Resource Library

The Restorative Powers of Nature
Published Date: 2018-01-01

An Interview with Florence Williams

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So you did it! All your planning and intentionality in working to make connections to nature a cornerstone of your program are paying off. You watch happily as, in those glorious days of camp, children play enthusiastically and freely in the woods near their cabins, finding lucky stones, or making mini-dams in the brook. Or maybe they cleared a vacant lot and planted cucumbers and tomatoes. Perhaps they managed the recycling on their own or worked to conserve water. They learned all the local trees and enthusiastically studied bugs on their way to rest hour.

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In the Trenches: In the Weeds
Published Date: 2014-11-01

At first I didn't see the call. It came to my cell phone from an unfamiliar number at 6:30 one morning in late July. I had been driving since 5:30 on my way to a camp where I was going to be consulting with the head staff. When I listened to the voicemail I could hear the distress in the camp director's voice. "If you have any time today, can you please call me as soon as possible? I'm going to give you my cell. Call any time."

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Decade after decade since the mid-1800s, summer residential and day camps have been a barometer for social change, often acting as catalysts for change themselves. What started out as a retreat from city life for white, urban children would become an experiential learning opportunity for “boys and girls, recent immigrants and the native-born; the children of union activists, socialists, and progressive educators; Protestants, Jews, and Catholics; and children of all races and classes,” wrote Leslie Paris in her book Children’s Nature — The Rise of the American Summer Camp (2008, p. 7).

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Empowering Communities
Published Date: 2019-01-01

Nashville, Tennessee, is home to country music, hot chicken, Johnny Cash, and the upcoming 2019 ACA National Conference, "Empowering Communities." I am pleased to invite you to join hundreds of other camp professionals as we learn and are inspired through the variety of keynotes, excellent workshops, professional gatherings, and casual hallway discussions. We will take home fresh ideas and a renewed focus that will help lead all of our camp programs.

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Camp is a special environment that can benefit children and adults of all backgrounds and abilities, including children with disabilities or special needs; gay, lesbian, or bisexual youth or families; at-risk youth; or minorities. By working to create an accepting and tolerant camp environment, campers from all walks of life can learn to better appreciate the differences and similarities they bring to camp.

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Which "they" are you? Are you the counselor trying to tell your supervisor that things are not exactly as explained in training and the interview? Or are you the supervisor trying to get counselors to focus and carry out the mission? Either way, there are likely times when you do not feel appreciated, or you feel disconnected when trying to communicate with other staff. Sometimes, we attribute the disconnect between people to being from different generations. It turns out that we typically have more in common with each other than we realize.

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"Dear Mom and Dad, I’m having a great time at camp," writes twelve-year-old Michael. "Today, I rode a horse for the first time. I thought it would be scary, but it was loads of fun. Tonight I’m going to the camp dance and in the morning we’ll be fishing at the lake. The food is good here, too . . . ."

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Remember your parents always reminding you to write thank you notes after birthdays and other holidays when you were on the receiving end of a gift? My guess is that it probably was not your favorite thing to do, but you did it anyway. So, it may take you by surprise if you are asked to write similar notes to the parents/guardians* of the campers in your care this summer. You see, the campers you will get to know over the course of the upcoming weeks are on loan from their parents (you have to give them back!), and they are the most important and special gifts you can ever receive.

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There are opportunities to teach every child better self-control. Of course, being spontaneous — even a little out of control — is fun. It’s just that learning to listen, concentrate, and sustain attention are also important life skills. Camp is an ideal setting for cultivating self-control and controlled chaos. It offers both energetic, physical activities — such as water basketball or capture the flag — as well as restrained, contemplative activities — such as listening quietly to a story during rest hour.

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E.g., 2019-07-21