An Open Letter to Jon Stewart of The Daily ShowDecember 11, 2013
The following is an open letter to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on Comedy Central
The Daily Show
733 11th Ave
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Stewart,
On last night’s Daily Show show you discussed how our nation’s school children fared on the Program for International Student Assessment scores for STEM skills like math, science and reading. Sadly, we learned that we have horrendous scores using that measure, including a “21th place” in science. Ouch.
We have so much ground to cover in Education Reform, though the Common Core is a great beginning, despite the pushback. Many schools are innovating, and most teachers are doing their best to equip their students with the skills that they will need to succeed in life. There are many excellent outcome-driven ideas out there, and your program has done an admirable job trying to cover this unglamorous story. These days, however, it’s not only academic and STEM skills that children need in order to succeed.
With that in mind, I have to ask: which summer camp did you attend? Was it day or overnight? Part of the Jewish Camping movement, YMCA or privately owned? Regardless of where you went I’d bet all of my canteen money that during your time at summer camp you learned some of the skills that are more difficult to find in this generation’s children. Skills like independence, resilience, communication, critical thinking and leadership are often in short supply. Employers and researchers now recognize that mastering these skills leads to better academic and employment success. These are the 21st century skills that children are going to need to succeed in the decades to come. They are also the skills that most young people acquire when they go to summer camp.
As a society we need to give all of our children a chance to learn these important skills. This issue is so vital that the next time you cover the American education system on the Daily Show I’d ask you to consider mentioning that each summer, America’s 8,000-plus summer camps strive to compliment the work of our K-12 schools and help to fill this education gap. Summer camps provide an unmatched set of experiences that children from every socio-economic demographic can benefit from, and they are available at every price point.
Please consider encouraging people to send their children to summer camp, in whatever form is best for them. Scouting Camp is summer camp. Bible Camp is summer camp. 2 weeks in a Y program is summer camp. They all foster positive social and emotional development, support problem solving, build resilience and strengthen personal responsibility.
And please consider asking our leaders to make a camp experience a part of every American child’s social and emotional development. Children need this. Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. I absolutely adore the show.
Director, Camps Kenwood and Evergreen
Wilmot, NH 03287