Resource Library

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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For years, camp professionals have touted the idea that camp is “a classroom without walls.” While models of camps connecting with education — such as school field trips or teaching environmental education — have been around for years, more and more camps are adding programs with academic value and increasing outreach to camper participants.

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“I Believe”
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I believe that camp has the power to change lives.

I believe in camp as a place where all people are welcomed as individuals and accepted for who they are.

I believe in camp as a place where people are welcomed as part of a team and appreciated for what they give for the good of the whole.

I believe in camp as a place where lifelong friendships are created and people can make new connections with others.

I believe in camp as a place for wild spaces where people learn to respect, protect, enjoy, and give back to the natural world.

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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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Patience
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When I sat down to write this article, I could still hear Axl Rose (lead singer of the ’80s rock band Guns N’ Roses) whistling the opening of the group’s hit song “Patience” like it was yesterday. The chorus of the song went like this: “I need a little patience, yeeaaahhhh . . . Come on patience, yeeaahhhh.” As I processed that song and focused more intently on the word “patience,” I realized it is one of the most important words you will hear, learn, and, hopefully, put into practice this summer.

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

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