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The Cycle of Camp
Published Date:

When I mention to people that I'm a Girl Scout, they give me the "once-over." You know, moving their eyes up and down my body, then adding; "Aren't you a little old to be a Girl Scout?" I'm thirty-three! How is that old? Ah well, I love that I'm still a Girl Scout (lifetime member, thank you) and am proud of being part of an organization that truly helped mold me. I joined because of my sister; I stayed because of camp.

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By the time Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University, reportedly claimed in 1922, “the organized summer camp is the most important step in education that America has given the world,” camping in America already had a long history of embracing the educational value of the camp experience (Sharman, 1938). Now, almost a century later, the camp experience is once again at the precipice of education reform, standing at the crosssection of experiential learning and institutional schools.

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As camp operators, we are keenly aware that when kids go to camp, they make positive gains in self-reliance, independence, communication, and self-esteem. Unplugged from the constant electronic buzz, children find themselves at camp — making genuine connections with other children, rediscovering the fun in physical fitness, learning their own strengths, and finding their own voices.

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Sex is a topic that elicits such strong emotions in people that it often becomes difficult to have a clear, calm, rational conversation about it. When that conversation concerns the sexual behavior of children and teens, things get even more emotional. Lynn Ponton, a well-known adolescent psychiatrist in San Francisco who wrote the popular book The Romance of Risk (Basic Books, 1997) on adolescent risk-taking behavior, once told me how she unwittingly stepped into a maelstrom of controversy and criticism when she followed her best seller with another book titled The Sex Lives of Teenagers.

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Introduction

Nationally, 4‑H camp programs often utilize the leadership and energy of teenage camp counselors (ages fourteen to eighteen) to plan and conduct local and area 4‑H camp programs. Since the value of camp to campers has been well documented in Missouri and elsewhere (University of Missouri, 2007), one must ask the next logical question: What value does serving as a 4‑H camp counselor hold for teens?

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Camp administration can influence the behavior of its staff, but it cannot control it. One of the most problematic emotions to occur in the camp setting is anger — an emotion that affects people in a multitude of ways. An impulsive action by a staff member can result in an injury to another person and even possibly damage the reputation of your camp.

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Dear camp staff,

Welcome to the world of camp! Each of us — no matter what our specific job might be — is in a position that will influence the health and wellbeing of campers. Sometimes this will be straightforward — like the responsibility of lifeguards at the pool or food service staff to provide meals free from contamination. But other influences are subtle; indeed, often so subtle that it’s easy to lose sight of how broad and deep your influence as a camp staff member might be.

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As a camp owner, camp director, camp administrator, or facilitator, have you ever asked yourself?

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Family camps have become increasingly prevalent over the past several years. The number of camps offering family programs has exploded since the early 90s; reports of increases in family camps range from 215 percent (Sweet 2007) to 500 percent (Tevis 2005) in the last sixteen years. More families are seeking opportunities to spend time together (Shaw and Dawson 2001), and camp providers are responding to this desire by providing more family programs.

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Pages

E.g., 2021-08-05
E.g., 2021-08-05