Latest ACA Blog Posts

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...

August 7, 2012

Songs are some of the best traditions at camp! Whether you sing at meal time, bedtime, campfire, or between activities, your campers enjoy having something that unites them as a group. And they love teaching camp songs to their parents and friends — allowing their experiences and memories to live on, even when they’re at home!

What's YOUR favorite camp song? Share it with us in the comments below!

Try singing this song at camp — you might already know it! Find this and more than 170 other songs in Sing — a guide to camp songs! (Available for digital download. Comes with a CD of 99 selected songs.)


August 7, 2012

The Children’s Defense Fund has just released The State of America’s Children® 2012 Handbook. Consider a few of the facts shared:

  1. There are 16.4 million poor children in America.
  2. More children were killed by guns in 2008–2009 than U.S. military personnel in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to date.
  3. A child is born into poverty every twenty-nine seconds in America.

I believe we are a part of the solution. But only if we are informed advocates for all children.

I find it alarming that two things most critical to a healthy future are fragile today — the environment and children. We can do something about both. What will you do?

August 6, 2012

For many families, it’s back-to-school time. So along with those camp friends and songs, encourage your camper-student to remember the skills he or she learned this summer. These skills are sure to get the school year started off right and help your child thrive all year long! 

  • Confidence — All through the camp experience, children and youth have tried new activities and been successful; they feel empowered.
  • Curiosity — Camp has given children and youth the chance to explore, study, and observe in an experiential learning environment.
  • Character — Camp has challenged children and youth to develop character — through fostering respect for each other, a sense of community, and the ability to solve problems.

Watch American Camp Association CEO Peg Smith explain the...

July 31, 2012

As a counselor, you make sure to have a positive attitude, and you encourage campers to see the bright side of life. You realize that camp is more fun when everyone is happy — but did you know that by promoting positivity, you’re also helping campers find success and literally reverse the effects of stress and anxiety?

When you are in a positive state of mind, you are more apt to succeed! According to Christine Carter, PhD, a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, “When our brains are positive and we’re experiencing positive emotions, we’re much more creative, better at problem solving, and our perception is more open — making us more able to learn.” Help your campers learn that staying positive puts them on the fast-track to achieving their goals!

Carter also...

July 23, 2012

As a licensed clinical social worker, camp consultant, and regular Camping Magazine contributor, Bob Ditter has been helping children, youth, and camp professionals — including counselors! — for many years.

In his Pocket Guide books, Bob lays out a few critical concepts for camp counselors:

  • YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL, which means campers won’t so much listen to what you tell them to do as they will mimic what you do and say. Even when you think they are not watching or listening, they often are. That old saying that “actions speak louder than words” is definitely true at camp.
  • YOU ARE THE ADULT. Surrounded as you are day after day by campers who are known for getting carried away by their feelings, it is easy to slip back into less mature ways of behaving....
July 23, 2012

We all know we don’t operate at our best all the time. So what do we need to understand in order to manage that risk, especially at this time of year in the summer camp season? 

Remember where our counselors are developmentally.

  1. New risk capacities (training) evolve over time with experience.
    • Mentor young counselors with seasoned staff throughout the summer.
  2. Peer pressure can still prevail.
    • Continue to support clarity and sincerity in behavior and words.
  3. We all get tired and exhausted.
    • Be sure counselors are getting plenty of rest in order to be at their optimum.
  4. We function best when we know our surroundings.
    • If going to a new surrounding, partner new counselors with seasoned staff.

Counselors are modeling for campers —...

July 18, 2012

If you’re feeling the blues while your child is away at camp — or anticipating the day they leave for camp with a little sadness — you’re not alone. In fact, even President Obama feels this way about sending his daughters to camp!

Both First Daughters, Malia and Sasha, will be at overnight camp for a month this summer — adding President and Mrs. Obama to the millions of American parents who annually choose a summer camp experience for their children — even if it means being a little “kidsick” while the kids are away from home.

As Malia enjoys her second summer at camp, and Sasha becomes a new camper, the President recently admitted to feeling a little “depressed” while his girls are away. Camp professionals and child psychologists have described parents’ feelings when children leave as “kidsickness” — akin to the normal feelings of “homesickness”...

July 16, 2012

Whether this is your first and only week at camp, or you’ve already been there for a few weeks, it’s important to make healthy choices to keep you running on all cylinders!

Eat Well
Fuel your body with what it needs to make it through your busy days — which includes lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk, and healthy proteins like lean meats and beans. For more specifics, visit the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Healthy Eating Plan.

Tip: “Most people eat too fast and even when they are not necessarily hungry. Use meal time as an opportunity to 'slow down' from the busy camp pace.” Read more in the Camping Magazine article: “Make a Commitment: Encouraging Wellness and Healthy...

July 12, 2012

Guest post by Audrey Monke

“Children want to be independent, and they realize that they cannot be truly independent until they beat homesickness, even when they have a painful case of it.”
Michael Thompson, PhD, Homesick and Happy

Recently I spoke with a mom whose eleven-year-old son is coming to camp in a few days. He’s nervous. He had a negative experience at a one-week science camp. He doesn’t think he can “make it for two weeks” and is worried he’ll be too homesick at camp. I chatted with the mom and gave her some key messages to communicate to her son. She asked for them in bullet points in an email, and I thought there are probably others who might benefit from this same list — so I’m sharing this with anyone who has a child suffering from pre-camp anxiety.

Before I share my...

July 9, 2012

We hear so much about 21st century competencies such as creativity, collaboration, and communication. I have my own 21st century list of desired “Cs”. Here is my wish list:

  1. I wish for confidence. Not arrogance or hubris, but the spirit of probability — probability of success and the ability to add value to the lives of others.
  2. I wish to achieve clarity. I want to be able to share my thoughts so they are easily understood, giving my voice a quiet power as an advocate for others.
  3. I wish for consistency. A consistency in principles that offer a framework for shared uniformity even within an ever-changing and complex world. I wish for an ability to assert these consistent principles even in contradiction.

I wish for these things because I believe it will make me a better person in a better world.

July 2, 2012

I have never liked lengthy documents — especially when it is clear something can be said using fewer words. I have always been particularly fond of bullets and even more enamored if it can be done in three, or fewer, bullets! Personally, I have been suspicious that I feel that way because remembering more than three bullets is a challenge for me.

But as I read some tips on marketing strategies today, behold, I found: “Never try to make more than three points in a single message.” I am validated!

Can we make messages about the camp experience that are: meaningful, believable, and memorable? What are your messages?

Check out the marketing resources available in ACA's Knowledge Center.

June 26, 2012

A couple months ago, I spoke with Susie Lupert, the new executive director of ACA, New York and New Jersey, about the importance of customer service. Although customer service may be seen as traditional business nomenclature, the concept is just as critical (if not more so) for associations. A few weeks after our conversation, Susie sent me Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service, by Ari Weinzweig.

As I have always loved things in threes, I was immediately drawn to a three-step recipe. (Yes, life should be so easy.)

  1. Figure out what your customer wants.
  2. Get it for them accurately, politely, and enthusiastically.
  3. Go the extra mile for the customer.

Certainly, we can all strive to accomplish those recommended steps to great customer service.  Can you?

June 26, 2012

Spider-like movements will be the physical activity of choice this summer now that the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has released “The Amazing Spider-Man™” lessons and exercise guides. Designed by NASPE for children and youth ages 6-11 and 12-14, the free online lessons are posted on NASPE’s Web site and are perfect for summer camp counselors and recreation program staff who want to help their campers get the nationally recommended 60+ minutes of physical activity every day while having fun. In addition, children and youth will have an opportunity to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+).  

PALA+ promotes physical activity AND good nutrition, because it takes both to lead a healthy lifestyle. Signing up for the...

June 19, 2012

At camp, some kids practice sports, some practice instruments, and some practice their belly flops. But one thing that ALL campers practice is independence!

Camp provides a nurturing and safe environment for kids to face challenges on their own, and that can be incredibly constructive to a child’s character.

In a recent Washington Post interview, author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, put it this way: “I think camp is the best emotional preparation for a successful college experience, because you practice being on your own, keeping track of your clothes; you practice living in a community and getting along with roommates you don’t love — all of the skills you need for true independence.”

And when kids have had the experience of...

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