Campfire is a daily element of Expedition Academy Santa Cruz, a time during which we join together in a circle and relate to each other as human beings. One of the main goals of Campfire is to help students develop the core competencies of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The elements of SEL can be described in multiple ways and there are a variety of approaches used to teach these skills.
As we began the process of designing Expedition Academy Santa Cruz we relied heavily on our own experience as educators over the past 25 years. Our vision for Campfire is to build social emotional learning into the daily fabric of Expedition Academy. While the experience of Campfire will differ from day to day, the long term goal is the development of social emotional competencies and awareness. Social emotional skills are no different than math skills or keyboarding skills, they must be practiced over and over until they become second nature. Our goal with Campfire is to create a safe place for students to learn and practice making choices, collaborating, building resiliency, reflecting on individual and group experiences, as well as developing a sense of empathy. Campfire begins on the first day of school and continues daily through the last day of school. Sometimes Campfire will only last 5 minutes, other times it will last as long as it needs to in order to address the challenges that present themselves. Our first 3 full days of the school year will occur camping at Little Basin in the Santa Cruz mountains in order to set the tone for what Campfire is all about.
Many redesigned schools are embracing the power of sitting in a circle (Campfire) with a small group of students to practice developing social emotional skills. The following video gives a brief look at how another school, Valor Collegiate Academy, is using small student circles to develop social emotional skills.