Resource Library

On Being a Mentor
Published Date: 2019-09-01

Two of my professional mentors recently passed away after horrific battles with cancer. Their funerals gave me pause to reflect on the deeply profound impact they each had on who I am today, both personally and professionally. One of these mentors was responsible for inviting me into the camp profession and encouraged me to build my professional camp education and become an active American Camp Association (ACA) volunteer leader. He shared many insights that I wouldn’t have otherwise known and helped me recognize and understand my blind spots.

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The discussion of communicable illness in the camp environment often centers on the very significant issue of foodborne illness. Every summer significant cases of E. coli, salmonella, and others are spread through inappropriate handling of food. Similarly, every so often there are communicable illness outbreaks, such as the swine flu or Zika, that make national news and present problems for camps and their management.

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Food Service Budgeting Basics
Published Date: 2019-09-01

Suppose you have a new board treasurer who wants to better understand your food service financials. Via your manager/director, he needs your food cost per camper, elaboration on the rise in your food expenditures over the past two or three years, and food price forecasts for the next fiscal year. What tools do you have to adequately calculate your food cost? Faced with these challenges, here are some tools I developed to help answer those questions and plan for upcoming food budgets.

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It was three years ago when I first wrote about the increasing levels of anxiety that camp directors were seeing in their staff (Ditter, 2016). At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta had been reporting that anxiety in children ages 13–18 was at a 40-year high (CDC, 2011). In a survey conducted by the American Camp Association’s Healthy Camps Committee after the summer of 2015, camp directors indicated that anxiety was their number one concern when it came to staff (Gaston, 2015).

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Presented by ACA, Illinois and Women in Camping, the Women in Camp Summit is a three-day professional development event of networking, discussion, and learning designed specifically for female-identifying individuals who work in or in support of camp. This year’s Women in Camp Summit takes place November 4–6 in St. Charles, Illinois.


Camping Magazine asked several of the summit organizers to weigh in on the reasons behind the Women in Camp Summit and the opportunities the event represents:

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Most of the time we encourage one another to think outside the box. In the case of major donor relationships in the camp environment, I encourage you to think squarely within it! The box is the period between the beginning of camp and the day your campers leave. It is when the eight months of precamp effort is palpable and alive, and activities best narrate program impact. Seeing, smelling, tasting, and observing campers and staff in action is more powerful than any video or choreographed home/office visit.

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Resource Roundup for Camp Professionals
Published Date: 2019-08-30

Parents traditionally look to teachers, school counselors, and religious leaders for guidance and resources about raising kids. Typically, parents wouldn’t think to seek resources and guidance from summer camp professionals. It’s time to take seriously our important role in partnering with parents by sharing resources about child development, youth trends, and best practices when working with young people.

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It was 1995. TLC, Alanis Morissette, and Boyz II Men were riding high in the music charts. Apollo 13 and the original Toy Story were in the movie theaters. Michael Jordan made his return to the NBA. Bill Clinton was in the White House. And I was moving up, going from seasonal staff to full time at a camp.

With this new role came new responsibilities — as a supervisor, as a communicator, and as an educator. I no longer had the luxury of having the backup of a camp leadership team. I was now part of that camp leadership team.

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In the November 2018 issue of Camping Magazine, Lenny Silberman predicted that within the next five years, every summer resident and day camp in the United States would be including esports as part of their programming. Given Silberman’s highly successful career, I wouldn’t bet against him. Esports are indeed a booming industry, with double-digit growth in participants and profits. Silberman lays out, in eye-opening detail, the size of the potential market and the marketing and competitive reasons to embrace esports within summer camp.

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In an increasingly connected world, today’s children experience an ever-decreasing connection to the natural world. As a result of hours of screen time, lengthening school days, and increasing participation in organized out-of-school activities, children are spending less time outside than ever before. Because of this lack of outdoor time, their connection to and understanding of their natural surroundings is startlingly absent.

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