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May 6, 2013
- A parent tells me they assumed “someone” was monitoring the camp.
- The media calls and asks what set of best practices/standards my camp follows.
- I am faced with a difficult situation or crisis and feel grateful I already have systems in place due to the standards program.
- I have staff turn-over and my camp’s institutional memory is compromised.
- I realize my state offers my camp regulatory relief because we are accredited.
- I realize I may be eligible for public funding only if I am accredited.
- I realize my insurance carrier requires accreditation and/or my insurance rates will decrease because of accreditation.
- I realize it is the professional standard of my profession.
- I realize it is the right thing to do for kids.
SO NEXT TIME THINK TWICE WHEN:
- It is said, “But parents never ask if I am accredited....
April 29, 2013
Change. Credit. Claim.
- Lesson learned — Over thirty years ago, science recognized rapid brain development in children from birth to age five. This discovery advanced the field of early childhood development into a recognized and respected profession.
- Today — Science has discovered a second period of rapid brain development: “Teen brain development” for those between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five.
- Pedagogy — “How” we work with young people complements the rapid growth taking place. We know how to create environments and spaces that encourage that growth. Young people do not “survive” but thrive in our spaces.
- Change minds — We must share language that clearly articulates what is happening when we work with young people.
April 23, 2013
Guest post by Mary Rogers
A few years ago, someone asked me how camp could possibly still be relevant for children in the 21st century. As a camp professional, the answers seemed so obvious that I had to really think how to explain why camp experiences are even more important for children today.
To explain why camp is still so important for children I would tell the story of one summer day at Sherwood Forest not so long ago.
It was the day of the Boat Regatta in Boys Camp and there were only two rules: Each boat had to be piloted by one camper, and the boats could be made of any found items except an actual boat or boat part. Groups of boys worked together to build their boats. Duct tape, cardboard, styrofoam, a fifty-five-gallon trash can, bits of old wood, a child’s wading pool, gallon milk jugs, milk crates, and binder’s twine were just some of the items used to make the boats. Creativity and cooperation, along...
April 19, 2013
Guest post by Megan Lawrence, director, Camp Wawayanda
Darkness. The sun has shone in the past couple days . . . but I can’t remember it. Why? Why can’t I remember the warmth of the sun and the music of the spring birds? I swear I remember seeing sunshine on the weather report for this week. How come it is so hard to place my finger on all of the good things that have happened?
Weeks like this make me feel like the sun has forgotten me, that there is very little left in this world to hope for-to believe in. Death and destruction fill our news feeds, prayers and sorrow inundate our lives 140 characters at a time. Pictures and messages are shared and passed at the click of a button. Something about how quickly sorrow spreads and penetrates our lives makes it feel less human.
My mind trails back to another dark week, one in 1995 — I was eight years old, waiting to walk to school, sitting at a neighbor...
April 16, 2013
Visit Career One Stop’s Competency Model to find an outline for your counselors’ resumes.
The camp experience/job helps counselors hone their personal effectiveness competencies. They must demonstrate initiative, integrity, and interpersonal skills if they are to be successful camp counselors.
There are academic competencies that are prerequisites for the job of camp counselor and will be practiced throughout the summer: reading, writing, mathematics, science, communication, critical thinking, active listening . . . oh, yes, and wonderful storytelling skills, not to mention music.
Workplace competencies also reign. The camp community is nothing more than successful teamwork that demands flexibility and adaptability. A counselor must know how to focus on the customer/camper as they guide, manage, and coordinate daily events.
April 8, 2013
When the science of early childhood development discovered the important, rapid growth that takes place from birth to age eight, babysitting was transformed into a profession: early childhood education.
That said, early adolescence and young adult development continued on as the great mystery that often was explained away as a mental health issue, a judiciary concern, or the result of hormonal eruptions.
Yet today, with the science of teen brain development, we might be at the precipice of discovering the cogent, developmental pathway for those between the ages of thirteen to twenty-five. It is not a mystery to be explained away by some less than attractive causal factor. Instead, these years of in a young person’s life hold an incredible opportunity for growth and development — when nurtured and understood — that results in the emergence of a positive, productive adult!
Those of us who work with this age group should...
April 1, 2013
Okay, so, I know I harp on play. Yet, with all the disparate nomenclature surrounding noncognitive skills, character building, and the plethora of “readiness” inventories, I find it may just all be about a four-letter word: PLAY.
I was reading a 2008 article by Alix Spiegel called “Old Fashioned Play builds Serious Skills.” He notes that today, the word play is associated with toys; but in the nineteenth century, play meant activity. Gee, what a difference a few decades can make.
When play is improvised and regulated by those participating (kids), what happens? It seems kids are practicing self-regulation. They are using their imaginations and creating ideas upon which to innovate. They are using what many call executive functions; planning, problem solving, and reasoning. These are elements that many bemoan are missing today, causing kids to...
March 26, 2013
A summer of learning is just around the corner. Lately, I have been reading about “inquiry learning,” and I found a quote on NPR’s Mind/Shift blog that resonated with me:
Inquiry means living in the soup. Inquiry means living in that uncomfortable space where we don’t know the answer.
Inquiry is about creating an environment that embraces curiosity and the desire to learn even more. It is not about telling and repeating, but accessing and experiencing. It is about wanting to know more and being enabled to explore, seek, question, try, fail, and learn again.
The camp experience is an oasis for these joyful, teachable failures.
Photo courtesy of Sanborn Western Camps, Florissant, Colorado
March 19, 2013
. . . to overparenting! So says Madeline Levine, PhD, psychologist, author, and keynoter at the recent ACA national conference in Dallas.
Drumroll . . . !
The mother of three “newly minted adults,” all who had life-changing positive experiences after growing up as campers, Levine says dreaming, creating, and play are the lynchpins of a happy, successful adulthood — enter camp!
You see, she explains, a counselor is not invested in the same way as a parent who, understandably, finds it hard to endorse a “successful failure,” which provides the traction for mastery. And yet successful failure is exactly what we encourage at camp, along with an invitation for exploration and collaboration and manageable risk taking.
So maybe we are not only in the business of youth development but in parent development, too! Is it possible that, through the camp experience, parents can discern the benefits of not...
February 18, 2013
So you’ve found your dream job this summer — you’re working at camp for the first time!* You’ll be spending your summer playing with kids, making a positive impact on their lives, having tons of fun, meeting new people, and making friends. But there are a few other very important things that you should expect from your job at camp.
The most essential aspect of your job this summer is safety. Make sure your campers are always wearing the right clothing/equipment for activities. Create an environment among your campers that values respect — make sure everyone feels emotionally safe. Take care of yourself (get proper sleep and nutrition) so that you remain alert and can make appropriate safety judgment calls at all times. Physical, mental, and emotional safety should be your main priority at all times.
Resources to help:
February 18, 2013
This month's guest on Peg's blog is Lance Ozier, member of ACA's national Committee for the Advancement of Research and Evaluation (CARE) and former education coordinator at Project Morry.
Once upon a time, when the world seemed young and our whole lives lay before us, my brother and I would camp outdoors just a few feet from the backdoor of our house. Under the night’s moonlight and beside the fire's shawls of final smoke, we were free. Although our parents were only a few steps away inside the house, they were out of sight and out of mind. Spending endless childhood days in the woods, we found wide open spaces that gave us room to learn and make mistakes.
From morning coffee to goodnight yawn, there’s nothing quite like long adult days to remind us that we’re no longer drifting through the dream of childhood. After the Victorian era, when children were seen and not heard, child psychologists...
February 12, 2013
Recently, ACA Board Executive Steve Baskin spoke at the TEDx San Antonio Conference on "Unplugging Our Kids." Steve does a wonderful job explaining to attendees of the conference why kids need camp more than ever to find success in the 21st century. Watch the video below.
February 7, 2013
This week's post is a guest blog from Laura Dallas McSorley, a member of one of ACA's educational allies, Teach For America.
Camp Glisson was the most wonderful place I had been as a kid — almost magical. I had been to other day camps and even overnight camps, but nothing was like the first time I stepped onto the grounds of Glisson — beautifully nestled in the North Georgia mountains around a large waterfall, with an old wooden chapel. I went every summer, as did my siblings, and even my parents as a nurse or the minister for a week. (Glisson is a United Methodist camp.) When I was old enough, I was finally a counselor, getting to fulfill a long-held dream. Most of my co-counselors were passionate about Glisson's central mission: ministry to children. Many went on to go to divinity school or teach school.
I, however, couldn't imagine myself in the classroom or in a church. Instead, I spent the next several...
February 5, 2013
“Camp is not all about the performance, but the pursuit — the pursuit of relevant experience and knowledge.”
The following article by ACA CEO Peg Smith appeared in USA TODAY on February 1 and 4, 2013.
What is the path to innovation — spending alone time in a seat or actively engaging in learning that helps one become adaptive, ambiguity-able, and alert? What will help create tomorrow’s innovators? One thing is clear: We will need innovators. Maybe we should spend as much time considering how we develop innovators as we do graduates. I believe a balanced approach is imperative — to life and to education.
Robert C. Pianta, PhD, found that fifth graders spend 90 percent of their time in their seats listening or working alone (Bromley, 2007). That statement seems counterintuitive to what we know about child and brain development. If play is a form of invention, and invention seeds...
January 28, 2013
Want to know what it takes to have a career in camp? Take advantage of ACA’s upcoming Student Camp Leadership Academy (SCLA) — Texoma opportunity:
- Begins: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.
- Ends: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at noon
- Location: YMCA Camp Carter in Fort Worth, Texas
SCLA — Texoma brings students together with camp professionals to take an in-depth look at options for a profession in the camp field. It also helps students build skills to prepare for a career in camp. For more information about SCLA and its history, read Student Camp Leadership Academy: Developing the Next Generation of Camp Professionals.
After successful completion of the SCLA experience, all students will receive an ACA SCLA certificate. Learn more about outcomes of SCLA.