Resource Library

The Edge: The View Ahead
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At my camp we have a special ceremony for the campers who will be aging out of the camp program. Many of those campers have been attending Camp Broadstone for the past six years, and the thoughts of not being able to return weigh heavily on them. These are fifteen-year-olds who are in the midst of much transition: being seen more and more as an adult and less as a child, moving through high school into the exploration of the next academic possibilities, and taking the exciting steps that bring them more independence.

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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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During the summer, I have many opportunities to see and discuss camper behavior at the several camps I visit during the season. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly even some well-educated, experienced adult leaders resort to tactics that involve shaming children or threatening to take things away from them as methods of managing their behavior. I believe children sometimes need firm guidance. I also believe that guidance can be offered respectfully, without shame or threats. I offer two examples from this past summer.

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A Ditch in Time
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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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"Kick a Ginger Day." Fair to say, the majority of adults reading this article have no idea what this means. A bunch of junior-high-aged kids in Calabasas, California, did, however. On November 20, 2009, at least four girls and two boys were subjected to physical and/or verbal bullying and abuse because of their red hair, freckles, and pale complexions. Ginger. Gilligan's Island. Redheads. It's quite a leap.

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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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Camp can offer a child more than mere fun. Camp is also the ideal environment to help campers develop their problem-solving skills.

Children learn problem solving through trial-and-error and modeling (watching how adults solve problems). Camp, with its community living focus, presents a constant source of potential conflicts and, thus, incidents in which to practice problem-solving skills. Camp also offers endless observation of how others (especially counselors) solve daily problems.

Successful Problem Solving

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Conquering Burnout
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Burnout can creep in at any time during the summer. If it does, know you are not alone. To conquer it, try to get away from the camp property on your days off; change your schedule if possible or alter when you do certain activities; and remind yourself that you will make it through this.

Signs of Burnout

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E.g., 2020-07-08
E.g., 2020-07-08