Our Approach

Healthy Body | Healthy Heart | Healthy Mind

In communities facing high rates of poverty, urban teens encounter many barriers to physical health, socioemotional wellbeing, and ultimately academic success.  These interconnected challenges inform our holistic approach to youth development, grounded in our core tenets of Healthy Body, Healthy Heart, and Healthy Mind. Research shows that the knowledge and skills we build at camp -- healthy habits, social skills and capital, and self-management -- lead to positive outcomes for youth, like academic success and thriving.

With respect to health, while young people may learn about dietary guidelines in school, many lack the access, financial resources, and hands-on knowledge necessary to make healthy food choices. Poor nutrition puts youth at increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension – and can even affect cognitive development and school performance. These challenges are complicated by the emotional volatility of adolescence. Many teens struggle to develop positive self-concept and healthy peer relationships. These difficulties are often exacerbated in poor communities, where rates of depression and adolescent delinquency are disproportionately high.

Teens’ socioemotional wellbeing bears a strong relationship to positive academic performance, positive behavior, reduced risk behavior, and thriving. Indeed, “despite all the attention to standardized tests…achievement scores are not strong predictors of whether students will graduate” (Farrington et al, 2012). Rather, a range of socioemotional competencies – a willingness to engage in class, the ability to pursue goals, and a belief that one belongs in a school community, among others – are strongly correlated to persistence in high school and beyond, as well as other positive outcomes.

For young people to succeed, we must tend to their physical health, socioemotional wellness, and academic needs through holistic supports that cultivate positive habits of body, heart, and mind.