Challenge Day: life-changing program


Challenge Day arrives as new experience


On May 8, 2008, the School Site Council came to its final decision: get rid of Camp Everytown.

This year, students and staff alike were surprised to learn that Monta Vista will be replacing Camp Everytown with a new program called Challenge Day. Camp Everytown is geared toward breaking down stereotypes and learning about other people as well as oneself. Over a course of four days at a campsite in Santa Cruz, teens and adults learned the value of respect.
“Most of the kids I've spoken to said it was a life-changing experience,” said social studies teacher and Camp Everytown alumnus Ben Recktenwald. "You really develop a sense of community [at Camp Everytown]."
Though a number of students and staff members agree with Recktenwald, going to Camp Everytown is no longer an option. Instead, the school has decided to participate in Challenge Day which only lasts for one day instead of four, and is held on campus. Those who have participated in Camp Everytown in the past feel uneasy about this recent change.
“I don’t think [Challenge Day] will be as effective,” said junior Jessica Simmons, who attended Camp Everytown during the 2007-2008 school year. “You don’t get those three and four days to build up relationships.”
Student Advocate Richard Prinz addressed the concerns.
“We’re not saying it’s gone for good,” said Prinz. “This year, the goal is to get people excited about Challenge Day.”
In past years, Prinz has had difficulty getting students to attend Camp Everytown. He and other staff members speculate that some students refused to go because being present at Camp Everytown would involve missing two days of school.
“Everyone is just so fixated on academics that they lose everything else,” Recktenwald said. “Those two days are more important than any two days you are going to spend in a classroom.”
In order to battle the resistance, Challenge Day allows students to get a similar experience, but miss only one day of school. This event will be held on campus twice this year, on Oct. 30 and March 5. Many of the same activities used at Camp Everytown will also appear on the agenda for Challenge Day. Even though it will be less intensive, Prinz strongly believes in the program.
“A huge part of being successful is recognizing one's emotions and being able to express them without fear,” Prinz said. “There is no way that someone can engage academically if they’re in turmoil emotionally or socially.”
Despite his nostalgia for Camp Everytown, Recktenwald agrees with Prinz.
“So many kids on this campus are book smart but street stupid,” Recktenwald said. “Every student on campus should go to Challenge Day.”