Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Success Camp

A new program for youngsters in foster care, developed by the Ethics Center in conjunction with Santa Clara County and the Santa Clara County Office of Education, was presented with the Quality Award from the Santa Clara County Office of Education on Aug. 18.

Called Success Camp, the three-day program focuses on building success through resiliency, organization, literacy, and preventing problems through social skill instruction. It teaches language arts plus "survival skills," such as listening and asking for help, to children recently placed in the child welfare system. In the pilot, 100 percent of the students reported that they used the camp materials after they left the program.

The materials draw on popular children's stories including the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket series. Participants learn from how characters in the stories cope with their own challenges and "unfortunate incidents." They create notebooks, illustrations, bookmarks, readers' theater, and other projects to explore these ideas. Group activities are also offered for foster parents and caregivers to help them reinforce what youngsters learn in Success Camp.

Steve Johnson, Center character education director, explained the rationale behind the program: "We especially want children who are involved in the child welfare services system to have all the opportunities necessary to be successful, opportunities they are now less likely to get. Success Camp focuses on building success through resiliency, organization, literacy, and preventing problems through social skill instruction."