Resource Library

Staff play an important role in your camp operation. After all, it is your staff who are in day-to-day contact with campers, facilitating the positive experiences of camp. Therefore, your staff must share your camp’s philosophy and be aware of the values that make your program unique. Collaborating effectively with your summer staff is a critical element in achieving your organization’s goals and objectives.

The Philosophy Behind the Mission

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Camp Hometown Heroes is a national, free, week-long residential summer camp for children and siblings ages seven to 17 of fallen U.S. service members. These are active or inactive military heroes who died in combat or as the result of accident, ill-ness, or suicide. Camp Hometown Heroes provides a safe and caring environment where the children attending have the opportunity to openly discuss their feelings and experiences in connection with losing their loved ones.

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Campers and staff come from a variety of backgrounds. An urban-savvy camper becomes the bunkmate to a youth raised on a rural farm; two girls — one from a small mountain village and the other from a coastal metropolitan area — are in the same cabin; and U.S. staff are joined by staff from other countries. In addition, there may be campers and staff who, while living in the U.S., speak a language other than English at home. This seemingly disparate group interacts to create the magic of camp.

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For my camp, the ACA national conference (this year in Dallas, Texas) is always the highlight of our winter.

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Your Field of Dreams?
Published Date:

There is no "great camp" without "great programming." And while there are many great programs that require almost no facility support at all (what do you really need for a campfire sing-along?), the right property improvements can surely enhance campers' experiences. Yet far too often, those supporting facilities — even very fancy and expensive ones — seem mismatched to the programs that they're intended to support. Too large, too small, too sophisticated, and even too remote are all descriptions of fields, buildings, and activity areas that simply do not match the programs that they host.

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Each year, ACA’s Eleanor P. Eells Award for Program Excellence recognizes camps that embody the award’s namesake by developing superior programming that effectively and creatively addresses the needs of people and society through the camp experience. We commend the 2018 winners. They are all definitive proof of the might of camp programs to equip campers of all abilities with the resiliency and belief to build better futures for themselves and their communities.

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Marketing Matters: The Parent Perspective
Published Date: 2001-09-01

Marketing your camp often involves communicating with parents who are not experts at the selection process. In many cases, you are presenting your camp’s story to people who have never before made such a choice. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s call these people “neophytes,” defined as a novice or a beginner.

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A camp director is stumped by negative changes observed in a veteran camper. Juan first came to camp as an energetic and enthusiastic eight-year-old. This year, at age fifteen, he walks away from opening campfire, telling his counselors that his mother made him come to camp. He would have preferred hanging out with his friends and wants to go home. Juan is furious when his cell phone is taken away from him according to camp policy. For the next few days he mopes around camp, disengaged and unenthusiastic.

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"How would I know," asked one high school student, "if I'm with someone, like on a date, and we're hooking up, consensually, and then the person I'm with doesn't want to go any further?"

The groans from his classmates echoed in the auditorium and blithely suggested that he should have known the answer. And yet, he had asked the question sincerely, courageously. What appeared to some teens to be common decency, common courtesy, or even common sense was not just uncommon, it was unclear.

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Restoring the Human Touch
Published Date: 2014-09-01

We've all seen them — gaggles of teens walking together, each with their eyes glued to the screens of their smartphones, texting, tweeting, and posting. Or that couple in the restaurant with their faces buried in their BlackBerry®, iPhone®, Galaxy® or iPad®. According to the Pew Internet Project update on mobile technology in January 2014, over 90 percent of American adults own a cell phone, though the percentage among staff-age adults ages eighteen to twenty-two is 98 percent. According to the same study, about 82 percent of children twelve to eighteen years of age have a cell phone.

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