Resource Library

Camp is often described as being a life-changing experience for children. The Directions research, conducted by the American Camp Association (ACA) in 2005, documented the significant growth in positive identity, social skills, thinking skills, and positive values that occurs during a camp session. Although the same type of research has not been conducted with adults, similar growth and change of attitudes has been reported anecdotally by adult participants in international gatherings.

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A Platform for Growth
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Day camps. Resident camps. Camps for girls only. Camps for boys only. Burn-victim camps. Camps for kids with cancer. Camps for kids who want to lose weight. Faith-based camps. Activity- or sports-specific camps. For-profit camps. Nonprofit camps. Truth be known, the list of different types of camps is virtually endless.

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Preparing camp counselors for their role as staff members, community leaders, and knowledgeable caregivers is a daunting task. Many staff members are themselves students or adolescents unsure of the aspects of camp wellness, and they bring different beliefs and varied backgrounds to camp. As a camp director or administrator, you must teach them the importance of proper procedures when it comes to safety, OSHA, and dealing with daily camp health issues.

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Every child is unique. Every camp is unique. So, unique approaches when responding to the needs of children in camps are essential. Summer camps were started to support children during out-of-school time (Ozier, n. d.) and to offer survival skills for children to thrive in the real world, outside of the immediate relationship of their families. Summer camps are a valuable resource for all children, especially those who have a learning disability and have experienced trauma or situational factors such as homesickness and bullying.

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The benefits to youth from camping are well known by former campers, their parents, and camp directors. However, little research is available on the influence that an organized camping experience has on youth, mainly because there seems to be general agreement that camp is good for kids. A recent meta-analysis of the available research determined the state of knowledge on the influence that the organized camping experience has on the self-constructs: self-esteem, self-confidence, and other aspects of self. The results are good news for camping.

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In today's tough, competitive environment, it seems the only thing a camp director can be certain of is uncertainty. Everywhere around us, change is occurring — changes that have forced many camp professionals to rethink the way we look at our business in an effort to ensure our own camps remain a viable and relevant experience for children in the year 2020 and beyond.

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Camp professionals often look to the American Camp Association (ACA) for salary and compensation information. In order to help association members stay current with salary and compensation trends, and to assist members in assessing where their organization is in relation to others in the industry, ACA conducted the National Survey on Compensation and Benefits. In October of 2009, mailed surveys were sent to 1,350 member camps.

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One amenity you’ll find on just about every camp, regardless of its overall focus or theme, is a ball field. Beyond baseball and softball, that open space lends itself to a dozen or more other activities. With just a little bit of planning and forethought, it can deliver even more bang for your capital buck. This month, we’re going to look at a couple of the most basic elements to make the most of the space.

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The year 2020 seems so distant, and yet our goal as a collection of camp professionals is to serve 20 million campers by that year. So how do we get there? I have long been a proponent that programs sell camps — not Web sites, not brochures, and certainly not e-mail blasts (all of which are still important marketing tools). Anywhere from 60–80 percent of your campers came to you in their first year because they heard from someone else about your amazing program, how fun it was, or how many friends they made.
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To camp professionals, camp enrollment trends serve as an important indicator of the overall health of the industry, and are particularly important in uncertain economic times. Every year, day and resident camps from around the US are invited to complete the American Camp Association (ACA) online enrollment survey in the spring as a "preview" of the coming summer and again in the fall to provide an accurate read on enrollment and staffing trends.
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