Bob Ditter is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in child, adolescent, and family therapy.

Campers You Can't Serve

Bob Ditter has faithfully served the camp community for decades — and while he continues to do that, this will be his last In the Trenches column for Camping Magazine. We are so grateful to Bob for sharing his insights, practical advice, and his heart with us. It is that heart and desire to help, without fear of touching on difficult subjects, that has inspired and supported so many. Bob is a champion for camp — and we are better for the words of wisdom he has given us.

Race and Camp: Creating an Environment in Camp Communities That Is Truly Welcoming to People of Color

This Camping Magazine article reflects on how to establish a truly inclusive camp environment by clarifying terms and phrases and discussing practices for creating deeper dialogue and greater understanding.

One Novel Coronavirus, Two Afflictions

The camp industry will need a manual for how to have camp in a pandemic. It’s a manual that will need updating and revising and the input of many collaborators. It can only happen if camp professionals practice the kind of character building we teach our campers on their way to being their best selves.

Mourning Summer 2020: How to Communicate Camp Closings to Your Community

At the end of last summer, most camp directors were already thinking about summer 2020. That’s because most camp directors I know are problem-solvers, and whatever might not have gone so smoothly in 2019 was already in their sights to improve for 2020. Then the unthinkable happened: a virus we can’t see upended the world, and along with it, the plans of many camp directors for the coming summer.

Co-Counselor Mash-Up: How to Work More Collaboratively — and Happily — With Your "Co"

Mariana and Jessica are exasperated with one another. Mariana thinks the girls they share responsibility for as co-counselors are way too noisy and messy. She is always the one who gets these rambunctious fifth graders to quiet down or finish their cabin cleanup chores. Because she is typically the counselor who speaks up first, the girls have begun to favor Jessica, whom they see as "nicer." Jessica, who went to camp here as a camper, thinks that Mariana is too strict.

The Next Wave Isn't Blue or Red — It's Young: Understanding and Supporting Gen Z

In November 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began a two-week strike in front of the Swedish Parliament. She was on a mission to bring attention to the looming threat of climate change and to protest the inaction of world leaders on the issue. When she started, she was alone. Less than a year later, on September 20, 2019, she was joined by a wave of more than 14 million people in a cascading series of protests that spanned the globe through 138 countries, beginning in Australia and ending 24 hours later in the Americas (Sengupta, 2019).

The Big Missteps in Camp Leadership Transition

I remember the call clearly. It was in September about 10 years ago when my longtime camp friend and colleague, Dave Tager, called about the transition of leadership at the camp he and his wife, Shelley, had run for almost 25 years. Over the course of that time, Dave and Shelley had built their coed resident camp, now called Camp IHC, into a successful and highly reputable camp. After 25 years of being ultimately responsible for thousands of other people's children, Dave was ready to turn the reigns over to a talented young couple. As Dave said to me, "I love camp!

Biting My Nails: Revisiting Staff Anxiety

It was three years ago when I first wrote about the increasing levels of anxiety that camp directors were seeing in their staff (Ditter, 2016). At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta had been reporting that anxiety in children ages 13–18 was at a 40-year high (CDC, 2011). In a survey conducted by the American Camp Association’s Healthy Camps Committee after the summer of 2015, camp directors indicated that anxiety was their number one concern when it came to staff (Gaston, 2015).

Connecting with Campers in the Age of Screens, Social Media, and Fortnite

Connecting with campers can be difficult for summer camp counselors now that campers have more screen time than ever.