Resource Library

Reflections: Back to Basics
Published Date: 2014-09-01

Few people would disagree that we now live in a world of consumer capitalism. Our open lands and lakefronts in New England are slowly disappearing to development. Many young children are over stimulated and over scheduled. This generation, more than any other in our history, needs the calming and regenerative powers of living close to the natural rhythms and flow of nature.

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The camp director of one of the oldest and most respected camps on the continent remembers how, a few years ago, his camp's continuing tradition as a tech-free environment was especially hard for some fourteen- and fifteen-year-old campers. Cell phones, texting, and social media were the personal default setting of their lives. "We had some kids who really missed it," he told me recently. The networked life was the only life they knew at home and school. Going tech-free was a culture shock for them.

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It may very well be the case that matters of discipline, often grounded in interpersonal conflict, consume a disproportionate amount of time for counselors at summer camp. Or at least it seems that way.

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Galileo Galilei did not go blind looking at the sun through his telescope, despite the urban legend promulgated by manufacturers of sun filters and even NASA. Instead, his blindness in his early seventies was caused by cataracts and glaucoma (Mulder, 1922). Sitting close to the television for prolonged periods of time also does no harm, despite what your parents may have told you. Television may have some deleterious effects, but none of them is ocular.

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We are lucky to be at camp, in the modern world, and not living in a jungle where each new thing might kill us. The fight or flight response comes from ancient times when a person encountered a unique threat — like a tiger — and the brain needed to make a snap decision. Will I run (flight) or will I fight? While most of us do not encounter tigers on a regular basis, we are constantly exposed to new or novel things. These could be ideas, people, situations, food . . . the list goes on and on.

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Rewind to the time in your life when you were seven, ten, or thirteen (or any other desired childhood age). Who was your best friend at that age? What style clothing did you wear? What did you like to do in your free time? What music do you recall from that age? What was your favorite toy? What book did you enjoy reading? What device could you hardly wait to get because it was the “in” thing to have? What is your worst memory of that time in your life? What is your best memory of being that particular age?

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#DreamTEAM
Published Date: 2014-05-01

What makes a great camp counselor? It’s not what you think.

The 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team had just as many all-stars as the original Dream Team. They had superstars like Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Tim Duncan, and had arguably the best coach in basketball, Larry Brown. So why did they only get the bronze? Why did they have more losses in the 2004 Olympics than in all other Olympics combined?

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So You Got Promoted: Now What?
Published Date: 2014-05-01

The camp experience is a very powerful learning process, which is both personal and challenging. It provides children the chance to grow in a protected environment controlled by caring, knowledgeable staff responsible for setting acceptable limits of risk management. Philosophically this is a great premise, but what happens to this construct if staff are inexperienced and not ready to assume the complexities of their job?

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An Inside Joke Worth Having
Published Date: 2014-05-01

There are many different kinds of relationships you will have in your life.

The relationship you will have with your campers this summer, though, will be among the most unique, powerful, and fragile ones you will likely ever have. With just a few properly timed words, you can become a child’s favorite person in the world. In even fewer ones, you can destroy that forever.

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At a 2014 ACA National Conference session, I was asked by seasoned camp professionals, “Why do young staff ask us so many questions when we give them a task?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Because we think we are disposable. If we do it wrong, you will get someone else.” The collective gasp of the professionals registered astonishment, but all of the young staff serving on the panel starting nodding their heads. If you feel this way, you are not alone.

Disposable misconceptions — let’s talk about them, so we can trash them.

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