Knowing How to Play Requires Strategy and Structure

Play is an important part of how children grow. It is a universal phenomenon that has been passed down from generation to generation as a societal, expressive, and educational practice. Developmentally, it provides an opportunity for younger children to create and rehearse fundamental skills such as learning how to walk or to understand what personality traits people have. In later adolescence, research reveals play is a critical part of problem-solving and includes the formation of boundary setting, appropriate physical interaction, and the ability to use creative imagination.

Counselor Success Kit

“It is not our abilities that determine who we are, it is our choices.” — Harry Potter

Since 1861 when the first organized camp began, awesome people like you have given their time and talents to make camps throughout the United States a life-changing experience. In the early years, camps were created to provide an alternative environment for children to learn through a new experiential model and to promote an appreciation for being in the outdoors. Staff had to be extremely flexible as they adapted to rustic conditions and crude program ideas.

So You Got Promoted: Now What?

The camp experience is a very powerful learning process, which is both personal and challenging. It provides children the chance to grow in a protected environment controlled by caring, knowledgeable staff responsible for setting acceptable limits of risk management. Philosophically this is a great premise, but what happens to this construct if staff are inexperienced and not ready to assume the complexities of their job?

Create Inspirational Memories (Intentionally)

Almost everyone who has ever been to camp can quickly tell a story about something they did, learned, or observed that had a profound impact on their life. How do these experiences happen? Who creates them? Sometimes, through the magic of the camp, situations that create a lasting memory just happen. Occasionally a series of events build to a dramatic conclusion, which can lead to a truly life-changing experience. So how can you be more intentional in creating inspirational memories?

Will I Be Enough to Make a Difference?

Last summer I was inundated with questions from counselors who were worried about doing a good job. This theme was repeated over and over in all types of camps in several different states. When I asked staff to tell me more about their concerns, they responded in an unusual way. It was not the typical questions about procedural issues or how to deal with larger complex child development topics that was bothering them; it was a much more direct question. Some staff just wanted to know if they were enough to make a difference. What a magnificent question!

Superstar Counselors: Uploading the Right Connections for Generation Text

How many texts did you send yesterday? How about e-mails? Did you tweet any of your opinions? Was this distracting to you or anyone else? Were you misunderstood or did you get your point across? These questions and many resembling them are common concerns for people who are faced with a community living situation like day or resident camp. Last summer, while conducting camp staff trainings, I noticed an alarming trend in staff communication behavior.

Counseling Teens: How to Help Teenagers Create Memorable Summers

Being a counselor to teenagers is one of the most important jobs you will ever have. During this summer, you will learn more about life than you can possibly imagine.

And as is often the case with meaningful learning situations, counseling teenagers will surely test every fiber of your being. Returning staff who are reading this article probably can't help but smile because they already know how much energy it takes to be successful.

So here is the key question: If you are in charge of a group of teens, how can you create lasting memories in your campers?

Teaching Health and Safety: Preparing staff for the unexpected

Preparing camp counselors for their role as staff members, community leaders, and knowledgeable caregivers is a daunting task. Many staff members are themselves students or adolescents unsure of the aspects of camp wellness, and they bring different beliefs and varied backgrounds to camp. As a camp director or administrator, you must teach them the importance of proper procedures when it comes to safety, OSHA, and dealing with daily camp health issues.

20/20 Toolbox: How Can Counselors Be Inclusive?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great camp activities are, which special events seem fun, or even what new facilities have been added if each camper does not feel understood and appreciated. Given the vast number of different tasks a counselor must perform each day, it seems almost impossible to establish a meaningful connection with each camper. Even experienced counselors can become overwhelmed with the prospect of completing assigned duties before the end of the day.