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Latest ACA Blog Posts
May 29, 2012
I love to read, and as such, many people forward things to me they think I might find interesting. It is great — I feel like I have my own set of librarians working just for me. ACA’s Director of Research Deb Bialeschki is one of those librarians.
Last week, Deb shared an article with me by Shelly Engelman and Tom McKlin about “Grit” as a measure of academic success. Seriously! They write: “While interest and content knowledge do contribute to achieving goals, psychologists have recently found that Grit — defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals — is potentially the most important predictor of success. In fact, research indicates that the correlation between grit and achievement was twice as large as the correlation between IQ and achievement.”
Let’s a give a “Woo Hoo!” Or as Linda Erceg, executive...
May 23, 2012
Stargazing in the night sky, hiking in an ancient forest, even just feeling the breeze on a warm day — these simple things help kids find peace of mind, wonder, and a greater connection to the world. Camp is one of the best places (and in some cases, the only place) for kids to be nurtured by nature!
Time spent in nature — away from a screen — benefits kids in so many ways:
- Mental: Studies have shown that time spent in nature improves cognitive functioning.
- Physical: Playing outdoors gets kids off the couch and moving, helping them reach (and often exceed!) their recommended 60 minutes of activity time per day.
- Emotional: Studies have shown that nature reduces stress, and it allows for opportunities of self-discovery.
(Read more about these benefits and others in...
May 22, 2012
There is something to be said about the revival of a “way of learning” that supports tacit knowledge, (tacit knowledge will be needed in a constantly changing world — see “Learning for a World of Constant Change,” by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown), and its relationship to the cultivation of both hope and imagination. Tacit knowledge is a result of doing and experiencing — engagement. Tacit knowledge is not a learning process that is linear or mechanical but the result of a collection of experiences that help one make meaning.
This approach to learning requires a massive shift from hierarchical teaching environments to "heterarchical" learning environments. The camp community is one such heterarchical learning environment — and it happens to bring to the 21st century more than 150 years of...
May 18, 2012
Sometimes having the right activity at the right moment can make the difference between a good day and a great day at camp! Here are some no-planning, no-equipment-necessary games that you can play with your campers. (Find these and 98 other nature activities in 101 Nature Activities for Kids, by Jane Sanborn and Elizabeth Rundle.)
Scenario #1: You’ve got five minutes before lunch starts and you need a quick game that won’t get your campers too riled up.
Activity: Cloud Races
Have campers lie down, look up in the sky, and pick a cloud to watch race by. Choose a point as a finish line and see whose cloud crosses it first.
Scenario #2: Your campers are feeling extra energized this afternoon and you want to let them blow off some steam.
Activity: Balance of Nature
May 14, 2012
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” — Dale Carnegie
Did you know that when your kids have the chance to engage in free, unstructured play, they’re actually developing skills that are vital to their success?
In a recent report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defended free and unstructured play as an essential piece of helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones. The report also says that kids learn to manage stress and become more resilient through free play.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, kids need strong foundations from which to solve problems, communicate effectively, and think innovatively. This summer, you can give your kids those developmental...
May 9, 2012
Guest post by Michael Eisen
When I was nine years old I spent my first summer at camp. It was a huge step for me to be away from home for that long. I remember being very homesick that summer, but one of the things that made it easier for me was having a really kind, caring, and compassionate camp counselor. It’s unfortunate, but when I went to camp, having a really good counselor was by no means a guarantee. Over the next eight summers spent as a camper and one summer spent as a counselor myself, I learned a lot about what it took to be considered a campers favorite counselor, and I want to share some tips on how you can show up in that way for ALL your campers this summer!
Kindness and Compassion
Reflecting back on the handful of favorite counselors that I had throughout my summers as a camper, the most important factor that jumps...
May 7, 2012
We are rapidly approaching significant opportunity as a community of practice. We must be present, prepared, and practiced for parents, politicians, and professionals alike who are beginning to clamor for what we do and have done for decades for children, youth, and adults. They are using different terms and nomenclature to describe what they hope their children and the new work force will be able to achieve — but it is the same as what we do. So we need to step out, step up, and get in the game — start the chatter — and be ready to knock it out of the park!
May 4, 2012
What do young people need most from YOU, their mentor?
Find out the answer to that and more in "Mentoring 101: Building Your Summer Skill Set" — a webinar taking place Thursday, May 10 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. ET.
Make an impact in the lives of your campers this summer and be the best mentor you can be!
Photo courtesy of Camp John Marc in Bosque County, Texas.
April 26, 2012
“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.” — Leonardo da Vinci
It sounds easy, but in reality, it can be so difficult: getting enough sleep! And you might not have thought about it much, but being well-rested is SO important to your job this summer.
First, being well-rested is critical to the health and safety of your campers. You’re expected to have the energy and clear head to be 100% present at every moment with them. Don’t let sleep-deprivation cloud your judgment!
Not to mention — have you ever met anyone who is an absolute joy to be around when they haven’t had enough sleep? Be your charming, witty, positive self this summer — don’t let snarky comments or a bad attitude creep out around your co-counselors because you’re tired.
- According to the...
April 26, 2012
Guest post by Audrey Monke
In her best-selling book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogel discusses the importance of letting kids take healthy risks and allowing them to experience failure. Camp offers a great opportunity for kids to do exactly what Mogel recommends.
When a camper says they “can’t” or “don’t want to” do an activity, counselors encourage them to give the activity a try. Following are three of the reasons why we believe campers benefit from trying their least favorite camp activity.
Previous Negative Experience
One reason a camper may not want to try an activity is because they’ve had a previous negative experience with the activity, usually not at camp and not with experienced instructors. Falling off a horse, being dragged behind a ski boat and not getting up, or going on...
April 19, 2012
If you’ve got a multiple-kid household, you have a lot of choices when it comes to summer plans — including camp!
First, assess each individual child’s readiness for camp. Consider each child’s age, past experiences away from home, and expectations about camp. Read specific tips at The Right Time — Gauging Your Child’s Readiness for Camp. Make sure to talk through any decisions with your children as a family.
If you do decide more than one of your children is ready for camp, consider whether they would thrive at the same camp or separate camps. Siblings who are close in age and interests and consistently get along with each other may find camp even more enjoyable if given the opportunity to experience it together. And when the camp experience is over, the siblings can reminisce and engage jointly in any new hobbies...
April 10, 2012
The teen years see increasing growth in hypothetical reasoning skills, development of values, and future planning - so a positive camp experience is more important than ever! Teens especially will benefit from the positive peer and mentoring relationships developed during the camp experience.
ACA has a wide range of resources for families of teens who are thinking about a camp experience.
- Developmental Milestones for early and middle adolescence help families understand what growth is taking place, and how teens can benefit from a camp experience.
- Healthy Teens provides online articles that deal with teen-specific issues from expert resources.
- Child/Adolescent Development provides articles on developmental...
April 10, 2012
You’ve probably heard about the movie Bully, which is now playing in select theaters and opens nationwide this Friday. The movie follows five stories of bullying from across the country, putting the spotlight on this all-too-common problem — according to the movie’s Web site, 13 million kids will be bullied in the US this year.
Unfortunately, bullying can happen anywhere — including camp — so be prepared to help prevent and stop bullying this summer with ACA’s Bullying Prevention resources. Here are some resources designed specifically for you, frontline camp staff:
- Bullying Prevention Tip Sheet by Dr. Joel Haber
Quick tips about spotting and stopping bullying at camp.
April 9, 2012
Have any of you read Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky? This is another fascinating read.
Are you not both challenged and validated by any number of frameworks currently being promoted that all resonate with the value of the camp experience? Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner, 21st century skills, Mind in the Making, teen brain research, and others all are converging around similar concepts of innovation, creativity, global respect and understanding, ethical communication, critical thinking and problem solving, synthesizing, assimilating, and adaptation — to name a few.
This same convergence of research and thought leaders took place 20 years ago around the field of early childhood...
April 2, 2012
In this week's blog, Peg shares the "back porch inspiration" that came to her this weekend — children and nature belong together!