Resource Library

The Last Dance
Published Date: 2014-07-01

It's late in the evening. My feet are tired. Music is reverberating in my ears. We've been dancing and mixing all night. Tonight is an incredible celebration, truly a hallmark event. This may be the last time we will all be together like this. While bits of personal and collective nostalgia have been creeping into our conversations with one another throughout the night, now there seems to be a greater sense of urgency, a need to capture all these moments before the night is over. The DJ steps to the microphone.

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Is There a Camp Movement in China?
Published Date: 2016-07-01

China is interested in American summer camps. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has seen the increasing numbers of Chinese attending the American Camp Association or Tri-State conferences. It is not a surprise to camp directors who are starting to get calls from Chinese parents — or more likely from middlemen representing Chinese parents — who are interested in having their children come to the United States for a summer, mainly to work on their English language skills.

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There are opportunities to teach every child better self-control. Of course, being spontaneous — even a little out of control — is fun. It’s just that learning to listen, concentrate, and sustain attention are also important life skills. Camp is an ideal setting for cultivating self-control and controlled chaos. It offers both energetic, physical activities — such as water basketball or capture the flag — as well as restrained, contemplative activities — such as listening quietly to a story during rest hour.

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The Quiet Ones
Published Date: 2018-05-01

Close your eyes and think of a scene at camp. There is probably some mix of singing, laughing, and playing where the adults are wearing costumes (seemingly related to nothing), the campers are engaged, and “camp” is happening. Take a quick survey of the adults in this scene. What are they doing?

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Among the many challenges camp directors face at staff training time is effectively addressing the personal conduct of those charged with caring for the campers—a task made increasingly difficult by high rates of underage drinking, other drug use, and early intimate sexual behavior among high school and college students. Tackling this challenge strictly from a command-and-control, behavior "management" perspective bypasses important opportunities to both protect children and teach valuable, lifelong lessons to new generations of leaders and role models.

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Ways to Make Camp Memorable
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Building a warm rapport with the campers in your group as well as the coworkers you live and work with day to day is the single most important way to positively impact the camp experience for everyone. Counselors who really get to know their campers will find it easier to motivate them. Campers who trust their counselors tend to follow the rules and guidelines more easily. We all need to be heard and appreciate those who listen. As you discover your counseling style and learn to mesh it with other staff, remember to listen to one another and remain open to ideas.

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On the job front, national employment reports are generally coming in positive, with some indication that salaries, wages, and benefits may be rising a little (see, for example, www.bls.gov). So how is this playing out in the camp industry? The American Camp Association’s 2016 Compensation, Benefits, and Professional Development Survey provides some insight.

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In Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes, “Water, water everywhere, and all the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink . . . .” Though he’s writing about sailors stuck at sea who are surrounded by undrinkable sea water, have you ever asked if your camp water supply is just like that: all around you, but not drinkable? Some time back, this column looked at common issues with camps’ potable water systems.

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My first ACA national conference was in 2007, in Austin, Texas. What an incredible experience! Around 1,000 camp professionals congregated in the same place to talk about what we love. There were interesting keynote speakers, energizing education sessions, and so much more. I walked away with new friends, new ideas, and renewed energy and excitement. Here’s just a sample of things that the 2012 ACA National Conference in Atlanta will have to offer . . .

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Let's start with a riddle. As a camp counselor, you carry a powerful reward for campers with you wherever you go. Whether your realize it or not, you will distribute this reward to campers throughout the day. You'll tend to give this reward most often when campers are acting out, which could lead them to misbehave more. While all children crave this reward, they develop different strategies to acquire it: some have learned to be helpful and respectful, while others have learned to whine, complain, and stir up trouble. What is this mysterious and potent reward?

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