Parents traditionally look to teachers, school counselors, and religious leaders for guidance and resources about raising kids. Typically, parents wouldn’t think to seek resources and guidance from summer camp professionals. It’s time to take seriously our important role in partnering with parents by sharing resources about child development, youth trends, and best practices when working with young people.
Depending on the focus of your program — whether geared toward a specific population, recreational activity, or area of growth — you likely already use resources to enhance your staff training and the delivery of your program. You can take that one step further and share resources to educate your camp community.
The benefits of sharing tools and resources include:
- Communicating the values of your program with your community
- Elevating your community’s view of your program to more than just a place that provides a few weeks of summer fun
- Reminding yourself of resources you want to keep in the forefront of your staff training and camper education
Many ways exist to share information with your camp community. Ideally, select the places where you are already curating resources for yourself and your staff. Following are some of my favorites, but to make your resource roundup most effective, you will want to add your own favorite places to gather high-quality material and information.
Sign up to get email updates from organizations and people whose resources you find most helpful. You can set up your email to put these in a separate folder/file so they don’t clog your day-to-day inbox but can be referred to as needed.
Alternatively, follow organizations’ or individuals’ Twitter feeds for links to articles and resources. Here are some of my go-to sites (website/Twitter feed). Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list.
- Challenge Success: challengesuccess.org/@chalsuccess
- Children & Nature Network: childrenandnature.org/@ChildrenNature
- Edutopia: @edutopia
- Gottman Institute: gottman.com/@GottmanInst
- Let Grow: letgrow.org/@LetGrowOrg
- Mindshift: kqed.org/mindshift/@MindShiftKQED
- Random Acts of Kindness Foundation: randomactsofkindness.org/@RAKFoundation
- ScienceDaily: sciencedaily.com/@ScienceDaily (Sign up for email alerts on your topic(s) of interest. I follow “Educational Psychology.”)
- Your Teen Magazine: yourteenmag.com/@YourTeenMag
- Washington Post On Parenting: washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/@onparenting
Books and Experts
Read or listen to audio versions of current parenting books. Alternatively, listen to interviews with authors on podcasts or watch their TED Talks (if they have one). Browse author websites to subscribe to their email updates or find links to follow them on social media. Here are some I find indispensable.
- Michele Borba (micheleborba.com): Unselfie
- Brene Brown (brenebrown.com): Dare to Lead, Daring Greatly, & many more
- Tina Payne Bryson (tinabryson.com) and Dr. Daniel Siegel (drdansiegel.com): The Yes Brain, No-Drama Discipline, The Whole-Brain Child
- Christine Carter (christinecarter.com): The Sweet Spot & Raising Happiness
- Lisa Damour (drlisadamour.com): Untangled & Under Pressure
- Mona Delahooke (monadelahooke.com): Beyond Behaviors
- Phyllis Fagell, LCPC (phyllisfagell.com): Middle School Matters
- Jennifer L.W. Fink (buildingboys.net)
- Deborah Gilboa, MD (askdoctorg.com): Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate
- Michael Gurian (michaelgurian.com): The Purpose of Boys, The Wonder of Girls, and many more
- Devorah Heitner (raisingdigitalnatives.com): Screenwise
- Eileen Kennedy-Moore (eileenkennedymoore.com): Growing Friendships
- Jessica Lahey (jessicalahey.com): The Gift of Failure
- Richard Louv (richardlouv.com): Vitamin N, The Nature Principle, & Last Child in the Woods
- Laura Markham (ahaparenting.com): Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
- Amy McCready (amymccready.com): The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic
- Audrey Monke (sunshine-parenting.com): Happy Campers
- Susan Pinker (susanpinker.com): The Village Effect
- Deborah Reber (debbiereber.com): Differently Wired
- Michael Reichert (michaelcreichert.com): How to Raise a Boy
- Pam Roy (pamroyblog.com)
- Jess P Shatkin (drjesspshatkin.com): Born to Be Wild
- Josh Shipp (joshshipp.com): The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans
- Robyn Silverman (drrobynsilverman.com): Good Girls Don’t Get Fat
- Michael G. Thompson (michaelthompson-phd.com): Homesick & Happy, Raising Cain, and many more
- Chris Thurber, PhD (drchristhurber.com): The Summer Camp Handbook
- Jean Twenge (jeantwenge.com): iGen
- Lea Waters (leawaters.com):
- The Strength Switch
- Signe Whitson (signewhitson.com): Parenting the Challenging Child
Listen to podcasts and save and share episodes that offer valuable and relevant information. Wherever you listen to podcasts, there is a share option. Simply click the share option and email it to yourself or save the URL somewhere you can refer back to. Here are a few of my favorite podcasts that pertain to child development, parenting, summer camp, and leadership:
- Best of Both Worlds
- Campfire Conversation
- The Day Camp Pod
- Dr. Sears Family Podcast
- Good Life Project
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
- Hidden Brain
- On Boys
- Read to Lead
- Sunshine Parenting
- TiLT Parenting
- We Turned Out Okay
Another excellent way to curate resources is to set up Google Alerts for topics that are pertinent to your program and interests. To set up Google Alerts:
- Go to google.com/alerts in your browser.
- Enter a search term for the topic you want to track.
- Choose Show Options to narrow the alert to a specific source, language, and/or region.
- Select Create Alert.
Once you’ve gathered some resources from your search, you’re ready to share!
For example, if you operate a wilderness or backpacking program, you likely access Leave No Trace (LNT) education materials. You could share with your camp community the seven Leave No Trace Principles — plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; be considerate of other visitors (Leave No Trace, 2019). Try to provide an angle that is specific to your camp:
- Share a photo from camp and use the comment area to list the principles and refer to the LNT website.
- Create a video with a camp leader (or campers) talking about the principles.
- Write a blog post about the principles and share the post on social media, in email newsletters, etc.
Here are a few more options for sharing resources (articles, downloads, podcast episodes, books):
- Copy article link (URL) and share on social media. Or use the “share” option (usually available on articles) to share directly from the resource.
- Provide a link to the resource in an email to parents.
- On your camp blog, Facebook page, or in an email to parents, describe the resource and use “read more” to link to the article.
- On your camp blog or social media, write an intro paragraph personalizing how this applies to your camp, then link to the resource.
- On your camp blog or social media, use the entire article, put in your own camp photos, and include link on the top with, “Originally published by [name of author] at [list website]” (include link to original article).
Finding and curating resources can be an enjoyable part of your job as a camp professional. Not only will it improve your own knowledge, but it will show your camp community that you are interested in providing far more than a few weeks of summer fun. You’ll position yourself and your organization as a place that partners with parents and campers beyond their time with you during the summer.
Photo courtesy of Southeastern Diabetes Education Services / Camp Seale Harris, Birmingham, Alabama.
Leave No Trace. (2019). The 7 principles. Retrieved from lnt.org/why/7-principles/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5ufvn-rg4gIVCxgMCh3p2A09EAAYASABEgKFe_D_BwE
Audrey Monke, with her husband Steve, has owned and directed Gold Arrow Camp (Lakeshore, California) for 35 years. On her website (sunshine-parenting.com), Audrey shares resources for parents and youth development professionals about summer camp, parenting, and happiness. Her podcast (Sunshine Parenting) features interviews with parenting authors and experts, including camp directors. Audrey’s book, Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults (Hachette, 2019), shares strategies for bringing the magic of camp home.