Kathleen Wallace ’23, Kaitlyn Franceschelli ’23, and Nicholas Gershey ’23 served as team leaders at a weeklong program at at our Chapman Lake Retreat Center called SPARK, which is designed to support at-risk youth between the ages of 12-15.
Here, they answer questions as a group about their experiences.
What are the goals of the SPARK program?
SPARK is a weeklong program hosted at Chapman Lake for local youth ages 12-15. SPARK educates kids on various important topics such as self-worth, healthy lifestyle, healthy and unhealthy relationships, and bullying. During the week, University and Scranton Preparatory School volunteers are focused on listening to and encouraging each SPARK participant so they feel valued.
Who took part in the SPARK program?
The SPARK program was born as a collaborative effort between The University of Scranton and Scranton Preparatory School. This year, 13 University students, 12 Scranton Preparatory students, two additional volunteers, SPARK alumni, Prep staff, and the University’s CSSJ staff all came together to make SPARK possible for the 23 SPARK participants.
Describe a typical day of SPARK.
A typical day starts off with the team awaiting the arrival of the kids around 9 a.m. After breakfast is served, the patented SPARK dance offers a boost of energy. Next, each small group heads to a station with activities designed by team members to coincide with the day’s theme. For instance, during the topic of bullying, an activity can revolve around identifying and constructively dealing with bullying. Five stations total lasting about 20-25 minutes each.
Lunch is followed by free time to jump into the lake (lifeguard supervised), play volleyball, create arts and crafts, and more. Small groups then return to stations for activities on another theme.
After dinner, at 5 p.m., kids leave the lake and team members prepare the Retreat Center for the next day. The day ends with reflection and a review of upcoming activities.
How did you use the Chapman Lake Retreat Center to conduct the program?
We utilized almost all of the Retreat Center to conduct this program. Each activity took place at one of five locations: the lake room, the porch, the tent, the large/small group room, or the dining room. Meals were served in the dining room, but everyone ate under the tent outside. During free time, campers might play piano or Just Dance in the lake room, or go outdoors for swimming and volleyball. At night, the chapel was used for reflection.