Resource Library

Camp and the Loneliness Crisis
Published Date: 2021-01-01

Let me start by sounding uncharacteristically negative. Loneliness was a crisis before the pandemic. And by now, just about everyone in our community is suffering from it.

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Summer 2020 impacted every aspect of camp, and regardless of how things played out — with various scenarios of camp running in some form or not at all — building next summer’s staff team weighs heavily on our minds. All our default systems and timelines seem useless right now, prompting so many questions and very few answers. For instance:

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Are you coming up on an anniversary or milestone in your camp’s history? Have you considered how this celebration can help you connect with alumni and maybe even raise some money? Whether you have a strong financial development history or you would like to build one, an alumni event celebrating significant milestones is an excellent way to turn fond memories into a deeper connection with the future of your camp.

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Children’s Association for Maximum Potential’s (CAMP) mission is to strengthen and inspire individuals with special needs — and those who care for them — through recreation, respite, and education. That mission is both very specific and, at the same time, quite broad. Its breadth lies in the fact that the “individuals with special needs” we serve span a wide array of abilities and challenges. Campers may face one or a combination of the following:

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January 1, 2020, I was on a cruise ship in the Gulf, toasting to what I believed would be an amazing year ahead. But this past year was not what I was expecting it to look like. For the first time in over 25 years, I did not run an in-person summer camp. Closing camp was obviously not among my goals for the year; nor was figuring out how to offer the kind of virtual experience our campers needed. Now that we have campers back, we are figuring out screening, personal protective equipment (PPE), when to wear masks, and how to be social at a physical distance.

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In their New York Times best-selling book An Invisible Thread, Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski give life to an ancient Chinese proverb that inspired the book's title. They document the story of an 11-year-old panhandler, Maurice, and a busy sales executive (author Schroff), whose unplanned stewardship of the young boy's life offers dramatic and compelling evidence of the power of connection (Schroff and Tresniowski, 2012). 

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Effective storytelling has long been a cherished campfire activity. Likewise, storytelling is recognized in the broader community as an essential element of both marketing and communication. How can we tell our story and convey our message so that others hear it? Once we have their ears, what can we say to help them understand why they should care about camp?

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Throughout this past fall, reports have been flowing in confirming what many parents, teachers, and camp directors already intuitively knew — the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on our youths’ mental health (Leeb, Bitsko, Radhakrishnan, Martinez, Njai, & Holland, 2020). During this time, mental health providers have documented increases in both anxiety and depression. All this angst and uncertainty is affecting young people differently than adults.

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The Privilege of Polite
Published Date: 2021-01-01

That doesn't happen at camp. But what if it did? Grounded in their beginnings as a means of preserving youth and innocence, many camps shy away from holding space for difficult conversations, erring on the side of being polite. In this instance, politeness equates to avoidance. But we know that camp is not magical because it is utopian (see the inaugural Trail Mixed column in the November/December issue for a discussion about why that thinking is perilous).

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Is It Over Yet?
Published Date: 2021-01-01

The year 2020 was one of adversity. It was a year of dramatic change and tremendous loss for many. Loss of loved ones. Loss of income. Loss of business. Loss of treasured life experiences — graduations, proms, performances, showers, and weddings. It felt at times like being trapped between a horror movie and a reality TV show.

Last year dawned with the greatest of potential. The stock market was at an all-time high. Unemployment was at an all-time low. Many camps were fully booked and making capital improvements to their facilities. Then the wheels came off the bus.

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