Resource Library

It was three years ago when I first wrote about the increasing levels of anxiety that camp directors were seeing in their staff (Ditter, 2016). At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta had been reporting that anxiety in children ages 13–18 was at a 40-year high (CDC, 2011). In a survey conducted by the American Camp Association’s Healthy Camps Committee after the summer of 2015, camp directors indicated that anxiety was their number one concern when it came to staff (Gaston, 2015).

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Recruiting, interviewing, and hiring staff is the most important part of your job as a camp director. It is the single most time-consuming and, at times, tedious task you will undertake. However, investing the time and being truly present in the process will help you to avoid some future mistakes. Your staff are the people that families are trusting to take care of their children. They are the people that you will trust to keep your campers safe and to do the right thing both when you are present and when you are not present.

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Miles is a first-time counselor at a sleepaway camp in the eastern United States. He had seen an online ad for the camp at which I met him and decided that a summer away from his Midwest town working with children would do him a lot of good. It would give him both a change of scenery and a sense of purpose — and would add to his résumé as an aspiring Recreation Education major at Kansas State University. The orientation at camp had really inspired him. The camp leaders kept talking about making a difference in the lives of the children.

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Tell your campers stories. Give them the rich gift they are missing when they stare at a screen. The stories do not need to be great — just tell them.

By the time your campers arrive, you will be oriented to how camp works, what is expected of you, and how to manage some of the camper challenges that you will inevitably face — like homesickness and bullying. If you want to be a really good counselor, listen carefully to what they tell you, really learn what they teach, and put all of it into practice.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations that pertain to employee safety and health on the job. Occasionally, the popular press contains news of a business slapped with an OSHA fine, most typically for infraction of some rule, but rarely does someone address the application of OSHA to our camp world. This article is intended to address that need with a focus on the “common ground” OSHA elements shared by all camps.

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In It to Win It
Published Date: 2015-05-01

Congratulations! You have just taken on one of the most rewarding jobs there are! Supervising camp activities or taking care of other people’s children is typically a very different kind of job than most. Success in the unique environment of camp — including making it through the season to the end of your contract — requires staff to ensure they are mentally, physically, and emotionally “in it,” ready to give fully (and often selflessly) of themselves in mind, body, heart, and spirit.

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Why I Hate Parenting Books
Published Date: 2018-11-01

The mother standing next to me was not my own, which was fine. I was seven when I visited the Washington Monument for the first time, with both my parents. The next time, at 43, I was the married parent of two boys, ages five and seven.

"Typical," said the mother, gazing up. Or was she rolling her eyes? "It's totally phallic." The pedantic linguist in me wanted to quip: "None of the other monuments and memorial sculptures in Washington, DC are obelisks. That makes it atypical, lady."

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Staying Out of the Point of Struggle
Published Date: 2016-05-01

Scene 1: Tabatha, one of your five-year-old day campers, is going through her fussy-eating routine with you at lunchtime again. What happens is now so familiar to you that you’re certain you can play it out in your sleep. You offer her one food choice after another and she alternates between pretending she doesn’t hear you and screaming, “You know I hate that!” No matter what you try she doesn’t like it. It almost seems as if she enjoys this “dance” with you, even though the stress is taking a toll on both of you and is beginning to annoy the other children.

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Childhood physical inactivity and obesity is a major concern because the current generation of children is one of the most inactive and unhealthy in history (Ogden, et al., 2006). A national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 62 percent of children aged nine to thirteen years old did not participate in any physical activity during nonschool hours and 23 percent engaged in no daily physical activity (Duke, Huhman, & Heitzler, 2003).

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The care and safety of other people’s children is a sacred responsibility. All staff at camp are in loco parentis (in place of parents). So, if you are working as a camp staff member this summer and are on site for orientation and training, your mental and physical preparedness for the job is crucial. If you are aware of having any serious mental and/or physical health issues, please consider carefully any potential areas of weakness in your ability to perform the essential functions of this important job and whether those issues require any reasonable accommodations to do so.

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