Beautiful Boys: Addiction, Recovery, and What They Learned at Summer Camp

Addiction, recovery, and summer camp — four words that don't often appear together. Nevertheless, addictions of all kinds, perhaps especially to alcohol and other drugs, remain hugely problematic at individual, familial, institutional, and societal levels. They beg the question, "If camp experiences are transformative in so many ways, might they also result in easier, faster recovery from addiction?"

Alive and Well: The Case for the Camp Letter

In this era of tweeting and texting, the slow-moving, handwritten, paper letter is an endangered species. Unlike an electronic missive, the letter that arrives in an envelope can be touched, smelled, savored, tucked under a pillow, and filed away for decades. But of all types of letters, perhaps the most precious to both the sender and the recipient is the camp letter.

Rosie's Girls: Changing the Story for Girls

My tenth-grade history student addressed me tentatively in response to a classroom question. "Ms. Bluemle, I may be totally wrong, but . . . " I could barely focus on the rest of her sentence, as I was fixated on its conciliatory beginning. Leslie had been the feistiest of sixth graders, challenging peers and teachers at every turn. She had not apologized for raising her hand. She had never before trailed off in a discussion. But where her voice had once commanded attention, in four years it had been reduced to a near whisper.

Pedagogically Speaking - Part 1: How Schools Talk about What Camps Do

Clinging to the position that camp is different and unique will isolate us unless we can speak intelligently about how camp is an essential complement to what young people do for the other ten or 11 months of the year. Carefully study the list of terms included in this article and you'll see that schools are striving to do a lot of what camps do incredibly well already. But don't rest on your laurels believing that just because we know that we are special, the rest of the world does too. That solipsistic stance has hurt the camp world and could eventually lead to our extinction.

Delivering Happiness: Five Things Camps Can Learn from Zappos

Tony Hsieh's book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, struck a cord with millions of people. The best-selling book by the CEO of, Inc. about the company's success led to an entire movement whose mission is to "spread and inspire more happiness in the world." (2012)

Moving from Mainstreaming to Outsourcing: What Everyone Can Learn from Working with Different Needs

I run two different camps for kids with different needs, including a resident camp for kids with autism. A concerned parent called to talk about how she wanted her son to be “mainstreamed” in the camp environment. By definition, there is no mainstreaming at my camp; they are all living with similar challenges.

Leadership Transition: What I Learned in My First Year as a Camp Director

Last November I had the pleasure of sharing a long car ride with Dr. Michael Thompson, during which he gave me a fun idea. We were on the way to Houston for a presentation he was giving about the benefits of summer camp, and I was picking his brain about writing while trying to hold my own in a game of swapping stories about camp.

Leadership Transition: Managing Change

In the summer of 2013, we faced an exciting and critical challenge at our camp — a major leadership transition. We had the chance to replace our boys' camp director, who had been with us for seven years, with a man named Erec Hillis. Of course, seven years is not a lot compared to the twenty-one my wife Susie and I have been executive directors or the forty-eight years the camp has existed. But seven years is longer than all but a small handful of campers or counselors had even been with us, so the outgoing director was the only one who most of our camp families had ever known.

The Fad: When to Get on Board

Every year, dozens of new ideas and activities become popular among youth. Sometimes a television show makes it big and starts a fad (remember the years of Fear Factor and Minute to Win It?); other times a specific activity makes the popular list. (Like when paintball was all the rage ten years ago.) There are even instances of entire fad cultures (the hipster culture). Fads exist for small children (i.e. Minecraft), teens (i.e. One Direction), and even adults (think about the popularity of household blogs among women).

Programming with a Theme

The positives for a child who attends a summer camp experience are widely known. Children and youth develop independence, self-esteem, and confidence; they experience positive role model influences; they make friends; and they learn new skills and have new experiences in a safe environment. In recent years, camps have also been asked to focus on improving educational benefits to stay relevant for today’s kids. In response, pop culture and literary-themed camp programs that encourage reading, critical thinking, and character development have evolved.