Resource Library

Following the lead of educators in school communities, recreation professionals across the United States are opening their doors to increasingly diverse participants. There has been a particular focus on the inclusion of participants with disabilities to provide opportunities for these children and youth to attend day and resident camp programs alongside their peers without disabilities (Jaha-Echols, 2017).

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Imagine that today is your pre-camp leadership meeting, and you are sitting for the first time with your team in preparation for the upcoming camp season. Although your recruitment efforts have helped you choose competent staff, directing them won’t be without challenges.

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Whether you are a first-time counselor or veteran staff member at a summer camp, it can be difficult to nail down the step-by-step process of how to grow professionally within the field. You may be all the way at the top as director, but if you are not open-minded about constant growth, are you really living your life to the fullest? Offered here are a director’s and a counselor’s perspective on how to be a competitive and competent individual, no matter what your position in the camp field.

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ACA’s 5-Year Impact Study Series
This article is the second in a five-article series discussing significant outcomes of Phase 2 of ACA’s 5-Year Impact Study.

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Camp Staffing: We Can Avoid a Crisis!
Published Date: 2019-02-26

Over the past few years, directors all over the country have reported struggling with the fact that good staff are harder to find. They also indicate that it is much more difficult to convince quality applicants to accept summer camp jobs and stay for the entire summer. In the late spring of 2018, with minimum wage issues, the shortage of male candidates, low unemployment rates, and the increased number of internships, we heard more urgency. In some circles, the staffing situation was being labeled as a “threat to our industry.”

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Political unrest in Kenya, a railway strike in Europe, the Zika virus in Central America, visa applications for Tanzania, international terrorism levels in Paris, the value of the baht in Thailand — these are topics you might expect to be on the agenda for the next meeting of the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. They are also topics we at Wilderness Adventures discussed at a recent planning meeting, as a significant portion of our summer camp program offers camping experiences on all the continents of the world except Antarctica.

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In a world filled with out-of-school time options for young adults, new research from the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE) in collaboration with Coastal Carolina University points to the enduring, and positive, outcomes of leadership training for teens in both traditional and specialty camp settings.

What are they?

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With five generations actively involved in camp, it seems like the communication gap is widening. According to family physician Deborah Gilboa, MD, "The range of what is considered normal is wider now. That's going to mean some people fall behind and feel less comfortable." While having so many generations together can present some significant communication challenges within camp — as well as in communicating out from the camp community — Gilboa says it also represents a far richer experience for campers (and staff).

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What happened throughout one’s generational history influences current views and perspectives, and camp directors carry those perceptions with them in their thoughts and actions — including those that affect their expectations about the recruitment of staff. Thus, it can be helpful to understand where we’ve been and what today looks like to better understand the future needs of staff recruitment.

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It started with a camp director’s speech. You know, one of those impassioned, are-you-ready-for-this; get-your-stoke-on; you-can-do-it; don’t-be-scared-but-it’s-OK-to- be-nervous speeches the night before the kids arrived:

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E.g., 2020-10-26