Resource Library

Homesickness - It Isn't Just for Campers
Published Date: 2015-05-01

With technology, there is simply more to miss. Here are some tips on how to get through it.

One of the more interesting challenges borne of this era of connectedness and technology is that camp counselors are getting more homesick because they are remaining strongly connected to friends and family at home via social media and not completely embracing their summer camp experience. Counselors, like us all, are finding it harder to unplug. Not taking a break from technology might be making you more homesick because you are “missing” more.

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One amenity you’ll find on just about every camp, regardless of its overall focus or theme, is a ball field. Beyond baseball and softball, that open space lends itself to a dozen or more other activities. With just a little bit of planning and forethought, it can deliver even more bang for your capital buck. This month, we’re going to look at a couple of the most basic elements to make the most of the space.

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"Go placidly amid the noise and haste" marks the beginning of a 1927 prose poem, "Desiderata," by American writer Max Ehrmann. A copy of this well-known piece, the Latin translation of which is "things wanted or needed," hangs in the reception area at Cape Cod Sea Camps and amplifies not only the sometimes-tumultuous nature of summer camp, but also, most likely, the process of getting there in the first place.

Why might that be the case?

Simply because of the sheer number of programmatic options for teens and young adults: potential campers and counselors, one and all.

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"The resilient child is one who works well, plays well, loves well, and expects well."

Norman Garmezy

When we talk about youth, we too often use negative terms: what we would like them to stop doing. We want them to stop using drugs, stop drinking, stop dropping out of school, stop having sex, stop getting pregnant, stop being violent, and stop committing other delinquent acts. In short, we would like them to stop having problems - and stop being problems.

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Staff orientation training is a jam-packed period of time that can last anywhere from a few hours to a week or more. Ice breakers, camper development, activity training, and health and safety are just a few of the topics that will be covered in some form or fashion prior to the arrival of the first group of campers for this year's summer season.

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My mother never told me there’d be days like these. Challenging? Yes. Difficult? For sure. But nearly impossible? Not so much.

The last full day of camp is always one filled with emotion. But on this day — a day made especially gloomy by unrelenting rain and wind — the emotions went beyond those typically attached to packing up and saying goodbye. They also accompanied the rare, and unlikely, suspension of five outstanding teen leaders just hours shy of our closing ceremonies — and their graduation.

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Show Us the Money
Published Date: 2015-09-01

All camp administrators want their business operations expenses to end up on the positive side of the budget ledger. However, many directors are unaware of how their expenses and revenues compare to other camps' business operations. Every three years the American Camp Association (ACA) collects this information in the ACA Camp Business Operations Survey. In the fall of 2014, we asked a 75-percent random sample of our ACA-accredited camps to share their business data for revenues, expenses, weekly registration costs, scholarships and discounts, and marketing techniques.

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The quiet, final weeks of August find camp directors exhaling and peering out over empty fields — luckier ones are on a beach somewhere preparing meticulously crafted reenrollment letters. Agonizing over price increases to the tenths of a percent, directors know that other than a handful of summer sign-ups, many camps actually have no enrollment for the coming year. That dilemma may be resolved within days for some, but others, especially those serving teens and many nonprofit camps, must start from scratch every fall.

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The year 2020 seems so distant, and yet our goal as a collection of camp professionals is to serve 20 million campers by that year. So how do we get there? I have long been a proponent that programs sell camps — not Web sites, not brochures, and certainly not e-mail blasts (all of which are still important marketing tools). Anywhere from 60–80 percent of your campers came to you in their first year because they heard from someone else about your amazing program, how fun it was, or how many friends they made.
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“The number-one reason I found that parents don’t send their children to summer camp is that parents fear their child will be sexually abused while at camp,” said writer Allison Slater Tate. The gasp was audible as she finished her sentence. A room full of camp directors at the Tristate Camp Conference in 2015 shook their heads and began to murmur. Tate quieted the room and continued to explain how she conducted an informal poll among her friends and acquaintances and shared direct quotes of their responses of fear to her questions about camp.

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