How Can You Tell When a Camper Is Really Ready for Camp?

Dear Bob,

We are a coed resident camp operating in the mountains. It seems that every summer we have campers who aren’t really ready for the demands of group living in what is the intense social and physical environment that is our camp. We have found that some parents want to send their children because they believe we can help them make the friends they’ve never been able to make at home.

Without being too confrontational and scaring away what might otherwise be great campers, how do we determine whether a child is truly ready for the community living that is our camp?

Confessions of a Disciplinarian: How Managing Camper Behavior Can Save the Summer

Like many camp directors — and other educators for that matter — I am frequently thrust into the unenviable role of disciplinarian. And, frankly, I don't feel that I'm very good at it.

That is my confession.

Of course, I am not exactly sure of the requirements to be a "good" disciplinarian. Objective, fair, and consistent come to mind . . . all important for sure, but perhaps a little abstract to construct a nicely bound definition of a model disciplinarian. Maybe that's part of my problem.

Big Deal or No Big Deal: A Framework for Co-Counselors

Staff orientation training is a jam-packed period of time that can last anywhere from a few hours to a week or more. Ice breakers, camper development, activity training, and health and safety are just a few of the topics that will be covered in some form or fashion prior to the arrival of the first group of campers for this year's summer season.

Positive Learning

It's a beautiful July morning at Camp Nevva GoHoma. Let's get out of the office which we know is like Grand Central Station with campers, staffers, specialists, administrative personnel, parents, (and sometimes grandparents) coming and going, USPS, UPS, FedEx drivers arriving and departing, phones constantly ringing, faxes flowing in and out, e-mail messages overf lowing on your computer screen, dogs meandering through the building — and take a Walk About . . . .

Cracking Children's SECRET Code

I don't want to play. I hate kickball. — Sophia, age five

Ben doesn't like me. He's always mad at me. — Betrand, age nine

This place stinks. All the activities are stupid. — Asa, age twelve

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.

Camp Traditions: Memories in the Making

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American Camp Association®, we recognize that through wars, recessions, triumphs, and feats of accomplishment, the camp experience has remained, at its core, essentially the same — a unique environment that promotes friendship, leadership, and community. When we compare camp experiences of the past with today's camp experience, we know that they served similar purposes.

Cool Under Pressure: How to Do What You Know How to Do When You Most Need to Do It

This may seem like an unusual subject for an article on camp counseling, but as you read on, I think you'll find it actually is a most relevant topic. Consider this: Anyone can perform well when things are going his or her way and circumstances make it easy. It is a rare person, though, who can continue to perform at his or her best, even when things aren't going their way.

Putting Camp in the Childhood Equation

In preparation for the 2010 camp season, the American Camp Association® (ACA) enlisted the expertise of Rachel Simmons and Dr. Michael Thompson, best-selling authors and specialists on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of childhood. Both professionals offer insight into why camp is so valuable to kids today and how the mentoring nature of the camp counselor-camper relationship can provide the positive role models kids need in building self-awareness and figuring out who they are and who they want to be.

Camp as Educator: Lessons Learned from History

By the time Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University, reportedly claimed in 1922, “the organized summer camp is the most important step in education that America has given the world,” camping in America already had a long history of embracing the educational value of the camp experience (Sharman, 1938). Now, almost a century later, the camp experience is once again at the precipice of education reform, standing at the crosssection of experiential learning and institutional schools.