Resource Library

The Dig and Discovery: Can We Tell the Story?

So, what is new? What is old? What is the same? Maybe everything; maybe nothing. Many times in the past, I have shared the concepts you will find in this article. You, as camp professionals, have argued these points for many more years. We, as a camp community, have been advocating for children, youth, and families for 150 years. Yet, what is our narrative? We all seem to be talking, but what are we really saying?

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Joe EhrmannJoe Ehrmann is an accomplished man, but not just because he was an All-American football player at Syracuse University and the tenth overall draft pick in the 1973 NFL Draft — or because of his impressive professional football career. Ehrmann has committed his life to building an extraordinary resume in the areas of youth and human development and community service.

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A Platform for Growth
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Day camps. Resident camps. Camps for girls only. Camps for boys only. Burn-victim camps. Camps for kids with cancer. Camps for kids who want to lose weight. Faith-based camps. Activity- or sports-specific camps. For-profit camps. Nonprofit camps. Truth be known, the list of different types of camps is virtually endless.

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Sex is a topic that elicits such strong emotions in people that it often becomes difficult to have a clear, calm, rational conversation about it. When that conversation concerns the sexual behavior of children and teens, things get even more emotional. Lynn Ponton, a well-known adolescent psychiatrist in San Francisco who wrote the popular book The Romance of Risk (Basic Books, 1997) on adolescent risk-taking behavior, once told me how she unwittingly stepped into a maelstrom of controversy and criticism when she followed her best seller with another book titled The Sex Lives of Teenagers.

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Search the Web for "day camp" and the results are over 100 million hits. Although the descriptions vary greatly, the words "day camp" trigger a feeling of excitement and adventure. Many sites describe a variety of summer experiences as day camp . . . from summer craft classes at a hobby shop or a ballet day camp out of a home to a doggie day camp. This article focuses on the history of day camps as defined by the American Camp Association (ACA).

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It was July 2, 1964, and President Lyndon Johnson had just signed the Civil Rights Act. For us, the time had come to finally implement a plan to desegregate our white suburban day camp. We had been discussing how and when for many years, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act was the final impetus we needed to make it happen. At that time we were in our thirties and were social activists who had participated in civil rights activities since undergraduate school. Also, at that time, our eight-week, coed day camp of about 244 children was ten years old.

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We've heard directors say, "He survived." Parents tell us, "She got through it." As camp professionals, we know that we can do better. Often, because they love children so much and because they so strongly believe in the transformative power of camp, many camp directors try to serve campers who are not appropriate for their particular camp setting. Our personal experience in recent years has led us to believe that inclusion is not always the best solution for children with differences.

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From Peter - January 2011
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"Changing Lives — Enriching the World": These are simple words with challenging implications.

I thought of the words above, and how poignant this concept is for ACA at this time — especially as recent transitions remind us to recognize the work and accomplishments of our predecessors, and how we need to honor their pioneering spirit in order to stay present and relevant in the next 150 years.

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Wow. One hundred and fifty years of organized camping! What an amazing milestone! I don't think that it's too much of a stretch that simply having survived one hundred and fifty years is testament to the intrinsic worth of the programs, opportunities, and growth that is the camp experience. What an ideal opportunity, then, for us to look at some of the facilities that have supported the mainstays of camp over that century and a half.

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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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