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Dear Friends of Quest,
I hope that this monthly installment of our newsletter finds you happy and healthy!  Happy Holidays!  We hope you have a wonderful holiday season.  At Quest, we continue to be thankful for the amazing children, parents, and community partners that we are proud and lucky to know!!!
Winter Group Dates are:
January 4th – March 8th
Wednesday Evenings 5:30 to 7:30  
at the Central Library in Huntington Beach
Back by Popular Demand–this group will have a Video Game Making Option!!!
Early Registration Ends Today, Dec. 10th–Sign Up Now!!!

This issue of our newsletter is about graditude.  At Quest, we are proud to provide an innovative treatment program through our therapeutic summer camp and school year therapy groups that have been proven to reduce problem behaviors not only at camp, but in school, at home, and in everyday life.  We hope that our newsletter will be a source of support and applicable information to improve the lives of the amazing children and families in our community.


Jodie Knott, Ph.D.
Director and Licensed Psychologist
Quest Therapeutic Camps of Southern California

Neuroplasticity and the Importance of Feeling Grateful

Neuroplasticity is an area that has received a lot of attention in recent years since it is exciting to know more about how the brain works and how we can use this information to make our lives better.


Neuroplasticity is a concept that we focus on a lot at camp so I thought it was time to put it into a newsletter to discuss some of the research, but also some of the hands-on ways we try to break these big ideas down for kids.


Neuroplasticity – your brain is like plastic, your brain is bendable and is always changing.  Our children are forever learning and growing in intelligence and understanding of the world surrounding them.

In this informational video, we can demonstrate how brains are continuously changing and growing. Everyday children are gathering new information and broadening their understanding of the world around them. Talking to your children about how their brains are growing and changing will make them more open to the change process and they tend to make more significant changes.

Research also demonstrates that just by teaching children that their brains are capable of change and development more significant positive behaviors occur for children.

The “hidden rule” that we discuss with our campers regarding neuroplasticity, is “our brain changes throughout our lives. It is adaptive and bendable, like plastic is. This is called neuroplasticity. We can learn new ways to think and feel and practice healthy habits with time and practice. The more we practice these new ways of thinking the better some of our good, new positive strategies will work and the happier we will feel.”


We can use every month to focus on being thankful for the positive things in our lives. As it was just Thanksgiving, this seems like a perfect time to write about Nueroplasticity, since by focusing daily on blessings or what you feel grateful or thankful for can lead to new positive neural pathways, while also diminishing less helpful/ more negative pathways. In the article These Things Happen When You Start Counting Your Blessings by Power of Positivity, we learn about the meaning of gratitude.


Gratitude “has been conceptualized as an emotion, an attitude, a moral virtue, a habit, a personality trait, or a coping response. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin root gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness” [1].


At Quest, we attach bonuses for our children who consistently track the things they are grateful for since this is so important for this process of developing new healthy networks and pathways.


It is important to remember that people who are positive have the same feelings of loss as others who are less positive, however, these individuals are able to experience a temporary moment of sorrow that enhances the joy of the other moments of their lives.


Here are some suggestions in how you can begin counting your blessings! [2]


  1. You strengthen friendships
  2. You build a sense of spirituality
  3. You improve your creative thinking
  4. You cope better with stress
  5. You improve your mood
Gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, recommends a strategy that helps individuals remember the bad. In this research he has found that we have a tendency to be less grateful when times are good, because we start thinking we’re invulnerable. He suggests an exercise that involves a person to think of an unhappy event that they experienced. The participant is then asked to contrasts present time with the unhappy event. It was shown that you will feel more grateful and pleased with the present time. “…it appears that participation in the gratitude condition led to substantial and consistent improvements in people’s assessments of global well-being.


People can also reflect on challenges they have overcome. Researchers have also demonstrated that practicing gratefulness leads to improved relationships and improved feelings of control, even when bad things happen.


“It’s kind of obvious, really (why wouldn’t you feel happier when thinking about happy things?) but the key words here are substantial and consistent. It seems happiness sticks over time.” [3]


I would make the argument that happiness sticks over time due to what we know about neuroplasticity. To me it is really exciting when we can use what we know about the brain to live happier, healthy lives for ourselves and also our children. Good luck with your gratitude journals/posters or whatever means you find to reflect on your blessings in tangible ways each day–there is so much to be thankful for if we focus on the right things!


School Year Programming

School year therapy groups are ten-week afternoon therapeutic groups that are designed to provide therapy by specifically targeting individualized goals for our campers.

A minimum of one hour includes therapeutic activities that heavily target the development of social skills, emotion regulation, and positive behaviors, while the next hour focuses on further skill development by providing a variety of experiential activities as part of a group to create opportunities to observe the child in a natural setting and intervene to facilitate change. Some quarters provide a special emphasis to improve skills, while other quarters have a more general offering based on the campers’ interests and often include programming in areas such as video game making, drama, art, movie making, etc.

Winter Group Dates are:
January 4th – March 8th
Wednesday Evenings 5:30 to 7:30
at the Central Library in Huntington Beach

Summer Programming

Quest’s intensive summer program offers 7 weeks of programming (6 weeks of day camp and 1 week of residential). The summer program includes individualized behavior plans, group therapy, occupational therapy, a social thinking curriculum, mindfulness activities, yoga, soccer, games in the park, and field trips (beach, boomers, rock climbing, ropes course, bowling, etc.) to create a fun and engaging, therapeutic camp experience for children.

Weekly parent meetings are also included. The summer program has been found across multiple studies to significantly reduce hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, and inattention, while improving peer relations, family relations, athletic competency, behavioral control and self-esteem. Quest has also been found to improve social awareness, social cognition, social communication, and social problems.

Summer Camp Dates are:
June 26 through August 10th