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In 2005, the American Camp Association (ACA) published the first large-scale national research project assessing the youth development outcomes of children who attend day and resident camps in the summer. Children between the ages of eight and 14 from 80 ACA-accredited day and resident camps participated in the study. Results indicated the camp experience was a positive influence on youth development in four domains: positive identity, physical and thinking skills, social skills, and positive values and spirituality.

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"Camping is an activity that has been embraced by humanity because it's fun and it brings people, especially families, together," said Dr. Tom Zellers, a professor of pediatric cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and camp doctor. "For children with chronic illnesses, camp has often been forbidden because of the risks and physical challenges it presents. At [special needs] camps, however, children with medical problems, who are sheltered by their family and may be the only child with their type of medical problem in their family, neighborhood, or community, are brought together.

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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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From Ross - November 2016
Published Date: 2016-11-01

I am pleased to introduce myself as the new chairperson for the Board of Directors of the American Camp Association. My name is Ross Turner and I have been an ACA member since 1983.

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From Peg: Moments. Magic. Meaning!
Published Date: 2014-09-01

Peg Smith, ACA CEOIt only takes a moment — to change a life, make an impact, or create significance. It is remarkable how persuasive a moment in time can be to one's life. The camp experience is full of such moments.

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In between all the wonderful events you have during your camping program this year, there will always be those random moments of opportunity. Every one of you should have a dozen or more ideas of how to fill that time. But more importantly than just filling the time, you should have some ideas for how to create something wonderful and even memorable with those special moments and minutes. Using that time to create unity, community, and connection can make your entire camp’s culture a very positive one.

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It’s Friday afternoon at the Belle Isle Summer Nature Camp, a day camp in Detroit, Michigan. As parents and younger siblings mill around the auditorium, a happy murmur of conversation is heard as campers proudly display the work they’ve done over the week of summer camp. Students show off the ceramic tiles they created earlier that week, now glazed and fired. Student journals, drawings, and other art cover the tables. One group of campers plays a video they created encouraging people to plant milkweed and native flowers for monarch butterflies.

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The Cycle of Camp
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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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This article is part of Camping Magazine’s series on inclusion, identifying and exploring both big picture and on-the-ground actionable pathways for application through participant reflection, discussion, and active engagement. Contact Niambi Jaha-Echols (njechols@gmail.com) if you would like to participate or contribute to this series.

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All camps are proud of their program offerings and the skills they teach children. They are equally proud of the traditions that may in time grow to be part of campers' lives. However, as wonderful as the programmatic aspects of a camp may be, what we teach campers may not be the most important part of their summer experience. The most crucial and unexpected moments of a summer may be when children are left alone to engage in free, undirected play. For many campers, the experience of playing outside "alone" or with a group of friends may be a truly new and joyful one.

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