Counselor Blog

July 21, 2011

Check out this video from the counselors at Tim Horton Camp Kentahten. Tell us why YOU work at camp by posting a comment below. Better yet, make your own video and share it with us!  

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 practice “a change of plans”:
“‘Change That Tune’ is an activity where small groups pick a short song that everyone knows and then challenge each other to sing the old song to a new tune and rhythm . . .”

Check out more ideas from Kim Aycock.

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 camper group. Campers will have immediate opportunities to "friend" others, and may need your help to know what to 'post on their wall' or put out there for fellow campers to see . . . Having several name games or icebreakers in mind is a great way for a newly-formed group to get to know one another. Have campers introduce themselves as their favorite superhero. They can include their character's name, costume preference, special powers, battle cry, and their sidekick, if it is desirable to have one."

Read the article in full.

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.

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 22, 2011

An internationally recognized in trainer and mentor for youth, Jeffrey Leiken, M.A., shares advice for making a positive impact on a difficult bunk.

At some point each summer, it seems we find ourselves faced with the "difficult bunk." This is the bunk in which the wrong combination of personalities creates bad chemistry. Sometimes the campers just don't get along. Sometimes they do get along and have chosen to become famous for their prankster ways. Whatever the problem, the result is an excess demand on our time as we respond to their needs, and often this leads to a bunk meeting.

June 15, 2011

Annie Moretz Stanger, a teacher in recreation management at the University of Maine at Machias, explains why rainy days don't have to put a damper on fun.

Rain doesn't have to be an unwelcome guest at camp. It can be an inspiration for camp activities. Rainy days offer an opportunity to teach campers more about weather and for them to see firsthand how rain affects plants, animals, and the environment.

June 8, 2011

Christopher Thurber, board certified clinical psychologist and co-founder of, offers advice to counselors working with campers who have attention deficits.

There are opportunities to teach every child better self-control. Of course, being spontaneous — even a little out of control — is fun. It's just that learning to listen, concentrate, and sustain attention are also important life skills. Camp is an ideal setting for cultivating self-control and controlled chaos.

June 1, 2011

Kim Aycock, M.S.T., staff trainer and teacher, offers questions you should ask yourself during any decision-making process.

When I think back to my first summer as a camp counselor over twenty years ago, I wish I knew then what I know now about working with a group of energetic campers. "Quest for Best Practices" is a list of questions to help lead you through the steps of thinking through the "nitty-gritty" of a typical day at camp.

May 25, 2011

Renowned trainer Jeffrey Leiken, M.A., reveals that it's the little things a counselor does that matter most to campers.

Greg was a first-time camp counselor. He went to college in the Midwest and could teach tennis. There was nothing remarkable about him on the surface. He was a nice guy, got along well with his peers, and did what he was asked to do. When the campers arrived, however, something transpired. Campers from all ages congregated around him. Even some of the toughest campers in camp liked him. At his mid-summer evaluation the head counselor dared to ask him this question, "What is your secret? What are you doing that all these kids are drawn to you?"

Read more.

May 18, 2011

Christopher Thurber, Ph.D., a board certified clinical psychologist, explains that what children say isn't always what they really mean.

"I don't want to play. I hate kickball." — Sophia, age five
"Ben doesn't like me. He's always mad at me." — Betrand, age nine
"This place stinks. All the activities are stupid." — Asa, age twelve

If you're like most camp staff, you bristle when you hear children say these sorts of things. Read the full article.

May 11, 2011

Staff training is about what you are expected to do. The reason for those expectations is directly related to the experience every camper has at camp. Every expectation (or, in other words, every moment) should positively impact the kids' camp experience. It's pretty straightforward mathematics: Expectations + You = Camper's Experience.

Read Scott Arizala's full article.

March 21, 2011

ACA’s CEO Peg Smith was featured on Lifetime Television’s morning program, The Balancing Ac, on March 11, 2011. This segment consisted of a conversation about the benefits of camp, choosing a camp, experiential education and the camp experience, and much more. Lifetime Television has 96 million subscribing households nationwide!

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