SMART THINKING for Camp and Youth Professionals Conference

Education Session information


Incorporating Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development Into Camp - Niki Nestor McNeely

Several years ago ACA began to place an emphasis on camp as an environment for positive youth development.  Research was conducted to support that concept.  Several other national youth organizations concur and have identified some specific elements that are essential to the growth and development of youth.  This session will identify eight essential elements that, in combination, create a positive environment for youth development to occur.  Participants will have the opportunity to become familiar with the elements through engaging group activities with an emphasis on how to incorporate the elements into the camp setting.  By intentionally including these elements in program design, youth have the ability to participate experientially in activities and events, feel nurtured in a safe environment, master new skills and abilities, and feel that they are contributing to their environment and communities in a positive way.  The curriculum being used is available free of charge and can be used to train others who work with youth, including camp staff.

Dr. McNeely recently retired after 35 years from The Ohio State University as the Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development and Camping.  She has taught sessions to thousands of camping professionals and volunteers at numerous state, regional, national, and international conferences.   Niki is one of the major authors of a national curriculum “Essential Elements of 4-H Youth Development Programs.”  She has participated in camp for 47 years in a row!

Back Pocket Games: When Time Surprises You: Brandon Cole

If time sometimes surprises you while you are with a group, don’t panic, just use one of your back pocket games. This informative and interactive session will give even the seasoned professional a few ideas to coming up with impactful games and activities that fulfill time not just fill it.    

Currently, Brandon is the Coordinator of Intramural Sports at IUPUI along with an Instructor and Senior Challenge Course Facilitator at Butler University. Additionally Brandon has a M.S. in Kinesiology focused on Leadership and Ethics. Previously, he was the Program Director for Camptown (2009-2012) where he provided outdoor adventure education for youth.  Brandon’s passion for education has lead him to participate in a NOLS course, become a LNT Master Educator, Wilderness First Responder and be continually and progressively involved in student and youth education throughout the state of Indiana. 

Programming for 5-8 yr olds: Nikki Nestor McNeely

Do you have 5-8 year olds involved in your programs?  Or perhaps you would like to increase your programming efforts by targeting this age group?  This session will help you to better understand the developmental characteristics of this age group and the training needed by your staff to work with this age group. An emphasis during the session will be on programming ideas, strategies, and available curriculum to utilize with 5-8 year olds.

Dr. McNeely recently retired after 35 years from The Ohio State University as the Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development and Camping.  She has taught sessions to thousands of camping professionals and volunteers at numerous state, regional, national, and international conferences.   Niki has a Masters degree from University of Kentucky in Human Development and Family Relations and a PhD from The Ohio State University in Human and Community Resource Development.

BullySafe USA Bullying Prevention Program - Prevent Abuse Indiana

What everyone needs to know is that peer on-peer bullying behavior and the resulting cycle of violence that leads to domestic abuse and criminal conduct can be stopped through empowerment training and education of children, parents, school personnel and the larger community.  This presentation will introduce the different components of bullying behavior, as well as ways in which to prevent it.

Sandy Runkle-DeLorme is currently the Director of Programs at Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.  She has been employed at Prevent Child Abuse Indiana since August of 2000.  She has both teaching and training experience, as well as experience working with youth and working in the Child Welfare System.  She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology in 1987, and her Masters degree in Social Work in 1995.  She has provided over 1,500 trainings in topics related to child maltreatment.

Expanding Your Borders - designing programs to become more inclusive: Tim Nowak, Brandon Cole

In a perfect world, all programs would be inclusive, meaning that any child could learn, grow, and have fun at any possible program and in every conceivable activity.  This session will provide participants with important information and tools that will help camp directors and youth professionals to better consider and adapt programs to serve harder to reach populations.  Topics covered through the session will include:

  • Working with Learning Disabilities
  • Working with Mental Health Disorders
  • Considerations and adaptations for camping and outdoor programming
  • Teaching your staff and participants to embrace inclusivity and respect differences

Brandon Cole: Brandon has a background in physical and adventure education, youth development and camp. Brandon currently works at IUPUI and Butler Universities. Prior to working at IUPUI and Butler University Brandon had worked at Camptown, whom provides outdoor adventure and nature programs to at risk youth by partnering with other not-for-profits, camps, schools, and community centers.

Tim Nowak: Tim has a background in camping, youth development, and underserved populations.  Tim began his work with Jameson Camp in 2003.  Tim has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Mental Health Counseling.  He has worked as a Social Work Intern with the Lawrence Township school system, a Youth Specialist for Lutheran Child and Family Services, and a Counselor for Three Springs, Inc..  Tim also completed his B.A. in Psychology at Purdue University in 2004.