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“They threw you a curveball,” suggests a brave staff member, after thinking it over for a moment.

“Be sure you cover all your bases,” offers another.

Thanking them for getting the ball rolling, I record their responses on poster board. They have just replied to my initial question asking the group to come up with commonly used phrases that are derived from baseball.

“What else?” I ask, prompting the group to continue brainstorming.

Soon the conversation really starts to flow, with contributions from other participants now coming more quickly:

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Researchers have postulated that counselors express lowest perceived competency in their ability to develop camper relationships, handle conflict between campers, and feel limited in their ability to provide a safe camp environment (Wahl-Alexander, Howell & Donahue, 2016). These perceived limitations could directly impact not only camper attitudes, but the entire camp community. Fortunately, there are some simple communication strategies to assist counselors in their ability to create a positive experience for campers and promote a safe camp environment.

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The results of the 2017 Fall Camper Enrollment and Staff Recruitment Survey show that, in general, the camp industry had a great year. Growth in enrollment in camp programs remained steady in comparison to 2016, with a total of 77 percent of camp directors describing enrollment for summer 2017 as about the same or higher than last year (results from 2016 showed 78 percent of respondents with this response).

Type of Program - Percent of Camps

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The year was 1995. It was early September, and I was just barely back as camp director at Sherwood Forest. Our summer programs then were 12-day sessions — two for boys and two for girls referred by schools and organizations in St. Louis. Most of the kids were from underserved communities and low-income families. Despite the long relationships between Sherwood Forest and our referral partners, it was always a scramble in the spring to fill these four sessions.

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Project Real Job
Published Date: 2018-03-01

In the early ’80s, I graduated from high school and made a simple but life-changing decision. It was May and I hadn’t yet made plans for the summer. My mom encouraged me to call my former camp directors, Herman and Rodger, and inquire about a summer working at camp. I so enjoyed camp as a kid but had missed out on being a counselor-trainee because of other commitments. A summer working outside with kids as a junior counselor sounded great.

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Nurses newly hired for your camp’s health center need orientation. What they need to know differs from the orientation needed by general staff. Providing it is critical to a smoothly functioning health center. But what should a camp professional explain to a newly hired camp nurse? In essence, everything. Even nurses who have worked at a different camp need orientation to your camp’s policies and practices. Come to think of it, returning nurses may need orientation too.

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Generating Your Backup Plan
Published Date: 2018-03-01

Most people recognize that generators come in different “sizes” and understand that bigger “things” require bigger generators. After that, though, eyes glaze when the discussion turns into techno-babble about kilowatts, horsepower, amps, and loads. Unlike many inconsequential topics, however, these things do matter when you’re thinking about backup power for even part of camp. Simply put, the size of the generator should be determined by the amount of power you want it to deliver.

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Traditions Old and New
Published Date: 2018-03-01

In the days and weeks leading up to opening day, I can hardly contain my excitement about being reunited with my favorite people on the planet. I can’t wait to see how much the campers have grown and matured and to hear about the experiences the staff had over the year. I look forward to the big annual events like the final camp show, the weekly traditions like colors and vespers, and even the ever-present bugle calls.

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Camper Allyship
Published Date: 2018-05-01

Social Justice

This article is part of Camping Magazine's series on social justice, exploring social issues in the context of individual camps and the camp community as a whole as a way to spark further conversation and inspire positive change.

Contact Ann Gillard (anngillard@gmail.com) if you would like to participate or contribute to this series.

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The Quiet Ones
Published Date: 2018-05-01

Close your eyes and think of a scene at camp. There is probably some mix of singing, laughing, and playing where the adults are wearing costumes (seemingly related to nothing), the campers are engaged, and “camp” is happening. Take a quick survey of the adults in this scene. What are they doing?

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