Resource Library

We are lucky to be at camp, in the modern world, and not living in a jungle where each new thing might kill us. The fight or flight response comes from ancient times when a person encountered a unique threat — like a tiger — and the brain needed to make a snap decision. Will I run (flight) or will I fight? While most of us do not encounter tigers on a regular basis, we are constantly exposed to new or novel things. These could be ideas, people, situations, food . . . the list goes on and on.

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Have you ever received multiple phone calls from a parent who is seeking reassurance that his or her child’s camp experience will go smoothly? Have you noticed parents or children who look worried when arriving for camp? Or, have you overheard parents talking with their children about the things that could go wrong during camp? As a camp staff member, you have most likely observed these behaviors, which can be risk factors for homesickness.

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The Dig and Discovery: Can We Tell the Story?

So, what is new? What is old? What is the same? Maybe everything; maybe nothing. Many times in the past, I have shared the concepts you will find in this article. You, as camp professionals, have argued these points for many more years. We, as a camp community, have been advocating for children, youth, and families for 150 years. Yet, what is our narrative? We all seem to be talking, but what are we really saying?

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The Psychology of Camper Success
Published Date: 2018-01-01

James, an adorably awkward first-summer camper, sits on a bench outside Campcraft preparing to take his knife safety test. You tell him to begin, and — biting his lip in concentration — he flips open the large blade.

You try to adopt an encouraging tone, and say: “James, what’s the step before you open the knife?” He stares at you for a moment, and then quotes from memory: “Step number one: Always scan the area around yourself for potential dangers.”

Quietly crestfallen, he mutters to himself: “I’ll never get this right.”

▪ ▪ ▪

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The summer's tales are not all in yet, but I am sure that if this summer is like any other, the economic downturn notwithstanding, there will be plenty of stories about over concerned, hovering parents who were challenging to work with for camp professionals. There is, for example, the parent of a five-year-old day camper in the San Francisco area who was sure her child would be too traumatized by having to change for swim in front of other children unless she came in every day and held a towel up to give her daughter privacy!

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Counselors, other camp staff, volunteers, parents, guardians, and friends of camps join camp directors as partners in the responsibility of caring for other people’s children. How many times have we heard camp directors complain, “I’m always the last one to hear about it?” Given the 21st century’s arsenal of personal electronics providing instant communication capabilities to many at camp, the communication responsibilities of “partners” have increased dramatically.

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A Ditch in Time
Published Date:

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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Political unrest in Kenya, a railway strike in Europe, the Zika virus in Central America, visa applications for Tanzania, international terrorism levels in Paris, the value of the baht in Thailand — these are topics you might expect to be on the agenda for the next meeting of the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. They are also topics we at Wilderness Adventures discussed at a recent planning meeting, as a significant portion of our summer camp program offers camping experiences on all the continents of the world except Antarctica.

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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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Realizing Unprecedented Success — Third in a Series of Articles

Leadership has always been a contact sport. It's not a collision sport but more like dancing. To dance, you have to have a partner and together you move in harmony. Your leadership capacity is measured, in large part, by the partners you dance with every day of your life. You are either blessed or cursed by the challenges of your partners.

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