Latest ACA Blog Posts

September 18, 2012

Thanks, Krista White, for sharing this summer story! Krista is a head counselor at Eagle's Nest Camp in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina. Send your summer memory to

The moment that had the most impact for me this summer happened on my first day at camp. A group of five of us were starting a week of lifeguard training. Our instructor was a no-nonsense kind of guy, and we set straight to work. After basic introductions, it was down to the lake for the swim test. We spent the rest of the day doing laps, watching videos, and learning techniques. With about an hour left before dinner, we took a quick bathroom break before attempting to watch one last video. I took that chance to pull the cell phone that I had ignored all day out of my backpack and check if I had any messages. My only text message was from my husband — it read “Please call me as soon as you can.” I...

September 17, 2012

Are we camp professionals? Yes. Are we mentors and advisors? Yes. Are we coaches and social workers? Yes. Are we surrogate parents? Yes. Are we youth development workers? Yes. Are we educators? Yes.

I also believe we are a new form of venture capitalists. We are making investments in humans and community systems that build competencies and capacities that lead to better results! Don't undersell or underestimate the power of capacity on future performance.

Better results that lead to better tomorrows — changing the world.

Photo courtesy of Tom Sawyer Camps, Pasadena, California

September 14, 2012

Thanks Angela Marks for the latest entry on the Counselor Blog! Send your favorite summer memory to!

My week with Rising Abilities was full of great stories and memories, but one story stands out the most. There was an adolescent camper with Autism who was so excited to catch a fish to cook himself that he spent every day asking his group to go fishing for all of their activity choices. On the last evening of camp, he finally caught one big enough to keep. Just down the stream, there was a five-year-old boy who was trying really hard to catch a fish, but was having trouble. The older boy looked at the younger boy and said, "Don't be sad — you can have my fish." Then he dumped his fish into the other boy’s bucket and walked back to the cabins. It was in that moment that I realized my campers had learned a great social skill: Kindness.


September 11, 2012

Many campers have returned home for the remainder of summer, and you may have noticed something about their behavior — their manners!

The entire camp experience is made of teachable moments, and perhaps one of the biggest is how to live with a group of people. Campers learn to pick up after themselves, respect each other’s property, and say “Please” and “Thank You.”

Keep your camper’s good habits alive long after the summer is over:

  • Remember to Remind — When campers come home, they often keep the spirit of camp alive for a week or two, and then things trail off. Use positive reinforcement to remind campers that you appreciate the positive attitude and willingness to help that they developed at camp.
  • Become Camp-Like — Families can set the example by demonstrating a willingness to change something at home in order to sustain some of the...
September 10, 2012

Here's another counselor's summer story — all the way from Australia! Thanks Nicola Hadskis Gordon for this one! Share your story with!

I first worked at YMCA Camp Weaver in North Carolina in the summer of 2011. I am from Australia, so I sadly had to return back to my family. This year, 2012, I missed camp so much I decided I needed to go back, even if it was just to volunteer for a month. A week after I arrived I had decided that I needed to stay the whole summer, so I volunteered the entire 3 months and I am returning for sure next year.

Camp is in my blood — I know that camp is my true home and where I can truly be me. And I feel as though each day I am helping a child overcome a fear, whether it is homesickness, swimming, or mosquitoes. Camp Weaver is my home.

This is my story, where my heart is and forever shall be.

Photo courtesy of...

September 10, 2012

There are many ways to have a "ful" life.

Thankful.                "Annoyful"
Respectful.             Awful
Hopeful.                  Doubtful
"Gameful."              Hateful
Mindful.                   Hurtful
Joyful.                     Neglectful
"Heartful."                Shameful
Impactful.      ...

September 6, 2012

Today's story comes from Katelyn Gillum, who now works for her camp fulltime! Send your story from the summer to

If you would have told me nearly four years ago that being a camp counselor was going to change my life, I never would have believed you. I walked into my first summer at Camp Walden in Diamond Point, New York, thinking that it was merely going to be a two-month experience that would give me the opportunity to work with kids and boost my resume as a prospective teacher. What I didn't know is that it would change my world forever.

Having never gone to a sleep away camp as a child, I entered the camp world knowing nothing aside from what I had learned through movies such as The Parent Trap and shows like Bug Juice. I was expecting to find campers sneaking out of bunks, being sent to isolation cabins, and playing poker without any adult supervision. What I...

September 4, 2012

Here's another camp counselor story! Thanks, Victoria, for sharing! Send your story to

Ever since my first year at camp twelve summers ago, I’ve come to realize that camp can only be completely understood through experience. The following is my defense of a continued obsession with the experience called "camp" — for anyone who might not understand why I work as a camp counselor, including my dad.

“Working at Camp Howe is wonderful, but please don't delude yourself into thinking that it is all just fun and games (although there are definitely a lot of both). The truth about my employment at camp is that I work hard for excessive hours each day for very little money — the same principle that applies to most people in their own everyday jobs in the 'real world.'

The job world — like life, and society in general...

August 31, 2012

Here's our first summer story! A big thank you to Justina Lau for submitting. Keep the stories coming! (Send them to

I spent my summer with the Diabetic Youth Foundation. During camp, we do midnight check of campers’ blood sugar levels. Before one particular midnight checking, it was my rotation to watch the kiddos and to put them to sleep. Well, I had no idea what I was up against! I was in a room filled with twelve campers by myself! They were shouting, laughing, farting, and causing chaos as young campers do!

After telling them that pool time would be taken away if they didn't get into their own bunks, they were immediately quiet. I asked if they would like music, and all of them agreed they wanted to listen to some. I played a variety of piano songs off of my iTouch. One of my campers surprised me when he...

August 30, 2012

No doubt your camp counselor experience this summer included some awesome campers, co-workers, and even a “lesson learned” or two.

We want to collect the best camp counselor stories from across the country and share them here! Tell us about your favorite memory, camper, day at camp, boss, activity, etc. Write it up in 500 words or less and send it to us at, and you might just see it on the blog.

Congratulations on a “summer well-spent,” and good luck with your fall adventures!

Photo courtesy of Camp Howe, Goshen, Massachusetts

August 20, 2012

Have you seen the T-shirt that says, “Forget the box — think outside”?

I want that T-shirt. There are so many applications for this phrase.

  1. If we want to save the “outside,” we better forget thinking inside the box. Solutions are going to have to be new, innovative, and profound.
  2. If we read the research, our ability to think is enhanced by the time we spend outside. To be boxed in a classroom for extended periods of time (throughout the year) seems counterintuitive.
  3. If we would think about how we help our children balance their time spent with technology and ...
August 14, 2012

Here’s a fun nature activity that you can do with your campers. No equipment or supplies necessary!

This exercise is valuable in helping campers become aware of the common habit of looking without seeing.

Without explaining why, ask group members to look in one direction for 60 seconds. Then, have them close their eyes and ask them questions about the area they just viewed. For example:

  • Were there clouds in the sky?
  • Did they notice any animal signs?
  • How many colors did they see?
  • What was the largest thing they saw?
  • What was the smallest?

Participants may then open their eyes and take another look at the area. Ask them what they see this time that they didn’t notice the first time. Repeat the exercise and you will find that the campers have become much more observant.

Find this and more in ...

August 13, 2012

Articles are once again popping up about adding school days to the academic year. No one argues that year-round learning is not only developmentally and academically sound, but also pertinent to the issues of safety and wellbeing for many children who may not have something to do over the summer. Where we seem to diverge is the appreciation on how best to accomplish those desired outcomes.

The organized camp industry for children and youth provides nearly 216 million dollars for those who might not otherwise have a camp experience. The research that has been done absolutely supports the fact that a quality camp experience is a viable...

August 13, 2012

In today’s world, parents can feel external pressure to make sure children are involved in the “right” activities, get into the “right” schools or classes, and — oh yeah — that they’re having fun, too!

But what if there is a way to instill independence and ownership in children — not to mention, resiliency — so that they want to achieve their own brand of success and navigate an ever-changing world? Camp experiences are excellent ways for children to learn these skills.

And those same experiences — where children learn to take healthy risks, make friends, and live as their own individuals within a supportive community — benefit parents, too! When children are at camp, new parenting perspectives abound.

In a recent...

August 9, 2012

Update October 2012: Camping Magazine Featured by NicheMedia for outstanding use of camp photograpy!

Did you take some awesome photos at camp this summer? Enter them into Camping Magazine's 2013 Golden Lens Contest!

You could win a $150 cash prize and your photo could be on the cover of the next May/June Camping Magazine!

Just send your favorite photos that depict the camp experience (and represent the best practices in the field) to

Before you submit your photos, make sure to fill out the online photo release!

Include your name, camp name, contact address, and phone number in the e-mail...

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