BridgeUSA Cultural Exchange Program Update

Before COVID-19, summer camps were hosting an average of 25,000 cultural exchange visitors through the BridgeUSA Camp Counselor program each year, filling critical leadership and specialty instructor roles and promoting a positive world view among campers and US-based staff. However, the pandemic resulted in a White House Executive Order in 2020 pausing this cultural exchange program and widespread camp closures last summer.

How to Sign Up for a Chaco Pro Deal Account

One of the benefits of being an American Camp Association (ACA) member is getting 40 percent off Chaco products through Chaco’s Pro Deal Program.

To sign up for a Chaco Pro Deal Account and take advantage of this great benefit, follow these steps.

Want a More Resilient Staff? Focus on Feedback

So now that we are finally faced with a glimmer of light at the end of this year-long tunnel, it’s time to shift our focus to how we can help develop a resilient staff with staying power — not just for this summer, but for future summers as well.

Mission to Mars Student Challenge for Summer Camps: Training Series

Camp leaders — immerse your youth in the latest exploration of Mars with NASA’s Mission to Mars Student Challenge for Summer Camps!  A seven-week series of hands-on activities take youth from learning about Mars, planning a mission, launch and landing, and exploring the surface — all while following the Perseverance Rover’s current exploration of Mars!

Advancing Camp as a Vital Developmental and Educational Experience for All Young People

We know camp experiences make a critical difference for children summer after summer. Research has affirmed that high-quality camp experiences are vital educational opportunities for children to engage in social and emotional learning and develop and strengthen critical skills and dispositions that help young people thrive in school and in their early careers. The American Camp Association (ACA) has worked for decades to ensure that summer camp programs become more recognized and equitably funded as developmentally vital learning and enrichment experiences for every child.

It Is Time to Change the Way We Approach Abuse Prevention in Camps

Years ago, I submitted an application to speak at an American Camp Association (ACA) conference on “abuse prevention.” When asked to categorize the track within which my proposed session belonged, I immediately checked “leadership development.” Prior to submitting the session proposal, a colleague shared that my session didn’t belong in the leadership development category, but rather in the “risk mitigation” one. “Abuse prevention training,” they explained, “is only about mitigating the risk of abuse at camp. Camps don’t want that liability — and they do not want to be sued.”

Creating an Inclusive Culture to Increase Staff Retention

How inclusive is your camp? Ask any of your staff and campers that question, and you are likely to get different answers from each one. Why, you might ask? Because at the individual level, the definition of inclusion is how welcome a person feels to be their authentic selves at camp. Without their perspectives, determining how inclusive your camp may be is an exercise in futility. 

Hiring for Summer 2021: Three Automation Tools to Start Using Today

Only 3 percent of camps are fully staffed.

It’s no secret that staff recruitment this year is harder than ever. According to an April ACA poll, just 3 percent of camps are fully staffed, with the majority of camps at or below the 50 percent mark.

Social and Emotional Learning at Camp

Recovery from the trauma of the pandemic will be an important goal for camps this summer. It’s going to be a big lift, and we know you are ready for it! Aside from the usual, wonderful ways our campers play and dance and laugh, we should be thinking about new methods for helping campers talk about this past year and goals for the future.

For many children, understanding what they have been through in the pandemic is still hard to grasp. There has been so much isolation, fear, and loss that the process for coping will take months, if not years.

Staff Recruiting: The Answer Is Right in Front of You

Standing in a crowded room (pre-COVID-19) with your best smile on, you hope that something on your table will catch the eye of at least one of the sharply dressed college students cruising your aisle. Even if just long enough for you to begin your pitch, “Got plans for the summer?” They keep walking. All day, they just keep walking. A thought creeps in, “This was a waste of time!” The trip, the registration cost, the hotel, and perhaps most importantly, one of the fleeting spring days left until summer, all wasted.