The Kid and the Camp Director: Life Lessons Learned at Camp

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Media Tip from the American Camp Association
June 15, 2009

The Kid and the Camp Director: Life Lessons Learned at Camp

For nearly 150 years, the camp experience has changed lives. American Camp Association® (ACA) research evaluated camper and parent responses to questions regarding camp. And the data was staggering. Over 90 percent of campers responded that camp made them feel good about themselves, introduced them to people who were different than them, and helped them make new friends.

So why does the camp equation work? Is it the perfect balance of education and fun? In their 2009 May/June Camping Magazine article, The Boy in the Boat, Stephen Wallace, chairman and CEO of SADD, and Ben Seifer, student and former camper, discuss life lessons learned at camp from the perspective of a camp director and a camper. By showing both perspectives, "The Boy in the Boat" provides valuable insight into camp’s success at teaching real-life skills.

  • Self-Reliance 
    Kids at camp find the resources that help them meet goals, resolve conflicts, and succeed. – Stephen Wallace

    My counselors showed me the way without holding my hand. I did a lot of active learning – trying something the first time and seeking guidance from my counselors if I couldn't figure it out on my own. – Ben Seifer

  • Self-Confidence
    Self-confidence is gained when campers find meaningful, fulfilling educational and social experiences at camp, interpret those experiences correctly, and have reasonable, achievable expectations for success. – Stephen Wallace

    It is not important for campers to become the best at whatever they choose to do, but it is essential that they feel they've accomplished something. – Ben Seifer

  • Exploration
    Camp is about learning – about oneself, about others, and about new ways to approach the world. – Stephen Wallace

    My counselors were always encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone and take risks. I developed trust in them, and with the entire camp community. – Ben Seifer

  • Responsibility
    Beyond the buddies, baseballs, and bonfires lies the true value of the summer camp experience: a heightened sense of personal responsibility for the well-being of others. – Stephen Wallace

    One of many things I learned at camp is a conscious responsibility to always be there for others. Away from camp, I have volunteered as a peer leader, facilitating discussions about alcohol and drug use with middle and high school students and their parents, and I have joined fellow athletes in performing community service. – Ben Seifer

For more information on the life lessons learned at camp, visit Parents can also receive updates and tips by following the American Camp Association® (ACA) on Twitter @ACACampParents.

Contact Public Relations at 765.349.3317 or to interview an ACA spokesperson, to interview Stephen Wallace, or for more information about the essential camp experience. To view or download a reprintable version of "The Boy in the Boat", visit For customizable public service announcements, visit our Media Center at

About ACA
The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit

About Stephen Wallace
Stephen Wallace, M.S. Ed., author of the new book Reality Gap — Alcohol, Drugs, and Sex: What Parents Don't Know and Teens Aren't Telling, has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent counselor. He serves as chairman and CEO of SADD, director of counseling and counselor training at the Cape Cod Sea Camps, and adjunct professor of psychology at Mount Ida College. For more information about Stephen's work, visit

About Ben Seifer
Ben Seifer recently graduated from Newton South High School (MA) where he was a scholar, athlete, and newspaper columnist and editor. Among his many accomplishments, he served as captain of the varsity Alpine Ski Team, a peer educator, and community-service volunteer. In August 2008, Ben completed the Cape Cod Sea Camps' Counselor Training Program and received the Service Cup for his integrity and selfless contributions to the welfare of others. Ben will be attending The George Washington University in the fall.

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