Resource Library

There are times when general camp staff respond to injury-illness events. These staff are not the camp's officially designated healthcare providers, but rather the staff who, by happenstance, are closest when an incident occurs. They must "do something." There are also times when general staff make decisions about seemingly minor injuries and illnesses that campers may show or talk about: a scraped knee, a scratchy throat, a bruise from a fall.

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I could barely contain myself. After seven years of delicate negotiations, Alford Lake Camp was ours. It was November 1962, and Mrs. Carleton Knight had “transferred” the camp to us. This momentous event was brought about by promising Mrs. Knight that we would say nothing about acquiring the camp until she was able to announce that after my assisting her in the upcoming summer, Alford Lake would be carried on by “someone from within the ALC family.”

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In the bottom drawer of my rather cavernous, and somewhat dusty, file cabinet—wedged between a pile of discarded Cape Cod souvenirs and an assortment of T-shirts—sits the treasure of a life's work with children: letters from my campers. Each one is different. Some are written carefully by hand, others hastily scrawled on pieces of scrap paper; some are typed, some are in pencil, and others bear the bright, and alternating, imprint of crayon. Although not one has likely seen the light of day since its receipt, I know they are there and what they represent . . .

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It's 10:30 at night, and you're tired. The campers have been in their bunks for a little less than an hour. The staff is thankfully quiet. All in all, it has been a good day. Just before you leave the camp office, two figures approach. One is your girls' program director; she has her arm wrapped over the shoulder of a female counselor. You can tell that the counselor has been crying.

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Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, will be delivering the opening keynote address at the 2014 ACA National Conference. Bryson is the coauthor (with Dan Siegel) of the bestselling The Whole-Brain Child, which is now in seventeen languages. She’s a pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist who speaks to parents, educators, clinicians, and camp leadership all over the world. She is a school counselor and the child development director for Lantern Camps.

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Kevin

Kevin was nine years old when his parents sent him to summer camp in Minnesota. He was overweight, not athletic, not very confident — and more than anything, not wanting to be there!

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As children and staff members are eager to return to camp to see familiar faces and places each summer, we often hear people comment about going back to their "summer home." Our camp homes are places where friendships are made, bonds are strengthened, skills are learned, and memories are created. Some of our summer homes have lakes, mountain views, and miles of trails, while others are set in the suburbs and some even right in the middle of cities.

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Staff play an important role in your camp operation. After all, it is your staff who are in day-to-day contact with campers, facilitating the positive experiences of camp. Therefore, your staff must share your camp’s philosophy and be aware of the values that make your program unique. Collaborating effectively with your summer staff is a critical element in achieving your organization’s goals and objectives.

The Philosophy Behind the Mission

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Camp Hometown Heroes is a national, free, week-long residential summer camp for children and siblings ages seven to 17 of fallen U.S. service members. These are active or inactive military heroes who died in combat or as the result of accident, ill-ness, or suicide. Camp Hometown Heroes provides a safe and caring environment where the children attending have the opportunity to openly discuss their feelings and experiences in connection with losing their loved ones.

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Campers and staff come from a variety of backgrounds. An urban-savvy camper becomes the bunkmate to a youth raised on a rural farm; two girls — one from a small mountain village and the other from a coastal metropolitan area — are in the same cabin; and U.S. staff are joined by staff from other countries. In addition, there may be campers and staff who, while living in the U.S., speak a language other than English at home. This seemingly disparate group interacts to create the magic of camp.

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