Dave Griffith, Chautauqua Institution’s vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, led Wednesday’s, July 4, Chautauqua Institution Leadership Porch Discussion on “Youth and Education Programming” by engaging in a brief explanation of the current youth programs and asking for feedback and comments from the audience.
The youth programs that Griffith oversees include Children’s School, Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Pier Club and a pilot program called Club Plus, which offers an alternative to attending Club all day. Instead, Club Plus holds Club activities in the morning and directs the students to Special Studies classes in the afternoon.
“Club Plus is another way in which we are trying to bring youth programs into conversation with the weekly themes,” Griffith said. “We try to take the weekly themes and present them to the kids in a developmentally appropriate way.”
Club Plus is just one way Griffith and his team are attempting to increase the involvement of children and young adults in the events around the Institution.
“Youth programs offer a sense of belonging to the Institution, which is incredibly important,” he said.
Another addition to the youth programming this summer is the Young Writers Institute, which offers 14- to 18-year-olds the opportunity to hone their writing skills through instruction by professors and writers for a five-day period. There will be two separate programs, for 10 students each, in Week One and Week Three.
Griffith said that during the Week One session, they met their goal of registering 10 students.
“Through the generosity of the Alumni Association of the CLSC, we were able to give eight scholarships to Chautauqua County students to attend this program,” he said.
Additionally, Griffith and his colleagues want to expand the accessibility of classes and activities for teens between ages 14 and 16.
“We noticed that there is an age gap of kids that get shut out of classes,” he said. “We are working to open up classes and remedy that problem.”
Audience feedback at the discussion touched on cell phone usage during lectures and programs, creating a space after lectures for young adults to engage in conversation, and game nights that include Dungeons and Dragons and other popular games.
One of the attendees, Fredrika Cornell Scopp, recognized the age group of teenagers on the grounds who are not yet old enough to get jobs, but are too old to participate in Club.
“Maybe we could begin volunteer programs for this group of kids,” she said. “That way, they can still be engaged in the community.”
Griffith said he recognizes the immense amount of work to be done to provide an inclusive environment for all ages, but he, Institution staff and consultants are working to incorporate all ages into the intellectually stimulating environment for which Chautauqua is known.
The Chautauqua Institution Leadership Porch Discussions are held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays on the Hultquist Center porch, with topics varying weekly. Next week, the Porch Discussion looks at the 2019 program.