The J. Wendell and Ruth T. Howe Awards recognize those individuals who contribute their talents to Camping Magazine.

The Golden Quill Award is presented to the authors of quality articles that promote a better understanding of the camp/outdoor education/youth development field, including current practices, critical issues, and research. The Golden Lens Award recognizes good photography that depicts the camp experience.

2024 Golden Quill Award

John Hamilton, MA
Foster a Feeling to Cross the Generational Divide (September/October 2023)

John is a strategic leader in the camp and out-of-school time space. He currently serves as chief strategy and engagement officer for the Alliance for Camp Health (ACH). John has a deep understanding of mental, emotional, and social health (MESH+) of youth and national program expansion. Prior to ACH, he served as the national director for Camp HOPE America. John has an MA in Leadership and Cultural Justice, is the cofounder of the Outdoor Wellbeing Lab, and is a former executive director of a camp near Lake Tahoe.

John Hamilton photo

"I’ve sensed a chasm growing from generational disdain within our field. When facing loss, it’s easier to point the finger in someone else's direction. Being able to offer an honest assessment of my own challenges through storytelling served as the artistic impetus for this article. There are times where we could all be a little less reactive, a bit more empathetic, and more grounded. I believe harnessing moments with young people in nature allows us to be honest with ourselves, to be more in tune with what matters, and to see the world differently."


2024 Golden Quill Award Honorable Mention

Dave Thoensen
Addressing the Elephant in Camp: Little Pay Creates Big Challenges (March/April 2023)

Dave (along with his wife Lucia) has been the owner/director at Tamarak Day Camp for 24 years. He has been a standards visitor since 2002, standards chair, and served on the board for ACA, Illinois. Dave has also been involved with the ACA National Conference Planning and Program teams for several years. In 2014, he co-authored The Business of Camp. Dave has spoken at many regional and national conferences on business planning and management, marketing and staff development.

Dave Thoensen

"The inspiration for the article started out as I was writing in my daily journal, and observations from the struggles we were seeing in staff hiring. We took the steps to improve staff pay substantially (especially for our frontline staff) and it has seemed to work. Higher returning staff rates, higher numbers of applicants, and I think an overall better quality of staff, because we have more choices when interviewing and hiring to find the right people. Working at camp can be an incredible experience, but our employees shouldn’t have to sacrifice a competitive wage in order to do it. While the adage that people don’t work at camp for the money may be true, it could also mean that people aren’t working at camp because of the money, and maybe we can try as an industry to do better."

2024 Golden Lens Award

Joshua Reed
"Camp 'Specs'-tacular!"
The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County

camper wearing glasses

Joshua Reed from Fair Haven, New Jersey, has always loved to create. This passion initially manifested itself in music, where he grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Ray Charles, taking vocal and piano lessons, spending his time performing solos, and singing in choirs of various sizes. He later pursued a degree in marketing at Kent State University. After graduating, while working as a social media coordinator, his interest in content creation evolved into a full-fledged passion. Now, he fills his schedule with weekly photo and video shoots that keep him busy, stable, and, most of all, fulfilled.

Joshua Reed

"For the past five years, I have been documenting camp experiences at several YMCA camps across New Jersey. The energy of camp is infectious, and what I love most is the natural light we are blessed with so often during these shoots. Not all campers react to being on camera the same. Some aren't fans, some are neutral, and some make it a point to become the star of the show for that given moment. This camper embodies the latter; this smile is presented regardless of the situation, and I hope you can feel this palpable energy through my lens."


2024 Golden Lens Award Honorable Mention

Ruth Jay Royce Mabwe 
"Go with the Flow"
Camp Friendship

Camper paddling on kayak

Ruth Jay Royce Mabwe was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, filled with an authentic drive for a deeper meaning to life and reality. Art found Ruth in the African soil and dust which motivated Ruth to go beyond surface-level. With absolutely no educational background in digital media, Ruth followed a love for film and photography, which led to Camp Friendship. Being completely self-taught in the arts, Ruth hopes every single photograph and film project will leave viewers inspired, moved, and motivated to follow their hearts and continue to reach ahead in achieving their goals and dreams. Ruth is a strong believer in anything is possible if you truly believe it is and hopes to grow the newly started media company called DigIn Media, where Ruth offers freelance media work.

Jay Royce Mabwe

"This image was taken on July 31 on Friendship Lake at Camp Friendship. It was the first full day at camp for this camper, as she arrived the day before. A lot of campers who have never kayaked or canoed sometimes have a hard time getting the hang of it. I took this image in the moment she finally found her rhythm and began to enjoy kayaking. There’s nothing better than seeing campers try something for the first time and then start really having fun doing it."