Does anyone know about the Challenge Day program? *UPDATED*

Have any of your children done a Challenge Day?  I can’t tell if it’s harmless, helpful, or touchy-feely, PC psychobabble crap.  The self-congratulatory website promises that “everyone” will “Live their lives in service by Being the Change.” Since my daughter got invited, I want to know what it is.

UPDATE:  Terry Trippany found this for me.  Doesn’t make the program sound good.  As for me, the tip off was the Oprah recommendation.  Whether she recommends books, presidential candidates, or creepy school encounter sessions, I’m against it.

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  • SJBill

    Funny. I just finisjhed challenging our two children. Every day is Challenge Day, here. And we home school.

    Here’s what the accolytes say:

    Welcome to the Be the Change Movement and Challenge Day!

    Our vision is that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved, and celebrated. (This vision includes those who now live in grown up bodies). The primary focus of all our work is to end separation, isolation and loneliness that we believe is at the root of most every destructive behavior we see.

    Imagine living in a world where everyone made a commitment to do these three things…

    1. Love and accept ourselves while continuing to grow.
    2. See others through eyes of acceptance, love and compassion.
    3. Be the Change by living life in service

    The Be the Change Movement inspires people to notice what’s happening in the world around them, to choose actions that create positive change, and to act as a living example of the power of contribution and compassion.

    By joining the Be The Change Movement, you not only commit yourself to being the change you wish to see, you also immediately serve as an inspiration and support to others. By maintaining your commitment to perform at least one intentional Act of Change each day, you experience the immediate satisfaction of pride associated with making a difference.

    Sounds like they’ll be singing odes to Barry O.
    Thanks. I’ll pass.

  • Ymarsakar

    I challenge people to learn how to break the human body and thus render unto earth a more peaceful and pacific temperament.

  • Terry Trippany

    They are not well liked by the Illinois Family Institute


    9/7/2009 9:15:00 PM
    By Laurie Higgins, Director of IFI’s DSA -Illinois Family Institute

    I wrote an article last week about Challenge Day which took place from Aug. 31-Sept. 3 at O’Fallon Township High School in southern IL. The four-day event cost thousands of dollars with much of the funding evidently coming from the public coffers.

    This workshop, based out of CA and patterned after large group awareness training sessions (LGATs), has been criticized from coast to coast. It employs emotionally invasive, encounter group-like exercises that break down the often fragile emotions of teens and culminate in collective weeping. Unfortunately for taxpayers and students, Naperville Central High School in Naperville, IL will be hosting three Challenge Days on Oct. 26, 27 and 28.

    It’s not surprising that Challenge Day founder Rich Dutra-St. John would incorporate large group awareness training techniques and new age spiritualism into this current manifestation of old ideas because Dutra-St. John is a proud 1993 graduate of the “Hoffman Quadrinity Process” (HQP) which embodies both:

    Our programs are designed for you to release this negative conditioning and access your untapped resources of power, wisdom and creativity….The HQP brings into awareness the counterproductive beliefs, perceptions and emotional needs that have been adopted from parents and others who shaped our early life experiences….Our methodology of “infused teaching” addresses all dimensions of your being: intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual.

    Following last week’s article, I received some interesting emails and phone calls, several of which I have received permission to share.

    A school psychologist with a PhD in clinical psychology wrote that Challenge Day “is just one more reason for home schooling. I see this as dangerous and unproductive. They are stepping over the line into an area that they should not be going. I am appalled and surprised that this is allowed by any school system.”

    A parent reported this story:

    A 9th grader who had just gotten done participating in Challenge Day at OTHS was sharing with a teacher and an older high school student what a classmate in her Challenge Day group had shared. The classmate had been in tears, as were all the others in the group, expressing anguish over being abused by [a relative] (the student named the relationship, but I am omitting it). The teacher responded that she doesn’t like programs like this because she doesn’t like people sharing those kinds of personal things.

    Of course, O’Fallon Township High School employees have both an ethical and legal obligation to report this alleged abuse.

    But there is more troubling fallout potentially in the offing. Many students have now heard the account of alleged abuse. It is likely that many of these students will, like the 9th grader mentioned above, tell others. Soon this story may be spread all over town. What if the story is not true? If it is true, did the parents know about the abuse? Would they have wanted their child to share it with a group of acquaintances and strangers? Will the dissemination of this story result in this student’s healing or in further harm? How will the entire family be affected?

    Another community member talked to a boy who participated in Challenge Day:

    The boy told me that people were affected emotionally and they shared some private things, but no one has really changed how they treat each other and in some cases things are worse instead of better.

    Kids were asked to sit in a circle and one-by-one go around and share an experience in which they were hurt. The boy telling recounting this story did not want to participate in that exercise. Then one boy announced that he was “gay” and most of the kids began to clap. Someone then told the group to stand up if they supported and accepted the “gay” boy. Next, a girl announced that she was bisexual. The standing and clapping continued. Only two students remained seated, but finally, because of the extended standing and clapping, the boy felt pressured to stand. He feared if he didn’t stand, someone would say something to him.

    These two students who may be deeply compassionate and respectful but may also believe that homosexuality is immoral and destructive were put in a terrible public bind: if they remained seated, it appeared as though they were intolerant and uncaring; if they stood up and clapped, it appeared that they supported and affirmed homosexuality. Talk about peer pressure. Unfortunately, this avoidable peer pressure was orchestrated by adults lacking in wisdom.

    I also received this email:

    I read your article about Challenge Day and emotional purging (group activity) and was horrified. I am a trained, professional actress as well as an educator. I have a MA in Creative Drama for children from Northwestern University and have taught across the nation. I attended a four- year professional actors training conservatory, toured the nation teaching creative-drama based workshops for teachers and K-12 students as an ensemble member of the nationally recognized Metro Theatre Company (St. Louis) and studied at one of the finest universities that pioneered/teaches safe and effective creative drama approaches to education


    Here is the site that started it all:


  • Ymarsakar

    Sounds like the reason why the Left dislikes waterboarding. It’s too much like, though inferior, to their own preferred programs for the young.

  • Ymarsakar

    Of course, once you know that you can flip the switch off for everybody in the room with you, peer pressure starts turning from dangerous and important to ridiculous.

    A person that won’t stand by his or her convictions, instead following the group, is nothing but a Gestapo in training.

    “I only followed orders” “Everybody else was doing it” “I had to go along, they were counting on me”.

  • zabrina

    How are the goals of “Challenge Day” any different than the goals of Christian living? What happens if Christian children start talking about their religion on “Challenge Day”?

  • suek

    One of my sons joined a group of this nature. He was a young adult at the time, and to be honest, we were really concerned since it sounded a lot like a cult. It actually did him a lot of good. It also cost him a lot of money – which he borrowed from us (and repaid). He had been painfully shy as a child – he got over that. He apparently felt animosity towards us – his parents – and apparently got over that as well.

    It was a fairly long program – meetings a couple of times a week for about 3-4 months, as I recall. Then there were offers of joining their team…no real benefits at first, but if you paid for advance courses up the gazoo, eventually they winnowed out those they wanted to keep as leaders and there were beaucoup bucks available to the organization leadership positions.

    So…I was looking for that sort of thing…and voila! found this:

    Personally it sounds to me like an emotionally invasive program that then drops vulnerable children on the doorstep after the doors to all their secrets has been opened to those who are most able to use them to hurt them.

    How strong is your daughter emotionally?

    Is she required to pay?

    It sounds like a Manson Family episode – I can’t help wondering if someone is trying to pry family secrets out of children to find out what their parents don’t want you to know – we’re close enough to the political correctness of communism today for this to make me very nervous.

  • eric-odessit

    I am with you: I am against this. If my kids get any of this, I will prevent them from participating.

  • Charles Martel

    I commit at least one intentional Act of Change per day.

    Usually it involves underwear.

  • Bookworm

    Charles #9: You’re showing signs of being a dangerous radical there.


    Curious to know how the four daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Dutra-St.John turned out 22 years later?

    I think it’s an emotional Tupperware seminar for adolescents or Life Spring approach for kids.

    A karate class with a good instructor would so just as well.