Resource Library

Adolescence, Identity, and Summer Camp
Published Date: 2017-11-01

The Broadway megahit and multi-Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen has crystallized America’s focus on one of the most challenging and most consequential developmental processes for children and young adults: identity formation.

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When I think back to my first summer as a camp counselor over twenty years ago, I wish I knew then what I know now about working with a group of energetic campers. I was assigned to live with ten thirteen-year-old girls for seven weeks, and it didn't take long for them to figure out that I was a new staff member with a lot to learn! I hate to admit that I fumbled my way through many situations that summer and later as a novice teacher in various middle and high school classrooms. A few years ago, I was invited to work with a staff group during orientation training at a Cape Cod camp.

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The middle and high school years are filled with challenges, change, and promise. Perhaps more than anything else, parents hope that their children will be prepared to be productive and successful young men and women of good character. I call this “readiness.” They also want their children to avoid risky behavior that might very well interfere with healthy development.

Camps play a critical role in promoting readiness and reducing risk by helping children build four essential pillars of success:

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It is not easy for parents to make the decision to send their child away into the waiting arms of strangers who promise to take care of them — people who promise to show them the wonders of nature, fun, new skills, and friendships. As a parent of two children, even I struggle with the idea, and I have been around summer camps my entire life.

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A Sample of Issues from Camp 2018
Published Date: 2018-11-01

I spend time with camp professionals from May to August consulting with directors on the more perplexing and complicated issues they face with campers, staff, or parents during the camp season. This year I met with or heard from 61 camp directors from around the country. Some of the issues I encountered included a heightened level of anxiety in both campers and staff. Many camp directors reported that they had several staff members who could not complete the season because of anxiety.

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The Kids Are All Right
Published Date: 2016-05-01

Most kids, most of the time, are totally doing the right thing. They are listening to you, being respectful to each other, playing and having fun in activities (they may not have chosen for themselves), and following directions and instructions without incident. Of course, we would all like to have more of that kind of behavior at camp, but almost all of our discussions about camper behavior revolve around what to do when campers are breaking down, falling apart, or having a hard time.

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I have a friend that works on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Though he is now just an intern, he feels that the work that he does there will eventually catapult him into a position that will allow him to change the world. His days are spent cataloguing important documents, memos that change our nation. To my friend, he is assisting in changing the world, and, in a sense, I agree.

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Yes, I said it. “Research” — that nasty stuff your teachers make you do in school, typically involving math, Excel, APA citations, etc. When I was in school, writing research papers always felt so stiff, so stifling. As a college professor, I see my students break out in hives at the sheer thought of research, and then I feel their angst when I read what they come up with. I get it, research has a bad rap, but like it or not, it is one of the most valued skills in the job market.

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We will call him, Mr. Joe. An eighty-one-year-old former resident of New Orleans, Mr. Joe tells Canon Walter Friese, interim director of Hardnter Camp and Conference Center in Pollock, Louisiana, about his aching arms as he swam his way to safety through the swirling waters of a devastated city in the midst of a catastrophe that many of us could never imagine. "Mr. Joe was so gracious and kind to those suffering around him.

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I spent the first 12 years of my life in a sleepy, rural town in the northeast corner of Connecticut. With both of my parents working full-time, my summer mornings began near dawn as I filled up my backpack and headed to the bus stop a few houses down the road. I would wait patiently with a sense of giddiness at what the day's activities at camp would bring. Holiday Hill Day Camp was my escape, my pure fun without requirements or judgments, and the freedom to choose whether I played Four Square after lunch or made gimp bracelets in arts and crafts.

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