FOCUS Program FAQs
FOCUS Experiential Education Program FAQs
What’s the Goal of the FOCUS program?
The goal of the program is to offer students and teachers opportunities to participate in experiential activities within their classroom and offsite. Learning and transfer from these activities will help enhance the student’s self-awareness and improve the behavior and culture within the classroom.
The students will develop life skills by:
- Verbalizing how their behavior and attitude affects the success of the group
- Setting personal and group goals
- Choosing a personal level of challenge for each activity
- Learning how to constructively frame feedback about the behaviors of their peers
- Respecting and verbalizing how the efforts of group members contributes to the group's task
- Accepting constructive feedback from their peers
- Communicating how their strengths will enhance the group's ability to accomplish a task
- Continuing to utilize conflict resolution and problem solving strategies
How do you measure the success of this program?
Assessment of past programs was handled more subjectively through student self assessment. Previously, at Westbrook’s Wescott Jr. High we monitored attendance records, incident reports and internal benchmarks within the guidance program. All students completed a self-assessment questionnaire based on the life skills 3-4 times throughout the program.
How much does this cost?
The FOCUS program is money well spent. Our goal is for schools to be self sufficient within 3-4 years so that teachers are training their own staff in the curriculum. FOCUS will continue to provide the two ropes course programs and the winter Expedition. First year costs will be the highest and then decrease each consecutive year.
- 5 hour staff training on curriculum prior to start of program
- FOCUS consultant delivering training, designing curriculum, supporting monthly classroom initiatives, and overseeing the management of the program
- Low and high challenge ropes course programs with multiple facilitators
- Supplies and materials - schools can purchase the items needed for the group initiatives or they are supplied by FOCUS
Where does the money to fund this program come from?
We highly encourage schools to write grants, utilize fundraising events and involve your PTO. State Title funds have also been used to subsidize the costs for schools. Other schools have substituted expensive field trips that were already in the budget. Some schools ask parents/students to “pay out of pocket” to help subsidize the cost.
Will a student be forced to participate?
Challenge by Choice is the central philosophy of FOCUS Through Adventure. A student has the ability to choose at all times the level they will engage in a given activity. The choice as to how a student participates actively will be respected and supported. However, the student still remains an active team member. The question is not "WILL I participate?" but "HOW will I participate?" The student, along with other group members will work toward helping he/she find alternative ways of engaging in the activity and with the group because they still add value to the group experience. Being able to choose the extent of their challenge and remaining present with the group by taking on a valued supportive role is the intent of Challenge by Choice. Physical and emotional safety of all participants is the number one priority.
The FOCUS adventure-based learning program provides a unique opportunity for students to work in small groups and develop key life-long skills. More information on FOCUS.
For more info or Ropes Course reservations, please contact:
Donna Murray, Director
Stories From Our Ropes Course Participants
I always look forward to a trip to Sweetser. The ropes course is an adventure, presenting new challenges that always get harder. No matter how many times I go to Sweetser, I always leave with new growth as a leader. The ropes course brings a team together, making it more of a family at the end...