Resource Library

Sometimes You Must Tell Campers No
Published Date: 2021-05-03

Whenever your job includes the supervision of campers there is an expectation that you will enforce the camp’s rules as well as its limits regarding camper behavior. As frontline staff, you will supervise participants, educate them about the consequences of injury-prone  behavior, and enforce rules and regulations to prevent injuries. The decisions you make and actions you take can be the difference between campers getting hurt or having a great experience.

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Moving Forward Together: May 2021
Published Date: 2021-05-03

Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
– Vince Lombardi

Dear Camp Staff:

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Watch Your Words: The Power of Language
Published Date: 2021-05-03

While we relish the opportunity to write each edition of the column, this issue is particularly exciting as it is composed with the hope that it is useful for those who will be interfacing directly with campers this summer. Each camp that runs a program this summer will brave the complexities of delivering on the promise of camp magic within a 2021 context. The enormity of this undertaking is not lost on anyone. This summer’s pre-camp orientation will likely be akin to drinking from a fire hydrant.

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Goodbye eggs, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and sesame! While it would be rare to have a camper who has all these allergies, you may have multiple campers with allergies to several of the top nine allergens. In this case, you might consider serving a full menu without any of these allergens. Impossible, you might say? Consider these suggestions and see how achievable it can be.

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Finding That Inner Shine
Published Date: 2021-05-03

I slip on my Birkenstocks and my toes feel a ghostly dust of sand from my last outing. I snatch my cornflower blue baseball cap, which has done nothing to help my face escape the sunny freckles that appear across my nose whenever I go outside. I sweep my hair back with a knotty hair tie. I grab an old plastic bag and my battered water bottle, completing my beachcomber look. Soon enough, I’ll be a speck of a human on a vast expanse of sand, merging into the misty spray of the ocean, right where water meets sky. But until then, I’m on a mission: finding shells.

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Across the land, schools and summer camps have embraced a movement to better understand trauma and how it affects a child’s ability to learn and self-regulate their behavior. As that knowledge becomes available to counselors and instructors, camps have a greater ability to move from "trauma-informed" to "trauma-infused."

What does that mean for you? That frontline staff become first responders — a role that carries with it not just a serious responsibility, but also an awesome opportunity to aid young people who are experiencing the aftermath of traumatic events.

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One of the common threads of this past year was the sheer amount of alone time most of us experienced. Even if you live in a full house like I do, the pace and variety of social experiences dropped off a cliff. Whether you spent time learning to bake, getting proficient at Zoom, or just managing to keep it together, chances are you did this by yourself. And we all noticed what that lack of time with friends and family felt like. One of the fundamental ways we make and keep friends is by spending time with them. And the more time we spend with someone, the better we know them.

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When you look back over your childhood, is there an adult outside of your family — a teacher, coach, camp counselor, or mentor — who told you something positive about yourself that you still remember today? Their positive words may even be something you still repeat to yourself.  "I can do hard things," "I am courageous," "I am persistent," or "I listen well to others" are examples of affirmations you might have internalized about yourself because someone you looked up to pointed out that trait.

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Supporting the Socially Awkward Camper
Published Date: 2021-05-03

Singer Jimmy Buffett famously said, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” Working with children in challenging situations can be difficult, stressful, frustrating, and yes, extremely rewarding. But we have to (camp song alert!) “stay on the sunny side” of it or we risk burning out, and that’s no help to anyone at all. We have to strike the right balance of honesty, compassion, and humor for ourselves and our campers. So keep a few things in mind:

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Loving, well-intentioned parents from all over the world are inadvertently applying unhealthy pressure — the kind that undermines young people’s creativity, motivation, emotional well-being, social development, and intellectual curiosity. Simply put, the push to perform is backfiring. That is the central paradox of parental pressure. Slowly and silently, harmful pressure on young people has become a crisis. And the social isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse.

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