Resource Library

Dear Bob,

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Your Field of Dreams?
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There is no "great camp" without "great programming." And while there are many great programs that require almost no facility support at all (what do you really need for a campfire sing-along?), the right property improvements can surely enhance campers' experiences. Yet far too often, those supporting facilities — even very fancy and expensive ones — seem mismatched to the programs that they're intended to support. Too large, too small, too sophisticated, and even too remote are all descriptions of fields, buildings, and activity areas that simply do not match the programs that they host.

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A Place to Share
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I did not always love camp. I attended lots of summer programs as a child: day, resident, church, and even family camps. Each experience had its highs and its lows, but, all in all, I didn't find any to be particularly wonderful. I complained about the heat, the bugs, the food, the strangers with whom I had to share living spaces, and the activities that were outside what I now know to be my comfort zone. I did not love camp.

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In her book The History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years, Eleanor Eells wrote, “[Camp] has become an important part of the American scene, rich in its diversity and in its adaptation to changing needs and challenges. Its common bond is the concern for people in their relationship to one another, to the environment, and for their sense of community.” Through her review of camp’s history, Eells provided a blueprint for modern camps — adaptability is essential, innovation is critical, and personal relationships are fundamental.

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As an artist and owner of the creativity center Mijiza (Swahili for “she works with her hands”), Niambi Jaha-Echols did not always have the dream of founding a nonprofit organization devoted to the transformation and personal development of girls and women of African descent. However, when presented with requests from multiple organizations to work creatively with girls of African descent, Jaha-Echols found harrowingly few resources available to help her understand the development of these girls.

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Bug Juice and Other Culinary Delights
Published Date: 2011-07-01

Take two parts graham cracker, two parts chocolate bar; one part large, toasted, gooey marshmallow pressed between the graham crackers; and insert the conglomeration of flavor and mess into the waiting, open mouth of any camper at any camp in the world. What do you have? S’More! The demand heard ’round the world from happy campers is just one, tiny element included in the culinary delights offered at summer camp.

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When I was seventeen, I was hired for the second summer at my beloved home camp by the veteran camp director. She had become my mentor and friend through all my years as a camper, teen leader, and young staff member. I adored her, and I was fiercely loyal — as were all of my counselor friends. We were pumped up to “own” the camp once again and all indications were that it would be another stellar summer.

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What can we do to get more campers? How is our camp perceived by youth, parents, and staff? What do we need to do to stay competitive with other camps?

Camp administrators around the country are exam¬ining their facilities and asking themselves questions like these. The resulting list of items that need to be addressed can prove daunting and even overwhelming! Sometimes, this kind of self-analysis will point to the need for major capital improvements, under the notion: “If we build it, they will come.” But this idea can often be misguided.

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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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Foundations for Brighter Tomorrows
Published Date: 2015-07-01

Each year, ACA’s Eleanor P. Eells Award for Program Excellence recognizes camps that embody the award’s namesake by creating exceptional programming and developing effective, creative responses to the needs of people and society through the camp experience. We celebrate the 2014 winners, as well as the first Eleanor Eells Award-winner for Excellence in Research in Practice.

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E.g., 2019-09-15
E.g., 2019-09-15