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I did not always love camp. I attended lots of summer programs as a child: day, resident, church, and even family camps. Each experience had its highs and its lows, but, all in all, I didn't find any to be particularly wonderful. I complained about the heat, the bugs, the food, the strangers with whom I had to share living spaces, and the activities that were outside what I now know to be my comfort zone. I did not love camp.

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Having spent the better part of the last thirteen years in summer camps and school classrooms, I have observed the benefits of year-round learning, although not necessarily in the form of year-round school. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put school vacations on notice with talk about "fighting the status quo," and calling summer "an inexplicable, counterproductive anachronism that takes youths out of an educational setting for two to three months every year" (Duncan 3/5/2009).

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In May 1971, the Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs" peaked at number eighteen on the rock and pop charts. For the unfamiliar, it's about excluding others through signs like job descriptions that refer to applicants' appearance or prohibiting trespassing. And while laws have changed with the times, signs still set the tone for the impressions that people build. In this column, we're going to look at how signs to, at, and around camp can improve the experience of your neighbors, visitors, camp families, and staff.

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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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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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It was July 1967, so the story goes, on parents’ weekend in Fairlee, Vermont. A group of camp parents whose children were sleeping soundly at Aloha, Aloha Hive, and Lanakila enjoyed cocktails on the porch of the resort across the lake. As they sipped and visited, a quiet word was passed through the group: The Gulick Family was thinking of closing their camps!

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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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E.g., 2020-08-12