Resource Library

The camp experience is a part of America's heritage and culture. Today, 10 million children and youth go to camp annually, yet, the American Camp Association (ACA) only directly impacts 5 million of those experiences. By 2020, ACA wants no fewer than 20 million children attending camp annually with the ACA camp community directly impacting the lives of those 20 million children.

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Even in today’s globalized world, many camps and youth-serving organizations still value local connections. While embracing technology to keep in touch with camp alumni or reach a broader audience, the leg work of many youth-serving organizations still gets done the “old fashioned” way — on a person-to-person, mentor-to-child basis.

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I don't want to play. I hate kickball. — Sophia, age five

Ben doesn't like me. He's always mad at me. — Betrand, age nine

This place stinks. All the activities are stupid. — Asa, age twelve

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Soon after we assumed the ownership of Camp Mont Shenandoah in 1996, my husband, Jay, and I were interested in establishing a scholarship program for our campers. We were clueless, however, as to how to go about it; especially since we wanted to fundraise to create an endowment in perpetuity. This, we knew, could pose potential problems as owners of a for-profit business.

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What About the Children?
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Over the past five decades, I have attended and presented sessions at many conferences, seminars, and educational events offered by the Maine Youth Foundation; ACA, New England; and ACA national. I served for six years on the Editorial Advisory Committee for Camping Magazine. Out of all the issues that are discussed, the question for me has always been: "What about the children?"

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Imagine a camp program with the power to improve the academic and social behavior of participants and to positively impact participants’ readiness for work, social development, and lifelong learning. All camp administrators herald this program vision for campers, but what about for staff? Camp can positively impact young staff as well. It happens through a program otherwise known as a seasonal job.

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You are reading this article because you are working with adolescents at camp this summer and are probably a little bit worried about doing so. Given the ways in which adolescents are portrayed in the media, I am not surprised that you might be a little bit nervous. Adolescents are almost always portrayed as extreme versions of reality or as clumsy, one-dimensional stereotypes. Are all teens oversexed or prudish, jocks or nerds, burnouts or perfectionists? Of course not, but you wouldn’t guess that from watching TV or going to the movies.

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There are opportunities to teach every child better self-control. Of course, being spontaneous — even a little out of control — is fun. It’s just that learning to listen, concentrate, and sustain attention are also important life skills. Camp is an ideal setting for cultivating self-control and controlled chaos. It offers both energetic, physical activities — such as water basketball or capture the flag — as well as restrained, contemplative activities — such as listening quietly to a story during rest hour.

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What do teens think about things that affect their health and well-being? What role does camp play? To find out, members of the American Camping Association New England Section, in conjunction with the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System and the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth College designed and conducted a project called "Conversations with Campers." Inspired by the Presidents' Summit for America's Future, the project asked youth attending New England camps in the summer of 1998 to participate in a series of focus groups.

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Ways to Make Camp Memorable
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Building a warm rapport with the campers in your group as well as the coworkers you live and work with day to day is the single most important way to positively impact the camp experience for everyone. Counselors who really get to know their campers will find it easier to motivate them. Campers who trust their counselors tend to follow the rules and guidelines more easily. We all need to be heard and appreciate those who listen. As you discover your counseling style and learn to mesh it with other staff, remember to listen to one another and remain open to ideas.

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E.g., 2020-12-03