Resource Library

Congratulations! If you are reading this, it means that you have decided to be a camp counselor for at least a part of this summer! Now that you have landed the plum job, allow me to tell you the great news and the less-than-great news about what is in store for you.

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What do campers need from the counselors who work with them? They need caring relationships with adults they can trust. They need clear limits, high expectations, and healthy challenges. Campers need to be accepted for who they are. They need counselors to support them in taking positive risks and avoiding negative ones. In short, they need you to be the very best you can be.

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I keep wondering why I didn’t wear my helmet on that nearly fateful sled ride ten winters ago. The videos I’d taken of my sons the day before had been so funny that they insisted I take more the next day with my smartphone. And when my five-year-old son Sava asked me to jump on the sled and shoot a point-of-view (POV) video, I fumbled.

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Inspiring Healthy Staff Culture at Camp
Published Date: 2019-03-01

I’m ardently proud of the high-quality camp staff experiences that professional camp directors strive to offer young adults each season. Full of career-enhancing and life-benefitting skills, a summer spent working at camp is chock-full of core social and emotional learning.

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The Art of Noticing
Published Date: 2019-03-01

A strong focus on mental, emotional, social health (MESH) elements within the camp community has triggered both strategies to cope with MESH concerns and an emphasis on making camp a more MESH-resilient experience for campers and staff. In support of this, the following information is provided by Cori Miller of URJ Camp Harlam in Pennsylvania. A social worker by profession, Miller works full-time for her camp and focuses on MESH concerns.

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UR Strong, iGen
Published Date: 2019-03-01

The total was 254.

It was the last day of the fall trimester at the independent high school where I’ve been working for 20 years. Until our health center adopts electronic medical records, I’ll keep spending the final three hours of every term hand-keying into our confidential database the date, time, and referral question of each student with whom I’ve spent 45 psychotherapeutic minutes.

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The Last Batch of Muffins
Published Date: 2019-03-01

My congratulatory handshake to colleague Jake Labovitz, who along with his wife, Kerry, owns Windsor Mountain Summer Camp in Windsor, New Hampshire, was commentary on a highly successful season. Jake’s reply? “Thanks, but you’re only as good as your last batch of muffins.”

What Jake was referring to is called “recency” — most recent — or what happens last. For context, “Social psychologists study how social influence, social perception, and social interaction influence individual and group behavior” (APA, 2018).

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As children and staff members are eager to return to camp to see familiar faces and places each summer, we often hear people comment about going back to their "summer home." Our camp homes are places where friendships are made, bonds are strengthened, skills are learned, and memories are created. Some of our summer homes have lakes, mountain views, and miles of trails, while others are set in the suburbs and some even right in the middle of cities.

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Anxiety is climbing steadily in the United States. It’s been tracked for years in adults, but researchers also report similar increases in children and teens. To give you an idea of how anxiety has climbed, consider this: A typical school-age child today (your camper) is as anxious as a child psychiatric patient during the 1950s (Twenge, 2000). Yes, it’s increased that much. And camps are seeing the fallout. Separating from parents seems more difficult. Campers seem more resistant to taking healthy risks and trying new things. There are phobias, eating issues, and sleep issues.

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Most drownings are preventable. However, the cold-hard reality is that 19 percent of drowning deaths in the US involving children occur in swimming pools with certified lifeguards present — including in camps and camp-like programs (USA Management, 2018). Further, many drownings that occur at guarded facilities go unrecognized by the lifeguards, and the incidents are brought to their attention by facility patrons. The bottom line is that drowning can happen anywhere there is water.

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