Resource Library

Camps and Classrooms
Published Date: 2009-11-01

Rustling footsteps blend with plumes of voices rising to the open sky where stars twinkle like city lights in distant worlds. And not far from the peaceful glow of fireflies and flashlights, summer's dreams take flight inside young heads laid to rest in tents and teepee, fields and forest.

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Starfish Values Program
Published Date: 2002-09-01

Moral education — the training of heart and mind toward the good — involves many things. It involves rules and precepts - the do's and don'ts of life with others - as well as explicit instructions, exhortations, and training. If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance.
— William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues

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At the close of every season at a ceremony inside a large celebratory white tent, each counselor makes his or her way to the microphone to address an enthusiastic, if somewhat sad, throng of boys and girls holding tight to the waning hours of their summer at camp. What many of these staff members have only recently recognized, perhaps while voting on the award they are about to present or hastily jotting down some things to say about its recipient, are the special relationships they have forged with the youth they served.

But the kids knew it all along.

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Mini Camp . . . A Taste of Sleep-Away Camp
Published Date: 2013-07-01

In the early 2000s, at one of ACA’s national conferences, Bonnie and Sam Dawson were discussing with several other camp directors ways of improving programs and increasing enrollment at Camp Alleghany, a residential tent camp for girls located in Lewisburg, West Virginia. One idea being considered was adding a “Mini Camp” — a one-week session to introduce younger children to sleep-away camp.

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“Can I have another bowl of cereal?”

The shy boy was one that regularly asked for seconds at breakfast, and I suspected he didn’t eat dinner regularly at his house. He was a camper at my small YMCA day camp in Northeast Georgia. We struggle financially, as do our campers’ parents, and the fees we charge only cover staffing and program costs.

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Did you know that two out of every three adults have experienced at least one adverse childhood event (ACE) by the time they reach 18 years of age? In addition, one in eight adults reports experiencing four or more ACEs by age 18 (CDC, 2018). What are ACEs? They include experiencing emotional, sexual, and/or physical abuse; chronically feeling unloved or unwanted; the divorce or separation of one’s care-givers; and living with substance abuse or other mental health issues in the home.

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The recent "Senior Salute" revelations that engulfed the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, offer a cautionary tale to educational institutions unable or unwilling to directly address campus cultures that propel, or at least tolerate, bad behavior (Bidgood, 2015a). And those likely include summer camps.

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Sam gushed about the fun he had at camp, but his mother (Mrs. Jones) was distressed about his chapped lips. In fact, it upset her so much that she marked "needs improvement" on the "Health & Hygiene" section of her parent evaluation and included the comment listed above. What kind of follow-up would most camp directors do with Mrs. Jones? For many camp directors, the answer is none. We read her parent evaluation, and dismiss her negative comments as a minor complaint.

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Rookie Day Another Way
Published Date: 2016-11-01

The first time I drove down that magical, one-mile stretch of dirt road to Camp Caribou was in the summer of 1984. I was ten years old and visiting potential overnight camps with my parents. After passing endless rows of saplings (now towering pines), shots rang out from the riflery range, and the throaty call of bullfrogs echoed. Though I could not identify it yet, there just seemed to be something distinctly special about this place. Meeting the inimitable Bill Lerman, co-owner and director of the camp, confirmed my suspicion.

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Now and Then: Summer and School Camp
Published Date: 2015-03-01

The fine art of getting children outdoors and the genuine growth it facilitates has long been known. Aristotle said, “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Shakespeare’s Duke in As You Like It professes, “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” In the Enlightenment, Rousseau claimed in his 1761 book Emile; “Nature wants children to be children before being men . . . .

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