Resource Library

During the summer, I have many opportunities to see and discuss camper behavior at the several camps I visit during the season. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly even some well-educated, experienced adult leaders resort to tactics that involve shaming children or threatening to take things away from them as methods of managing their behavior. I believe children sometimes need firm guidance. I also believe that guidance can be offered respectfully, without shame or threats. I offer two examples from this past summer.

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A Ditch in Time
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Rainfall and snow melt runoff are sworn enemies of the roads and pathways in camp. Erosion moves your road surface to places you don’t want roads. Spontaneous, unplanned drainage channels cut themselves into your improvements and through areas you’d rather not have them. Snow that melted at noon refreezes at sunset, causing the surface to heave and buckle over and over until it simply falls apart. If you think that fixing this kind of damage is expensive, then you’ll surely agree that fixing it more than once borders on criminal.

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"Kick a Ginger Day." Fair to say, the majority of adults reading this article have no idea what this means. A bunch of junior-high-aged kids in Calabasas, California, did, however. On November 20, 2009, at least four girls and two boys were subjected to physical and/or verbal bullying and abuse because of their red hair, freckles, and pale complexions. Ginger. Gilligan's Island. Redheads. It's quite a leap.

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Let me introduce Pat, a thirteen-year-old returning for his second summer at camp. Little distinguished his first year at camp, but this season he has a definite attitude problem. It showed up immediately in the ragged look of his clothes. As introductions were made on opening day and plans began to form for the summer, Pat was distinctly indifferent to all the hype given to the opportunities ahead.

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Being a counselor to teenagers is one of the most important jobs you will ever have. During this summer, you will learn more about life than you can possibly imagine.

And as is often the case with meaningful learning situations, counseling teenagers will surely test every fiber of your being. Returning staff who are reading this article probably can't help but smile because they already know how much energy it takes to be successful.

So here is the key question: If you are in charge of a group of teens, how can you create lasting memories in your campers?

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No Superheroes Need Apply

Does criminal behavior increase during difficult economic times? Some superheroes might say yes and some experts and researchers would agree.

What implications does this have for camps, both for-profit and nonprofit, and small businesses in general? Does this mean camp directors should be more vigilant during bad economic times? Is it time to post a job opening online for a superhero? No, wait! Look up in the sky! Here comes "Risk Management" to save the day!

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The Invisible Link
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Summer camp was initially established as a “back to nature” retreat for the children of wealthy New Englanders. It was a respite from the degradation of urban life. Over the years, with the help of myriad religious, educational, and social professionals, summer camps evolved into the blueprint for modern childhood. It became an evolving articulation of what our society deemed most beneficial for the growth and well-being of our children; a place where the values of self-reliance, respect, personal responsibility, fun, and camaraderie are instilled.

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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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