When Rob Gadjo couldn’t find a summer camp program in the Skaneateles-area that would challenge his children both physically and mentally, he decided to start his own.
Rob along with wife Scilla ran the inaugural session of PRIDE last week in Skaneateles and Marcellus.
“I though they needed something different from the norm,” Rob said. “I think a lot of kids seem to be missing qualities like respect and caring about each other.”
The name PRIDE is derived from the qualities that the program aims to teach: pride, respect, responsibility, initiative, integrity, determination, dedication, endurance and enthusiasm.
The program was open to children ages 11 to 14 for a cost of $95. Rob said that he picked the middle school age range because they are still easily molded. “They are mature enough, but still able to be influenced,” he said.
Though the program doesn’t have an official military affiliation, Rob said that it was influenced in part by his 27 years of experience in the U.S. Marine Corps. Though it has aspects of sports and martial arts training, it was designed to be a positive experience for anyone, not just athletes, Rob said.
They held three-hour sessions on Monday through Thursday in Austin Park in Skaneateles and an eight-hour day at Orenda Springs Experiential Learning Center in Marcellus on Friday. The schedule included physical and mental challenges.
Each day started with a run and calisthenics and included challenges that split the group into small teams that had to accomplish tasks like moving tires and logs across a field while one team member isn’t allowed to be touching the ground.
PRIDE also included a number of guest speakers and sit down discussions. Speakers included a state trooper, a fire fighter, Korean War veteran and author Joe Owen, a mother of a soldier killed in battle and marines from the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Syracuse, who brought a tank with them.