Middle school students play a game with a parachute outside.

By: Crystal Mutilitis, Clinician; Christina Lavigne, Clinician; Adrienne Ferri, Clinician

As part of the 2022 Summer Learning Academy held from July 5-28, PATH and Pathways counselors provided 45 minutes of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programming four days per week for a total of 56 Carteret School District students ranging from grades 5-8. Counselors facilitated team-building activities and games that focused on strengthening students’ communication skills and promoting positive peer interactions. Additionally, Wellspring agency staff spoke with Summer Learning Academy students twice each week about topics including substance abuse prevention and healthy decision-making. Students began each day with an interactive activity before breaking off into their classrooms for the academic portion of the day.

Students competed for first place in three-legged relay races! In this game, pairs of students had their ankles tied together and competed for the fastest time against the other teams. This game encouraged students to communicate and work together. 

In a game called Flip the Tarp, students worked together to flip tarps using only their feet. This game encouraged teamwork, critical thinking, and communication.

In an activity called Marshmallow Towers, students worked as a team to build towers using only marshmallows and toothpicks. The team that built the tallest tower won. This activity promoted critical thinking skills as well as problem-solving and teamwork.   

In another activity called Team Pen, students worked in small teams to write a word together using one marker that was connected to each team member by string. This game required communication, creativity, and teamwork (and a lot of patience!) in order to successfully write the word. 

In “Who’s Who?”, students were given either a word or a famous person/character, which was then attached to their back by a string. Students could not see what their notecard said and were tasked with asking their peers yes or no questions to identify what their card says. This game strengthened social skills by requiring students to move outside their comfort zone and talk with peers who they may not know on a personal level. 

Finally, students played a version of tag called “Sharks and Minnows,” where they had to avoid being tagged by the “shark.” When they were tagged, students became “seaweed” and were then tasked with tagging their peers. This game helped build peer connections and always had students laughing. 

Overall, students were highly engaged in the daily activities and reported that they enjoyed playing the games. They built positive and healthy relationships with peers as well as PATH counselors and learned more about The PATH services and activities to get involved in throughout the school year. This was a great group of students! 

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