Resource Library

From Peg - September 2010
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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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The Self-Reliant Camp
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Most camps are located in relatively remote areas. So one might expect they'd be designed for self-reliance. They'd run on locally-sourced energy, water, food, and material, and they'd manage their wastes on-site. But few do. Instead, most depend on distant supply lines that stretch over thousands of miles, which makes some sense if:

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Like many camp directors — and other educators for that matter — I am frequently thrust into the unenviable role of disciplinarian. And, frankly, I don't feel that I'm very good at it.

That is my confession.

Of course, I am not exactly sure of the requirements to be a "good" disciplinarian. Objective, fair, and consistent come to mind . . . all important for sure, but perhaps a little abstract to construct a nicely bound definition of a model disciplinarian. Maybe that's part of my problem.

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As camp operators, we are keenly aware that when kids go to camp, they make positive gains in self-reliance, independence, communication, and self-esteem. Unplugged from the constant electronic buzz, children find themselves at camp — making genuine connections with other children, rediscovering the fun in physical fitness, learning their own strengths, and finding their own voices.

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The story of the summer camp called Green River Preserve and its conservation easement actually starts with my father’s service in WWII. Dad fought in the infantry in both Africa and Europe. He was shot at so often, he decided that if he survived the war, he would buy land in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he could fly fish in peace and quiet. It was a good idea, and my family still believes there is nothing more beautiful or peaceful than fly fishing for trout. At camp we call it “aquatic theology.” Dad’s idea also turned out to be a good investment plan.

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Shared Values
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More than thirty years ago, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta sang about "Summer Lovin'" when Grease graced the Silver Screen. Although they drove off into the sunset at the end of the film, one can assume that they ultimately went their separate ways, as neither appeared in the sequel. Perhaps their relationship would have lasted longer than the final credits had the pair met at summer camp.

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Childhood physical inactivity and obesity is a major concern because the current generation of children is one of the most inactive and unhealthy in history (Ogden, et al., 2006). A national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 62 percent of children aged nine to thirteen years old did not participate in any physical activity during nonschool hours and 23 percent engaged in no daily physical activity (Duke, Huhman, & Heitzler, 2003).

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Each camper will be different. They will come from different backgrounds, different family structures, and different socio-economic classes. However, just as they are different, they are the same. All children develop in basically the same way and share certain developmental traits with other children their age. If you understand the typical behavior for an age group, you may be able to determine what is appropriate behavior and then chart your best course of interaction with them.

The Elementary Years

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Throughout the year, Camping Magazine publishes articles for full-time camp professionals. Once a year, it is written specifically for you — the camp staff who are on the front lines doing the intricate work that makes camp come alive and makes the experience so magical and successful for children.

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The time has come to get rid of the desks in neat rows, get creative, look outside the box, and bring the camp experience to the classroom. Kids need the chance to develop life skills, develop strong character, and create their own knowledge through authentic learning experiences that allow them to be creative problem-solvers all year round — not just for a week in the summer. The education system in the United States is failing to meet these needs in today's students. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan referred to low achieving schools as "dropout factories." The U.S.

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