Someone has written about it again: the soft skills gap. This time it’s in Time Magazine in an article titled “The Real Reason New College Grads Can’t Get Hired”. While we have a major unemployment problem in this country we also have an issue finding young people who can fill the many vacant positions out there.
As many as 1-in-5 employers has unfilled opportunities because they can’t find qualified people to fill them. As the author points out, this generation just joining the workforce isn’t lacking in technical skills. They know how to use computers better than any group that has come before them. What they don’t know, according to a recent by the Workforce Solutions Group of 200 different employers are basic “communication and interpersonal skills”. Another recent study by the staffing group Adecco found that “44% of [businesses] cited soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, as the area with the biggest gap” for young people just out of college. As a society we have produced a generation that, in large part, “can’t think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well.”
These findings are startling, and should be a wake up call to every parent, educator and young adult in America. But they are also, as our friend Steve Baskin at Camp Champions
says, “a love letter to summer camps”, and in particular, full-season overnight camps.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed more than 200 employers about their top 10 priorities in new hires. Overwhelmingly, they want candidates who are team players, problem solvers and can plan, organize and prioritize their work. These are exactly the skills children acquire when they attend overnight camp. The very act of leaving your parents and thriving in a new environment means that you can work well with others, solve more of your own problems, and make decisions about managing your own time.
Is there any other institution in American life that does a better job of teaching these skills to young people than summer camp? What other setting fosters the development of these vital 21st Century Skills in such a physically and emotionally nurturing way?
And while all summer camps, by the nature of their programs, are teaching soft skills like independence and the ability to work in groups, I believe that our overnight camp in NH does it better than almost any other. At Camps Kenwood & Evergreen
, we focus on developing these skills during every moment of our 7-week season. Through an intentional summer program that infuses soft skill learning and fun we teach our campers to become more proficient communicators, collaborators, and critical thinkers. They practice these skills as a part of our sports and arts activities, in learning to live away from home, and in working toward creating a good cabin dynamic. Our summer campers work on these skills 16 hours a day.
Take a look at some of the aspects of life at our summer camp in NH, and the corresponding 21st Century Skills that our campers develop:
Facilitated Cabin Discussions, Camper Councils, Color War Debates, Campfire Story Telling (Increased Oral Communication)
Team Sports, Film Making & Furniture Building Projects, Theater Performances, Rock Band, Canoe Trips (Collaboration & Critical Thinking)
Script & Screenplay Writing, Letters Home and Camp Annual Yearbook (Improved Written Communication Skills)
Daily Cabin Living, Eating, Laundry, Time Management Without Parents (Independence & Adaptability)
We also train our counselors and staff that every aspect of the Kenwood and Evergreen experience needs to include these opportunities for social and emotional growth. Would you like to see one of our staff training sessions?
These 21st Century Skills are only going to become more vital for young people entering the work force. Sadly, fewer and fewer areas of American life are even attempting to teach these developmentally necessary lessons to our children. If you desire to give your child a truly competitive edge for the future, providing them with the gift of a full-season overnight camp experience is now more important than ever.
Camps Kenwood and Evergreen
is a 7-week overnight camp located in Wilmot, NH. Please click below to download our brochure. In it you will learn about how we teach soft skills to children in a community dedicated to fun and friendship building.