Custom Designed Curriculum

If you know anything about HOW Waypoint Adventure programs take form and shape, hopefully the words “custom-designed” come to mind. Our adventures are adapted to meet the needs and goals of the particular individual or group we’re working with. And while there’s a whole lot of individualized instruction that takes place on the day of the program, sometimes the themes or big concepts stay generally consistent to the tried-and-true concepts we’ve found work really well for certain age groups. At the Mario Umana Academy in East Boston, for example, we’ve been working with their 2nd through 8th grade classes for 7 years and we’ve kept generally the same curriculum running: When it comes to the 4th & 5th grade class, they get a curriculum centered on Teamwork every winter. Through an adventure-education model that balances their academic work, they discover how to work together with one another.

But when we met with Ms. B, the teacher of this 4th-5th grade group, she said, “Actually, I’d rather not do Teamwork this year. My students don’t need more ‘working together…’ I’m trying to get them to NOT work so closely together.” And just like that “custom designed” took precedence. We threw out the playbook and started from scratch. This group had a unique set of needs! And their adventure-education curriculum needed to capitalize on that. Their goal was PERSEVERANCE. Things that are hard for us, can actually be GOOD for us. And in order to do things that are hard, we need perseverance! We need the ability to stick through a task, not give up, call upon strategies like asking for help, and develop resilience and grit.

So through a series of adventures and team-building sessions at school, this class got chance after chance to show perseverance. Check it out:

It started with an activity identifying (personally) what’s easy vs what’s hard. Even things in the “HARD” column like doing chores or brushing our teeth are GOOD for us. Hard things require perseverance.

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The next week we went for a hike in the Blue Hills and MAN WAS IT COLD. We packed extra clothes and kept moving – not even stopping for a lunch midway through. It definitely put perseverance into action!

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The next week, we started talking about specific strategies. When things get frustrating, what can we do instead of “giving-up”? Asking for help, taking a break, or positive self-talk are all good strategies. A challenging but exciting cup-stacking competition was the perfect illustration.

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For our last adventure, we took perseverance to the pool – learning kayak skills like how to make the boat go where we want it to go and not giving up! This day was possible thanks to our valued corporate partner, Definitive Cares! A huge thanks goes out to 11 volunteers that met us in East Boston and did a fabulous job working with this group.

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And lastly, we recounted all our hard work. We discovered that hard things really are good for us. Perseverance is a crucial skill to have when it comes to conquering challenges and sticking with important tasks. Through perseverance we can learn, have better patience, maintain better relationships, and develop skills we didn’t have before.

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It was an awesome series with this class and an important reminder to all of us that “custom-designed” curriculum is valuable.

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