Resource Library

Returning from the 2011 ACA National Conference in San Diego, I began to reflect on how camps can impact a student's education. For the past forty years, my school district has sent fifth graders to camp to enhance their science education. Our fifth grade students participate in a three-day, two-night program. During this time, the students get to experience science at a school without walls. The hands on classes have a great impact on student comprehension. More camps should increase their involvement in this type of school year endeavor.

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In preparation for the 2010 camp season, the American Camp Association® (ACA) enlisted the expertise of Rachel Simmons and Dr. Michael Thompson, best-selling authors and specialists on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of childhood. Both professionals offer insight into why camp is so valuable to kids today and how the mentoring nature of the camp counselor-camper relationship can provide the positive role models kids need in building self-awareness and figuring out who they are and who they want to be.

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The power grid has gone down.
Forest fire is threatening the camp property.
The water supply is contaminated.
There's been an industrial spill, and camp must be evacuated.
Critical computer systems have been hacked into.

These crises — all stemming from sources outside camp — are getting more attention from camp professionals. We used to focus most on incidents that were camp-bound, incidents such as a lost camper, a waterfront emergency, or a building fire. But in today's world, we must also attend to events arising from the external community.

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As camp professionals become more effective risk managers, the need to periodically review camper and staff injury and illness events is a given. One of the best sources of this information is a health center’s log. Knowing why people seek healthcare not only provides an indicator about the effectiveness of risk management strategies, but can also inform incoming nurses about anticipated camper and staff needs, help determine if medical protocols cover anticipated injuries and illnesses, and inform decisions about what supplies are needed in the health center.

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The Healthy Camp Study has been completed. As a result, the camp community now has an initial understanding of camp injury/illness events founded on evidence. This understanding is already making an important difference in the quest to make camp an even healthier experience. The good news is that, based on data, camp is as safe as or safer than many other youth activities (see Table 1). Attention to risk management, thorough staff training coupled with effective supervision, and rigorous incident analysis all contribute to improving a given camp's risk profile.
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Camp as Vital Engagement
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More and more children are trading true engagement for electronic connection. What are the costs and how does camp counter this trend?

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Thirty Feet in the Air
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"Amanda, I know you can do this." The counselor Ashley held out both hands to the girl in front of me on the ropes course, looking her directly in the eye. It was good that Ashley had so much faith in her, but I was coming to the opinion that, in fact, Amanda could not do this. We were thirty feet from the ground and I, still tight in my harness, had long since sat down on the wooden platform between elements. Despite the wait, I wasn't particularly impatient to get down from the sky.

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What can we do to get more campers? How is our camp perceived by youth, parents, and staff? What do we need to do to stay competitive with other camps?

Camp administrators around the country are exam¬ining their facilities and asking themselves questions like these. The resulting list of items that need to be addressed can prove daunting and even overwhelming! Sometimes, this kind of self-analysis will point to the need for major capital improvements, under the notion: “If we build it, they will come.” But this idea can often be misguided.

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Every spring, the American Camp Association® (ACA) takes the pulse on enrollment trends followed by a fall survey that determines how enrollments actually went for that summer. In the spring of 2009, directors were nervous about the impact of the economic downturn in the U.S. on enrollments. Our early snapshot showed a camp community that was braced for a severe decrease in campers (48 percent anticipating lower enrollments).

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Imagine a camp program with the power to improve the academic and social behavior of participants and to positively impact participants’ readiness for work, social development, and lifelong learning. All camp administrators herald this program vision for campers, but what about for staff? Camp can positively impact young staff as well. It happens through a program otherwise known as a seasonal job.

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E.g., 2019-09-17