Latest ACA Blog Posts

April 9, 2014

Guest post by Brooke Cheley-Klebe

Cheley Colorado Camps

I love those rare moments of parenthood when I am not preparing for the next thing. Most of the time as a parent, I feel as if my day is full of getting something ready. Small things like breakfast, sack lunches, and backpacks. Big things like preparing my children to become productive adults. Our job as a parent is to prep!

It’s spring, and summer camp is on the horizon. Here are some things that you can do to prepare your camper and yourself for camp. 

Camper

  • Plan several sleep overs. Resist the urge to pack their bags for them or to check on them while there. If they have a phone, have them leave it at home. This is a good way to practice not having...
April 7, 2014

ACA CEO Peg Smith shares her personal experiences and favorite memories of camp. Learn why Smith calls camp "the best gift you can give a young person."

 

March 26, 2014

Working at camp is great way to hone your skills, meet new people, and have fun. But if you’re new to camp or are looking for a new camp to experience, where do you start your job search?

Here are 3 tips to help you find a summer camp job.

  1. Browse summer job openings. Search a list of openings by job function, work setting (day, overnight, or travel camp), and location. You can even create an e-mail alert for when new jobs are posted.
  2. Post your resume. Let camp employers find YOU when they browse through ACA’s summer resume bank. Posting your resume is free and easy. (For tips on writing your resume, see the...
March 21, 2014

Guest post by Posie Taylor

With all of the ACA spring conferences and trainings coming up, I’ve been thinking about the importance in participating in and leading educational opportunities through ACA. Even after many years in camp, I always get a little nugget or two out of participating in ACA educational events. But that is not the main reason I have participated and led, both on the regional and on the national level, for over thirty-five years.  When I was just starting out as a young camp director at Aloha, I met a very wise man at ACA. He shared his perspective that being involved at ACA was a matter of helping to assure the future of the camps I loved and that had given me so much as a child and young adult.

Here is what he said:

  1. Not every alumni camper is going to send his or her child to our camp. Economics may constrain their choices or distance or family issues or a multitude of specific challenges...
March 21, 2014

Here’s how to choose the right fit and get your child excited about the adventure.

Guest post by Katie Bugbee, Senior Managing Editor, Care.com

Photo courtesy of Cheley Colorado Camps, Estes Park, Colorado

Overnight camp can be an incredible growing experience for your child. Maybe you went yourself – or you wish you had. But for whatever reason, you just know your child will thrive in cabin-sleepover-living. Now, you need to make sure your child feels the same way.

Making new friends, trying different things, and being independent can seem daunting to some, but preparation can make all the difference. It’ll be a team effort, and yes, there still might be tears at drop-off no matter how prepped you both are. But, these tips can help ensure your child is the one...

March 14, 2014

Guest post by Tamsin Andrews

Send your kids to camp.

For your benefit. For theirs.

For the camp and for the campers there.

Send your kids to camp.

At camp, they’ll be a part of a community all their own. They’ll become emotionally attached to burnt rope on their wrist, and have a song for any occasion on cue, and forget how to shower or flush, and think sunscreen is moisturizer. And they won’t bat an eye at the thought that it’s weird.

They’ll fight over who gets to set the table, and 7:00 a.m. no longer sounds absurd to wake up to on a summer morning. They’ll learn to do things on their own, and they’ll learn to rely on others. They’ll learn how...

March 11, 2014

Guest post by Lance Ozier

A few years back I conducted a study with kids who had gone to summer camp for at least six or seven years. I asked them to talk about their camp experiences, and from their stories identified convincing evidence that summer camp is an important place for kids to learn and grow. Recently, the skills campers in my study attributed to their camp experiences — confidence, leadership, social skills, independence, self-direction — have been described in books and articles as important noncognitive factors essential for success  in the “new economy.” If camp’s purpose is to give kids a world of good, then camp seems a likely place for young people and adults to acquire and practice these important skills so they can imagine ways they might adapt to the challenges in an ever-changing world.

William Poundstone’s...

February 24, 2014

By Peg Smith & Andy Pritikin

What an amazing world we live in, with more information and connections at our fingertips than we could ever imagine. This brave new world has come with a price, though, as we’ve gradually replaced human interaction with technological interaction. We have many young people who are not fully equipped for college, the workforce, or adult life. While the US has the highest percentage of graduating seniors choosing to attend colleges or universities, we also have the highest percentage of first-year collegians that drop out. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a nonprofit comprised of the top corporations and forward-thinking educators, has done research showing a big gap in our education system between the “3 Rs” and what employers are truly looking for with their new...

January 29, 2014

Guest post by Diana K. Rice, RD

As a registered dietitian and staff member of The Kids Cook Monday, I’ve seen firsthand how efforts to involve children in food production and preparation can influence them to make healthy choices. Much of my work involves school-based efforts to teach these skills, but with all of the other academic learning objectives students must meet, I know that it can be difficult to find time during the school day to give kids truly enriching food-related experiences.

Camp, on the other hand, provides an ideal setting for the full farm-to-table (or campfire!) experience. I fondly recall cooking “stone soup” over the fire as a young camper and later, as a counselor. These experiences undoubtedly contributed to my current passion for home cooking, so I’ve been thrilled to discover the in-depth cooking and gardening experiences many camps...

January 28, 2014

For today's kids, free, unstructured play is on the decline, and access to the outdoors is dwindling. ACA CEO Peg Smith explains why play is so critical to a child's success. Read Peg's article in USA Today.

January 27, 2014

Guest post by Kevin Austin

As Rex, Stephanie, and I walked we argued over the proper way to sing "Rig of Bamboo.” We were at the Lazy W Ranch for the Student Camp Leadership Academy (SCLA), and took a walk while sharing our camp experiences, games, plans for the future, and favorite debrief tools. I knew I had found a special community of camp professionals.

SCLA is an invaluable program for young camp professionals. Veteran camp leaders gave us personal insight into their knowledge and experience; a crisis management presentation gave us grounding in theory and asked us to develop response plans to various challenging scenarios. We didn’t know that the situations came from the leadership team’s personal experience, and discussions became real as they compared our response plans with what actually happened. I’ll always remember Billy Stempson as he described a...

January 24, 2014

There is no single, all-encompassing background check database available in this country.The purpose of the Child Protection Improvments Act (CPIA) is to "close a gaping hole in the federal law that prevents camps, children's groups, and other organizations that work with children from gaining access to federal criminal background checks on employees and volunteers."

View this video blog from ACA CEO Peg Smith encouraging advocacy for the CPIA and advocate at ACA's CPIA page today.

January 23, 2014

Guest blog by Anne Archer Yetsko

When I Googled the phrase “middle school,” two of the top hits were “Middle school survival” and “Middle school: the worst years of my life.” I found that to be a pretty good depiction of how most people feel about this slightly (or not so slightly) traumatizing and awkward period of life. There are a few key aspects of the camp experience that are really beneficial for this age group.

Camp gives your middle schooler:

1. An Identity: Kids need an identity. Middle schoolers are defined by their looks, material stuff (cool shoes, backpack, gaming devices), parents, grades, and their athleticism. Camp allows kids to be known for being a great archer, team player, cannonball jumper, friend, kayaker, s’more maker, table setter, frog catcher, and much more. This list is endless. When a kid walks onto a camp property they get to...

January 21, 2014

This guest post is by Audrey Monke, owner and director of Gold Arrow Camp.

I love flipping my calendar to January and the promise it offers of a fresh start. There’s something about the clean pages of a whole year stretched out in front of me that makes me believe I can accomplish more this year than I ever have before.

One thing I’ve learned is that just flipping to the fresh page doesn’t actually make anything different. I have to put some effort in. After being a camp director for more than twenty-five years, I’m still trying to get better at my job. I’d like to share three ways I’m going to be a better camp director in 2014, and I hope you get some ideas you can use, as well.

1. Look Back

As you look back on 2013, ask yourself two questions:

  • What were my strengths as a camp director?
  • What were my biggest failures and what did I learn?

Are you...

December 19, 2013

Guest blog by Stacey Ebert

For sleep-away campers, the end of June brought endless smiles. School closed for two whole months and our second family greeted us with open arms. Mornings were spent with sleepy-eyed bunkmates and nights came alive with laughter. Days were filled with friends, canteen, and food-fights in the lodge, and countless memories were made.

Ask those of us who went to camp and no matter how long ago it was, we can still sing our favorite song, tell you about our beloved counselors and share our fond camp memories. Those who went to camp were guaranteed to have their life enriched. Maybe you learned to swim or that you loved chicken barbecues. Or maybe that one special staff member helped you see something in yourself you never knew was there. There’s wisdom in summer camp and it seems that it’s not until we leave that we realize the weight of so very many of its gifts.

1. Build...

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