Parents create a 'Common Sense Camp' to teach kids the life skills so many are lacking

Throughout human history, older people always complain that the younger generation lacks the common sense and life skills they learned growing up. Then, when the younger generation gets older they judge the one that came after them.

It's a dance that's been happening for centuries. However, this time the old folks may be right.

Studies show that younger Americans are incredibly tech-savvy and great at academics but aren't quite up to snuff when it comes to basic life skills. Studies show they are much more likely to order take out than to cook for themselves.


They also don't know how to check their tire pressure, sew, make basic home repairs or drive a manual transmission.

So they're stuck having to pay people to perform basic tasks that they should have learned at some point in their first twenty-some-odd years on Earth.

Parenting coach Oona Hanson and her husband Paul, have decided to reverse this trend in their family by sending their two children, daughter, Gwendolyn, 17, and son, Harris, 12, to Camp Common Sense.

Due to social distancing, the camp has two campers, two counselors and takes place in the Hanson's home.

The camp has eight themed weeks that include kitchen confidence, anti-racism, DIY, laundry and cleaning, safety and emergency preparedness, personal finance, city savvy, and social skills.

Oona says she teaches the topics to her kids through a mixture of "direct instruction, independent research, and hands-on practice." They also watch movies that support to the themes to further drive home the message.

The family uses Catherine Newman's book "How to Be a Person: 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn Before You've Grown Up" as a basic camp manual.

via Debbie Fong / Twitter

"I chose to use this book as a guideline because it's written and illustrated with charm and joy and infused with humor and empathy," Oona told Today. "It's not an adult talking down to kids; it's an adult inviting kids into the world and explaining how you function in daily life."

The Hansons saw quarantine as the perfect time to teach their kids the skills they always planned to "someday."

"It always seems like we're going to get around to teaching them these things 'someday,'" she said. "There's that fantasy that before they go to college, they're going to learn these thousand skills that actually take time to learn and practice. Right now, we have the time it never seems we have to do it."

Camp days aren't all work and no play though. The kids still get time for physical activity, arts and crafts, and a little screen time.

The Hansons hope the lessons they teach now will pay dividends over the long haul.

"I'm OK if the kids are rolling their eyes at us now if later they can look back and say, 'I'm so glad I know how to make pancakes for 12 people.' That will bring so much joy and connection," Oona said.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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