This mission and LRNG play well together

Both LRNG and aim to connect communities around shared goals. The over-arching goal is playing well with others. LRNG and play well together.

The design pillars of LRNG match well among the goals and quarters of

LRNG’s four design pillars: Craft Experiences, Gather Communities, Build the World, and Unlock Opportunities features four design pillars too within its playlist for the Tech Captains badge. The “pillars” are called “quarters.” Quarter One is Present. Quarter Two is Play. Quarter Three is Technology. Quarter Four is Development. Plenty of common ground exists.

The alignment of the pillars and quarters are slightly different, but the sequence of the pillars as well as quarters are not paramount.

LRNG Pillar #

Pillar Name

Quarter #


Quarter Name

Similarities for both LRNG & Play.CLOH


Craft Experiences


Play &
Get out,  Do things. Make experiences. Have fun.

Focus on passions of: sports, recreation, aquatics, outdoors, fitness.
Learners choose. Teamwork. Sportsmanship.


Gather Communities



Call to orientations.

Watch party, Not Just A Game (movie)

Provide opportunities to learn through relationships, introductions, orientation. Calls to meaningful interactions with diverse community of mentors and experts. Not Just a Game (film). Challenge youth to engage with code of conduct.
Build their own identity and wiki page.


Build the World



Use modern Tech for self-expression. Publish. Solve real world problems. Revise and improve code.


Unlock Opportunities



Experiences move to new opportunities. Connect to future career and learning paths. Imagine bigger concept maps of achievements.
Goal setting. Learn volition. College recruiting. On to lifeguards, instructors and Rookie Coaches Badges efforts consider “Why” first. “How” is informed by “Why.” The method and activities should be informed by the purpose.

The “Why” of the Tech Captains badges is obvious as dozens of high school students are hired and tossed into service as coaches, instructors, lifeguards and camp leaders for Swim & Water Polo Camps. In 2015, 40+ employees coached more than 200 students at 10 different pools. All workers are not equal contributors.


The best employees have been high school swimmers on the Obama varsity swim team. Other athletes, but not full-time swimmers, have been great workers too. Of course the varsity swimmers know the routines, expectations and drills of the head coach. Having played the games and understanding the rules matters. They know the communication style of the boss, can read emails and be responsible to their duties. The most valuable employees have been the ones with a prior relationships with the program leader, their fellow workers and the activities. The great days at camp come when varsity swimmers get in situations to perform and lead the younger students who are often in grades 3 to 7.

The worst employees can sometimes present more trouble than the worst campers. Setting bad examples from older kids and adults is the worst. This is more of a fear than reality, but no responsible program leader wants to be in charge of an squad of youngsters without a few capable hands with a positive influence.

Pittsburgh has a proven demand and the available facilities to train more than 2,000 youngsters in the summers. This All-City Sports Camp is an expansion of Swim & Water Polo Camp that includes other settings, sports and activities as assembled in the network of The city kids need more summer-time enrichment that isn’t in the classrooms and includes kids who might have proficient standardized test scores. Those Summer Dreamers invites only goes to disadvantaged kids with below basic test scores. Furthermore, Summer Dreamers occupies only three school sites, down from 12 in its earlier years.

The sticking points for growing sustainable programs capable of reaching thousands of kids are staff limitations and a lack of political will by certain individuals in high positions. The awarding of educational grants can help to sway the political will among some who prefer vacation days.

Swim & Water Polo staffers with Heather, super-star athlete, on a field-trip to compete in a road race Downtown.
Swim & Water Polo staffers with Heather, super-star athlete, on a field-trip to compete in a road race Downtown.

These staff limitations are skill limitations. With the Learn & Earn program, Pittsburgh has the employees. The youth job program employs 2,000 kids ages 14 to 21. The Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center manages more the 125 summer workers. The people are present. But, their on-the-job performances as capable staffers and sports coaches for youngsters gives doubt. Most of the kids at age 16 can’t swim themselves. So, it is not fair to expect them to teach swimming to 10 year old campers.

Our swimmers can swim and they do a great job teaching swimming. But, they are in the minority. Throughout the school year, about 40 kids are involved in the varsity swim teams, boys and girls. However, a staff of 100+ would be needed to lead campers by the thousands.

The pathway to to the Tech Captains badges can develop the skills, disposition and attitudes among the high school athletes so that they can later be productive members of a camp staff and help guide younger students. and the Tech Captains badge helps to gear up a large, robust, staff of youngsters that can one day be a positive influence for the proposed All-City Sports Camp. Getting this credential can unlock the opportunities of teaching, coaching and leading others. This isn’t the only game in town. Other staff positions are already being recruited for, filled and experienced throughout the community. Citiparks, the YMCA, Sarah Heinz House, Hosanna House, Pittsburgh Ultimate, Venture Outdoors, Big Leagues, First Tee of Pittsburgh and our Swim & Water Polo Camp hire camp instructors. The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and the NLA hires Reading Warriors.

Recruiting deks

In 2017 and beyond, it would be great if the individuals who have LRNG digital badges could take a merit-based bypass of the job lottery. Not all the kids get hired with the city’s youth job program called Learn & Earn. Those with digital badges should get hired first. That way, digital badges would unlock opportunities.

Every youngster in Pittsburgh could learn to swim and be a part of the sportsmanship and teamwork experiences of an All City Sports Camp after 400 participants have been trained in the process of playing well with others in the quest for Tech Captain digital badges. But there is more. Existing camp experiences are already offered in the community by many of the supporting agencies and institutions within the network. Those camps hire high school students. Every camp can benefit with more enhanced staff preparations with year-round XPs.

The Tech Captains digital badges help to tighten the circle of life. Consider the growth of a youngster who is a camper at age 10 and then becomes a motivated learner at age 13 and grows into a valued junior instructor in a camp at age 15 to then hooks up in a camp-coaching role at age 17.

For the high school students, fitting in the time for training, playing, competing,

Coach and camper
Coach and camper.

studying, resting, planning, socializing, learning, and instructing other youngsters is demanding work that can be made somewhat less burdensome with the hope of a pathway charted to meaningful badges from

Many of the young adults at age 19 are doing college internships.

The connected learning approach prioritizes experience over knowledge transfer, formation over facts. It centralizes the importance of community connections, real-world relevancy and digital technologies. The approach bridges connections between communities, content, and practitioners. When successful, it brings together learner’s passions, people, and paths.