Resource Library

“Yes, a reading program fits into camp. Sherwood [Forest] Camp is a lot more than camping, mosquitoes, and swimming — it’s aimed at the whole child.” — Parent of a 2011 reading program participant

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A Platform for Growth
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Day camps. Resident camps. Camps for girls only. Camps for boys only. Burn-victim camps. Camps for kids with cancer. Camps for kids who want to lose weight. Faith-based camps. Activity- or sports-specific camps. For-profit camps. Nonprofit camps. Truth be known, the list of different types of camps is virtually endless.

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Camps need staff to run their programs; colleges/universities have various requirements for students regarding coursework and internships; and students are usually pulled between what they want to do and what they have to do to meet school and parent demands. How can we create a win-win situation for all involved?

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If this is your first year receiving a paycheck at camp (no matter how small) instead of paying tuition, then this article is for you. New and veteran staff will also benefit from having a better understanding of the transition that occurs from coming to camp as a camper to becoming a vital part of the staff team. There are different names for this group of staff — ranging from junior counselors to assistant counselors to counselors-in-training (CIT).
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It was June 2006. I had been conducting staff training at a coed camp in the Northeast. I had already spoken to the entire staff about the “real work” of camp, which I see as helping campers use the activities and their relationships with one another and with staff to grow into more mature, well-rounded people — to develop character. As I typically do, I had spoken about the incredible impact staff can have on a young person and how children look up to staff in ways they might not always make obvious to us.

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With five generations actively involved in camp, it seems like the communication gap is widening. According to family physician Deborah Gilboa, MD, "The range of what is considered normal is wider now. That's going to mean some people fall behind and feel less comfortable." While having so many generations together can present some significant communication challenges within camp — as well as in communicating out from the camp community — Gilboa says it also represents a far richer experience for campers (and staff).

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Preparing camp counselors for their role as staff members, community leaders, and knowledgeable caregivers is a daunting task. Many staff members are themselves students or adolescents unsure of the aspects of camp wellness, and they bring different beliefs and varied backgrounds to camp. As a camp director or administrator, you must teach them the importance of proper procedures when it comes to safety, OSHA, and dealing with daily camp health issues.

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One of the issues I have been hearing a lot about from camp professionals around the country has to do with camper anxiety. I have gotten more anxiety-related questions from camp directors in the past year than any other topic besides accommodating transgender campers. At a meeting of Maine Summer Camps in January of this year we spent an entire morning on the topic of anxiety in campers and staff. I want to share with you some of the skills and tools that I think can be helpful in dealing with these issues in campers.

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The boy had tears welling up in his eyes, and I didn’t know why. When he finally spoke, the explanation for his mounting anxiety surprised even me.

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E.g., 2019-08-20
E.g., 2019-08-20