Resource Library

Summer camp is a sacred community which, as a rule, has always been willing to find common ground in respecting and accommodating individual values and needs. The values and needs of campers with disabilities should not be an exception. The 24/7, joyous environment of summer camp builds identity, strengthens the community, and fosters leadership.

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When you agreed to work at camp, you immediately made the decision to have fun, challenge yourself, and change lives. While the format to accomplish this will be provided for you by your camp, the implementation will not. This will come from you in the form of dedication and effort. How much commitment you choose to give is important because campers don’t always come to camp knowing how to succeed.

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In late July 2014, I sat on my bed, alone for the first time all day, reeking of garbage and motor oil, and listening to rain pummel the tin roof. Satisfied I’d done my duties for the night, I had started to unzip my raincoat when an angry knock sounded on my door.

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Building Principles: Magic From the Tap
Published Date: 2010-05-01

Most children are fascinated by magicians. I remember being certain that a magic wand, would indeed, produce whatever I wanted. As you get older though, you come to realize that behind the "magic" is much preparation and careful planning to create an illusion of something out of nothing. It's funny, but though most adults recognize the "tricks" behind a stage magic show, they still regard safe, potable water as magic. You know, turn the faucet and Shazam! Water springs forth! But you know differently.

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Inclusive Camp
Published Date: 2017-09-01

Have you seen the powerful 2008 documentary film, Including Samuel? It's the heartwarming and compelling story of a boy named Samuel who was born with cerebral palsy and how his family and friends work to ensure he is included in every facet of life (Habib, 2008). Samuel's dad, Dan Habib, is a talented photojournalist, and his remarkable film will inspire you to champion social inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream camp and school programs. I encourage you to watch it and share this powerful teaching tool with others.

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During the summer, I have many opportunities to see and discuss camper behavior at the several camps I visit during the season. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly even some well-educated, experienced adult leaders resort to tactics that involve shaming children or threatening to take things away from them as methods of managing their behavior. I believe children sometimes need firm guidance. I also believe that guidance can be offered respectfully, without shame or threats. I offer two examples from this past summer.

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"Kick a Ginger Day." Fair to say, the majority of adults reading this article have no idea what this means. A bunch of junior-high-aged kids in Calabasas, California, did, however. On November 20, 2009, at least four girls and two boys were subjected to physical and/or verbal bullying and abuse because of their red hair, freckles, and pale complexions. Ginger. Gilligan's Island. Redheads. It's quite a leap.

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Natalie, the camp baker, was spontaneously thrust into finishing the meat entrée after Shayla announced that she had a family emergency and ran out the door, leaving the pork loin in the oven. Natalie was ServSafe certified two years ago but suddenly drew a blank trying to remember the cooked temperature requirement for pork loin. The food service manager was away on vacation, as summer camp had ended two weeks ago. In your kitchen, would Natalie have written standard operating procedures (SOPs) where she could find the information needed for the safety of your campers or guests?

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E.g., 2019-09-20