Aaron's Camp is divided into three components: 1) Day Retreat, 2) Summer Day Camp, and 3) Booster Activities.
Day Retreat - The goals of this retreat are to provide opportunities for students to work collectively in a relaxed, outdoor setting. Activities include team building exercises, extensive scavenger hunt, recreational activities, and promotion of respect for nature. This retreat provides a chance for youth who may live in unsafe neighborhoods to experience nature, reflect, and enjoy the serene landscape without the typical distractions of life. Youth who participate in the day retreat may choose to apply for the summer day camp.
Summer Day Camp - The summer day camp consists of eight days (Mon- Thurs over two weeks, 9:00am-2:00pm). Each day includes structured and unstructured time. An example of a day looks like the following:
|11:15-11:45||Free Time- choice of recreation, art, etc.|
|1:15-1:45||Art application of Module|
|1:45-2:30||Wrap up, clean up, snack|
Curriculum has been developed by a retired school teacher and a certified science teacher. Curriculum identified by the state of Oklahoma were used to create six curriculum modules for Aaron’s Camp, which include data from Project Wild (owl pellet dissection), Project Wet (animal poetry, nature journal), Project Learning Tree (tree identification, tree parts). Both didactic and applied teaching strategies are employed. Creative and art activities, such as worm and dirt painting and rubbings, are incorporated into the curriculum. Examples of activities for each module are provided in the chart below:
|Soil & Water||Soil and water sampling, dirt painting, microscope use|
|Forestry||Tree identification, tree rubbings>|
|Fishing & Wildlife||Fishing, owl pellet & snake dissection, insect identification, scavenger hunt>|
|Biodiversity/Adaptation/Fire||Fire safety, conservation>|
|Self-Confidence/Decision Making||Primary vs secondary coping instruction and application, problem solving exercises >|
|Healthy Living||Nutrition illustrated by available food choices, substance use education, recreation>|
Aaron’s Camp 2012
Thirty middle school students and six Junior Mentors participated in Aaron’s Camp during June of 2012. A certified teacher delivered modules, coordinated activities, and supervised unstructured time. In addition, experts volunteered their time. The chief forester from the northeast Oklahoma unit of the Oklahoma Forestry Department taught campers how to estimate the age and height of a tree, how to preserve forests, and how the department fights forest fires. A soil scientist described the various kinds of soils in Oklahoma and talked about the importance of soils and their preservation to food production. A pharmacist described the negative affects of abuse of prescription and illicit drugs and discussed with the campers how to fill their lives with positive things rather than harmful activities and behaviors. A child clinical psychologist discussed primary vs secondary coping skills and provided steps to healthy problem solving and decision-making, both with application exercises. One day each session the campers took a field trip to the Rogers County nature preserve in Claremore where they waded in water and engaged in identification of pond and insect/animal life as well as catching water creatures. On the final day of Camp, Aaron's story of challenge and perseverance was carefully told, with direct implication for making good choices and what results if one makes poor choices. Campers were visibly moved and speechless. Throughout day camp, we have integrated strategies to encourage participation and healthy competition, such as tangible rewards and privileges for participation.
As a result of the feedback we received from campers and Junior Mentors in 2012, we have created “booster” activities to occur in the Tulsa area throughout the year (bimonthly) following day camp. These activities are designed to foster continued social interactions between campers and Junior Mentors and to foster continued development of skills (e.g., confidence building, healthy decisions) learned during day camp. These activities include, but are not limited to, ropes course, sporting events, cooperative exercises (group presented with a problem and must solve together), meals with a motivational speaker providing "life lessons", volunteering in the community. Research has shown that continued reinforcement of skills learned provides an optimal long term outcome.