Resource Library

As the busyness of summer gives way to a more laidback autumn, many camp professionals find themselves considering changes and adaptations to make the next camp season even better. Part of that consideration is an assessment of your camp's health services.

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Fred Miller has more than three decades of experience as a senior executive and consultant working in the areas of governance, strategy, and organizational effectiveness. With a long camp history that includes attending camp as a child; working at camps as a counselor, program director, and assistant camp director; and serving as chair of the American Camping Foundation and on the American Camp Association (ACA) National Board, he is a strong advocate of the camp experience and a long-time valued friend of ACA.

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Even in today’s globalized world, many camps and youth-serving organizations still value local connections. While embracing technology to keep in touch with camp alumni or reach a broader audience, the leg work of many youth-serving organizations still gets done the “old fashioned” way — on a person-to-person, mentor-to-child basis.

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"Emily" is a six-year-old camper in the "Jellyfish" group at an East Coast day camp. She is a new camper this year, coming into a group where about 70 percent of the campers are returning. She comes from an upwardly mobile, well-off family who values education and personal achievement. As a consequence, during the school year, Emily is heavily "programmed." As highly successful professionals, both of her parents have demanding work schedules.

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I am standing in the middle of the woodshop of a sailing camp for boys on Cape Cod examining the hunk of wood that is on its way to becoming a fully functional model sailboat when I hear the ruckus outside. I hand the hull over to the boy who owns it and quickly step onto the shop porch just in time to see Jake, one of my ten-year-old campers, with his back to me about to chuck a rock at some kid only a few feet away. "Jake!" I shout at the top of my lungs. Jake, startled by my exclamation, whips around and throws the rock at me.

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Soon after we assumed the ownership of Camp Mont Shenandoah in 1996, my husband, Jay, and I were interested in establishing a scholarship program for our campers. We were clueless, however, as to how to go about it; especially since we wanted to fundraise to create an endowment in perpetuity. This, we knew, could pose potential problems as owners of a for-profit business.

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“I have a new idea for a program!” This is a statement my wife hears from me on a regular basis. We have owned our own private day camp, Triple C Camp, since 1999. We serve children and youth in Charlottesville, Virginia, and surrounding areas. After the process of searching for a camp (we toured over 100 camps), finding “the one,” agreeing to a purchase price with the sellers, getting bank financing, moving our family, and closing on the property/business, we thought we were home free.

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Since the first days of organized camp for children over 150 years ago, camp administrators have been challenged to respond to emerging issues that impact the camp experience. Although the value of camp has changed little over the years, the ways that camps are organized and administered has continued to evolve, often in response to these issues.

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Praise and Self-Esteem
Published Date:
Best selling author Ashley Merryman — who has also been tutoring in inner-city Los Angeles for eleven years — recently spoke with ACA about youth development findings in her award-winning book, NurtureShock, which she co-authored with Po Bronson. NurtureShock (now available in paperback) explores child development science that is widely accepted within the scientific community, but that might be yet unknown to youth development professionals.
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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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E.g., 2020-06-01
E.g., 2020-06-01