Latest ACA Blog Posts

July 20, 2011

Again this week, we look at “apps” you don’t need a cell phone to access at camp! Kim Aycock, MST, shows you how to be flexible this summer with a “Gumby App” — for those times when bad weather, technical difficulties, or longer-than-expected activities threaten “regularly scheduled programming.”

Kim writes:
“It may be impossible to teach someone to be flexible, but rather, it may be helpful if you are aware of times when you will be called on to 'be Gumby' as a counselor and adapt to any changes that come your way. Veteran staff can verify that you may need to use 'plan B' because the weather is bad; a technical difficulty with equipment arises; a planned activity takes ten minutes to complete and you thought it would last for an hour . . .”

Try this game with campers to...

July 20, 2011

In 1912, a group that would later become the National Association of Directors of Girls' Private Camps met to discuss the future of girls' camp. "The interest in girls' camp grew after higher education for women was no longer a rarity and the graduate degree became the goal of more college graduates. Women had a wider choice of careers, and women's suffrage was on the way."

Information from Eleanor Eells' History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years, pp. 88–89.

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...

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...

July 13, 2011

In 1885, some of the first campers "slept on top of rubber ponchos to protect themselves against the damp and somewhat stony soil" and "slept side by side in tents of twelve by fourteen feet." Over the decades, sleeping quarters evolved — from sleeping on wooden boards to later sleeping on canvas double decker beds, beginning in 1911.

Information from Leslie Paris' Children's Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp, pp.165–166.

July 12, 2011

Ever lost your cell phone? Then you know the uneasy feeling of losing all those numbers, reminders, apps, and connections.

At camp, you are probably told to put the phone away when you’re with campers — or maybe you don’t even get reception! While on the job, does being without your phone — and all its many resources — make you feel uneasy?

Never fear! In “Configure the Ideal Smartphone: ‘Apps’ for Camp Staff to Download and Install,” Kim Aycock, MST, shows you that you don’t need a cell phone to have a successful summer.

This week, we’ll look at what Kim has to say about the “camp version” of Facebook, and how you can help campers get friended early in the camp experience.

“The camp version of [Facebook] is to facilitate the formation of friendships within your...

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...

July 6, 2011

Sandy Cameron, former editor-in-chief of Camping Magazine, offers advice on how to pace yourself for the summer season.

In the heat of the summer, it's easy to lose focus and begin to feel burnout. Read these ten summer survival tips to cool the burnout and maintain your energy and enthusiasm at camp.

July 6, 2011

In 1917, Camp Fire Girls (now Camp Fire USA) "pledged to save on food consumption, eliminate waste, and become physically fit" in an effort to help during World War I. Camp Fire Girls even camped "by orchards where they could help harvest and can fruits that would otherwise go to waste."

Camp Fire Girls was the first national nonsectarian, interracial organization for girls in the United States.

Information from Eleanor Eells' History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years, pp. 73–74.

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.

June 29, 2011

Ethan Schafer, Ph.D., a licensed child clinical psychologist, shares tips and practical advice for keeping you on your game this summer.

Being a camp counselor won't be as easy as some summer jobs, but it has the potential to be much more rewarding. Even before the season starts, you will be inundated with information about everything from camp policy guidelines to camper behavior management strategies. It might seem overwhelming, and it probably will be at times. While you read this article, however, forget about all of it. Not because it isn't important — it is — but because my job is to help you take care of yourself so that you, your colleagues, and your campers have the best summer possible..

June 29, 2011

The Boys' Club in Salem, Massachusetts, organized a seven-week summer camp and seventy-six boys attended. By 1930, more than sixty Boys' Clubs conducted summer camp with approximately 26,088 campers attending. In 1990, the organization changed its charter to include girls and its name to Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

June 29, 2011

Digital disruption results in authentic engagement between and among campers. Creative problem solving emerges. Increased understanding of one another, the community, and the world at large erupts when campers share time, space, and activities. Lifelong lessons and friendships burst forth and are cherished for years. And, yes, history has demonstrated that, over time, real engagements have been a consequence due to learning similar life lessons wedded (sorry, no pun intended) by the shared values and positive relationships taught at camp.

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