Resource Library

Last summer, I was hanging out with a group of our oldest campers, many of whom have attended since they were four or five years old. As I’m constantly thinking of program improvement, I asked these camp veterans what suggestions they would make for the upcoming summer. After many clever ideas, one quieter young man spoke up: “Whatever you do, don’t change it too much. It always feels like home, and you can’t do anything to mess that up!”

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Social skills and self-efficacy are fundamental processes and necessary for individuals in everyday life. Seeking employment, living independently, making friends, and trying new activities
all require social skills and self-efficacy. Empirical studies have found that outdoor residential camps improve these areas of development in children and youth because of the social encounters, new activities, independence, and leadership opportunities provided by enthusiastic and supportive staff (Thurber, Scanlin, Scheuler, and Henderson 2007).

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Imagine finding a jar full of old coins buried in the yard, and tossing them out because Italy (Rome) doesn't issue denarii anymore! I bet that you didn't know that you, too, have a treasure. It's probably closer than you think, and you won't have to use a shovel. Remember that avalanche of rolled-up drawings that attacks from the back of the storage closet? There's your irreplaceable treasure, chock full of knowledge and information. If they're not where they can work for you, you just don't know what a treasure they are.

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"My sometime is now," the tune continues. In 1964, crooner Dean Martin knocked the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night" from their number one pop chart perch with that bit of wisdom. Almost fifty years later, it still rings true. In workshops and articles, I've said that relationships with consultants are marriages of convenience. The successful ones have many of the same phases and facets, including courting, sharing of private information, and cooperation.

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This may seem like an unusual subject for an article on camp counseling, but as you read on, I think you'll find it actually is a most relevant topic. Consider this: Anyone can perform well when things are going his or her way and circumstances make it easy. It is a rare person, though, who can continue to perform at his or her best, even when things aren't going their way.

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It was July 2, 1964, and President Lyndon Johnson had just signed the Civil Rights Act. For us, the time had come to finally implement a plan to desegregate our white suburban day camp. We had been discussing how and when for many years, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act was the final impetus we needed to make it happen. At that time we were in our thirties and were social activists who had participated in civil rights activities since undergraduate school. Also, at that time, our eight-week, coed day camp of about 244 children was ten years old.

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How often do you see the following examples occur in campers? Kenny, a bright ten-year-old, focuses his attention on the counselor's directions during an activity. He appears attentive, but always needs to ask the counselor or a peer to repeat portions of the directions. Sue, an impressionable thirteen-year-old, likes to participate in sports activities, but finds constant misjudging of distances to catch or hit a ball is embarrassing. She slowly withdraws from these activities. And Bob, a competitive fellow, enjoys playing table games except for the ones that require him to spell.

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The culture of a camp is essential to evaluate on a regular basis. Is it noticeably and measurably acceptable or does it need help and/or remediation?

Ask yourself the following ten questions:

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As a camper, I distinctly remember the silver cafeteria trays and the colored globs of food that were plopped into the tray’s individual sections. That was then and this is now. The cooking arena in camp kitchens today needs to not only focus on better presentation but a wholesome diet as well.

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Dear camp staff,

Welcome to the world of camp! Each of us — no matter what our specific job might be — is in a position that will influence the health and wellbeing of campers. Sometimes this will be straightforward — like the responsibility of lifeguards at the pool or food service staff to provide meals free from contamination. But other influences are subtle; indeed, often so subtle that it’s easy to lose sight of how broad and deep your influence as a camp staff member might be.

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E.g., 2020-07-08