Resource Library

“Without Camplify? Gosh, I don’t know where we would be.”

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Case Studies Reveal Camper Growth
Published Date: 1999-01-01

Every year camp directors receive letters from campers’ parents describing growth experiences that began at camp and have continued to impact their son’s or daughter’s life in the home and community. Counselors often note similar descriptions of growth in the same campers during program sessions. Most likely, though, camp administrators do not include these testimonials and descriptions of change in evaluations of their camp program. In other words, the data are available, are recognized as important, but probably aren’t being effectively utilized.

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A chronically tired Ethan struggles to reach the end of a long day as a summer camp counselor. Rising early in the morning to prod sleepy-head campers and vigilantly conduct morning swim tests at the pool, he later harnesses kids into safety gear and encourages them to be brave as he watches them jump from the power pole, then swing through the breeze as they take on their first zip line excursions. Add to that color wars, an emotionally distressed camper, team games, and crafts.

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We are in the midst of an epidemic of visual impairment no medical doctor can fix — but which camps might cure. Back in the `60s, artist, researcher, and psychologist Rudolf Arnheim (1969) lamented that the American school system had become a “12-year apprenticeship in aesthetic alienation,” — producing children whose eyes could no longer see. Today, our children’s entire minds (and many of our own) have become serfs to technology, seduced into acquiring contrived world views presented on a dizzying array of digital platforms.

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When the recent "Great Recession" hit in 2008, it changed the attitudes and enrollment behaviors of many camps' clientele. But around that same time came another defining moment that has changed how parents think as well — the tipping point of technology in the hands of tweens. So while many camps experienced a decline in their youngest camper enrollments, at Liberty Lake Day Camp, and some other camps that offer relatively traditional camp programs for 11- to 13-year-olds, there has been a significant influx of new campers.

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Agency is the ability to act as an effective agent for yourself — getting your mind, body, and emotions in balance to think clearly and make choices that improve your life.

Simply put, agency is what we all use to feel in command of our lives.

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The dreaded call comes the day after camp ends. A parent is calling to report that his child had a miserable camp experience because of a bully in their group, a mean counselor, or . . . (you fill in the blank).

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Researchers have postulated that counselors express lowest perceived competency in their ability to develop camper relationships, handle conflict between campers, and feel limited in their ability to provide a safe camp environment (Wahl-Alexander, Howell & Donahue, 2016). These perceived limitations could directly impact not only camper attitudes, but the entire camp community. Fortunately, there are some simple communication strategies to assist counselors in their ability to create a positive experience for campers and promote a safe camp environment.

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  • Be the kind of person you want your campers to become - obey the rules yourself!
  • Know as many campers as possible by name. Know something about them. Build relationships.
  • Be friendly. Always show interest in what individual campers are doing and their progress.
  • "One pat on the back is worth two slaps in the face." Praise good qualities and actions.
  • A sense of humor is extremely valuable. Use it frequently.
  • Maintain your poise at all times. Don't let campers "get to you."
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Whether the current program has your camp bursting at the seams and you're considering expanding, or you're ready to look for another property to host your organization, there comes a time when you find yourself in the real estate market. Buying or selling, there are a lot of things to think about and consider as you make this huge change. This month, we're going to look at just some of the issues and items to help you begin to unravel this often complicated process.

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