Last summer, at the game Changers Camp, they met for the first time. There were about 15-20 teens attending each of our classes. Some found out that they went to the same school but didn’t really “meet.” They walked in the same corridors and ate in the same cafeteria and some were even in the same class but didn’t really “meet.” They didn’t have to. In mainstream education, moving up to the next level means surviving standardized tests—individually.

In contrast to today’s business world, we are increasingly expected to learn to work with fellow professionals and use leadership mindsets in TEAMS. Innovative companies like Google and Facebook promote “open work spaces” so peers can “share ideas” and “collaborate in shaping ideas into products.” The culture of today’s mainstream education is very much the opposite of the culture of inventive and trailblazing real-world work environments. 

In the Game Changers Camp, our goal is to prepare teens to succeed in the real-world. Participants are engaged in socially-interactive lessons where they learn how to work together in teams. For example, through game activities, participants resolve fun challenges when finding themselves in situations where individual players are impacted by the other’s actions. 

Fun team play are simulations of real-world situations in the form of physical, social, and “out of the box” learning experiences. At the end of each game, the class reflects on the “team experience” with mostly laughter and connects “play experiences” to strategies for successful team work. They learn (by playing) how an individual impacts the team’s feelings and goals and how a team can choose to hurt or empower individuals.  

These team games set the tone for the design entrepreneur challenges that teen participants face in the Game Changers Summer Camp. During the intensive two-week program, they go through entrepreneurial start-up experiences where they learn-by-doing about design thinking and lean start-up activities and present pitch decks to Silicon Valley investors. 

Getting to know to know and supporting one another is key to each individual camper’s growth and empowerment. Through their participation, teen participants discover that teams may have a one big goal yet these can only be achieved with diverse abilities and the effective navigation of an individual’s contributions in a “social world.” They also learn how to build collaborative mindsets by exploring and growing one’s unique capabilities while learning from each other’s ideas. 

In the end, the product is shaped with the integration of multiple perspectives, knowledge, skills, and personalities. The Game Changers Summer Camp prepares teens to work together in teams and innovate. By engaging, these teens grow their potential as they identify gaps and formulate innovative solutions. 

In two weeks of intensive, fun, and transformative lessons and meaningful social interactions, teen participants are empowered by practicing mindsets and strategies of game-changers in the real-world.

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