Learning Perspective in Camp Communities of Empathy

The first time I can remember intentionally practicing empathy, I was an eight-year-old, first-time camper sitting in a circle with my counselors and cabinmates inside our cabin just before bed. It was maybe the third night of camp. I had settled into camp and started to realize how funny my counselors Barry, Chuck, and Tico were, and that camp could be a blast. Everyone was chattering over each other.

Move from New to Normal: Be the Friend You Want at the Beginning

One of the best reasons to go to camp is to experience something new. Yet, at the same time, some of the unpleasant feelings experienced while at camp might be because we are new! It is a paradox. It is solvable. Those of us who are returning need to welcome the newbies into the feeling of being one of us.

Signing on the Dotted Line: Commitment Is a Two-Way Street

Congratulations! You committed to working at camp this summer, and the director and/or team who hired you have been anticipating your arrival since you signed on the dotted line! It is completely normal to have cold feet and wonder if you made the right decision to spend your summer at camp, similar to the feelings of the campers you will soon meet who will be embarking on this adventure as well. Before the butterflies in your stomach get the best of you, know that commitment is a two-way street.

Traditions Old and New

In the days and weeks leading up to opening day, I can hardly contain my excitement about being reunited with my favorite people on the planet. I can’t wait to see how much the campers have grown and matured and to hear about the experiences the staff had over the year. I look forward to the big annual events like the final camp show, the weekly traditions like colors and vespers, and even the ever-present bugle calls.

Generating Your Backup Plan

Most people recognize that generators come in different “sizes” and understand that bigger “things” require bigger generators. After that, though, eyes glaze when the discussion turns into techno-babble about kilowatts, horsepower, amps, and loads. Unlike many inconsequential topics, however, these things do matter when you’re thinking about backup power for even part of camp. Simply put, the size of the generator should be determined by the amount of power you want it to deliver.

Orienting Your Camp Nurse: Tips for Success

Nurses newly hired for your camp’s health center need orientation. What they need to know differs from the orientation needed by general staff. Providing it is critical to a smoothly functioning health center. But what should a camp professional explain to a newly hired camp nurse? In essence, everything. Even nurses who have worked at a different camp need orientation to your camp’s policies and practices. Come to think of it, returning nurses may need orientation too.

Learning to Rise through Research and Evaluation

The year was 1995. It was early September, and I was just barely back as camp director at Sherwood Forest. Our summer programs then were 12-day sessions — two for boys and two for girls referred by schools and organizations in St. Louis. Most of the kids were from underserved communities and low-income families. Despite the long relationships between Sherwood Forest and our referral partners, it was always a scramble in the spring to fill these four sessions.

2017 Camper Enrollment Survey: Changing Issues Include Increases in Campers with MESH Needs

The results of the 2017 Fall Camper Enrollment and Staff Recruitment Survey show that, in general, the camp industry had a great year. Growth in enrollment in camp programs remained steady in comparison to 2016, with a total of 77 percent of camp directors describing enrollment for summer 2017 as about the same or higher than last year (results from 2016 showed 78 percent of respondents with this response).

Type of Program - Percent of Camps

Communication Strategies to Create a Positive and Safe Camp Environment

Researchers have postulated that counselors express lowest perceived competency in their ability to develop camper relationships, handle conflict between campers, and feel limited in their ability to provide a safe camp environment (Wahl-Alexander, Howell & Donahue, 2016). These perceived limitations could directly impact not only camper attitudes, but the entire camp community. Fortunately, there are some simple communication strategies to assist counselors in their ability to create a positive experience for campers and promote a safe camp environment.

Play Ball: An Innovative Staff Training Helps Campers Acclimate

“They threw you a curveball,” suggests a brave staff member, after thinking it over for a moment.

“Be sure you cover all your bases,” offers another.

Thanking them for getting the ball rolling, I record their responses on poster board. They have just replied to my initial question asking the group to come up with commonly used phrases that are derived from baseball.

“What else?” I ask, prompting the group to continue brainstorming.

Soon the conversation really starts to flow, with contributions from other participants now coming more quickly:

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