Resource Library

As a camp professional, I, like you, have literally thousands of affirming anecdotal stories — the camp experience is not discretionary. And, if anyone needs more evidence, ACA's outcomes research confirms what each of us already knows. Our CEO, Peg Smith*, has been telling the world that opportunities for growth and development exist in natural settings that promote experiential learning, improve social skills and physical fitness, teach children to take calculated risks in a safe environment, and expand the creative mind.

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Camp is often described as being a life-changing experience for children. The Directions research, conducted by the American Camp Association (ACA) in 2005, documented the significant growth in positive identity, social skills, thinking skills, and positive values that occurs during a camp session. Although the same type of research has not been conducted with adults, similar growth and change of attitudes has been reported anecdotally by adult participants in international gatherings.

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From Peg - November 2010
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Message discipline is difficult. Yet, in a complex association such as ACA, the demand for clarity is paramount. For an organization to grow, it must learn how to walk that thin line between chaos and order — because it is along that thin veil that true growth takes place. Even with clarity, we often find times when messages compete — where one message may take greater prominence than another due to frequency, volume, or the cacophony.

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A Platform for Growth
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Day camps. Resident camps. Camps for girls only. Camps for boys only. Burn-victim camps. Camps for kids with cancer. Camps for kids who want to lose weight. Faith-based camps. Activity- or sports-specific camps. For-profit camps. Nonprofit camps. Truth be known, the list of different types of camps is virtually endless.

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I have a friend that works on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Though he is now just an intern, he feels that the work that he does there will eventually catapult him into a position that will allow him to change the world. His days are spent cataloguing important documents, memos that change our nation. To my friend, he is assisting in changing the world, and, in a sense, I agree.

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Preparing camp counselors for their role as staff members, community leaders, and knowledgeable caregivers is a daunting task. Many staff members are themselves students or adolescents unsure of the aspects of camp wellness, and they bring different beliefs and varied backgrounds to camp. As a camp director or administrator, you must teach them the importance of proper procedures when it comes to safety, OSHA, and dealing with daily camp health issues.

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It is the middle of the summer. You have probably already greeted many new and returning campers and have enjoyed some of the fun that camp offers. You have also probably discovered or rediscovered how much hard work it takes to be a good camp counselor! Like getting campers to clean up, help put equipment away, work together, wait their turn, ask for help, or any number of other things that kids typically don’t find fun.

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I’ve been sorting through the piles of “stuff” on my desk. One of these was a stack of camp health ideas, incidents, and resources pertaining to topics that occasionally come up. These aren’t everyday matters; rather, they are situations that, when they occur, are definitely impactful. They typically receive limited planning consideration because they occur so infrequently. Perhaps it’s time to change that. With this in mind, read the following and address one or two topics with the appropriate people in your camp operation. Your effort now may result in better sleep when things happen.

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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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