Resource Library

What's stopping your camp from improving its existing programs or introducing new ones? At the same time, what's standing between your organization and "going green?" Each to its own extent, cost, culture, and commitment drive the decisions that shape camp whether you're considering programs, facilities, administration, or being greener. This month we're going to see that camps can tackle green initiatives the very same way that they've overcome program obstacles for years and years and years.

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Sam gushed about the fun he had at camp, but his mother (Mrs. Jones) was distressed about his chapped lips. In fact, it upset her so much that she marked "needs improvement" on the "Health & Hygiene" section of her parent evaluation and included the comment listed above. What kind of follow-up would most camp directors do with Mrs. Jones? For many camp directors, the answer is none. We read her parent evaluation, and dismiss her negative comments as a minor complaint.

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The Invisible Link
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Summer camp was initially established as a “back to nature” retreat for the children of wealthy New Englanders. It was a respite from the degradation of urban life. Over the years, with the help of myriad religious, educational, and social professionals, summer camps evolved into the blueprint for modern childhood. It became an evolving articulation of what our society deemed most beneficial for the growth and well-being of our children; a place where the values of self-reliance, respect, personal responsibility, fun, and camaraderie are instilled.

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The Edge: The View Ahead
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At my camp we have a special ceremony for the campers who will be aging out of the camp program. Many of those campers have been attending Camp Broadstone for the past six years, and the thoughts of not being able to return weigh heavily on them. These are fifteen-year-olds who are in the midst of much transition: being seen more and more as an adult and less as a child, moving through high school into the exploration of the next academic possibilities, and taking the exciting steps that bring them more independence.

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The Dig and Discovery: Can We Tell the Story?

So, what is new? What is old? What is the same? Maybe everything; maybe nothing. Many times in the past, I have shared the concepts you will find in this article. You, as camp professionals, have argued these points for many more years. We, as a camp community, have been advocating for children, youth, and families for 150 years. Yet, what is our narrative? We all seem to be talking, but what are we really saying?

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The story of the summer camp called Green River Preserve and its conservation easement actually starts with my father’s service in WWII. Dad fought in the infantry in both Africa and Europe. He was shot at so often, he decided that if he survived the war, he would buy land in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he could fly fish in peace and quiet. It was a good idea, and my family still believes there is nothing more beautiful or peaceful than fly fishing for trout. At camp we call it “aquatic theology.” Dad’s idea also turned out to be a good investment plan.

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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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"Kick a Ginger Day." Fair to say, the majority of adults reading this article have no idea what this means. A bunch of junior-high-aged kids in Calabasas, California, did, however. On November 20, 2009, at least four girls and two boys were subjected to physical and/or verbal bullying and abuse because of their red hair, freckles, and pale complexions. Ginger. Gilligan's Island. Redheads. It's quite a leap.

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Let me introduce Pat, a thirteen-year-old returning for his second summer at camp. Little distinguished his first year at camp, but this season he has a definite attitude problem. It showed up immediately in the ragged look of his clothes. As introductions were made on opening day and plans began to form for the summer, Pat was distinctly indifferent to all the hype given to the opportunities ahead.

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Conquering Burnout
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Burnout can creep in at any time during the summer. If it does, know you are not alone. To conquer it, try to get away from the camp property on your days off; change your schedule if possible or alter when you do certain activities; and remind yourself that you will make it through this.

Signs of Burnout

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E.g., 2020-12-04