Resource Library

In an increasingly connected world, today’s children experience an ever-decreasing connection to the natural world. As a result of hours of screen time, lengthening school days, and increasing participation in organized out-of-school activities, children are spending less time outside than ever before. Because of this lack of outdoor time, their connection to and understanding of their natural surroundings is startlingly absent.

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From Peg - September 2010
Published Date:

Every day I feel I am reading another article that pontificates about the importance of education and how we need to create year-round education. Don't misunderstand, education throughout the year is imperative; however, I am not sure I always agree with proposals on how we "get there." And, when we talk about summer learning loss, what have we lost and what have we gained? Or, what did we have an opportunity to gain if we just had the chance to have the experience?

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#CAMPCULTURALEXCHANGE
Published Date: 2017-11-01

It's ironic that I've spent this fall encouraging Americans to advocate for the White House not to drastically reduce or eliminate J-1 visas for camp cultural exchange programs while also keynoting at the 3rd China Camp Education Conference (CCEC) and representing ACA at the 11th International Camping Congress (ICC). Camp cultural exchange has been a key component of American diplomacy and deeply enriching summer camp experiences for decades. The J-1 exchange visitor program was introduced under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961).

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In this day when college students lobby for internships and field experience, the professional values of camp counseling seem to take a back seat. In truth, camp counseling is a position which fosters many professional skills, such as responsibility, patience, and flexibility. It is also a position in which one is responsible for children's lives — what could be more important than that?

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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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