Resource Library

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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Let's start with a riddle. As a camp counselor, you carry a powerful reward for campers with you wherever you go. Whether your realize it or not, you will distribute this reward to campers throughout the day. You'll tend to give this reward most often when campers are acting out, which could lead them to misbehave more. While all children crave this reward, they develop different strategies to acquire it: some have learned to be helpful and respectful, while others have learned to whine, complain, and stir up trouble. What is this mysterious and potent reward?

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Me First? Keys to Self-Care
Published Date: 2019-05-01

We've all been there! You're excited about your new job and all goes well for the first few days (maybe weeks). Everything is new and exciting. Adrenaline helps smooth any fears or irritations. But now it's getting real. Your coworkers are starting to get on your nerves. Your campers are driving you crazy; sure, some are adorable, but others are simply annoying and needy. "What am I going to do?" you wonder. You know you need to be relaxed and confident to help others. If you're really honest with yourself, you know it boils down to the fact that you're tired.

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“The time is always right to do right.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My group of 14- and 15-year-old campers were walking back to the cabin after the afternoon activity. They were spread out along the path, with a couple of girls in front, a larger group ten feet behind, and the counselors bringing up the rear. The group in the middle started talking about one of the girls in the front group, who couldn’t hear what was being said behind her.

“I wonder when she’s going to come out.”

“Yeah, she should just come out already!”

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Thank you for your deep devotion to engaging children, teens, and young adults in fun, high-quality camp experiences. You have a vital role in youth development and the American Camp Association is pleased to offer this issue of Camping Magazine to you as a staff training resource to help you create lasting impacts on the lives of those you serve.

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Helping the Homesick Camper
Published Date: 2019-05-01

For campers of any age, attending an overnight camp for the first time can be cause for a case of homesickness — a normal and reasonable reaction to separation from home and coping with unfamiliar surroundings. From my observations, it is best understood as a temporary state of anxiety caused by missing family, pets, and rituals that bring comfort and stability to a child’s life. A second component to homesickness, however, is equally important. This is the strange newness of residential camp life that can cause anxiety in a camper who perceives they do not fit in.

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Dutch Oven Cooking Tools and Tips
Published Date: 2019-05-01

Gabe, now a fifth grader, was pumped that he had graduated prerequisite camp programs required to experience Adventure Camp for the first time. Gabe conquered the zip line, sailed on the lake, and last summer, he and his fellow Adventure campers slept in tents in the wilderness for a whole week! A favorite delight that week surprised him — being sous chef to his counselors while Dutch oven cooking, especially when searing fajitas. Here are some pointers for your outdoor campers.

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Sorry, Not Sorry
Published Date: 2019-05-01

We've all been there. We're trying to help or referee some situation with kids, we're told a few things or parts of the story, and we think we know what happened, so we turn to the kid who we think is at fault and utter some variation of the words, "Go say you're sorry."

Let's be honest about one thing: They are not sorry!

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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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