Resource Library

A return to camp reminds our writer how it feels to be home.

A school teacher in Pinckney, Michigan, Jeff Miner had been a camp counselor or program director for just about every summer for the past fourteen years. But this summer was his last. He had plans on actually taking summers off, playing golf, and eating steak on his back patio. He was going into summer camp retirement.

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Joe EhrmannJoe Ehrmann is an accomplished man, but not just because he was an All-American football player at Syracuse University and the tenth overall draft pick in the 1973 NFL Draft — or because of his impressive professional football career. Ehrmann has committed his life to building an extraordinary resume in the areas of youth and human development and community service.

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Childhood physical inactivity and obesity is a major concern because the current generation of children is one of the most inactive and unhealthy in history (Ogden, et al., 2006). A national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 62 percent of children aged nine to thirteen years old did not participate in any physical activity during nonschool hours and 23 percent engaged in no daily physical activity (Duke, Huhman, & Heitzler, 2003).

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The story of the summer camp called Green River Preserve and its conservation easement actually starts with my father’s service in WWII. Dad fought in the infantry in both Africa and Europe. He was shot at so often, he decided that if he survived the war, he would buy land in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he could fly fish in peace and quiet. It was a good idea, and my family still believes there is nothing more beautiful or peaceful than fly fishing for trout. At camp we call it “aquatic theology.” Dad’s idea also turned out to be a good investment plan.

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Preparing camp counselors for their role as staff members, community leaders, and knowledgeable caregivers is a daunting task. Many staff members are themselves students or adolescents unsure of the aspects of camp wellness, and they bring different beliefs and varied backgrounds to camp. As a camp director or administrator, you must teach them the importance of proper procedures when it comes to safety, OSHA, and dealing with daily camp health issues.

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It is the middle of the summer. You have probably already greeted many new and returning campers and have enjoyed some of the fun that camp offers. You have also probably discovered or rediscovered how much hard work it takes to be a good camp counselor! Like getting campers to clean up, help put equipment away, work together, wait their turn, ask for help, or any number of other things that kids typically don’t find fun.

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For years, camp professionals have touted the idea that camp is “a classroom without walls.” While models of camps connecting with education — such as school field trips or teaching environmental education — have been around for years, more and more camps are adding programs with academic value and increasing outreach to camper participants.

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“I Believe”
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I believe that camp has the power to change lives.

I believe in camp as a place where all people are welcomed as individuals and accepted for who they are.

I believe in camp as a place where people are welcomed as part of a team and appreciated for what they give for the good of the whole.

I believe in camp as a place where lifelong friendships are created and people can make new connections with others.

I believe in camp as a place for wild spaces where people learn to respect, protect, enjoy, and give back to the natural world.

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As a camp professional, I, like you, have literally thousands of affirming anecdotal stories — the camp experience is not discretionary. And, if anyone needs more evidence, ACA's outcomes research confirms what each of us already knows. Our CEO, Peg Smith*, has been telling the world that opportunities for growth and development exist in natural settings that promote experiential learning, improve social skills and physical fitness, teach children to take calculated risks in a safe environment, and expand the creative mind.

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Camp is often described as being a life-changing experience for children. The Directions research, conducted by the American Camp Association (ACA) in 2005, documented the significant growth in positive identity, social skills, thinking skills, and positive values that occurs during a camp session. Although the same type of research has not been conducted with adults, similar growth and change of attitudes has been reported anecdotally by adult participants in international gatherings.

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E.g., 2020-07-11