What We Teach

The GREAT Summer Youth Academy incorporates curriculum centered on teaching life skills and leadership tools, adding hands on experiences to exemplify each lesson. Through games, role play, skits, field trips and community projects, students participating in the GSYA spend each day incorporating meaningful lessons into fun activities. The GREAT curriculum is presented to elementary and middle school students throughout the school year, however, it is during the GREAT Summer Youth Academy that these lessons can grow beyond the classroom and into real life situations. All while having FUN!


The Grass Valley GSYA lesson topics include:

  • Effective Communication (Day #1)

Communication skills, such as talking and listening, are an important part of a person’s social development.Learning to be stronger communicators will help children and adolescents in many ways. If children feel comfortable communicating their feelings to others, they will be more likely to talk about their problems. Children and adolescents who can talk about their problems are less likely to resort to dangerous and unhealthy behaviors, such as gangs, violence, drug abuse, and crime. If children are in a situation in which they are being pressured, communication skills will help empower them to be able to refuse.

Later in the day, the GSYA tours KNCO Radio Station where select students record a Public Service Announcement and bring awareness to critical issues in our community.

  • Active Listening & Empathy (Day #1)

Not only must thoughts and feelings be vocalized, they must be understood for effective communication. The listener must not only ensure that the speaker has his or her attention, the listener must let the speaker know that understanding is taking place. This is called active listening and is an important skill for children to develop as they work on their communication skills.

Students will also have the opportunity to build on their communication skills through the development of empathy towards others. Empathy is important in preventing violent activity and is also a necessary component in predicting the behavior of others. By predicting behavior, students will be able to make better decisions in regards to others.

The GSYA tours Juvenile Hall where kids see firsthand how poor decisions and negative behavior can impact ones life.

  • Anger Management and Calming Others (Day #2)

The way a person reacts to anger is like any other behavior; it easily becomes a habit if it is constantly reinforced and used. Unfortunately, many people in our society do not manage their anger well. When they get angry, they lash out in violence. The key to preventing such negative behavior is to intervene when children are young and have not yet formed longterm negative habits. If we can teach children about anger and positive ways to cope with it, it is possible that they will develop healthy anger-management techniques that will stick with them for a lifetime. Our Goal at the GSYA is to equip our students with the necessary tools to succeed.

On day #2, the Great Summer Youth Academy enjoys many group games and swims at Memorial Pool where each student undoubtedly will have on opportunity to practice their newly acquired Anger Management skills. 🙂

  • Refusal Skills (Day #3)

One of the best ways to prevent unhealthy behaviors is to avoid them. This is easier said than done, however, especially for young people. When children are exposed to unhealthy behaviors through friends or family members, they are often pressured to participate in unhealthy behaviors as well. If a child has strong refusal skills, he/she will be better equipped to resist peer pressure and less likely to succumb to the compulsion to fit in with friends. The more practice students have in refusal skills, the more likely they will be able to resist.

In this lesson, students will discuss the different ways they can refuse to do something they would normally not do. The activities in this lesson build upon the previous communication lessons by focusing not only on what the students say but on the tone of voice and body language when they say it. To further reinforce the refusal skills, the students will have the opportunity to practice.

On day three the GSYA enjoys a day at 49er Fun Park riding go-carts, minature golfing and spending their tokens playing games. This is an action packed day with loaded with fun!


  • Decision Making (Day #4)

Children often make impulsive decisions without thinking about the consequences of their actions. If children have guidance in making proper choices when they are young, it might help prevent the disastrous consequences of decisions that are made without thinking. In relation to violence prevention, children run the risk of making dangerous choices regarding violence, drug abuse, and crime. If children are encouraged to think out their decisions carefully and deliberately, they will likely develop positive decision-making habits that stay with them forever.

On Day four the GSYA enjoys a downtown Grass Valley scavenger hunt and a tour of the Grass Valley Police Department where the Decision Making lesson is taught. Later in the day the GSYA volunteers at the Hospitality House and helps feed the homeless.

  • Goal Setting (Day #5)

Adults understand that a person’s present behavior affects his or her future status. For example, deciding to commit a crime today may jeopardize one’s academic or employment opportunities in the future. Unfortunately, one of the behavioral characteristics of children and adolescents is that they tend to live for the present and not for the future. The GSYA wants to change this mind-set. We help them identify their goals for the future and then discussing how things can get in the way of reaching their goals. The more a student can link present behavior to future goals, the less likely he or she will be to risk those goals by participating in violent behavior.

We find out which career goals interest the GSYA Session and then bring professionals from within our community to speak and inspire them. In years past, weve had Singers, Swat Operators, Nurses, Dancers, Farmers, Authors, Fire Fighters, Teachers, Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Technicans and many others. Giving them a goal and assuring them they have what it takes to reach their goal will empower them steer clear of negative behavior that might harm their future goals.

This is the last day of the GSYA where each student is can perform a talent within our GSYA 60-Second Talent Show! At 2:00pm a GSYA graduation ceremony will begin Parents youre invited so mark your calendars!