Behavour Science Camp
with Alexandra Kurland, Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, Mary Hunter, and Michaela Hempen
This year's Science Camp has been rescheduled to Labor Day Weekend because of the corona virus. It was originally going to be simply a change of date, but the virus is still still making travel unsafe. So we are going to transform Science Camp into a virtual event.
The event will begin at 6:30 pm Central time Thursday evening Sept. 3, 2020 with introductions.
Travel just isn’t safe. That’s not going to change for the better any time soon. Rather than postpone Science Camp into 2021,we have decided to transform it instead into a virtual event.
Part of me is hugely disappointed. Ever since we decided to hold this year’s Science Camp at my barn, I’ve been imagining the event. I could see the tents popping up in the arena. I was looking forward to sharing the barn with the attendees. I could hear their laughter. I could imagine them joining me for for early morning goats walks and late night camp fires. Well, we can still have the late night camp fires - just virtually and without the mosquitoes. And as for the goat walks - that will just have to wait for another time. I’m guessing most of the attendees would be staying up so late they’d miss out on them anyway.
What people won’t miss is what makes Science Camp such a unique experience. I’ve been giving virtual clinics this spring, and I am truly surprised by how well they work. I’m not talking webinars here. I’m talking about clinics with their lively discussions and great learning. So even though part of me is disappointed that we can’t have the original version of Science Camp, another part of me is now even more excited than before about this event.
So here is what we have planned.
Thursday evening 6:30 to approximately 9 pm central time: "Camp Fire" gathering
Friday - Monday:
9 am to noon Central time: Shaping on a Point of Contact presented by Alexandra Kurland
2 - 5 pm Central time: Errorless Learning and Stimulus Control presented by Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz and Mary Hunter
7 pm Central time: "Camp fire" gathering
Thursday evening attendees will transport themselves via zoom to my barn for the first of our “Camp Fire” gatherings. Thursday evening is perhaps the most important part of the event. It’s for introductions. At clinics I ask people about their training background and what they hope to get from the weekend. The answers very much shape the experience we are about to have. This will be true for Science Camp, as well. If you have been to my clinics you know the value of this first evening together.
The overall theme of this year’s Science Camp is Errorless Learning. We’ll be dividing the days up into several units.
Each morning I’ll lead the presentations/discussions/exercises as we explore: Shaping on a Point of Contact: A Constructional Approach To Rope Handling.
We’ll be looking at the teaching of rope handling from the perspective of errorless learning. Even if you don’t use leads with the animals you work with, this approach to breaking a complex task down into component parts and then building the skills layer by layer will be a valuable process to participate in.
The morning sessions will include some slide presentations, but you will also be actively involved both in video analysis, discussions, and most importantly skill building/body awareness sessions. The morning will conclude each day with a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement session. So if you think you are going to be sitting all day in front of a computer screen - think again.
We’ll break for lunch and then get back together again for the afternoon presentations.
Mary Hunter will start us out on Friday with a presentation on Errorless Learning: what is it, how do you implement it? Again, you aren’t going to be passive observers. These presentations are designed for you to become involved - to ask questions and to learn via PORTL games. Yes - just as we will be teaching rope handling skills in the morning via the computer, we will be using PORTL in the afternoon.
We’ll break for dinner and then reconvene for the second of our “campfire" discussions.
On Saturday I’ll continue the morning Shaping on a Point of Contact presentations. Each day we’ll be adding more layers, putting more pieces of the puzzle together.
In the afternoon Dr. Jesús Rosales Ruiz will share his work on Stimulus Control. This is a leading edge, head spinning presentation. To put it bluntly, it will change how you train.
Which means you will definitely want to join us for the evening “campfire" discussion.
Sunday I’ll continue on with the Shaping on a Point of Contact presentations. In addition to the skill building demos and exercises, we'll be analyzing video you create. One advantage of a virtual science camp is you get to work with your own animals.
Sunday afternoon Jesus will continue with the Stimulus Control presentation.
Sunday evening we’ll have our final “campfire” discussion.
Monday morning we’ll conclude the Shaping on a Point of Contact presentations. You’ll see how all the pieces we’ve put into repertoire in the previous three days come together to create beautifully nuanced tactile communication.
We’ll gather again in the afternoon for a Science Camp wrap up. What did you learn? What are your major takeaways from the weekend?
What I know from these experiences is we won’t want to say good-bye. We won’t want the event to end. But we will plan on finishing around four so you can enjoy a relaxed Labor Day dinner with your family.
That’s the plan. It will have all of the good learning, the great conversations, the laughter, the discoveries, the connecting with friends that the original Science Camp would have had. It just won’t have the mosquitoes, and you’ll get to sleep in your own bed instead of a tent.
The upstairs meeting room at the barn is now full of tents and air mattresses so at some point we will have an actual Science Camp, but with so many uncertainties around the virus, we thought it was best to create this alternative, virtual event. Who knows when we will all feel safe traveling again.
Space is limited. We are keeping the group size small for this event. If you are interested in attending, email me about the event. It will be four days of great learning, great discoveries, great conversations, and great fun.
We will be charging $650 for the Virtual Science Camp
If you have any questions about the event, do please let me know. You can read about our first Science Camp in Italy and the plans we had for our event at the Clicker Center Barn by scrolling down.
Jesús, Mary and I are looking forward to meeting with you Labor Day Weekend. It’s going to be quite an adventure! We are exploring the leading edge in behavior science, so we might as well zoom ahead into the world of Star Trek with a virtual Science Camp.
Science Camp at The Clicker Center
This event was originally scheduled for May 2020. Because of the virus it was rescheduled to Labor Day weekend. We have now changed it to a virtual event. We will be including as much as we can of the Science Camp experience in the on-line event.
We will obviously need to make changes as we shift to a virtual event, but we will be retaining the original spirit of the event. Here's the original description of Science Camp as it was planned for the barn.
In 2019 we held our first clicker science camp. The location was in a beautiful mountain setting near Parma Italy. Sixteen participants joined us for an amazing experience. This was a conference like no other I have ever participated in or attended. With such a small group we could truly dive in deep. We threw away the time schedule and instead gave our presenters the time they needed to truly explore where the leading edge of Applied Behavior Analysis is taking us.
We were so impressed by the quality of the experience we knew we had to hold another science camp. This year we have a special treat. Science camp is going to be at The Clicker Center Barn.
This will be the first time I will be hosting an event at my home barn which makes this all the more special. We will be camping out in the barn, so be prepared to have horses for roommates! That makes this all the more fun. You will truly be sharing the barn with the resident animals. But in case that worries you, take a look at some the places we'll be pitching our tents. For starters the upper deck on the front of the barn will be an ideal camping spot.
The Entrance to The Clicker Center Barn
The upper deck of the barn with the horses below could be your "camp site" as an attendee at our Science camp.
This will truly be a unique event. We will be building on the material presented at the first science camp. On day 1 Mary Hunter presented a superb talk on errorless learning and then introduced everyone to PORTL - the teaching and research tool that lets you explore the concepts and procedures of applied behavior analysis in a game format.
This year we will again open with the presentation on errorless learning, and PORTL. As an added bonus we will then apply what we have covered to training sessions using the resident herd of cashmere goats.
Because the camp setting offers such a relaxed atmosphere, it creates the perfect setting for a deep dive into the science of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and its practical applications in clicker training. The total group size is limited. You are not attending a large conference where tight schedules make it difficult to ask questions or to take a topic further than the allotted time allows. Here the schedule belongs to all of us. That means we can explore in depth how research findings from the field of ABA help us to explain what we are observing during our training sessions. We can also flip it around to see how objective observations of our animal's behavior can question established beliefs and identify concepts that need further research.
Who Should Attend?
You! (That is - if you enjoy exploring new ideas, like to stay up late engaged in interesting discussions, enjoy being around animals, love training and hanging out with like-minded people, then this is the event for you.) It's a different kind of conference! Come join us at this year's Clicker Science Camp!
During the clicker camp, we'll be exploring both practical training and research topics with an open mind, ready to deviate from the well-trod path of "that's how it's done". We'll be teasing apart the strands of what we think we know to expose ideas we didn't even know were waiting for us! We'll be guided by well-renowned academics and lecturers, very experienced and highly skilled practitioners and teachers, by our peers, and the best teachers of all, our animals!
We'll make use of inspiring lectures, dynamic discussions, engaging PORTL games, enlightening body awareness exercises, guided Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons, delicious meals and adventurous campfires to broaden our horizon, deepen our knowledge, and ignite our curiosity. And we'll ask our animals for feedback. Are we on the right track or do we need to go back, look at a certain question from another angle, explore another approach?
This is NOT meant to be another conference where you just sit and listen. We will all explore, discover, learn and teach. YOU will shape the course content, based on your questions and your discoveries. Accompanying you on this journey of discovery will be an exciting group of presenters and attendees, each bringing their own experiences to inspire even more questions.
Maybe you thought you knew what stimulus control means. You learned the four criteria for stimulus control and then moved on to other topics. Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz is going to take you back for another look. And of what a surprise there is waiting for you. Stimulus control is so much more than any of us ever imagined. You'll learn what that means as Jesús guides us through a day that's titled "Why Fight Extinction.
Recently we've been hearing a lot about errorless learning. It's coupled with Loopy Training, a term that has gained a solid foot hold in the clicker training community. Mary Hunter has been doing a lot research centered around both the academic understanding of the concept and the application to teaching. She'll bring the concepts of errorless learning to life through PORTL games. And then we'll take what we're learning directly out to the barn for some training fun with the resident goats.
You wonder how all this fits into practical training and why this is relevant? Michaela Hempen will share the current status of her research project on cribbing. How do you apply these concepts to a problem that seems as intractable as cribbing. (For the non-horse people reading this, cribbing is considered a terrible stable vice. Cribbing horses grip protruding surfaces such as fence posts or water buckets with their front teeth. They then flex their necks in order to such air into their esophagus. Cribbing brings with it many health concerns, so owners often put tight cribbing collars around the horse's neck in an effort to stop the cribbing. Such tactics rarely work. Michaela's research which she has done under the guidance of Dr' Jesús Rosales-Ruiz has taken a very different approach. Her study will help you understand the insights into stimulus control that Dr' Jesús Rosales-Ruiz will be sharing with us. Everything ties together.
And since everything is everything else, Alexandra Kurland will guide us through the beauty of rope handling. Loopy training, stimulus control, errorless learning: these are much more than interesting academic concepts. They are the cornerstones of great training. We'll be looking at this through the lens of connecting with horses and for people who prefer animals that come in smaller packages, the goats.
And speaking of smaller packages, one of our special guests is Ann Edie. Most of you know about Ann and Panda, the miniature horse she uses as a guide. They will both be part of clicker camp. Hopefully we will be able to take a field trip into town so you can watch Panda at work.
Throughout the week we will be teaching teach each other with the help of PORTL. Jesús and Mary will guide us through the beginning steps of the game to get everyone comfortable with it. Mary will have projects prepared for each team that you will be working on together through the week. You can also use the campfire hours to explore those concepts that interest you the most. You want to explore variable schedules of reinforcement, go ahead! Really interested in the effect of extinction? Go try, but only with a resilient learner! Always wanted to know if a jackpot works, have a go!
This is The Clicker Center Barn, and if you know anything about Alexandra Kurland's work, you know balance is a central pillar of her work.
So for a truly special treat and outstanding experience we will be guided through Awareness Through Movement lessons by Feldenkrais practitioner Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe.
is a pioneer and leading voice in the development of clicker training for horses. 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of her first book and the “official” introduction of clicker training to the horse world. Since then, Alexandra has published two other books on clicker training, including the recently revised edition of "The Click That Teaches: A Step By Step Guide in Pictures". She has written hundreds of articles on clicker training, produced The Click That Teaches DVD lesson series and an online course (click here for details).
She is a regular speaker at animal training conferences. She is one of the original faculty members of the Clicker Expo and a founding member of the Art and Animal Training Conference.
She publishes regularly on her blog theclickercenterblog. She produces Equiosity, a weekly podcast with Dominique Day. And she is the founder of Horses for Future, a group dedicated to helping horse owners learn how to make a positive difference in the climate change crisis.
To find out more, visit her websites:
For Clicker Training:
For Climate Crisis Action:
Horses for Future (a facebook group and podcast)
Mary Hunter and Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz
Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz
is an associate professor at the University of North Texas in the Department of Behavior Analysis. He is one of the few scientists in the world studying animal training from both the theoretical and applied perspectives. He, along with his students, has greatly contributed to the understanding of the science and practice of animal training. Jesús studies: the antecedent control of behavior; generalization; behavioral cusps; fluency-based teaching; treatment of autism; teaching of academic behavior; rule-governed behavior and contingency-shaped behavior.
Jesús is a regular speaker at animal training as well as scientific conferences, as both communities can benefit from each other.
Jesús was invited several times to the Equiosity webinars organised by Alexandra Kurland and Dominique Day. You can access the recorded webinars here
is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas.
She also provides dog training services and behavior consultations through her company DogTrainingology and publishes regularly articles about positive reinforcement dog training, the science of dog behavior, and clicker training on her blog Stalecheerios.
As if this was not enough, Mary also serves as the president of The Art and Science of Animal Training (ASAT), a non-profit organization that exists to improve relationships between humans and other animals through educational programs that increase the understanding and use of behavior analytic principles. Mary organises, very successfully, the annual ASAT conference, which brings together academics from the field of behaviour analysis and practical trainers.
The 12th conference will be held 22-23 February 2020, in Dallas (TX). Check out the program and you will realize why this conference is selling out so quickly.
holds a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine and an MSc in equine science, specialising on equine behaviour. She is working as a scientist which made clicker training especially appealing to her.
She is working on a research project that is looking at behavioral interventions for horses that crib. Her work is under the guidance of Dr. Rosales-Ruiz.
She has studied with Alexandra Kurland since 2010. She is now one of Alexandra’s Click-That-Teaches coaches. She runs the German version Alexandra’s online course and provides coaching support.
Apart from clicker training, Michaela has a strong interest in classical dressage, particularly inspired by Anja Beran, applied behaviour analysis, and the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, all which are closely interlinked with Alexandra’s work.
Our Feldenkrais teacher
Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe has made a career as a professional ballet dancer, on stage together with Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and others. As a choreographer, she has very successfully guided gymnastic athletes at national and international level, as far as the Olympic games in Syndey, Athens (where they won a silver medal!) and Beijing.
Nathalie began studying the work of Moshe Feldenkrais in order to improve her teaching and thereby helped her students to experience more awareness and less pain, providing the opportunity to explore new ways: “learning to learn”.
Impressed by the positive effects, Nathalie became a Feldenkrais practitioner to help others to improve wellbeing and movement and to develop flexibility in body and mind using new pathways. Her students are athletes, musicians, equestrians, and individuals who suffer from injury or disease.
Our Special Guest
Ann Edie is a co-owner of The Clicker Center Barn. She started takijng riding lessons from Alexandra Kurland over twenty years ago. Since then they have formed a close partnership.
Ann was born legally blind. Alexandra trained Panda, a miniature horse to be her guide. Panda is entering her 17th year as a working guide.
Ann is a retired teacher of the visually impaired, a skilled clicker trainer, and a top notch scrabble player. Anyone looking for a challenging partner will be well rewarded with a good late night game!
We want this experience to be exploratory and dynamic, one that isn't locked into a rigid time schedule of presentations. Instead, the program will flow with and develop in response to the discussions that arise during each of these days. This format worked magnificently for us at last year's Italian Clicker Science Camp. Building on that success we expect to go even deeper into each of our main topics.
To give you flavour of what's in store, we have pin-pointed some themes for the Summer Camp. These are starting points only. We intend to head down many "rabbit holes". Everything is connected with everything else but who knows what new pathways we'll be discovering!
Click on the titles below to find out more! And you may find that indeed everything is connected to everything else!
Click the button below to find out more about the event location, registration details, etc.
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