Resource Library

Beneath Amy Chua’s personal struggle in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother lies a deeper ambivalence about learning: What on earth should we do with our children outside of school, during unstructured free time? Chua is at times conflicted but wryly proud of her intense, authoritarian solution, a luxury reserved for high-achieving, high-functioning parents. At the end of this best-seller, I felt rattled by Chua’s belief that education happens only in connection to school or homemade settings that are rigorously academic.

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Shared Values
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More than thirty years ago, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta sang about "Summer Lovin'" when Grease graced the Silver Screen. Although they drove off into the sunset at the end of the film, one can assume that they ultimately went their separate ways, as neither appeared in the sequel. Perhaps their relationship would have lasted longer than the final credits had the pair met at summer camp.

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Camp can offer a child more than mere fun. Camp is also the ideal environment to help campers develop their problem-solving skills.

Children learn problem solving through trial-and-error and modeling (watching how adults solve problems). Camp, with its community living focus, presents a constant source of potential conflicts and, thus, incidents in which to practice problem-solving skills. Camp also offers endless observation of how others (especially counselors) solve daily problems.

Successful Problem Solving

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It is the middle of the summer. You have probably already greeted many new and returning campers and have enjoyed some of the fun that camp offers. You have also probably discovered or rediscovered how much hard work it takes to be a good camp counselor! Like getting campers to clean up, help put equipment away, work together, wait their turn, ask for help, or any number of other things that kids typically don’t find fun.

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For years, camp professionals have touted the idea that camp is “a classroom without walls.” While models of camps connecting with education — such as school field trips or teaching environmental education — have been around for years, more and more camps are adding programs with academic value and increasing outreach to camper participants.

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“I Believe”
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I believe that camp has the power to change lives.

I believe in camp as a place where all people are welcomed as individuals and accepted for who they are.

I believe in camp as a place where people are welcomed as part of a team and appreciated for what they give for the good of the whole.

I believe in camp as a place where lifelong friendships are created and people can make new connections with others.

I believe in camp as a place for wild spaces where people learn to respect, protect, enjoy, and give back to the natural world.

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As a camp professional, I, like you, have literally thousands of affirming anecdotal stories — the camp experience is not discretionary. And, if anyone needs more evidence, ACA's outcomes research confirms what each of us already knows. Our CEO, Peg Smith*, has been telling the world that opportunities for growth and development exist in natural settings that promote experiential learning, improve social skills and physical fitness, teach children to take calculated risks in a safe environment, and expand the creative mind.

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Camp is often described as being a life-changing experience for children. The Directions research, conducted by the American Camp Association (ACA) in 2005, documented the significant growth in positive identity, social skills, thinking skills, and positive values that occurs during a camp session. Although the same type of research has not been conducted with adults, similar growth and change of attitudes has been reported anecdotally by adult participants in international gatherings.

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From Peg - November 2010
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Message discipline is difficult. Yet, in a complex association such as ACA, the demand for clarity is paramount. For an organization to grow, it must learn how to walk that thin line between chaos and order — because it is along that thin veil that true growth takes place. Even with clarity, we often find times when messages compete — where one message may take greater prominence than another due to frequency, volume, or the cacophony.

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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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E.g., 2020-10-24
E.g., 2020-10-24