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Latest ACA Blog Posts
January 28, 2013
Many parents are starting the search for their child’s perfect summer camp experience NOW. With over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps nationwide, parents have many options. Along with choices like location, session-length, and budget, here are a few things to consider as you make an informed decision:
- Philosophy and Program Emphasis —Ask questions about learning approaches, how behavioral and disciplinary problems are addressed, and how adjustment issues are handled.
- Training and Education — Don’t be shy about asking for the education and background of the camp director and staff. At a minimum, camp staff should be trained in safety regulations, emergency procedures and communication, behavior management techniques, child abuse prevention, appropriate staff and camper behavior, and specific procedures for supervision. Families should ask about camper-to-staff ratios and supervision in cabins and for various...
January 15, 2013
Each month, Peg will host a guest blogger here on A Word from Peg. This month's guest is Audrey Monke, owner and director of Gold Arrow Camp.
"Camp has taught me to be brave and reach my goals. If it wasn't for camp, I wouldn't be nearly as courageous as I am now."
— Remi, age 11
At camp we have the phenomenal opportunity to teach campers grit, a character trait that will benefit them far beyond our lakes and forests. Through teaching our campers to set goals and have a growth mindset, we can make a positive, life-changing impact.
The start of a new year begs for a resolution. Why not set a goal to incorporate more grit development into your camp curriculum this summer?
Grit has become the new buzzword in education and parenting thanks to Paul Tough's best-selling book,...
December 21, 2012
We all continue to mourn the events of Sandy Hook Elementary School. That said, the discourse and deliberation about possible solutions are being expressed across the country.
Yet, what is the comprehensive answer? Frankly and honestly, I don't know. That said, I expect that any number of ACA's leadership groups will be seriously deliberating on this issue, and others, during the next couple of months. For instance, the National Council of Leaders and the ACA Board of Directors will meet in February, and I expect this topic to be at the top of the agenda.
We must act — but informed and cogent action is imperative. I do believe we will see both short- and long-term solutions emerge as a country and as a camp community. The problem is too complex to result in one solution; instead, the solution may be a series of powerful, impactful changes in regulation, access, procedures, behavior, and culture. (Again, for the camp community and...
December 17, 2012
In her latest blog post, with the December 14 Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy fresh on her mind and heart, American Camp Association CEO Peg Smith asks herself, "Am I doing enough?" to create a world that fosters community and values learning about and understanding others. Smith shares her thoughts on creating a world of humility, civility, and human connection by demonstrating those very traits.
December 17, 2012
Last week, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School horror, I shared on Facebook that I had no words. Since, I have watched and read many reactions to the loss of such innocence. People have expressed such wisdom, insight, and resource. Yet, I am still without words.
I find I am left with one thought. Maybe more than words, laws and regulations, and resources, we must also demonstrate new behaviors. I am not so naive to think the answer is that simple because I understand so much more is needed. However, I have to ask myself, “What can I do?” What can I do that teaches young people new ways of behaving?
Instead of getting angry, can I take the time to seek alternative solutions? Can I demonstrate that there are more responses than harm or rage? Can I slow down so I can be more civil?
Instead of saying more needs to be done, can I give more? Can I encourage communities to consider solutions to societal issues as individuals who...
December 11, 2012
Give the gift of camp! A quality camp experience is a real-life version of what kids want from video games and toys — fun, adventure, excitement — and so much more!
Character and Developmental Skills
Camp is an experience that will last a lifetime — from memories to friendships to newfound hobbies. Kids certainly learn a lot about themselves while at camp, and according to research, they also gain critical social, emotional, resiliency, and teamwork skills:
- 96% of campers said: “Camp helped me make new friends.”
- 93% of campers said: “Camp helped me to get to know kids who are different than me.”
- 92% of campers said: “The people at camp helped me feel good about myself.”
- 74% of campers said: “At camp, I did things I was afraid to do at first.”
Campers also come away with powerful lessons in self-awareness, citizenship,...
December 7, 2012
As many of you know, a new national grant announced this past Monday will fund extended school days for ten school districts in five states. (Read more about the grant here.)
This pilot merits our serious attention: 1.) to learn more 2.) to advocate for the camp experience as viable in the education of the whole-child and 3.) to take the opportunity to engage in the conversation. I am also encouraged by the words of Education Secretary Arne Duncan:
The goal here is not more time, the goal here is more learning.
I hope that means it is about learning, not more skill and drill.
Being ready to learn is just as important, if not more, than being taught. What do children need in order to learn...
December 7, 2012
Camp is place to make new friends (or meet up with old ones!), learn how to be a leader, and hone your skills to help kids have fun and grow.
ACA’s 2013 ACA National Conference gives you the chance to do all that, too!
Network with peers and experts, attend great keynote lectures, and workshop your skills in a wide variety of educational sessions. And, as always, Student Members of ACA attend conference FREE. (Check out the registration page for details.)
Join us in Dallas, February 12–15, 2013! Visit the conference homepage to find more about the keynote speakers, educational sessions, and schedule — plus special events and pre-conference gatherings.
Not a member? First-timers can join ACA for free.
November 27, 2012
It may be my imagination but, at times, I feel many of us feel that we are far too often dealing with unfriendly spaces or feeling threatened. We may feel physically, emotionally, or even economically threatened. Regardless, the feelings are the same — discomfort or fear. How can we be better people, a stronger family or community, or a healthy country, if we feel unsafe?
I believe the camp experience allows young people to learn and practice civility — which might be one of the most important attributes in this decade.
I am not saying we should be passive or easily pushed around to avoid conflict; rather, what are the skills we can possess and teach others that will facilitate healthy, constructive, and safe discourse?
Well, I don’t believe the answer is rocket science. Frankly, what comes to mind are the lessons my grandmother taught me. Or more recent, the lessons I have observed being taught at camp.
November 20, 2012
Last week I wrote about the value of play as it relates to socialization and maturation. Play has an important role in the development of maturation for not only our campers, but the adolescents and young adults at camp who serve as our CITs and counselors.
As I reflected on the concept of play, it occurred to me that if I were a young adult, I might resent my activities being characterized as play. When I was in that stage of my life, it was important to me to be seen not as a child but as a capable adult, albeit a young one.
I started to dig a bit deeper into the literature about play. I found myself wondering what Piaget, Hymes, and Erickson would think regarding all that we have learned recently about brain development. Ah, this would be a whole new and interesting discussion, but I digress.
November 9, 2012
What happens when children and youth are deprived of play?
We view play as frivolous or fun — a waste of time. Yet, once again while meeting with camp staff in Alaska, I was reminded of the danger of removing critical developmental opportunities for children and youth. Marginalizing play is an unwarranted, unrecognized, and careless experiment.
Play is a child's laboratory. Without that lab, the camp professionals in Alaska are witnessing some interesting developmental gaps in readiness. As we discussed these observations, it called the questions . . .
November 5, 2012
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This was Shakespeare’s way of telling us that what matters is what something is, not what it is called. Boy, would Shakespeare love today’s nomenclature. Today, we spend an inordinate amount of time arguing over shared concepts just because we are using different terms to describe the same thing.
Consider the term “development” of a decade ago — career development or work force development is now referenced by the term “readiness.” Often you see the trifecta — career, work, and life readiness. And yesterday’s reference to “soft skills” seems remarkably similar to today’s “noncognitive skills.” A rose by any other name . . .
I was reading Expanding the Leadership Equation by Ellen Van Velsor, PhD,...
October 30, 2012
I sit here today like many others across the nation watching the weather event taking place in the Northeast. My thoughts go to the children. Although I grew up in “tornado alley,” weather was rarely a distraction. With all of the talk about global warming and one dramatic weather event after another, it seems these topics are as oppressive for young children today as the Bay of the Pigs was for me as a child.
The adult talk in nervous, hushed voices frightened me as much as the black and white granular news coverage or the school safety drills at school. I wonder today how children are managing the glaring, relentless coverage (in HD) of the world’s weather challenges.
“Googling” the phrase “kids and weather” results in a fascinating array of Web sites sharing the sad, threatening realities of our weather today. Reading through these pages, I realized many of the messages are the same as one finds on...
October 25, 2012
Guest post by Sarah Andes, a 2009 Mississippi Delta corps member, Teach for America
Summer camp is about discovery. New sports and hobbies. New friends and loves. New tans (at least if you’re in Texas). New songs. New independence. It’s all about creating and experiencing a community in which kids are free to explore and grow.
That’s why I loved Greene Family Camp at the time. I knew it as “fun.” Looking back on my experiences as a camper, counselor, and administrator, I now value camp for the unintended byproducts of those “fun” summers. I developed a set of values and beliefs at camp that have grounded the choices that I’ve made and the attitudes with which I have made them ever since.
Several years after my last summer at Greene, I once again packed up my belongings and loaded the car, but this time I was headed down a new path: east to the fertile farmland of the Mississippi...
October 9, 2012
Recently, ACA received a 2012 Summit Award from ASAE — the Center for Association Leadership. Watch the video below to learn more. Giving a voice to the camp experience's positive (and safe) youth development outcomes for parents and the public is a very important part of all of our work, and ACA was honored to win this award.