- Get Involved
- Education & Events
- Publications & Research
- About ACA
Latest ACA Blog Posts
August 31, 2011
How do you make an evening's camp fire activities even more fun? Add s'mores!
The first official record of the recipe is in a 1927 Girl Scouts manual, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.
The ooey gooey treat is said to have gotten it's name from eager requests for "some more," later becoming simply, "s'more."
What's your favorite camp treat?
Hungry for more? Find other bites about the history of camp foods in "Bug Juice and Other Culinary Delights," by Viki Kappel Spain, M. Ed., in the July/August 2011 issue of Camping Magazine.
Information from Vin Zant's The History of S'mores: Chocolate, Marshmallows and Graham Crackers. Read...
August 31, 2011
The transition from your crazy-busy summer to the slow fall season can be tough! It's good to remember these 4 tips:
#1 Stay active — It’s easy to feel burnt out after a long summer, so give yourself time to relax. But don’t hibernate all the way to May! Get outdoors and enjoy the fall weather.
#2 Eat healthy — Remember those pots and pans in your cabinets? It’s time to bust them out! You’ve got to cook for yourself — or at least find your own food — after a summer of being fed in the cafeteria. Try to make some healthy choices.
#3 Embrace the new social scene — At camp, you bond with others at a ridiculous rate. Away from the camp fires, color wars, and camp nicknames, interactions are not as intense. Don’t be discouraged if it takes longer to bond with people outside of camp. Slow down and enjoy the...
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 24, 2011
In 2004, ACA launched CampParents.org, a family resource site that includes a Find A Camp search, camp planning advice, and expert advice about camp and child development. In an effort to reach more families, CampParents.org was published in both English and Spanish. Today, ACA’s parent resource continues to thrive and provide excellent information and assistance to families. Have you shared CampParents.org with your camp families? It's a great way for parents and families to stay connected with the camp experience . . . all year long!
August 23, 2011
This summer, you were accountable for conducting classes, special events, and cabin activities. You were not only a leader, but you instilled leadership, participation, and cooperation in campers and other staff. You encouraged campers and co-workers to express their opinions and participate in self-governing activities.
Questions to think about:
How did you help others problem solve, see patterns, and discern meaning?
In what ways did you learn to inspire and present a positive example to others?
How did you enhance a camper’s ability to work with others?
How did you create environments that encourage a camper’s participation and growth?
Think of yourself in these terms:
Conflict manager: Whenever someone is living with a group of children, conflicts are inevitable. Being able to manage campers in a way that maximizes the campers’ strengths and minimizes...
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 17, 2011
Final campfires, candle ceremonies, talent shows, and saying goodbye. The end of camp is bittersweet, and each camp celebrates differently. Generations of campers have come to love the rituals, and hate the goodbyes associated with them. In her book, Children’s Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp, Leslie Paris writes:
No time was more nostalgic than the last night of camp, a moment when the community gathered to recall the summer that was coming to an end. Goodbyes, like the initiations that came before them, took place through ritual events designed to secure camp community while acknowledging it’s endpoint.
How do you celebrate the end of camp?
August 17, 2011
When you’re a camp counselor, you walk the fine line of doing the job you were hired to do — keep kids safe, healthy, and having fun — and doing it your way. It takes a lot of initiative and self-direction to make it through a camp day. Think about these questions before you start writing your resume:
How did I manage my goals and my time?
How did I explore and discover learning opportunities?
What did I do to hone my program planning, supervision, and evaluation skills?
Being on duty 140 hours per week or more is not for the faint at heart. Kids are demanding, and when you live on-site, you cannot simply leave the office when the clock strikes five. Camp counselors are on duty when mosquito bites get itchy, someone falls and cuts his knee, or homesickness strikes in the middle of the night. To be a camp counselor, you’ve got...
August 15, 2011
At camp, do you realize that you’re learning flexibility and adaptability, while also practicing your creativity? Ask yourself these questions before adding to your camp job description on your resume:
How did I adapt to new roles and responsibilities?
How did I find ways to balance diverse opinions and values?
How did I work to solve conflicts?
How did I adapt to the needs of various campers?
What were some of my most creative moments?
A camp counselor's flexibility, adaptability, and creativity are constantly being tested. Between developing fun cabin night activities, helping campers think of a skit to present to the camp, designing an idea for an activity booth on "Disney Day," or figuring out how to take a three-day camping trip in the pouring rain from a nightmare to an adventure, counselors must use the resources available to them — often on a tight time schedule — to actively engage...
August 10, 2011
For 150 years, campers have returned home from camp excited to share what they learned at camp, who they met, and the fun activities that filled their days. Camp nostalgia has long been a part of the fall season: "Camp continued to resonate in children's lives during the school year as they recalled happy moments, explained camp rituals to their family and friends, attended the occasional reunion, and prepared for the summer to come."
What's your favorite camp story or memory? Share it in the comments below! Also, be sure to check out ACA's resources on keeping alive not only the stories, but the life lessons and good habits learned at camp once the season is over.
Information from Leslie Paris' Children's Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp, p. 262.
August 10, 2011
Everyone has skills and abilities. Some are your unique aptitudes and talents that come to you naturally and easily. Other skills and abilities will be added or improved upon through education, training, and experience.
You will need many skills in the 21st century job market.
The experience gained from working a camp is a stepping-stone on your long-term career path. You have the opportunity to acquire and practice critical 21st century job skills at camp that will be transferable to all of your future environments — professional and personal.
Translating these might be as difficult as getting campers to bed each night, but if you can identify the skills you have developed, then you will have those important items that fill a resume and carry you through interviews.
Many human resources managers in lots of different fields find summer...
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 3, 2011
Color wars have brought team unity and the thrill of competition to camp since the mid-1910s. These fun-spirited meta-games are thought to have started as elaborations of Capture the Flag, which was popular at northeastern boys' camps at the time. In these Capture the Flag games, boys would split into two color teams, "often blue and gray for the Union and Confederate armies of the American Civil War," and would try to sneak onto each other's "territory" without beeing seen.
Color wars allow every camper to shine — whether it's playing sports or checkers, creating the best camp cheer or just cheering the loudest. What's your favorite color war activity?
Information from Leslie Paris' Children's Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp, pp. 120–121.
August 3, 2011
Summer sessions are winding down. You've played every game, walked every trail, seen every type of discipline problem, and down time is still the hardest time to keep campers engaged and safe. Down time inevitably means more discipline issues and a higher risk for accidents and injuries. Whether it's a deck of cards, a quick clean up game, a magic trick, or a perfect phrase that stops campers from arguing, every counselor has a a go-to "bag of tricks" to help manage a typical day at camp.
Tell us: What's in your bag of tricks?
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!