ABOUT DAN - Learning Camp

Miscisco Honoured
By Pete McMartin
Vancouver Sun - July 17, 1992




Outside, it was summer vacation. The sun shone. Inside, it was the All-Star Futurekids Motivational Learning Camp for Boys and Girls entering Grades 5-8, and Dan Miscisco was urging his small group of grade-school kids to Catch the Spirit! Somewhere, children played on a beach. Here, in a small, cramped room in St David's United Church in West Vancouver, children were learning to Make Learning Fun. They were getting Motivated. They were grappling Miscisco's challenge to tell him what "spirit" stood for. "I know! I know!!" said 10-year old Neil Desai, leaping to his feet. "S is for setting goals," P is for Persistence. I is for Innovation. R is for Risk. I is for Intensity. T is for...for  "What would it be if all your pals in a room helped you with a problem?" Miscisco coached, upbeat. "Oh I know!" Neil said. "T is for Teamwork!" "Great! Give him a hand." Miscisco exhorted. The group of about 30 kids gave him a hand. Neil beamed.  and so it goes in another day at camp. No craftwork or canoeing for these kids. Foe one week out of their summer these boys and girls spend between 9 a.m. and noon learning how to cultivate a positive outlook - Dale Carnegie for kids. It costs their parents $99, a price that parents do not apparently blanch at. The camps, which Miscisco started three years ago, are full. The wonder of it is it took him so long to come up with the idea. He has run volleyball and basketball camps for 24 years (with about 1,000 campers enrolled), but motivation courses sees like a natural for him. The 48 year old Miscisco - a former elementary school principal, high school vice principal and currently a teacher  at Norgate Community  School in North Vancouver - is the kind of guy whose favourite punctuation is the exclamation mark, a guy who won't say "Hello" when he can say "Glad to meet you!" He always smiles because smiling is "positive" and "positive" is one of the ways to success and happiness. He makes eye contact, offers a firm handshake, waves his arms a lot. Miscisco is irrepressible. "I'm like this all the time," he said. "In high school, I was coaching basketball and during it all I was using motivational techniques. And I started getting requests to speak about them." He turns those techniques, Miscisco said, on the classroom where all too often he saw bored students. "The major philosophy is to show the children that learning can be fun. Enthusiasm is the key." the direction of the camp may be inspirational, but it also takes the idea of success at face value. It is strongly skewed towards money matters. Every day, the campers hear a feature speaker. One this week was Doug Anderson, a North Vancouver realtor with Sussex Reality. Sussex is one of the camps' sponsors. Anderson spoke about his "commandments for success." Number One was: "You are always working for yourself. At home, school, play, work, job career." Number two was: "do the best you can do, be the best you can be". The campers also heard a speaker from the North Shore Credit Union, another camp sponsor. "they sent a person to talk about money management," Miscisco said. "He talked about the importance of being a wiser shopper, the importance of starting a bank account early in life"  Shouldn't parents be teaching these skills to their children, Miscisco is asked, and saving the pressures of adulthood for them for a late date?  "good question. Unfortunately, the home for varying reasons is not doing it to the degree it was done in the past. They're (Parents) looking more and more for outside resources. "we get a lot of parents who say my child is doing very well in school but is very shy, who needs a confidence build-up." "This is not a summer school. This is an elected week that their parents and themselves have decided to do to make them better people." Does it make them better people? Ryan Clarke thinks so. He is a 13 year old Vancouver College student whose father is a financial consultant and whose mother makes and sells children's clothing. This was Ryan's second time at the camp. "My mother forced me the first year, but it was quite exciting. We learned how to set goals for ourselves and strive forward." Last year, Ryan was getting Bs and Cs at Vancouver College. This year, he's pulling down As and Bs. And what goal has Ryan set for himself? "I'd like to be a doctor," Ryan said, "or I'd like to play some baseball in the major leagues."