ACA Camp Blog

September 13, 2011

Do I want to strive for compliance? To what end? Do I want to spend my time creating processes for predictability and accountability? Do I want to be recognized for complacency and towing the line?

Or do I want to help myself and others learn to cope, survive, and thrive with unpredictability and uncertainty? What will best nurture innovation and creativity?

Something to think about . . .

September 6, 2011

Ei yi yi! How many ways can it be said?

Okay, so we get it. You don’t want to use the word “camp experience.” But for heaven’s sake, you have to recognize that the research that supports out-of-school time, after-school time, expanded learning opportunities, and/or summer learning also supports CAMP! It is a credible, evidence informed vehicle for learning! Learn to say "camp experience!"

August 30, 2011

Good friends make you think. That is why I love words. Sometimes it is the sound and rhythm of a word. Sometimes it is the simplicity or complexity of the pronunciation. Often, it is the meaning that attracts or provokes me — like "disruptive thinking" . . . love it.

I was reading a blog about disruptive thinking: "Being innovative . . . requires disruptive thinking, which is an evolutionary process with many failures along the way. That 's tough to do especially since all of us are taught that failure is bad and we try to avoid it at all costs".

We, as professionals, must protect our disruptive space if we are to succeed. As those who teach and influence children and youth, we must provide space for disruptive thinking. And as an institution, whether a camp or ACA, we must embrace disruptive thinking if we hope to remain relevant.

August 22, 2011

We are nearing the end of another season. Don't forget to pause and be thankful to those who helped you create small miracles. They are the everyday human angels, saints, and legends who silently stand with us and make us better than we ever imagined. They are not the ones who yell, demand, criticize, threaten, complain, bluster, or brag. They are the hearty and hardy. They are the ones who embrace you with kind eyes. They are the ones who have great crinkly smiling eyes. They are the ones on which you imprint and forever remain with you. When the season ends, they are the ones who make you smile even during the bittersweet moment of closure.

August 9, 2011

The Summer 2011 issue of the journal New Directions for Youth Development focused on “Recreation as a Developmental Experience.” In it, an article by Barry A. Garst, Laurie P. Browne, and M. Deborah Bialeschki was published — “Youth Development and the Camp Experience.” This excerpt is food for thought: “Research with adolescents suggests that young people reinvent themselves through the camp experience by escaping the negative impressions of others and revising their self-identify at camp. Undesirable personal characteristics can be shed in favor of new ways to think, feel, believe, and express themselves. Through camp groupings, campers also have opportunities to explore different social roles and build social capital.”

As always, you can find more camp trends and research at our Research homepage.

August 1, 2011

They say the brain is innately social and collaborative . . . which means it must be very happy at camp! Let’s start a “Feed the Brain Campaign.”

Feed the brain in a safe camp environment with steady doses of:

  • Challenges with low threats
  • Opportunities to talk and listen
  • Places to make friends and new acquaintances
  • Chances for variety and innovation
  • Time to problem solve and make decisions
  • Events that support resiliency

If you think these things are not important, consider whether you would hire someone who did not have a well-nourished brain — these factors can, in fact, tip the scale!

July 27, 2011

If we think our efforts to teach campers how to resolve conflicts, solve problems, and collaborate with others for the good of the camp community are not important — just look at Congress. These are critical competencies that our campers will need in the future as we attempt to solve the world's problems against a backdrop of competing priorities and agendas. Your work is so important!

To that end, I asked the camp community to be ever diligent about safety. We shared resources to help you talk to campers about violence and terrorism. But I was reminded that maybe our most important job is doing what we do best — providing opportunities where we can learn, share, and grow together. Fostering peaceful humanity; learning about one's self and others. The camp experience is about self, the environment, and learning . . . engagement at its best.

July 26, 2011

What we do and say, as those who influence the lives of children and youth, is of the utmost importance. Whether a parent, a caregiver, a counselor, a teacher, a person driving the bus, a cook, or a journalist, we cannot fail to take time to think before speaking or to research before writing. We must not fail to consider the consequences of our words. Words said or written, in anger or carelessness, can impact the lives of children and youth for a lifetime. Words define truth whether true or not. Words have such power they can alter reality — for good or ill. Don't risk being shallow.

Remember, we are bakers . . .

July 25, 2011

I’m on flight 3088 reading Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki. And I read the following: Bake a Bigger Pie. “There are two kinds of people and organizations in the world: eaters and bakers. Eaters want a bigger slice of an existing pie; bakers want to make a bigger pie. Eaters think if they can win, you lose, and if you win, they lose; bakers think that everyone can win with a bigger pie."

The 20/20 Vision is about baking a bigger pie. We want more children, youth, and adults to have the access and opportunity to have a camp experience. We want an increasing number of professionals and paraprofessionals who work with children, youth, and adults to have the access and opportunity to improve their knowledge and competence so quality services are provided to others. We want to be a part of a positive change in the world — not by trivializing the camp experience or limiting others — but through expansive contribution.

July 19, 2011

Everyone talks about creativity and innovation. Are they the same thing or not? Does it matter? Well, it does if you consider creativity as inventive and imaginative ideas. If you are like me, you have people coming to you all the time with new ideas. Suggestions and ideas, however, can languish and, worse yet, frustrate people. But, if we define innovation as action, then maybe creativity and innovation are not exactly the same, but one without the other is incomplete. More importantly for me, those willing to innovate need to understand — and have those around them who understand — that nowhere in this equation of creativity and innovation will you find perfection. Ah, therein lies the risk. But truth be known, it’s worth it for those who can “stomach” the idea of imperfection — because “you will be as successful as your stomach allows.”

July 18, 2011

It has been said that training is a form of transmission. Sounds like a sneeze! Maybe it is a good analogy. Although, its distribution can go far and wide, and one never knows who will catch it. Transmission imparts or hands down information from one to the other. In most formats, training is a one-way transmission that (hopefully) reaches others.

Learning, on the other hand, has been called transformational. It involves inquiry and often results in a personal quest or exploration much like a search mission. More often than not, the journey involves many — including those who provide orienteering support. The transformation includes exploring the unknown with concentration, discipline, fitness, and the wise use of available support systems.

What is even more remarkable is the fact that the camp community is a learning place of transformation. Each counselor has the opportunity to be a transformational leader, offering orienteering by helping others to interpret the surroundings in order to capture teachable moments and opportunities for adaptation. We are so much more than a seasonable sneeze!

July 14, 2011

Okay, yes, once again I am in a plane . . . reading.

Tom Peters states in The Little BIG Things that "organizations should be no less than cathedrals in which the full and awesome power of the imagination and spirit and native entrepreneurial flair of diverse individuals is unleashed in passionate pursuit of [. . .] excellence."

I agree. I just wish agreement alone got you there! It takes everyone sitting in the cathedral to adopt that vision to make it work. But if we start by inspiring one staff person at a time in our association — it could be done.

I also felt I might take license to reword his statement for the camp community, as well:

“The CAMP EXPERIENCE should be no less than a SANCTUARY OF NATURE in which the full and awesome power of the imagination and spirit and native entrepreneurial flair of diverse CAMPERS is unleashed in passionate pursuit of [. . .] excellence!”

July 12, 2011

I am reading Daniel Pink’s Drive. Reading can be so provocative! I want to share some thoughts that jumped out at me and made me wonder . . .

He wrote the book in 2009, and he suggests the work environment in the future will be more complex, more interesting, and more self-directed (which does sound like the work environment in 2011). It made me wonder how we as the camp community are preparing our youth to thrive in such environments.

Certainly, giving young people opportunities to navigate outside of their homes and schools is a great opportunity to build independence and resilience. We give young people leadership and problem-solving experiences.

Daniel Pink also states that “grit is as essential as talent to high accomplishment.” Ah, yes, stretching and trying new things in order to fail only to reach eventual success surely builds GRIT. We do that at camp, as well.

If you get a chance, it’s a good read. Post a comment — I’d love to hear your thoughts.

July 5, 2011

There are so many new and exciting opportunities for young people who go to camp. As adults/parents, we often fail to realize the impact that fun can have on a young person’s development. Take fishing, for example. Sometimes it is the camp experience that gives a young person the first chance to fish. But don’t forget, fishing teaches you patience, precision, the art of silence, reflection, observation, strategy, and so on. These are all skills young people will need in the 21st century — competencies taught well beyond the boundaries of traditional school walls. No, they don’t get a grade, but young people who fail to acquire such skills stand a good chance of failing nonetheless.

July 1, 2011

So many of us worry about the misuse of the word "camp." But in a conversation with ACA Director of Research Deb Bialeschki the other day, she told me that kids today are defining "outdoors" as when they go sit on the curb with their friends or sit in the parking lot at a mall. Nature, on the other hand, is somewhat removed — like a far off land you would go visit — maybe . . . because, remember, there might be bugs and other things that would make one uncomfortable. In the future, will a "nature visit" be like a visit to the zoo? Tell me it ain’t so.

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