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Latest ACA Blog Posts
August 31, 2012
Here's our first summer story! A big thank you to Justina Lau for submitting. Keep the stories coming! (Send them to media@ACAcamps.org.)
I spent my summer with the Diabetic Youth Foundation. During camp, we do midnight check of campers’ blood sugar levels. Before one particular midnight checking, it was my rotation to watch the kiddos and to put them to sleep. Well, I had no idea what I was up against! I was in a room filled with twelve campers by myself! They were shouting, laughing, farting, and causing chaos as young campers do!
After telling them that pool time would be taken away if they didn't get into their own bunks, they were immediately quiet. I asked if they would like music, and all of them agreed they wanted to listen to some. I played a variety of piano songs off of my iTouch. One of my campers surprised me when he...
August 30, 2012
No doubt your camp counselor experience this summer included some awesome campers, co-workers, and even a “lesson learned” or two.
We want to collect the best camp counselor stories from across the country and share them here! Tell us about your favorite memory, camper, day at camp, boss, activity, etc. Write it up in 500 words or less and send it to us at media@ACAcamps.org, and you might just see it on the blog.
Congratulations on a “summer well-spent,” and good luck with your fall adventures!
Photo courtesy of Camp Howe, Goshen, Massachusetts
August 20, 2012
Have you seen the T-shirt that says, “Forget the box — think outside”?
I want that T-shirt. There are so many applications for this phrase.
- If we want to save the “outside,” we better forget thinking inside the box. Solutions are going to have to be new, innovative, and profound.
- If we read the research, our ability to think is enhanced by the time we spend outside. To be boxed in a classroom for extended periods of time (throughout the year) seems counterintuitive.
- If we would think about how we help our children balance their time spent with technology and ...
August 14, 2012
Here’s a fun nature activity that you can do with your campers. No equipment or supplies necessary!
This exercise is valuable in helping campers become aware of the common habit of looking without seeing.
Without explaining why, ask group members to look in one direction for 60 seconds. Then, have them close their eyes and ask them questions about the area they just viewed. For example:
- Were there clouds in the sky?
- Did they notice any animal signs?
- How many colors did they see?
- What was the largest thing they saw?
- What was the smallest?
Participants may then open their eyes and take another look at the area. Ask them what they see this time that they didn’t notice the first time. Repeat the exercise and you will find that the campers have become much more observant.
Find this and more in ...
August 13, 2012
Articles are once again popping up about adding school days to the academic year. No one argues that year-round learning is not only developmentally and academically sound, but also pertinent to the issues of safety and wellbeing for many children who may not have something to do over the summer. Where we seem to diverge is the appreciation on how best to accomplish those desired outcomes.
The organized camp industry for children and youth provides nearly 216 million dollars for those who might not otherwise have a camp experience. The research that has been done absolutely supports the fact that a quality camp experience is a viable...
August 13, 2012
In today’s world, parents can feel external pressure to make sure children are involved in the “right” activities, get into the “right” schools or classes, and — oh yeah — that they’re having fun, too!
But what if there is a way to instill independence and ownership in children — not to mention, resiliency — so that they want to achieve their own brand of success and navigate an ever-changing world? Camp experiences are excellent ways for children to learn these skills.
And those same experiences — where children learn to take healthy risks, make friends, and live as their own individuals within a supportive community — benefit parents, too! When children are at camp, new parenting perspectives abound.
In a recent...
August 9, 2012
Update October 2012: Camping Magazine Featured by NicheMedia for outstanding use of camp photograpy!
Did you take some awesome photos at camp this summer? Enter them into Camping Magazine's 2013 Golden Lens Contest!
You could win a $150 cash prize and your photo could be on the cover of the next May/June Camping Magazine!
Just send your favorite photos that depict the camp experience (and represent the best practices in the field) to magazine@ACAcamps.org.
Before you submit your photos, make sure to fill out the online photo release!
Include your name, camp name, contact address, and phone number in the e-mail...
August 7, 2012
Songs are some of the best traditions at camp! Whether you sing at meal time, bedtime, campfire, or between activities, your campers enjoy having something that unites them as a group. And they love teaching camp songs to their parents and friends — allowing their experiences and memories to live on, even when they’re at home!
What's YOUR favorite camp song? Share it with us in the comments below!
Try singing this song at camp — you might already know it! Find this and more than 170 other songs in Sing — a guide to camp songs! (Available for digital download. Comes with a CD of 99 selected songs.)
August 7, 2012
The Children’s Defense Fund has just released The State of America’s Children® 2012 Handbook. Consider a few of the facts shared:
- There are 16.4 million poor children in America.
- More children were killed by guns in 2008–2009 than U.S. military personnel in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to date.
- A child is born into poverty every twenty-nine seconds in America.
I believe we are a part of the solution. But only if we are informed advocates for all children.
I find it alarming that two things most critical to a healthy future are fragile today — the environment and children. We can do something about both. What will you do?
August 6, 2012
For many families, it’s back-to-school time. So along with those camp friends and songs, encourage your camper-student to remember the skills he or she learned this summer. These skills are sure to get the school year started off right and help your child thrive all year long!
- Confidence — All through the camp experience, children and youth have tried new activities and been successful; they feel empowered.
- Curiosity — Camp has given children and youth the chance to explore, study, and observe in an experiential learning environment.
- Character — Camp has challenged children and youth to develop character — through fostering respect for each other, a sense of community, and the ability to solve problems.
Watch American Camp Association CEO Peg Smith explain the...
July 31, 2012
As a counselor, you make sure to have a positive attitude, and you encourage campers to see the bright side of life. You realize that camp is more fun when everyone is happy — but did you know that by promoting positivity, you’re also helping campers find success and literally reverse the effects of stress and anxiety?
When you are in a positive state of mind, you are more apt to succeed! According to Christine Carter, PhD, a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, “When our brains are positive and we’re experiencing positive emotions, we’re much more creative, better at problem solving, and our perception is more open — making us more able to learn.” Help your campers learn that staying positive puts them on the fast-track to achieving their goals!
July 23, 2012
As a licensed clinical social worker, camp consultant, and regular Camping Magazine contributor, Bob Ditter has been helping children, youth, and camp professionals — including counselors! — for many years.
In his Pocket Guide books, Bob lays out a few critical concepts for camp counselors:
- YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL, which means campers won’t so much listen to what you tell them to do as they will mimic what you do and say. Even when you think they are not watching or listening, they often are. That old saying that “actions speak louder than words” is definitely true at camp.
- YOU ARE THE ADULT. Surrounded as you are day after day by campers who are known for getting carried away by their feelings, it is easy to slip back into less mature ways of behaving....
July 23, 2012
We all know we don’t operate at our best all the time. So what do we need to understand in order to manage that risk, especially at this time of year in the summer camp season?
Remember where our counselors are developmentally.
- New risk capacities (training) evolve over time with experience.
- Mentor young counselors with seasoned staff throughout the summer.
- Peer pressure can still prevail.
- Continue to support clarity and sincerity in behavior and words.
- We all get tired and exhausted.
- Be sure counselors are getting plenty of rest in order to be at their optimum.
- We function best when we know our surroundings.
- If going to a new surrounding, partner new counselors with seasoned staff.
Counselors are modeling for campers —...
July 18, 2012
If you’re feeling the blues while your child is away at camp — or anticipating the day they leave for camp with a little sadness — you’re not alone. In fact, even President Obama feels this way about sending his daughters to camp!
Both First Daughters, Malia and Sasha, will be at overnight camp for a month this summer — adding President and Mrs. Obama to the millions of American parents who annually choose a summer camp experience for their children — even if it means being a little “kidsick” while the kids are away from home.
As Malia enjoys her second summer at camp, and Sasha becomes a new camper, the President recently admitted to feeling a little “depressed” while his girls are away. Camp professionals and child psychologists have described parents’ feelings when children leave as “kidsickness” — akin to the normal feelings of “homesickness”...
July 16, 2012
Whether this is your first and only week at camp, or you’ve already been there for a few weeks, it’s important to make healthy choices to keep you running on all cylinders!
Fuel your body with what it needs to make it through your busy days — which includes lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk, and healthy proteins like lean meats and beans. For more specifics, visit the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Healthy Eating Plan.
Tip: “Most people eat too fast and even when they are not necessarily hungry. Use meal time as an opportunity to 'slow down' from the busy camp pace.” Read more in the Camping Magazine article: “Make a Commitment: Encouraging Wellness and Healthy...