Shocco expands ministry with character education labs
by Emily Adams
TALLADEGA – Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center is helping students build important character traits through its newest recreation program.

Called “The Muneris Experience,” the program uses recreation elements to teach topics like bullying, respect, honesty, cooperation, patience, creativity and perseverance.

Assistant Recreation Director Elizabeth Cook said it focuses on communication.

“We use different challenges that require discussion to work through them,” Cook said. “We can modify the activities to tie in multiple elements that the students need to learn.”

The program, named for the Latin word for “service,” is catered to individual objectives. Character education labs can be crafted to fit groups from 20 to 200 people and focus on one or multiple education topics. Shocco staff can come to the school or host the labs on its campus.

The program, for grades 5 through 12, incorporates Alabama and 21st century teaching standards.

“Teachers are required to meet certain standards of character education in their classroom,” Cook said. “They have a list of objectives, and this program works directly with each word on the list. It’s an opportunity for teachers to reaffirm the skills the students are already learning in the classroom and also help students learn to be good citizens and work together to play a role in their community.”

The “helium hoop” objective is an example of an activity students perform. Each person must keep one finger on a hula hoop as the group lowers it to the ground. While it sounds easy enough, Cook said it requires a lot of discussion and teamwork.

“The hoop is so light that when everybody puts a finger on it, the natural reaction is to lift it up,” she said. “It automatically challenges them to think through it as a team. A lot of times they get frustrated, and want to quit, but that’s when they realize they have to communicate with each other effectively.”

Alabama School for the Deaf recently participated in The Muneris Experience and had “a wonderful experience,” said ASD Adjustment Specialist Tamera Hardaway.

Seventh through ninth-graders from ASD learned objectives like bullying, teamwork and leadership through a series of activities.

“Our kids really enjoyed the activities,” Hardaway said. “We surveyed them afterward, and they all said they learned a lot about themselves and about working with other people. One student even said they realized that they had been a bully at one point, and they learned ways to avoid that behavior. We’re hoping to do it again really soon.”

Cook said the program was added as a way to minister to people that might not typically visit Shocco.

“We are able to reach out and work with teachers and students that wouldn’t necessarily come to our campus,” she said. “Through our example, we hope they realize there is something different about us and there is more to our purpose.”

Cook said they try to create an experience that makes people want to visit Shocco for other activities.

While The Muneris Experience is only available to schools, Cook said Shocco’s adventure recreation program teaches valuable lessons as well.

“Adventure recreation is the same idea, but the Muneris program is catered specifically to the character education that schools have to teach,” she said. “We offer a lot of other recreation activities that incorporate team work and character traits through different scenarios and activities. The goal of all our recreation is to go beyond the activity and hopefully teach a lesson.”

To inquire about a session, contact Shocco at 256-761-1100. Various promotions are available.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

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