Resource Library

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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Last summer, I was hanging out with a group of our oldest campers, many of whom have attended since they were four or five years old. As I’m constantly thinking of program improvement, I asked these camp veterans what suggestions they would make for the upcoming summer. After many clever ideas, one quieter young man spoke up: “Whatever you do, don’t change it too much. It always feels like home, and you can’t do anything to mess that up!”

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From Art
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The 2012 ACA National Conference will be held in Atlanta. My first national conference was in 1974 in Atlanta, so for me, returning to the same city thirty-seven years later brings back a flood of memories of not only my first national conference, but also a multitude of others (including a second one in Atlanta that I have attended!).

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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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Family camps have become increasingly prevalent over the past several years. The number of camps offering family programs has exploded since the early 90s; reports of increases in family camps range from 215 percent (Sweet 2007) to 500 percent (Tevis 2005) in the last sixteen years. More families are seeking opportunities to spend time together (Shaw and Dawson 2001), and camp providers are responding to this desire by providing more family programs.

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I just got off the phone with the very thoughtful and reflective Jamie Cole, one of the owner/directors of Camp Robin Hood in Freedom, New Hampshire. She wanted to know my thoughts about a new policy the camp has been considering for this summer regarding the use of electronics at camp. I say the “thoughtful and reflective” Jamie Cole because she is balanced in her thinking about the issue of electronics at camp.

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Returning from the 2011 ACA National Conference in San Diego, I began to reflect on how camps can impact a student's education. For the past forty years, my school district has sent fifth graders to camp to enhance their science education. Our fifth grade students participate in a three-day, two-night program. During this time, the students get to experience science at a school without walls. The hands on classes have a great impact on student comprehension. More camps should increase their involvement in this type of school year endeavor.

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The Cycle of Camp
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When I mention to people that I'm a Girl Scout, they give me the "once-over." You know, moving their eyes up and down my body, then adding; "Aren't you a little old to be a Girl Scout?" I'm thirty-three! How is that old? Ah well, I love that I'm still a Girl Scout (lifetime member, thank you) and am proud of being part of an organization that truly helped mold me. I joined because of my sister; I stayed because of camp.

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By the time Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University, reportedly claimed in 1922, “the organized summer camp is the most important step in education that America has given the world,” camping in America already had a long history of embracing the educational value of the camp experience (Sharman, 1938). Now, almost a century later, the camp experience is once again at the precipice of education reform, standing at the crosssection of experiential learning and institutional schools.

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As camp operators, we are keenly aware that when kids go to camp, they make positive gains in self-reliance, independence, communication, and self-esteem. Unplugged from the constant electronic buzz, children find themselves at camp — making genuine connections with other children, rediscovering the fun in physical fitness, learning their own strengths, and finding their own voices.

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