Resource Library

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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"Kick a Ginger Day." Fair to say, the majority of adults reading this article have no idea what this means. A bunch of junior-high-aged kids in Calabasas, California, did, however. On November 20, 2009, at least four girls and two boys were subjected to physical and/or verbal bullying and abuse because of their red hair, freckles, and pale complexions. Ginger. Gilligan's Island. Redheads. It's quite a leap.

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Sam gushed about the fun he had at camp, but his mother (Mrs. Jones) was distressed about his chapped lips. In fact, it upset her so much that she marked "needs improvement" on the "Health & Hygiene" section of her parent evaluation and included the comment listed above. What kind of follow-up would most camp directors do with Mrs. Jones? For many camp directors, the answer is none. We read her parent evaluation, and dismiss her negative comments as a minor complaint.

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2012 Article Lineup
Published Date:
  • "There Is a Reason! Understanding Challenging Behavior," by Scott Arizala
  • "Lights, Camera, Action: Writing Your Own Activity Script," by Kim Aycock, MST
  • "Will I Be Enough to Make a Difference?" by Greg Cronin, CCD
  • "Four Simple Words to Better Communication," by Bob Ditter
  • "Camp Is No Place for Bullying Behaviors!" by Norman Friedman, MEd
  • "What Parents Want to Know that Camp Counselors Should Know," by Karla A. Henderson, PhD; Kelly McFadden; and M. Deborah Bialeschki, PhD
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During the summer, I have many opportunities to see and discuss camper behavior at the several camps I visit during the season. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly even some well-educated, experienced adult leaders resort to tactics that involve shaming children or threatening to take things away from them as methods of managing their behavior. I believe children sometimes need firm guidance. I also believe that guidance can be offered respectfully, without shame or threats. I offer two examples from this past summer.

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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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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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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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As the busyness of summer gives way to a more laidback autumn, many camp professionals find themselves considering changes and adaptations to make the next camp season even better. Part of that consideration is an assessment of your camp's health services.

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E.g., 2020-02-18