Resource Library

In the Trenches
Published Date:
Dear Bob,
 
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For many camps, the benefits of partnering with an existing nonprofit for the purpose of scholarship fundraising far outweigh the extensive challenges of starting their own nonprofit. If your camp is ACA-accredited, you don’t have to look any further than the ACA to fill this role!

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Introduction

Nationally, 4‑H camp programs often utilize the leadership and energy of teenage camp counselors (ages fourteen to eighteen) to plan and conduct local and area 4‑H camp programs. Since the value of camp to campers has been well documented in Missouri and elsewhere (University of Missouri, 2007), one must ask the next logical question: What value does serving as a 4‑H camp counselor hold for teens?

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Last summer, I was hanging out with a group of our oldest campers, many of whom have attended since they were four or five years old. As I’m constantly thinking of program improvement, I asked these camp veterans what suggestions they would make for the upcoming summer. After many clever ideas, one quieter young man spoke up: “Whatever you do, don’t change it too much. It always feels like home, and you can’t do anything to mess that up!”

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Social skills and self-efficacy are fundamental processes and necessary for individuals in everyday life. Seeking employment, living independently, making friends, and trying new activities
all require social skills and self-efficacy. Empirical studies have found that outdoor residential camps improve these areas of development in children and youth because of the social encounters, new activities, independence, and leadership opportunities provided by enthusiastic and supportive staff (Thurber, Scanlin, Scheuler, and Henderson 2007).

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Dear Bob,

We are a coed resident camp operating in the mountains. It seems that every summer we have campers who aren’t really ready for the demands of group living in what is the intense social and physical environment that is our camp. We have found that some parents want to send their children because they believe we can help them make the friends they’ve never been able to make at home.

Without being too confrontational and scaring away what might otherwise be great campers, how do we determine whether a child is truly ready for the community living that is our camp?

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Camp professionals know that camp provides the opportunity to teach life-long skills, such as creative thinking, decision making, and getting along with others. By developing goals for your program and anticipated outcomes for your campers, you can ensure that your camp program will give kids a world of good.

The seven life skills that follow have been identified by the 4-H program as being essential for productive and happy lives. Consider how these life skills might have a place in your camp program.

Creative Thinking

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Homesickness is something that every counselor, activity instructor, nurse, administrative staff, and director will deal with at camp. It’s an inevitable phenomenon. What are the best ways to deal with homesickness or, more importantly, to prevent the onset?

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Planning activities that help campers get to know other campers and showing them around the camp grounds helps campers get familiar with the facility and the people and makes them feel more at home. Often such activities can help prevent homesickness.

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Ty, an eleven-year-old returning camper, is sitting on the porch of your cabin. You have brought him out away from the other boys, just as you were trained to do, because he has been relentlessly annoying another boy in the group named Chad. During staff training, you were told to address bullying behavior as soon as you see it so that you not only stop it before it intensifies, but also send a clear message that such behavior is "not okay" at camp. Ty is just the kind of boy who would influence the rest of the group in the wrong direction.

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Why would the University of Denver require that every graduate business student go to camp? What possible good would derive from forcing predominantly urban dwelling professionals to go off in the mountains to work in teams in outdoor activities?

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E.g., 2020-01-22