Resource Library

Josh can't keep his hands to himself when waiting in line. Seth seems to act irresponsibly. Megan never completes an arts and crafts project. These campers' behaviors may have a common link - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Summer camp, unlike any other space or community, is a place where we can actively and comprehensively create culture. Think about some of the traditions at your camp. Simple things like the songs and cheers at a meal or some of the rituals around traditional programs. These are examples of how your camp community intentionally (or sometimes unintentionally) creates a specific culture that you, your campers, and the next generation of both staff and campers will maintain. The same thing happens in our wider society; it is just harder to predict, change, or understand.

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Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.
— from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Big Questions

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The title of this article, “Counselor Judgment — Campers’ Lives Depend on It!” is not in any way written to be frightening to a new counselor, but quite honestly, it is very much written to make the reader anxious. Why? Because parents and guardians of children want them back at the end of each day or the end of the season, alive, well, and in the same physical and emotional condition (if not better) than they sent them to YOU.

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Huck Finn enjoyed a rare opportunity to attend his funeral and hear what folks had to say about him after he faked his death to escape the confines imposed by the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson — not to mention his abusive father, Pap. A recent near-death experience afforded me a similar chance to hear some feedback about my work with youth and families. Especially since it happened smack dab in the middle of the camp season.
 
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In the early ’80s, I graduated from high school and made a simple but life-changing decision. It was May and I hadn’t yet made plans for the summer. My mom encouraged me to call my former camp directors, Herman and Rodger, and inquire about a summer working at camp. I so enjoyed camp as a kid but had missed out on being a counselor-trainee because of other commitments. A summer working outside with kids as a junior counselor sounded great.

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Tom Peters, the author and business management guru, suggested several years ago we should thrive on chaos, but most people and businesses don't. Most of us would like to have events take place routinely without too many changes, variations, or problems. This is natural. Unfortunately, the experience we gain from living our lives and running our businesses is proof that events don't always go routinely, as planned. This is because of risk.

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It was seven years ago when I attended my first ACA National Conference in sunny Orlando. Seven years ago when I showed up not even knowing what region/section I belonged to. Seven years since I was the wide-eyed "newbie" who didn't know a soul. Well, I've come a long way since then, and I can say without any doubt that my first conference experience is why I am so involved in ACA today.

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July 2015. Camp was in full swing with little time to devote to the Internet, but the news feed picked up an item that caught my attention. It was an article published by the national news outlet of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). It was a provocative item about the mimicry of indigenous practices and ceremonies at a couple of summer camps in Ontario, Canada (APTN, 2015).

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Imagine a world where every child benefits from a camp experience . . .

This is the goal of camps across the country as we continue to strive for ACA's 20/20 Vision — to serve 20 million children through the camp experience by the year 2020. In the following interviews, ACA's 2013 Eleanor Eells Award winners share how they bring their camps' missions to life through innovative programming and partnerships.

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E.g., 2019-07-22