Resource Library

On Becoming an Innovator at Camp
Published Date: 2019-07-01

As the late behavioral psychologist Carl Jung once wrote, “The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites.” Some of the most memorable moments at camp occur when we are awakened by self-realizations of who we uniquely are and how we might work with others to collectively innovate the world.

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Camp Jack Hazard Rises from the Ashes
Published Date: 2019-06-28

The Donnell Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California, began on August 1, 2018, and was much smaller than other fires that burned throughout California in the state’s deadliest fire season on record. When the Donnell Fire began, Executive Director Jason Poisson had just opened Camp Jack Hazard to a group from another camp who had lost access to their facility due to another fire.

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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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Let's start with a riddle. As a camp counselor, you carry a powerful reward for campers with you wherever you go. Whether your realize it or not, you will distribute this reward to campers throughout the day. You'll tend to give this reward most often when campers are acting out, which could lead them to misbehave more. While all children crave this reward, they develop different strategies to acquire it: some have learned to be helpful and respectful, while others have learned to whine, complain, and stir up trouble. What is this mysterious and potent reward?

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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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