Photo by John F. Russell
Classmate Preston Stuart, pointing in background, guides Jonathan Martinez through an exercise at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. Advocates Building Peaceful Communities coordinated with The Outward Bound program to run the camp for Steamboat Springs Middle School seventh-graders after receiving a $20,000 grant.
Steamboat Springs Don’t bully. Stand up for yourself in a positive way. Passive-aggressive behavior is usually a result of unfair treatment and often can result in more negative actions.
The lessons are simple, but teaching them to seventh-graders as they grapple with social pressures and create their own identities is not only tricky, but it’s also important.
Because the seventh-grade year is an important part of social development, Advocates Building Peaceful Communities organized a day at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp for all of the seventh-graders in Routt County.
Advocates Executive Director Diane Moore, with a $20,000 grant, coordinated with Outward Bound to offer the day of team building, problem solving and life lessons. Seventh-graders from South Routt and Hayden were invited Wednesday, half of Steamboat Springs seventh-graders Thursday and the other half Friday.
Rebecca Carson, the Outward Bound course director, said getting the seventh-graders out of the classroom also could help them to reveal themselves and emphasize lessons they learned in the classroom.
“When they get out of their environment at school, they can take off their masks, step outside their comfort zones and be a little vulnerable,” she said.
By doing that, they are “challenged about what their relationships will look like” and what their values are as they learn to identify themselves.
Preston Anderson, one of the participants Friday, said it was a reinforcement of several ideas the students have been taught in class and by Advocates’ high school representatives who have visited the seventh-grade classes.
“They’ve been talking about different types of bullying and how it can affect people,” he said.
Bullying doesn’t always have to be physical, and it usually isn’t. In fact, several seventh-graders said they rarely saw physical bullying at the schools, but after learning about the effects of psychological bullying, they began to see it more.
Mike Hampton, an Outward Bound instructor who lives in Greeley, was teaching Preston and his peers the appropriate way to stand up for themselves in a positive way. After having the group members go through a series of trust and team-building activities, he used what he saw as examples. One student stood up for himself when others wanted to cheat. One was quiet when he had ideas he wanted to share.
“You’ve got to stand up and say what you think,” Hampton said.
Being passive to negative forces often can lead to aggressive behavior later, he said, and that can be just as bad as the initial problem.
“That’s not right, either, right? It’s more of the same thing back,” he told the boys.
Moore said this is the “icing on the cake” after high school representatives visited each seventh-grade group three times during the past year. She said the grant, from the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, helped them create the program this year, and she hopes to continue it in future years if the funding is available.