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May 13, 2013
So you have your dream job this summer — working with a ton of kids, having fun, and staying active at camp!* How do you make sure that you get exactly what you want out of your summer at camp? We’ve already talked about what to expect. Setting goals before the summer can be helpful and make you more aware of your desired outcomes.
Get Clear on What You Want
Start by asking questions like this:
- How do I want my campers to feel at the end of their session?
- What would I want campers’ parents to be able to say about my counseling abilities?
- How do I want my coworkers and supervisors to feel about my counseling abilities?
- How do I want to feel at the end of the summer?
- What will allow me to do the best job I can?
Make SMART Goals
After you know what you want, make SMART...
May 13, 2013
ACA camps work intentionally to develop communities that bring everyone closer — living and learning together.
Seth Godin once said: “For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
ACA camps create “tribes.” Within camps, there are often multiple tribes witnessed by cabin groups or activity groups while each unique tribe still feels a part of the camp community, at large.
ACA camps who participate in international exchange programs are setting the stage for an expanded understanding of today’s culture and the opportunity to create a “global tribe.”
This is an extraordinary demonstration of global leadership within the ACA camp community. Godin tells us that we can belong to tribes but can’t cut ourselves off from others: “Leadership is the art of giving...
May 8, 2013
ACA and the National Research Center for College & University Admissions™ (NRCCUA®) are collaborating to serve the needs of campers, staff, and their families, especially those interested in college who might otherwise be missed. The NRCCUA is a nonprofit educational research organization that, for forty years, has conducted the largest nationwide survey of high school students and serves as a communications link between college-bound high school students and public and private colleges and universities.
Through this alliance, youth campers and staff who are interested in college planning resources can create their very own online college profiles. This simple two-step process is:
May 6, 2013
- A parent tells me they assumed “someone” was monitoring the camp.
- The media calls and asks what set of best practices/standards my camp follows.
- I am faced with a difficult situation or crisis and feel grateful I already have systems in place due to the standards program.
- I have staff turn-over and my camp’s institutional memory is compromised.
- I realize my state offers my camp regulatory relief because we are accredited.
- I realize I may be eligible for public funding only if I am accredited.
- I realize my insurance carrier requires accreditation and/or my insurance rates will decrease because of accreditation.
- I realize it is the professional standard of my profession.
- I realize it is the right thing to do for kids.
SO NEXT TIME THINK TWICE WHEN:
- It is said, “But parents never ask if I am accredited....
April 29, 2013
Change. Credit. Claim.
- Lesson learned — Over thirty years ago, science recognized rapid brain development in children from birth to age five. This discovery advanced the field of early childhood development into a recognized and respected profession.
- Today — Science has discovered a second period of rapid brain development: “Teen brain development” for those between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five.
- Pedagogy — “How” we work with young people complements the rapid growth taking place. We know how to create environments and spaces that encourage that growth. Young people do not “survive” but thrive in our spaces.
- Change minds — We must share language that clearly articulates what is happening when we work with young people.
April 23, 2013
Guest post by Mary Rogers
A few years ago, someone asked me how camp could possibly still be relevant for children in the 21st century. As a camp professional, the answers seemed so obvious that I had to really think how to explain why camp experiences are even more important for children today.
To explain why camp is still so important for children I would tell the story of one summer day at Sherwood Forest not so long ago.
It was the day of the Boat Regatta in Boys Camp and there were only two rules: Each boat had to be piloted by one camper, and the boats could be made of any found items except an actual boat or boat part. Groups of boys worked together to build their boats. Duct tape, cardboard, styrofoam, a fifty-five-gallon trash can, bits of old wood, a child’s wading pool, gallon milk jugs, milk crates, and binder’s twine were just some of the items used to make the boats. Creativity and cooperation, along...
April 19, 2013
Guest post by Megan Lawrence, director, Camp Wawayanda
Darkness. The sun has shone in the past couple days . . . but I can’t remember it. Why? Why can’t I remember the warmth of the sun and the music of the spring birds? I swear I remember seeing sunshine on the weather report for this week. How come it is so hard to place my finger on all of the good things that have happened?
Weeks like this make me feel like the sun has forgotten me, that there is very little left in this world to hope for-to believe in. Death and destruction fill our news feeds, prayers and sorrow inundate our lives 140 characters at a time. Pictures and messages are shared and passed at the click of a button. Something about how quickly sorrow spreads and penetrates our lives makes it feel less human.
My mind trails back to another dark week, one in 1995 — I was eight years old, waiting to walk to school, sitting at a neighbor...
April 16, 2013
Visit Career One Stop’s Competency Model to find an outline for your counselors’ resumes.
The camp experience/job helps counselors hone their personal effectiveness competencies. They must demonstrate initiative, integrity, and interpersonal skills if they are to be successful camp counselors.
There are academic competencies that are prerequisites for the job of camp counselor and will be practiced throughout the summer: reading, writing, mathematics, science, communication, critical thinking, active listening . . . oh, yes, and wonderful storytelling skills, not to mention music.
Workplace competencies also reign. The camp community is nothing more than successful teamwork that demands flexibility and adaptability. A counselor must know how to focus on the customer/camper as they guide, manage, and coordinate daily events.
April 8, 2013
When the science of early childhood development discovered the important, rapid growth that takes place from birth to age eight, babysitting was transformed into a profession: early childhood education.
That said, early adolescence and young adult development continued on as the great mystery that often was explained away as a mental health issue, a judiciary concern, or the result of hormonal eruptions.
Yet today, with the science of teen brain development, we might be at the precipice of discovering the cogent, developmental pathway for those between the ages of thirteen to twenty-five. It is not a mystery to be explained away by some less than attractive causal factor. Instead, these years of in a young person’s life hold an incredible opportunity for growth and development — when nurtured and understood — that results in the emergence of a positive, productive adult!
Those of us who work with this age group should...
April 1, 2013
Okay, so, I know I harp on play. Yet, with all the disparate nomenclature surrounding noncognitive skills, character building, and the plethora of “readiness” inventories, I find it may just all be about a four-letter word: PLAY.
I was reading a 2008 article by Alix Spiegel called “Old Fashioned Play builds Serious Skills.” He notes that today, the word play is associated with toys; but in the nineteenth century, play meant activity. Gee, what a difference a few decades can make.
When play is improvised and regulated by those participating (kids), what happens? It seems kids are practicing self-regulation. They are using their imaginations and creating ideas upon which to innovate. They are using what many call executive functions; planning, problem solving, and reasoning. These are elements that many bemoan are missing today, causing kids to...
March 26, 2013
A summer of learning is just around the corner. Lately, I have been reading about “inquiry learning,” and I found a quote on NPR’s Mind/Shift blog that resonated with me:
Inquiry means living in the soup. Inquiry means living in that uncomfortable space where we don’t know the answer.
Inquiry is about creating an environment that embraces curiosity and the desire to learn even more. It is not about telling and repeating, but accessing and experiencing. It is about wanting to know more and being enabled to explore, seek, question, try, fail, and learn again.
The camp experience is an oasis for these joyful, teachable failures.
Photo courtesy of Sanborn Western Camps, Florissant, Colorado
March 19, 2013
. . . to overparenting! So says Madeline Levine, PhD, psychologist, author, and keynoter at the recent ACA national conference in Dallas.
Drumroll . . . !
The mother of three “newly minted adults,” all who had life-changing positive experiences after growing up as campers, Levine says dreaming, creating, and play are the lynchpins of a happy, successful adulthood — enter camp!
You see, she explains, a counselor is not invested in the same way as a parent who, understandably, finds it hard to endorse a “successful failure,” which provides the traction for mastery. And yet successful failure is exactly what we encourage at camp, along with an invitation for exploration and collaboration and manageable risk taking.
So maybe we are not only in the business of youth development but in parent development, too! Is it possible that, through the camp experience, parents can discern the benefits of not...
February 18, 2013
So you’ve found your dream job this summer — you’re working at camp for the first time!* You’ll be spending your summer playing with kids, making a positive impact on their lives, having tons of fun, meeting new people, and making friends. But there are a few other very important things that you should expect from your job at camp.
The most essential aspect of your job this summer is safety. Make sure your campers are always wearing the right clothing/equipment for activities. Create an environment among your campers that values respect — make sure everyone feels emotionally safe. Take care of yourself (get proper sleep and nutrition) so that you remain alert and can make appropriate safety judgment calls at all times. Physical, mental, and emotional safety should be your main priority at all times.
Resources to help:
February 18, 2013
This month's guest on Peg's blog is Lance Ozier, member of ACA's national Committee for the Advancement of Research and Evaluation (CARE) and former education coordinator at Project Morry.
Once upon a time, when the world seemed young and our whole lives lay before us, my brother and I would camp outdoors just a few feet from the backdoor of our house. Under the night’s moonlight and beside the fire's shawls of final smoke, we were free. Although our parents were only a few steps away inside the house, they were out of sight and out of mind. Spending endless childhood days in the woods, we found wide open spaces that gave us room to learn and make mistakes.
From morning coffee to goodnight yawn, there’s nothing quite like long adult days to remind us that we’re no longer drifting through the dream of childhood. After the Victorian era, when children were seen and not heard, child psychologists...
February 12, 2013
Recently, ACA Board Executive Steve Baskin spoke at the TEDx San Antonio Conference on "Unplugging Our Kids." Steve does a wonderful job explaining to attendees of the conference why kids need camp more than ever to find success in the 21st century. Watch the video below.