Fifth-graders from East End School in the Wilmington City Schools District just completed participation in B.N.O.T. at YMCA Camp Kern in nearby Oregonia. B.N.O.T. stands for Be Nice Out There and is the tag line associated with Project TRUST.
Whereas Project TRUST (Teaching Respect, Understanding and Student Teamwork) engages 40 to 50 middle school students in a three-day retreat, B.N.O.T. works to meet the same goals as Project TRUST but does so in a one-day program with every fifth-grade student.
The students participate in large group games which are designed to break down the barriers between people and then are placed in “family groups” which represent all the diversity in the city of Wilmington, including the elementary school the students attended before the district moved to a plan where all students attend the same school as their age group cohort.
Project TRUST counselors from Wilmington High School and teachers from East End serve as the leaders of the family groups.
The counselors help family group participants learn more about one another, develop a team identity and name and choose an activity they would like to participate in during a block of unscheduled time.
They receive a visit from “Rotten Jim” the pirate, participate in a mini dance and learn about bullying and its aftermath by discussing the book “Letter to a Bullied Girl” by Olivia Gardner. All of this is accomplished at the beautiful, natural setting of Camp Kern, away from technology, video games and social media.
Dr. Jim Boland, director of Project TRUST and B.N.O.T. said, “I would like to express my appreciation to Jen Martin and the staff at East End Elementary for their willingness to step away from their daily routine to spend some time working specifically on helping students learn to get along with one another.
“I would also like to acknowledge our amazing high school counselors Samantha McCord, Ben Baylor, Allie Kees, Gabby Garlo, Regan Sparks, Shannon O’Boyle, Brady Evans and Caleb Reed. Additionally, I commend the district for incorporating restorative practices into their daily school routine. The restorative practices groups will be a natural vehicle for continuing some of the discussions which would have arisen at Camp Kern.
“Finally, we are indebted to Wilmington City Schools Foundation for providing the grant to East End Quali-Tee for producing cool shirts and meeting our short turn-around times,” Boland said.