Resource Library

On the occasion of my fiftieth birthday, I contemplated the unthinkable: retirement. Not that I am anywhere near ready to conclude my career, but I now know what before I refused to acknowledge: Some day there will be no more kids for me to counsel, lead, or direct. Yikes.

When I speak in schools, something I do quite a bit of, I often tackle the subject of legacy — challenging kids to think about what they want to be remembered for when they have moved on to new places and new people. What is the reputation, the legacy, they want to leave behind?

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Ty, an eleven-year-old returning camper, is sitting on the porch of your cabin. You have brought him out away from the other boys, just as you were trained to do, because he has been relentlessly annoying another boy in the group named Chad. During staff training, you were told to address bullying behavior as soon as you see it so that you not only stop it before it intensifies, but also send a clear message that such behavior is "not okay" at camp. Ty is just the kind of boy who would influence the rest of the group in the wrong direction.

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There was a day when it was thought that being an American and having "gumption" went hand in hand. As Dennis R. Rader writes in Learning Redefined: Changing the Images that Guide the Process, "America used to be a community alive with the unspoken motto: Gumption Grown Here" (p. 274). What is gumption? Gumption is toughness. Not tough in a stereotypical way (e.g. like suggesting attitudes and actions that are hard, cold, insensitive, or even brutal), but tough meaning emotionally, mentally, and physically f lexible, strong, and resilient.

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Reflections on Hiring Camp Staff
Published Date: 2014-11-01

Hiring young women and men who are prepared to put campers' needs before their own is by far the most important thing I do each year. With year-round programs offering short-term residential experiences in the spring and week-long sessions in the summer, fall, and winter seasons — plus 23 respite care weekends and 23 camper trips, the hiring process is indeed a year-round adventure.

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A Place to Share: Lessons from Summer Camp
Published Date: 2014-07-01

Bobby arrived later than all the other campers, a habit I would soon come to expect. He waited awkwardly in the rec hall doorway. He clutched a black plastic bag of clothing and toiletries, and in his eyes he carried a dim light of glazed-over confusion.

I introduced myself.

"Hi, Mr. Ben," he said in a lilty, sing-songy pitch, dragging out each syllable.

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Camp professionals have long talked about forming a partnership with parents. First articulated by Bob Ditter, the concept has moved deeply into various policies, practices, materials, and conversations. But it has not been specifically discussed in relation to camp health services — until now. It's time our camp community becomes more strategic in our relationship with parents regarding the health services provided to their child(ren).

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Economically speaking, 2014 felt a little better across the nation. The Dow was up a bit, the jobs reports were somewhat positive, and people seemed to be spending money. Early in 2015 it still feels cautionary given the backdrop of the past few years, but there is a reason to feel optimistic after reviewing the results of the 2014 Enrollment Survey.
 
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When You've Earned Your Campers' Trust, You May Get More Than You Bargained For

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Brain Development and Teens
Published Date: 2015-09-01

School had never been a successful place for 13-year-old Manuel. He never felt smart enough or capable enough or emotionally safe enough to do well in school. For one thing, the "neck up" learning style of public school never fit his naturally active, learn-by-doing approach to life. Things got worse after his father was arrested for a minor drug charge that carried a mandatory one-year jail sentence. As a result, his father lost his job and his family became homeless.

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Navigating what has become known as the “hookup culture” is no easy task for young people of all ages and both sexes. Although it has now been popularized in song (including pop star Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” [Perry et al, 2010] and country musician Blake Shelton’s “Lonely Tonight” [Anderson and Howard, 2014]), for years researchers could only guess at the longer-term consequences of the advent of casual, intimate, and sometimes even anonymous sexual behavior among teens and young adults.

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