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Latest ACA Blog Posts
October 29, 2013
Did you know that on October 31st, the planet will become a 7 billion-strong population? And half of that 7 billion are under the age 25! An overwhelming number, isn’t it?
Yet, I can only get my head around the implications (such as available resources, including all of the issues surrounding climate change — water, food, weather) if I consider the issue from my small perspective. What do I do?
I know I can turn off the lights, drive less, watch less TV, reduce my use of plastic, turn down my heat, and recycle. Yet, the camp community also has an opportunity to help each camper become a champion of the “carbon footprint” effort. A campaign for our planet led by the world’s most important asset — youth. Youth changed our use of seat belts. Youth changed our sense of responsibility to pick up trash and not throw waste out of our car windows. Youth helped us support Smokey the Bear. They are powerful advocates...
October 21, 2013
What is something that everyone who has ever gone to camp has done that is virtually impossible to re-create in any other setting? Campfires, of course! Our camp is 76 summers old and there are some long-standing traditions and songs that everyone comes to expect. I really appreciated the first campfire of our Girls Camp this summer, filled with beautiful singing and complete with harmony. Sitting there, it made me think about all the campfires I have experienced over 45 summers at camp, and the way singing has been an important part of my life, at camp and away from it.
It made me think too that we have moved away from the singing culture of my childhood, and those childhoods of my elders. I heard a monk once describe singing together as “breathing together.” There is recent research that documents its effects on our...
September 30, 2013
I have talked about the early childhood movement in the past. The success of this movement was a result of practitioners working with researchers to take early brain development science and make a compelling business case. This helped the public think of child care as something other than warehousing children or “babysitting.” It was a movement that revolutionized early childhood.
As a result, I predict that we will see a second movement — this time in youth development — within the next decade.
Let me suggest a trifecta, if you will:
1.) The growth of youths’ emerging critical thinking, problem solving, reflective skills, communication, and creativity — when supported by active, participatory learning — makes the case for a recalibration and realignment of a comprehensive educational/developmental system for young people. Home, school, and out-of-school programming (camps) must come...
September 24, 2013
Want to learn something new, share some ideas of your own, and connect with people who also love camp? There are local ACA conferences being held across the country this fall and winter!
ACA, New England — October 4, North Andover, Massachusetts
ACA, Virginias — October 15-16, Shepherdstown, West Virginia
OctoberWest — October 21-22, Orange, California
ACA, Oregon Trail — November 7–8, Gresham, Oregon
ACA, Keystone — November 12–14, Macungie, Pennsylvania
ACA, Heart of the South — November 12–14, Burns, Tennessee (just outside of Nashville)
ACA, Great Rivers — November 13–14, Moravia, Iowa
ACA, Rocky Mountain — November 20–22,...
September 23, 2013
Guest post by Marla Coleman
10-for-2. It often feels like we live 10 months for 2 months! Campers. Staff. Directors. (And dare we say parents, too?).
Sadly, those precious months have drawn to a close. We intentionally design the last week or few days to ensure that it seals our memories forever. Whatever the traditions of each camp — Olympics, candles flickering on the lake, “burndown” of the year, closing ceremonies — they really are one giant zip-lock bag. These rituals allow us to preserve the fun, the growth, the challenges, and the triumphs.
We can expect a letdown of sorts when it’s all over, not unlike the experience campers have. After all, we were on quite a high for those 8 weeks or so, delivering the ultimate experience: It’s exhilarating to be at camp every day — be yourself, be appreciated for who you are, know that no one is judging you, and feel liberated...
September 18, 2013
The following is a Summer Story from 2013 by Jake Klingensmith (see right), Geza Head Counselor at Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI). Check out GUCI on Twitter: @URJGUCI. Thanks Jake and GUCI for sharing your Summer Story!
This is my fourth summer as a counselor at GUCI, and over the years I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what my role as a counselor is and what kind of counselor I want to be. I’ve spent three years at Carnegie Mellon, a school that is very heavy in technology, and I see people spending a lot of time sitting in front of screens. I see the amazing things that can happen on those screens, but I know there are more amazing things that happen out in the world — especially at camp.
As human beings we have an unbelievable potential to create and to interact with the world. During my time as a counselor, I‘ve noticed that many children today spend more and...
September 11, 2013
This blog from ACA’s Educational Ally The Monday Campaigns is designed to help you keep those healthy camp habits alive at the start of school! Some of these tips your child might have learned at camp; others might be fresh ideas! Bon appetit!
We all know that “Monday morning” feeling. We wake up early to find that a weekend full of lax routine and play has left our brains in need of a reboot. Mondays can be especially tough for school kids who may have stayed up late and taken “brain breaks” all weekend. Why not give your kids a healthy start for the week by offering food that is helpful for their minds? On behalf of Kids Cook Monday, Allison Righter, registered dietitian and program officer for the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers these tasty tips.
Full Bellies, Alert Minds
Keep kids’ bellies full and their...
September 9, 2013
The picture to the right is a vine I planted outside of my mom's apartment. I failed to prune it. As a result, it grew to greater heights and beauty than I ever imagined.
Suddenly I wondered: How many young people do we prematurely “prune?” We limit what they can do by denying them opportunities as a result of our own fears. We limit what they think they can accomplish with our words of caution. Are we stunting their growth?
Jane Sanborn from Sanborn Western Camps recommended a book to me — Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, by Stuart Brown. He says that play “energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities."
Of course, many of you know that play is one of my favorite topics. But, he...
September 3, 2013
Recently we celebrated the fifty-year anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It was inspiring to see the honor and reverence paid for such a day in our history. That said, we must not forget that the spirit of MLK is not a one-day event. The spirit of his words must live in us every day to ensure we get to the Promised Land.
Each day, we must find a way to take the concept of unity and seek a shared framework for being. I fear too often we find it hard to define ourselves as “one” because we become distracted by our differences. It is fair to recognize the rich diversity of experiences, strengths, and weaknesses that we possess as individuals, communities, and the world.
Yet, what bonds us — allowing us to celebrate our differences?
One shared framework to consider is that of humanity, humility, and hope.
Humanity in our compassion. Humility in our ability to...
August 28, 2013
As you get back into the routine of the school year, of driving morning carpools and coordinating afternoon extracurriculars and homework, you will likely continue to hear “At camp, we . . . ” stories trickling into conversation at the dinner table or in the car. The reality is that it can take months for a child (and the staff, too!) to truly process the effects and experience of summer camp. Children process experiences using many different techniques and almost every technique utilizes some form of communication.
Perhaps your children like to draw and you find they are drawing more pictures of plants, animals, and other natural features.
August 26, 2013
We have reached the end of another summer season. I have watched the Facebook posts of those who are leaving camp to go back to school, home, or another job. Each post is overflowing with mixed feelings of both sadness and hope. The songs, words, and prose abound with memories embedded deep within the recesses of the emotional memory muscles.
What has been learned and shared over what accumulatively may seem like nanoseconds in time will repeatedly resurface during the forthcoming years, having a profound impact on future experiences that will draw from these moments. Ellen Gannett inferred such influence in her recent blog post when she wrote about Willis Bright’s ideas on navigational and interpretive skills. As Willis suggests, those skills actually serve as a moral compass, often for life.
Yet, why does this happen? I have often suggested it is the...
August 21, 2013
What’s your favorite memory from this summer? Tell us at media@ACAcamps.org and you might just see it here on the Counselor Blog! We’re looking for stories about:
- lessons learned
- favorite mentors
- skills you gained
- camp moments you’ll never forget
Submit now through September 16. Stories should be 500 words or less.
Include with your story:
- a camp photo (if you have one) (be sure to fill out our photo release)
- the name and location of your camp
- a 25-30 word bio
- your Twitter handle (if you have one, we’ll mention you when we tweet the link to your blog from @ACAcamps)
Looking forward to your stories! As always, stay in touch with camp...
August 20, 2013
Guest post by Lance Ozier
Summers have always belonged to children, and the traditionally fun activities that kids enjoy while on vacation at camp might not seem to have any relationship to the skills needed to be successful in school and beyond. After all, most camps are not summer study programs — camps have always served as respites from school, as an oasis from the textbooks and homework associated with the classroom. But as recent research suggests, the seemingly fun and playful activities that engage kids at camp not only serve as important skill builders that mitigate “summer learning loss”; these camp experiences also develop what economists call “noncognitive” factors known to be predictors of life success.
As we drive at full speed into a new school...
August 12, 2013
This summer at camp, you undoubtedly learned a lot about character. We've compiled a few quotes on character from some famous former campers and camp staff.
“It’s important to push yourself further than you think you can go each and every day — as that is what separates the good from the great.”
— Former camper Kerri Strug, Olympic gold medalist, gymnastics
"Well, when you're trying to create things that are new, you have to be prepared...
August 12, 2013
In July, I had the opportunity and privilege to visit a number of ACA camps in Southern California. Visits to camps are always inspiring. This trip was particularly enjoyable because I was given the opportunity to not only spend some quality time with camp owners and directors, but I was provided additional discussion time with counselors.
These young people are without question the best ambassadors and champions for the camp experience. They understand the intrinsic value and importance of the camp experience for youth. What I was also impressed with was their ability to articulate what they are gaining from the experience: leadership, ability to listen, contribution, problem solving, humility, joy, and friendship.
Amidst all of their impressive, thoughtful expressions of purpose and promise, I was buoyed by their laughter and camaraderie. They shared stories, embellishing and editing with great artistry of language. They used words to paint...