skills, for reading comprehension, and for writing skills are all identified explicitly, providing why, when, and how the strategy should be used. This provides students with a ‘strategies toolbox’ they can reach into whenever they need. Struggling students become confident learners.”
After a COVID Year, Learning to Learn Again
Effective learning is not a passive activity. Benchmark Camp’s academic program is a space to build up active engagement.
After a year of COVID classes, Benchmark Camp provides engagement with learning again. It’s a comfortable way to help students re-acclimate to a classroom setting. Learning relies heavily on interaction between students and teachers, and that interaction has sadly been sporadic and inconsistent for many students this year. In camp, we are continually interacting with students.
More than Just the Classroom
Although many families choose Benchmark Camp for the academics, the recreation program is a beloved component of the experience. The confidence building process doesn’t stop at the classroom door, either. Friendly counselors help to create friendships among the campers as they take part in art, crafts, science, robotics, swimming, games, sports, and a 35-event Confidence Course, building up to the 40’ high zipline. By the end of the summer, campers have gained confidence to a degree that they never imagined possible.
As one camp parent said, “Benchmark Camp was nothing short of amazing. We will be back next year!”