Resource Library

Among the many challenges camp directors face at staff training time is effectively addressing the personal conduct of those charged with caring for the campers—a task made increasingly difficult by high rates of underage drinking, other drug use, and early intimate sexual behavior among high school and college students. Tackling this challenge strictly from a command-and-control, behavior "management" perspective bypasses important opportunities to both protect children and teach valuable, lifelong lessons to new generations of leaders and role models.

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Ways to Make Camp Memorable
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Building a warm rapport with the campers in your group as well as the coworkers you live and work with day to day is the single most important way to positively impact the camp experience for everyone. Counselors who really get to know their campers will find it easier to motivate them. Campers who trust their counselors tend to follow the rules and guidelines more easily. We all need to be heard and appreciate those who listen. As you discover your counseling style and learn to mesh it with other staff, remember to listen to one another and remain open to ideas.

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On the job front, national employment reports are generally coming in positive, with some indication that salaries, wages, and benefits may be rising a little (see, for example, www.bls.gov). So how is this playing out in the camp industry? The American Camp Association’s 2016 Compensation, Benefits, and Professional Development Survey provides some insight.

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In Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes, “Water, water everywhere, and all the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink . . . .” Though he’s writing about sailors stuck at sea who are surrounded by undrinkable sea water, have you ever asked if your camp water supply is just like that: all around you, but not drinkable? Some time back, this column looked at common issues with camps’ potable water systems.

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My first ACA national conference was in 2007, in Austin, Texas. What an incredible experience! Around 1,000 camp professionals congregated in the same place to talk about what we love. There were interesting keynote speakers, energizing education sessions, and so much more. I walked away with new friends, new ideas, and renewed energy and excitement. Here’s just a sample of things that the 2012 ACA National Conference in Atlanta will have to offer . . .

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Let's start with a riddle. As a camp counselor, you carry a powerful reward for campers with you wherever you go. Whether your realize it or not, you will distribute this reward to campers throughout the day. You'll tend to give this reward most often when campers are acting out, which could lead them to misbehave more. While all children crave this reward, they develop different strategies to acquire it: some have learned to be helpful and respectful, while others have learned to whine, complain, and stir up trouble. What is this mysterious and potent reward?

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From the very beginning, the camp experience has been unique — teaching lessons and creating community in a way that reaches almost everyone, and touches a camper's soul. Camp memories last a lifetime, and often grow stronger with time.

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Camp's Role in Social Media Wellness
Published Date: 2017-09-01

Several years ago, I visited an overnight camp in the Berkshires during its annual family day. I watched quietly as parents poured out of their cars to meet their children, who in turn were semi-excited to see their parents after nearly a month of separation. I was especially interested because this camp went to great lengths to be technology-free, so campers were not texting, messaging, photo-sharing, or video-sending with their families while they were away.

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Strong interest in promoting the concept of a healthy camp continues. Supported by data from ACA’s five-year Healthy Camps Study from 2006 through 2010, improved understanding about camp injuries and illnesses triggered more effort among camp professionals to minimize — if not eliminate — these injuries and illnesses. Promising practices were identified, parent materials became more robust, and a variety of online courses for staff training appeared.

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“Success of an organization is measured in terms of its contribution to society.” — Viljoen, 1944

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