A post by Krista Beckman, PAA Assistant Producer.
At PAA, we’ve found that one of the most unique and effective ways to motivate students and foster friendships is – perhaps not surprisingly – CANDY! Though it involves hundreds of chocolate bars and countless lollipops, our Candy Kudos initiative is about much more than satisfying the collective sweet tooth of our summer camp kids. With each piece of candy comes an encouraging note with an inside joke, a word of encouragement, or a heartfelt compliment.
For $1, teachers and students can buy each other these notes with an accompanying candy bar, lollipop, or sour candy pack of their choice. On the first day of Candy Kudos, the teachers write notes to all students to set an example of appreciative, thoughtful words. Since these first Kudos are usually given early on in the camp (the first week for two-week camps), they also come at an ideal time to show the teachers’ appreciation for their students’ continuing hard work.
In addition to knowing they’re appreciated by their teachers, the camp participants also benefit from the kind thoughts of their peers. Most students purchase at least one, and many of them purchase 10 or more Candy Kudos throughout the course of the camp. In camps with a large age range, older kids often buy them for their whole Family Group (groups that combine the older and younger students). This is a fantastic way for our
students to get to know each other, and a wonderful means of forming new friendships.
Here are just a few examples of what our students wrote to each other at the Oliver camp:
“Great job today!”
“I have loved being in your family group these past two weeks.”
“Keep going – you’re doing great!”
“You are a great actress!”
“Thanks for working so hard! It has been so much fun hanging with you!”
Though the candy is a sweet added incentive, we’ve found that it’s the notes that matter the most to the kids. Many of them treasure the notes they receive and save the colorful papers as a fun reminder of their time at PAA, long after the candy has been eagerly devoured! Ultimately, Candy Kudos are just another way of letting our students know – from the teachers and from each other – just how much each of them matters.