Weathering the Changes: Discriminating Mental Health Problems and Normal Developmental Struggles in Hard-to-Reach Campers

A camp director is stumped by negative changes observed in a veteran camper. Juan first came to camp as an energetic and enthusiastic eight-year-old. This year, at age fifteen, he walks away from opening campfire, telling his counselors that his mother made him come to camp. He would have preferred hanging out with his friends and wants to go home. Juan is furious when his cell phone is taken away from him according to camp policy. For the next few days he mopes around camp, disengaged and unenthusiastic.

Be Superman: Teach Campers to Wear the Cape

Staff training? Check. Nametags ready? Check. Ready to do a great job? Check. Campers are here? Check. It is my first day of camp and I am ready to put everything they taught us into action. I will be the hero and the campers will love me. I am their role model, right? I am older. I know more. I am mature, and I am ready!

It's Complicated. Beyond the Hookup Culture: Taking Initiative and Mitigating Risks

Navigating what has become known as the “hookup culture” is no easy task for young people of all ages and both sexes. Although it has now been popularized in song (including pop star Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” [Perry et al, 2010] and country musician Blake Shelton’s “Lonely Tonight” [Anderson and Howard, 2014]), for years researchers could only guess at the longer-term consequences of the advent of casual, intimate, and sometimes even anonymous sexual behavior among teens and young adults.

Brain Development and Teens

School had never been a successful place for 13-year-old Manuel. He never felt smart enough or capable enough or emotionally safe enough to do well in school. For one thing, the "neck up" learning style of public school never fit his naturally active, learn-by-doing approach to life. Things got worse after his father was arrested for a minor drug charge that carried a mandatory one-year jail sentence. As a result, his father lost his job and his family became homeless.

Handling the Sensitive Issues Campers Bring to You

When You've Earned Your Campers' Trust, You May Get More Than You Bargained For

In the Trenches: A Counselor’s Good Judgment

Camp directors: Please share this column with your staff. During the camp season it's more important than ever for them to read this.

Camper Enrollment Continued Upward Trend in 2014

Economically speaking, 2014 felt a little better across the nation. The Dow was up a bit, the jobs reports were somewhat positive, and people seemed to be spending money. Early in 2015 it still feels cautionary given the backdrop of the past few years, but there is a reason to feel optimistic after reviewing the results of the 2014 Enrollment Survey.

Risk Management: Parents and Camp Health Services - Creating a Sane Partnership

Camp professionals have long talked about forming a partnership with parents. First articulated by Bob Ditter, the concept has moved deeply into various policies, practices, materials, and conversations. But it has not been specifically discussed in relation to camp health services — until now. It's time our camp community becomes more strategic in our relationship with parents regarding the health services provided to their child(ren).

A Place to Share: Lessons from Summer Camp

Bobby arrived later than all the other campers, a habit I would soon come to expect. He waited awkwardly in the rec hall doorway. He clutched a black plastic bag of clothing and toiletries, and in his eyes he carried a dim light of glazed-over confusion.

I introduced myself.

"Hi, Mr. Ben," he said in a lilty, sing-songy pitch, dragging out each syllable.

Gumption Grown Here: How Adventure Camps Help Adults and Youth to Toughen

There was a day when it was thought that being an American and having "gumption" went hand in hand. As Dennis R. Rader writes in Learning Redefined: Changing the Images that Guide the Process, "America used to be a community alive with the unspoken motto: Gumption Grown Here" (p. 274). What is gumption? Gumption is toughness. Not tough in a stereotypical way (e.g. like suggesting attitudes and actions that are hard, cold, insensitive, or even brutal), but tough meaning emotionally, mentally, and physically f lexible, strong, and resilient.