Resource Library

Each year, ACA’s Eleanor P. Eells Award for Program Excellence recognizes camps that epitomize the spirit of the award’s namesake through their efforts to provide sterling programming that effectively and innovatively addresses the needs of people and society through the camp experience. We applaud the 2019 recipients. They are all definitive proof of the might of camp programs to equip campers of all abilities and backgrounds with the resiliency and conviction to build better futures for themselves and their communities.

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Me First? Keys to Self-Care
Published Date: 2019-05-01

We've all been there! You're excited about your new job and all goes well for the first few days (maybe weeks). Everything is new and exciting. Adrenaline helps smooth any fears or irritations. But now it's getting real. Your coworkers are starting to get on your nerves. Your campers are driving you crazy; sure, some are adorable, but others are simply annoying and needy. "What am I going to do?" you wonder. You know you need to be relaxed and confident to help others. If you're really honest with yourself, you know it boils down to the fact that you're tired.

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“The time is always right to do right.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My group of 14- and 15-year-old campers were walking back to the cabin after the afternoon activity. They were spread out along the path, with a couple of girls in front, a larger group ten feet behind, and the counselors bringing up the rear. The group in the middle started talking about one of the girls in the front group, who couldn’t hear what was being said behind her.

“I wonder when she’s going to come out.”

“Yeah, she should just come out already!”

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Helping the Homesick Camper
Published Date: 2019-05-01

For campers of any age, attending an overnight camp for the first time can be cause for a case of homesickness — a normal and reasonable reaction to separation from home and coping with unfamiliar surroundings. From my observations, it is best understood as a temporary state of anxiety caused by missing family, pets, and rituals that bring comfort and stability to a child’s life. A second component to homesickness, however, is equally important. This is the strange newness of residential camp life that can cause anxiety in a camper who perceives they do not fit in.

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Sorry, Not Sorry
Published Date: 2019-05-01

We've all been there. We're trying to help or referee some situation with kids, we're told a few things or parts of the story, and we think we know what happened, so we turn to the kid who we think is at fault and utter some variation of the words, "Go say you're sorry."

Let's be honest about one thing: They are not sorry!

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The mounting pressure to forego a summer at camp in favor of an internship is higher than ever. Many of you may already be thinking that this is your last summer. The pull is strong to look elsewhere to find experience and name recognition that will look good on your resume and help you land the dream job you are hoping for upon graduation. If it is your first summer, perhaps it took an act of Congress to convince your parents, professors, and friends that working at camp is a good idea. The truth is, there has never been a better time to work at camp!

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Dear Camp Counselor:

This summer you will join, figuratively, with more than 320,000 staff working at some 2,400 accredited camps serving more than 7.4 million children nationwide (ACA, 2013). And, suffice it to say, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Why? Because you will greatly influence young lives. And, in my opinion, there’s no greater gift than that.

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When you agreed to work at camp, you immediately made the decision to have fun, challenge yourself, and change lives. While the format to accomplish this will be provided for you by your camp, the implementation will not. This will come from you in the form of dedication and effort. How much commitment you choose to give is important because campers don’t always come to camp knowing how to succeed.

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Thank you for your deep devotion to engaging children, teens, and young adults in fun, high-quality camp experiences. You have a vital role in youth development and the American Camp Association is pleased to offer this issue of Camping Magazine to you as a staff training resource to help you create lasting impacts on the lives of those you serve.

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Calming Camper Conflicts
Published Date: 2019-05-01

Conflicts between kids at camp can arise for a wide variety of reasons — from being upset by relationships with peers or learning to adjust to new and different situations, to being frustrated with their progress in an activity or simply being tired, hot, or hungry — making campers restless, irritable, and/or inattentive. The list of what might trigger conflicts between campers is exhaustive — and can be exhausting!

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