Resource Library

Dear Bob,

We are a coed resident camp operating in the mountains. It seems that every summer we have campers who aren’t really ready for the demands of group living in what is the intense social and physical environment that is our camp. We have found that some parents want to send their children because they believe we can help them make the friends they’ve never been able to make at home.

Without being too confrontational and scaring away what might otherwise be great campers, how do we determine whether a child is truly ready for the community living that is our camp?

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Camp professionals know that camp provides the opportunity to teach life-long skills, such as creative thinking, decision making, and getting along with others. By developing goals for your program and anticipated outcomes for your campers, you can ensure that your camp program will give kids a world of good.

The seven life skills that follow have been identified by the 4-H program as being essential for productive and happy lives. Consider how these life skills might have a place in your camp program.

Creative Thinking

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Homesickness is something that every counselor, activity instructor, nurse, administrative staff, and director will deal with at camp. It’s an inevitable phenomenon. What are the best ways to deal with homesickness or, more importantly, to prevent the onset?

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Planning activities that help campers get to know other campers and showing them around the camp grounds helps campers get familiar with the facility and the people and makes them feel more at home. Often such activities can help prevent homesickness.

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Ty, an eleven-year-old returning camper, is sitting on the porch of your cabin. You have brought him out away from the other boys, just as you were trained to do, because he has been relentlessly annoying another boy in the group named Chad. During staff training, you were told to address bullying behavior as soon as you see it so that you not only stop it before it intensifies, but also send a clear message that such behavior is "not okay" at camp. Ty is just the kind of boy who would influence the rest of the group in the wrong direction.

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Why would the University of Denver require that every graduate business student go to camp? What possible good would derive from forcing predominantly urban dwelling professionals to go off in the mountains to work in teams in outdoor activities?

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From Peg - July 2010
Published Date:

In today's world, relevance and added value are important to everyone. Being essential in a world that often must eliminate discretionary expenses is of paramount importance. And, the ability to articulate worth is equally imperative.

Over the last three years, the American Camp Association® (ACA) has focused on five outcomes for children and youth as they relate to our mission to enrich the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience.

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Most people can handle — or tolerate — a certain degree of risk. The edginess provided by risk adds verve to being human, and often gives us that gentle kick in the seat of our pants needed to prod us along in life. Risk tolerance, however, exists on a continuum. There are times when a person is more comfortable with risk than at other times. In addition, risk tolerance varies from person to person. Some thrive on the thrill associated with it, while others may be paralyzed.

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For most camp professionals, imagining a camp without trees would be hard to fathom. Especially since for the past century, you and other American Camp Association® (ACA) camp professionals have worked to preserve the camp experience for both children and adults. Unfortunately, there is an insect that threatens the camp experience for all of us.

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Campers and staff have equal opportunity to be injured at camp because they spend their days, (and in resident camps, their nights) engaged in the same activities of camp life. Since they are exposed to the same risks, they experience similar patterns of injury. The exceptions of course are kitchen and maintenance staff members, who are engaged in other risky activities.

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Social cruelty, or bullying, has reached the level of “life and death.” With summer 2012 now here, parents are asking questions about how camp counselors and staff are being trained to keep their children safe. Please note that the parental question is clearly focused on direct caregivers — not on camp administration. Since school teachers have essentially been unsuccessful in preventing bullying nationwide, parents and guardians are not prepared to either waste their money or have their child victimized in a day or residential program.

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