“I believe we had some great moments during our workshop session on the challenge course,” commented Greg Urban, one of the Enhancing Team Culture trainers. “A great example was at the end of it: a participant was half-remembering a game she had played during a staff PD day at their site last year. We were standing in a circle, and she started to describe it: ‘One person gives a high five, and then that person gives it to someone else, and you switch spots a lot, and it's timed!’ From this description, I recognized the activity as Fill Me In. Instead of just describing it to her, I invited the rest of the group to come out into the sunshine and play it quickly to experience how it worked. We did just that, and ended having a great moment of laughter in the sun before lunch.”​

Laura MacDonald, the trainer for supporting and Reinforcing Whole-School Initiatives through Physical Education, noticed that “during the Hoop Baseball activity, the two teams seized the opportunity at the ‘seventh-inning stretch,’ to evaluate and innovate the way they were playing. It was exciting to see how the changes they made shot them past the goals they set for themselves. It was even more exciting for me to hear how this game modification sparked their creativity, understanding, and problem-solving skills.”

The energy was evident throughout the workshops. Lea Forster, LMHC from Lahey Behavioral Services said that, “it was energizing and rewarding to be able to share the work we've been doing with Reinforcers with a group of people who were curious, engaged and enthusiastic. Getting out of the office and sharing in that way offers great perspective and validation. I had a lot of fun demoing our communications skills game with participants in particular.”

Lea was also a past Adventure Based Counseling participant who was trained by John Grund, who ran the Mindfulness workshop. It was one of his highlights from the day to see her present the connections between experiential education and her work with behavioral services. “The realization that it is a systemic approach that is needed to address the needs of our students and experiential learning is a great medium that engages staff and students to facilitate this process.”

Overall, Josie Martin, Project Adventure’s SEL Program Coordinator, noticed “the energy and depth of conversation the participants had. Consistently, throughout the day and especially during our workshop, I noticed how quickly they engaged in discussion prompts in such a way that the conversation began to grow and take in a life of their own. Participants were eager to hear and share about SEL experiences in different communities.”​

The day culminated with a panel discussion from school administrators in neighboring communities about their school-wide initiatives and a presentation from Panorama Education on how to measure SEL, and the critical role data plays in making lasting change in all learning environments. “It was inspiring to have so many educators with a range of roles and experiences come together to share and learn best SEL practices,” reflected Jen Dirga, Project Adventure’s Director of Social and Emotional Learning. “It was also exciting to share the types of experiential learning programs Project Adventure offers to support social and emotional learning in schools.”

22 May 2018

The idea for a social and emotional learning symposium came about sometime in January or February. At the time, we saw May 18th as being a distant date, far, far into the future. Well, it came, it went, and we’re looking forward to next year.


Last Friday, Project Adventure hosted leaders in the SEL community to share their work with representatives from schools, youth-serving organizations, and members of the health and wellness community in the North Shore area. Participants at the symposium chose between six, morning breakout workshops where they experienced how to incorporate social and emotional learning skills into their daily practice. While each session had different content, they all centered around the importance of developing these skills in students and adults and the various methods to create environments for optimal learning to occur.

We hope that the connections made during this symposium will continue to grow and evolve in ways that will benefit future SEL programs. The more often we can come together over a common cause, the more support we will be able to offer each other as we all move forward in the direction of creating healthy and safe learning environments.​

Social and Emotional Learning Symposium

Project Adventure