|The Discovery Summer Program
Developed to promote self-awareness in order to address children & adolescents' spiritual, emotional, intellectual, nutritional, and
The Discovery Summer program is founded out of necessity. Our children and young adults are starving for true knowledge. Simple facts,
figures, and tasks that require memorization and repetition of information that is so far removed from experience are no longer acceptable.
The special children and young adults who have surpassed the educational system's "status quo" have a mission: To not collude with
those who ask them to abandon the search for self-discovery and self-realization and accept less than the truth.
Many of these special children are being mislabeled "Learning Disabled," "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,"
"Asperger Syndrome," and "Oppositional Defiant Disorder." The founding of The Discovery Summer Program is based upon the
truth that there is nothing wrong with these special children. There is much right about them. These are spiritually gifted children whose
presence is much needed on this earth. Perhaps those who are quick to label are "Spiritually Disabled."
"What is the truth?" you might ask. Well, congratulations! Excellent question. The ability to question and obtain answers
motivates learning. When questions are ignored, when the message sent is that questions are unimportant, insignificant, foolish, then, true
learning stops. True learning needs to include a person's own experience. Somewhere, perhaps in the service of conformity, this idea has
So, to address the question of "What is truth?" First, there is no answer that someone else can provide for you. Second, truth
has to be experienced for oneself. Third, we often attempt to fool ourselves and cling "white-knuckled" to our own version of the
truth (which, by the way, is usually given to us by someone else and blindly followed). Fourth, truth is dynamic. Although there are
universal ancient truths, "truth" as defined as what we believe to be true constantly changes. Therefore, if we are open-minded,
if we let go of our preconceptions, then, the way we think, (our thoughts), is more likely to reflect reality, and, as a result, our
potential is more likely to be realized. Perhaps a better question is "Can we accept the truth into our conscious
Spiritual Analysis is a concept that guides The Discovery Summer Program. Spiritual Analysis is the process of discovery. How do we know
who we are? Where do we derive the knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses? Who do we turn to so that strengths can be built upon, and
weaknesses can be transformed into strengths? How do we decide our place in the world? What are we supposed to be doing?
Through thoughtful communication, these questions are explored. Through trips, games, learning about nature and things that grow, and
through daily group discussions at the beginning and end of each day, participants in The Discovery Summer Program will learn from their
experience what they need to know to become thoughtful, empathic, intelligent, productive, intuitive, and caring adults.
Spiritual Analysis is a process that removes obstacles that impede children's learning about themselves. Knowledge is not imposed.
Instead, it is nurtured. Just as a flower cannot be commanded to grow, people cannot be forced to learn. When the proper conditions are set
in motion, development occurs. Proper sunlight, temperature, soil, water, and care are necessary conditions for optimal plant growth. The
same is true for people. Proper conditions, such as warmth, honesty, respect, enthusiasm, communication, and exposure to people, places, and
things of interest provide the necessary conditions for optimal human development.
The Discovery Summer Program is fluid. There is no rigid agenda that must be adhered to. There are no criteria to be met, checklists to
cover, exams to take. The Program is both individual and group oriented. Participants are taught that we all have special gifts to be
shared. Participants are encouraged to communicate with each other so that everyone can understand and learn from one another. The message
is that we are all interconnected. We can all learn from each other.
Each day begins with a morning meeting. The day's agenda is presented, and time is devoted to discussing thoughts, feelings, and hopes
for the day. Dr. Vincent D'Amico, a clinical psychologist and director of The ADD/ADHD Diagnostic & Treatment Center and The Family
Stress Reduction Institute, guides and facilitates discussions. The discussions are not pressured or rushed. Participants are encouraged to
"say everything" that comes into their awareness. However, privacy is respected and no one is ever pressured to speak. Experience
suggests that a safe, comfortable environment is conducive to self-expression and exploration.
Although the day is dynamic and fluid, there is a structure in place that ensures that time is devoted to the following:
1) Relaxation/Meditation Exercises
2) Taking Care of the Earth, Keeping In Mind the "Seventh Generation"
3) Physical Activities (martial arts, Yoga stretching, sports)
6) Food Preparation
7) Spiritual Analysis
8) Daily Trips
9) Daily Group Discussions
Stress is an impediment to spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Learning how to manage stress naturally gives children and adolescents
a sense of personal power. Breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, is an excellent way to reduce fatigue and stress. EEG
Biofeedback is a modern technique that teaches cognitive control of brainwaves. Diaphragmatic breathing is an ancient technique that teaches
proper breathing technique. Integrating old and new knowledge act synergistically to promote learning self-regulating and stress reduction
Taking Care of the Earth, Keeping In Mind the "Seventh Generation"
We all have a responsibility to care for the earth, and each other. When some Native American tribes made decisions, they thought about how
their actions might affect the seventh generation. This thoughtful attitude incorporated a respect for "mother earth." Children
are taught about ways to be respectful of our natural resources. Trips and hikes are taken that foster learning about the balance in nature,
and the importance of living in harmony with nature.
Physical Activities (Martial Arts, Yoga Stretching, Sports, Dance)
Physical activities are excellent to foster confidence, promote spirituality and emotional balance, and release tension. Children are taught
to include exercise in their daily life to promote self-control and body-space relationships. The philosophical underpinnings of Martial
Arts and Yoga are discussed and demonstrated by "role-playing" scenarios designed to teach these principles.
Adequate nutrition is essential to attaining optimal spiritual, emotional, and physical strength. Hypocrites wrote, "Let your food be
your medicine, and your medicine, your food." The attributes that each "pure" food has to offer, coupled with the
understanding of the potential harmful effects of ingesting foods that are laden with artificial additives, colors, and highly processed
ingredients, are discussed.
Our industrialized society conditions us to be so impressed by advances in technology. Well, consider the fact that from tiny seeds, such
large plants grow that produce the vegetables and fruits that help to sustain our existence. The importance of organically growing our own
food has been neglected. Therefore, the positive consequences of eating fresh foods are presented. Local seasonal crops are discussed and
farms visited. A vegetable garden is planted and cared for. Composting is also presented as a means of naturally adding essential nutrients
to the soil that are transferred to the foods we consume.
Methods to enhance nutrition and flavor are presented. Participants engage in food preparation activities designed to be quick, efficient,
and flavor enhancing. The importance of spices and herbs are presented in the context of modern day information that has its roots in the
ancient wisdom of the Ayurvedic, Chinese, and Native American cultures.
Spiritual Analysis is independent of all religious affiliations. Spiritual Analysis transcends the boundaries that different religions
create. Spiritual Analysis' primary focus is on the relationship that each individual has with God. The emphasis is on exploring how each
person practices spirituality, rather than suggesting a "right" or "wrong" path. Religion is usually passed down from
generation to generation without much thought or question. However, a greater number of people today have realized that taking positions of
"right" and "wrong" can lead to prejudice, discrimination, and elitism. Therefore, it is imperative that there is
dialogue about what is common among all religions. The saying, "Truth is one, paths are many" best describes the essence of
Trips are an integral part of the Discovery Summer Program. They present opportunities to learn by watching, listening, and doing. Trips to
farms, hiking trails, a chocolate factory, a monastery that breeds and trains puppies, a glassmaker, a woodcrafter, a culinary
demonstration, a Dutch mill, a Native American reservation, and a music studio are some of the trips that are educational and fun. Trips to
amusement parks are also included.
Daily Group Discussions
Communication is the process of exchanging information so that mutual understanding can take place. Dr. Vincent D'Amico, a clinical
psychologist, facilitates group discussion. There is an open agenda where thoughts, feelings, concerns, hopes, dreams, wishes, and desires
can be expressed. There is opportunity for participants to provide feedback to and learn from each other in a loving, caring and supportive
atmosphere. In essence, the group reflects the higher aspects of humanity: kindness, compassion, patience, support, generosity, and wisdom.
Such an environment is conducive to learning about oneself, about others, and about the power within the spirit of cooperation.
If interested, or, if there are questions, contact Dr. Vincent D'Amico at (845) 639-3233.