The Council on Chemical Abuse’s Prevention Staff spends the school year teaching Berks County students to avoid drugs, alcohol, gambling, vaping and other risky behaviors. So how do they spend summer vacation? They head off to camps and recreation programs throughout Berks County, taking with them a literal bag of tricks. Using hands-on games, they engage young program participants in fun-filled activities that teach important life lessons.
“Our summer programs allow us to have fun with kids while we’re talking to them about serious topics,” explained COCA Prevention Specialist Paige Carroll.
This year, in addition to adding several new games to their repertoire, the COCA prevention team is introducing a social media campaign that fosters kindness. The #cocakindness initiative encourages participating camps and parks to fill “kindness buckets” with notes about the acts of kindness performed each day. Camp counselors can also take photos of kids being kind and upload them to social media.
“We are teaching kids about the benefits of kindness,” said Prevention Specialist Alicia Kline. “Kindness reduces stress and increases positivity.”
2019 Summer Lessons
Each session lasts about one hour and is available to Berks County parks, schools, church groups, and other summer programs at no cost.
Escape the Vape – This escape room-style game has campers solving a series of puzzles and clues to escape from an area where they are “trapped” with teens who are vaping. The sequence of activities provides lessons about the risks of vaping and skills to “escape the vape.”
Take Charge –Through an oversized board game, COCA staff teach the dangers of marijuana and alcohol. Players roll giant dice and move through the board, attempting to collect healthy organs by completing engaging tasks such as sculpting with Play Doh, drawing, role-playing and answering questions.
Leveling up – Using a Jeopardy-themed game board, students learn about the techniques game designers use to “trick” gamers into spending more time and money on technology devices. The program educates students about the connection between gaming and gambling.
COCA’s 2019 Summer of Kindness Campaign – Through engaging and creative activities, students learn the benefits of smiling, giving compliments, and performing acts of kindness. The session concludes with students creating a Thank You card to give to someone special in their lives. In addition, participating parks receive a Kindness Bucket for the students to fill with acts of kindness they witness, receive, or “scatter” throughout the summer. Camp and park staff are encouraged to upload photos of students being kind to social media, using the hashtag #cocakindness.