Preparing Kids for the "Real" Real World

There's a summer camp where kids do whatever they want, with whomever they want, all day long, as long as they aren't physically endangering anyone or putting anyone down. There are no bed times. Kids can bring cell phones (though they use them only sparingly). They can invent their own programs or just sit around talking with one another all day. It's called the Stomping Ground, and it's where I work.

Cultivating Camp’s Tech-free Traditions in the Digital Age

The camp director of one of the oldest and most respected camps on the continent remembers how, a few years ago, his camp's continuing tradition as a tech-free environment was especially hard for some fourteen- and fifteen-year-old campers. Cell phones, texting, and social media were the personal default setting of their lives. "We had some kids who really missed it," he told me recently. The networked life was the only life they knew at home and school. Going tech-free was a culture shock for them.

A Place to Share: Camp People Are Different from Regular People

Maybe it's ingrained from the way they were brought up, raised by camp counselors and campers alike. Or maybe it's the extra exposure to sunlight dappling their shoulders.

Maybe it's the camp bracelets that rest on their freckled skin. Maybe it's the constant singing and dancing that change their tune.

Or maybe it's a melody of all things camp, a melody so infectious it has yet to wear off.

Either way, there's something about them. Camp people are just different.

They always have a song for the occasion, a need to sing grace before each meal.

Reflections: Back to Basics

Few people would disagree that we now live in a world of consumer capitalism. Our open lands and lakefronts in New England are slowly disappearing to development. Many young children are over stimulated and over scheduled. This generation, more than any other in our history, needs the calming and regenerative powers of living close to the natural rhythms and flow of nature.

Recipe for Success: Planting the Seeds of Change

Change is often difficult for the thousands of camps and conference centers across the country to embrace, partly because many camps are steeped in tradition, and partly because of fear. The camp food service industry has been serving up hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets, bug juice, cake mixes, pre-baked breads, and, of course, s'mores for too long. Now is the time for camp directors and food service directors to embrace the movement toward healthier food options.

Risk Management: Privacy and Security Risks

The right to privacy is well established in the legal system of the United States. As citizens of the United States, we expect that our right to privacy will be respected.

Virtually all businesses gather personal information about employees and customers that is private. For example, most camps gather names, addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, driver's license numbers, driving history, dates of birth, financial information (bank account numbers, debit or credit card numbers, and security codes), personal images, e-mail addresses, and medical history.

From Peg: Moments. Magic. Meaning!

Peg Smith, ACA CEOIt only takes a moment — to change a life, make an impact, or create significance. It is remarkable how persuasive a moment in time can be to one's life. The camp experience is full of such moments.

Creating a Picture: Sites, Facilities, and Programs of ACA Camps

Do you ever wonder what other camps offer for programs? Are your facilities similar to those at other camps like yours? Are there differences in sites, facilities, and programs based on characteristics such as type, sponsorship, or geographic location? Every three years ACA conducts a randomized survey about sites, facilities, and programs of our accredited camps. The following brief overview offers you a snapshot of some of the information found in this year's survey. Looking at the findings through various lenses of camp characteristics provides a picture of our camp community.

Conservation Generation: Doing Good Work

At Blue Star, as at many camps, we care passionately about healing the planet. As third generation owners/directors, we are humbled and honored to continue and deepen the long tradition of social justice that breathes at the core of our good work at camp.

Now and Then: Summer and School Camp

The fine art of getting children outdoors and the genuine growth it facilitates has long been known. Aristotle said, “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Shakespeare’s Duke in As You Like It professes, “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” In the Enlightenment, Rousseau claimed in his 1761 book Emile; “Nature wants children to be children before being men . . . .