Resource Library

Which "they" are you? Are you the counselor trying to tell your supervisor that things are not exactly as explained in training and the interview? Or are you the supervisor trying to get counselors to focus and carry out the mission? Either way, there are likely times when you do not feel appreciated, or you feel disconnected when trying to communicate with other staff. Sometimes, we attribute the disconnect between people to being from different generations. It turns out that we typically have more in common with each other than we realize.

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"Dear Mom and Dad, I’m having a great time at camp," writes twelve-year-old Michael. "Today, I rode a horse for the first time. I thought it would be scary, but it was loads of fun. Tonight I’m going to the camp dance and in the morning we’ll be fishing at the lake. The food is good here, too . . . ."

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Remember your parents always reminding you to write thank you notes after birthdays and other holidays when you were on the receiving end of a gift? My guess is that it probably was not your favorite thing to do, but you did it anyway. So, it may take you by surprise if you are asked to write similar notes to the parents/guardians* of the campers in your care this summer. You see, the campers you will get to know over the course of the upcoming weeks are on loan from their parents (you have to give them back!), and they are the most important and special gifts you can ever receive.

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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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The Quiet Ones
Published Date: 2018-05-01

Close your eyes and think of a scene at camp. There is probably some mix of singing, laughing, and playing where the adults are wearing costumes (seemingly related to nothing), the campers are engaged, and “camp” is happening. Take a quick survey of the adults in this scene. What are they doing?

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Among the many challenges camp directors face at staff training time is effectively addressing the personal conduct of those charged with caring for the campers—a task made increasingly difficult by high rates of underage drinking, other drug use, and early intimate sexual behavior among high school and college students. Tackling this challenge strictly from a command-and-control, behavior "management" perspective bypasses important opportunities to both protect children and teach valuable, lifelong lessons to new generations of leaders and role models.

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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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On the job front, national employment reports are generally coming in positive, with some indication that salaries, wages, and benefits may be rising a little (see, for example, www.bls.gov). So how is this playing out in the camp industry? The American Camp Association’s 2016 Compensation, Benefits, and Professional Development Survey provides some insight.

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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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