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Latest ACA Blog Posts
June 19, 2013
Chances are you’ll encounter some camper behavior this summer that leaves you frustrated, confused, or worn out. But don’t worry — these tips will help you handle difficult camper behavior and keep everyone on track for a great experience!
Remember to follow any behavior management guidelines specific to your camp or your director’s preferences, and keep the following in mind:
- Give the camper one warning; make it clear that the behavior or action was inappropriate and undesirable.
- Give the camper a chance to explain; he or she may have a good reason for the behavior.
- Be consistent and impartial.
- Stay cool and calm; keep strong emotions in check.
- Avoid lecturing or embarrassing the camper; discipline in private if possible.
- Stress that the camper's behavior is the problem, not the camper's personality. Help the camper identify acceptable alternatives to the...
June 17, 2013
Guest post by Ann Sheets
In his closing keynote speech at the 2013 ACA National Conference in February, Dr. Gary Krahn spoke about children's creativity. He reported that during the preschool years, children score a 98 percent on the Torrance creativity test; at five years old, the score drops to 50 percent; after children reach the age of ten, their creativity score drops to less than 30 percent. His point? Formal education inhibits creativity in children.
Fast forward to the present time for summer camp. What better place than camp for children and youth to think outside of the box, to stretch their minds unbound by academics, and to be creative?
The ACA National Board of Directors recently created a work group on noncognitive skills, those skills we take for granted that we teach at camp, such as self-esteem, leadership, grit, curiosity, and creativity. I am very interested in seeing the results of their work, especially...
June 14, 2013
ACA recently teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in an effort to keep getting more kids outdoors, reaping the benefits of nature experiences.
Camp is one of the best places for kids to experience nature, and a whopping 71 percent of camps intentionally target programs to connect children with nature and the outdoors (ACA's 2011 Sites, Facilities, and Programs Report). Time in the outdoors is great for unstructured, creative play and discovery opportunities, as well as moments to unwind and de-stress away from a screen. (Read more about the benefits of nature here.)
This June 22, the whole family can enjoy an outdoor experience by participating in NWF’s Great American Backyard Campout. When you register for free, you’ll receive instant access to...
June 11, 2013
Making sure your campers are safe, healthy, and having fun all summer long is your main goal. To do that, you need to take care of yourself!
Here on the Counselor Blog, we want you to have the best resources for self-care . . . because camp is just that much more fun when you’re alert, ready, and in control.
Read up on these past blogs before camp starts, and make plans to be at your best!
“Stay Healthy at Camp!”
What you’ll learn about: eating well, staying active, getting enough sleep
What you’ll learn about: how much sleep you really need, tips for getting more rest
June 4, 2013
When applying and interviewing for jobs, work experience plays a critical role. According to Forbes.com, 66% of employers believe interview performance and relevant work experience are the most important factors in their hiring decisions — far more significant than strong academic performance.
Employers want to know you can apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. So what can you do this summer to make sure you reinforce and highlight the skills that are most relevant to your desired career?
These skills are critical — and you’ll be using them all!
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has defined “Learning and Innovation Skills” — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and...
June 4, 2013
Some of my son’s best memories at camp were related to the friends he made from other parts of the world. His appreciation of what makes us different and, more importantly, how we are all the same, was profound. Even today, as a young adult, he draws on those camp experiences to make sense of the world.
Camp has always been a unique developmental environment that weaves global citizenship with other outcomes such as critical thinking skills, leadership, and character development.
And now more than ever, the gifts of culture that our international visitors bring are critical. Not only because the Partnership for 21st Century Skills calls for social and cross-cultural skills as a stepping stone to success. But, importantly, because we must teach our children cultural empathy and understanding — to see themselves in others, recognize the beauty in differences, and unite in...
May 30, 2013
Summer Learning Day is Friday, June 21, 2013! Sponsored by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day to spread awareness about the importance of summer learning for our nation’s youth in helping close the achievement gap and support healthy development in communities across the country.
Camp is the most comprehensive summer learning environment there is! Kids enjoy healthy doses of: experiential learning, inquiry, activity and nutritious meals, skill acquisition, relationship building, and more — all while having fun!
The following are some summer learning facts from NSLA. Your child can make the most of summer by enjoying a camp experience, and there is a camp for every child and every budget. For...
May 28, 2013
Campers (especially first-timers) will be counting on you to make your group’s “getting to know each other” process fun and meaningful. As the group leader, it’s important for you to be prepared and enthusiastic about the upcoming camp session. Here are a few ice breaker activities to get your group’s friendships growing and dialogue flowing!
A Tangled Web
Gather your campers in a circle sitting around you. Hold a large ball of yarn. Start by telling your group something about yourself. Then roll the ball of yarn to a camper without letting go of the end of the yarn. The student who gets the ball of yarn tells his or her name and something good about himself or herself. Then the student rolls the yarn to somebody else, holding on to the strand of yarn. Soon your group has created a giant web. After everyone has spoken, you and your campers stand up, continuing to hold the yarn. Start a discussion of...
May 28, 2013
I am most intrigued by how young people learn. In the most basic of terms, do young people best learn by rote or real experiences? In truth, I believe it is both; however, too often the rote experience is taking precedent, and real experiences are being diminished. To what end?
Rote learning is often by memory without thought or meaning. It is more often than not delivered using a passive lecture/telling style. Activities and operations are carried out by a teacher giving out information. As such, one may be able to “pass” by the nature of memorization but without understanding.
Real, authentic experiences in the learning process call for young people to actually and actively participate. This process provides fertile ground for deeper understanding and meaning beyond memorization. Skills such as critical thinking and problem solving are inherently involved in such collaborative and interactive experiences. Real experiences are...
May 24, 2013
Before summer starts, make sure your camper is geared up — literally! — for all the fun activities at camp. Here are some tips when it comes to packing:
- Pack Light — Remember your camper will be living out of a duffel bag, trunk, or suitcase for the duration. Packing light helps campers keep track of items and guarantees that they can handle their own luggage at camp.
- Check Camp Packing Lists — Individual camps should provide a recommended camp packing list, complete with any required equipment, preferred footwear, etc. Be sure to carefully review what is needed, paying special attention to those items that may not be permitted at camp.
- Label, Label, Label — Laundry pens, iron-on labels, and press and stick labels will distinguish your camper’s belongings from those of other cabin or tent mates. Most camps ask that you label each item,...
May 21, 2013
How much do you know about the typical kid in America?
Use this infographic to learn a little bit more about today's kids . . . and your campers! Familiarizing yourself with their realities, strengths, and challenges will help you connect from day one. (Viewed best in Chrome or Firefox.)
May 20, 2013
Guest post by Jean G. McMullan
Again we are roaring into the summer camp season. The months spent before camp opens are some of the most pressing, most challenging, and often the most anxious of times. Will parents adequately prepare their campers for the thrill and fun of the camp experience? Will staff measure up to the high expectations of the directors and the campers?
Since the very first organized camp experiences over a century and a half ago, it is a pretty safe conjecture that preparations for camp are, although very different in specifics, still quite similar in nature. I wonder if we actually capitalize on a basic reason that camping is so viable. What is there about camp that holds thousands of past and present campers in a state of excitement and anticipation — or as an indelible memory? Even if a camp experience has had an occasional negative outcome, how can a simple, small camp or large, multi-activity camps...
May 20, 2013
You’ve done your research, worked as a family to find the right camp for your child’s experience, and signed up your camper for the experience of a lifetime! Naturally, leading up to the big “First Day of Camp,” he or she might have questions, just like the first day of school. Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings, and use this guide for talking about camp with your first-time camper!
Who will be my friends?
Reassure your camper that camp is all about making new friends! Some campers know each other from past summers or from school, but many come to camp in order to meet new friends. Camp counselors will help him or her make friends the very first day of camp. It's nice to have winter friends and summer friends — other kids with whom your camper shares special experiences.
Who will help me have fun at camp? How do they know how to care for me?
May 13, 2013
So you have your dream job this summer — working with a ton of kids, having fun, and staying active at camp!* How do you make sure that you get exactly what you want out of your summer at camp? We’ve already talked about what to expect. Setting goals before the summer can be helpful and make you more aware of your desired outcomes.
Get Clear on What You Want
Start by asking questions like this:
- How do I want my campers to feel at the end of their session?
- What would I want campers’ parents to be able to say about my counseling abilities?
- How do I want my coworkers and supervisors to feel about my counseling abilities?
- How do I want to feel at the end of the summer?
- What will allow me to do the best job I can?
Make SMART Goals
After you know what you want, make SMART...
May 13, 2013
ACA camps work intentionally to develop communities that bring everyone closer — living and learning together.
Seth Godin once said: “For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
ACA camps create “tribes.” Within camps, there are often multiple tribes witnessed by cabin groups or activity groups while each unique tribe still feels a part of the camp community, at large.
ACA camps who participate in international exchange programs are setting the stage for an expanded understanding of today’s culture and the opportunity to create a “global tribe.”
This is an extraordinary demonstration of global leadership within the ACA camp community. Godin tells us that we can belong to tribes but can’t cut ourselves off from others: “Leadership is the art of giving...