Resource Library

A decade ago, the United States market voluntarily abandoned the long-standing wood preservative and treatment method where an arsenic and copper compound was forced into the fibers of the lumber. When the fluid was removed, this preservative was left behind and was extremely effective at retarding decay. The copper displaced water (and the microbes that cause rot), and the arsenic deterred wood-consuming insects like ants and termites. Contrary to popular belief, there was never any evidence that these chemicals would leach from the product or caused harm from splinters.

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In the middle of last summer, we received an update from our camp insurance agent about one of the biggest challenges facing camps in 2018 — camper and staff mental health issues. At that point in the season, we already had four teenage campers who had discussed suicidal thoughts with their counselors. We'd been conferring with parents, therapists, and social workers at the local hospital to ensure the campers' safety, and ultimately, we were able to navigate each situation successfully. These incidents, however, highlight an alarming and uncomfortable trend.

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Research is more than surveys, interviews, and statistics — it can be a valuable tool to use when designing camp programs, training staff, or in your marketing efforts. But it's also a critical tool for understanding how camp fits into the lives of today's youth. Research suggests that growing up in 2018 can be confusing, difficult, and complex, which means that kids need places where they can experience a different way of being. Summer camps might be the place. Here are findings of three research studies that you can use to make sure your camp is a place apart.

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Camp Includes Me Series

This feature article is part of an ongoing series of articles in Camping Magazine that will focus on inclusion, diversity, and cross-cultural agility to share in our individual communities and out in the world.

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Preparing for Happiness in Career and Life
Published Date: 2018-09-01

Some of the best times of my life have been my carefree summers swimming, exploring, sharing, and making friends as a child at camp. But many of my life’s greatest lessons were learned over six summers working on camp staff. As a newly minted staff member recently graduated from high school, I strived to become part of the model community I found in our camp’s staff culture. Selflessness, servant leadership, and teamwork were encouraged and celebrated. I learned the more you gave of yourself to camp, the more you received in return.

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Natalie, the camp baker, was spontaneously thrust into finishing the meat entrée after Shayla announced that she had a family emergency and ran out the door, leaving the pork loin in the oven. Natalie was ServSafe certified two years ago but suddenly drew a blank trying to remember the cooked temperature requirement for pork loin. The food service manager was away on vacation, as summer camp had ended two weeks ago. In your kitchen, would Natalie have written standard operating procedures (SOPs) where she could find the information needed for the safety of your campers or guests?

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Embracing and Empowering Gen Z
Published Date: 2018-09-01

David Bryfman, PhD

As summer comes to an end, we bid farewell to our campers and counselors for another year. Without hesitation we tell them that we can’t wait to see them next summer. It is tragic to contemplate that some of our campers will not return next year because of senseless gun violence that permeates our country’s schools — and yet that is what many American youth claim is what scares them most in this world (Graf, 2018).

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Trends in camp business operations are altogether interesting and not interesting. Interesting because the business of camp is dynamic and evolving quickly to meet the demands of the 21st century, and not interesting because, by and large, the business of camp boils down to one thing: it depends. The 2018 Camp Business Operations Report included both interesting and not-all-that-interesting findings, mostly due to the fact that camps today are increasingly diverse, representing a wider range than ever before in size and financial scope.

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Many of us who grew up going to summer camp feel like it was the place we could most be ourselves. If we had the option, we would make it our second (or first) home.

You probably have a story about your favorite counselor who you looked up to, who helped you imagine the personality traits you wanted to have when you grew up and opened your mind to new experiences.

It makes sense that many campers continue on to become staff members, because they want to do what their most memorable role models did.

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As camp professionals we've got a lock on how to plan for, organize, and deliver high-quality summer learning programs for children and young adults. Amidst the rush of preparing our staff to be effective counselors of youth, establish meaningful mentoring relationships, and model such important constructs as sensitivity, positive risk-taking, conflict resolution, and leadership, we may unwittingly lose sight of the fact that one of the most seminal achievements of our work is creating communities — year after year.

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