Presidential Fellows: A Program for Leadership Development at Camp Twin Lakes

The age-old question of “What do you do the rest of the year?” is inevitable. Every camp director we know has heard it, often many times. Summer is an intense and busy time, and we have worked hard to make sure that we, and our campers, have the appropriate support. When August comes around, all that hands-on energy and youthful compassion go back to school. Camp directors are left to fill in on the front line for our programs that continue deep into the fall and resume soon after the New Year.

The Psychology of Camper Success

James, an adorably awkward first-summer camper, sits on a bench outside Campcraft preparing to take his knife safety test. You tell him to begin, and — biting his lip in concentration — he flips open the large blade.

You try to adopt an encouraging tone, and say: “James, what’s the step before you open the knife?” He stares at you for a moment, and then quotes from memory: “Step number one: Always scan the area around yourself for potential dangers.”

Quietly crestfallen, he mutters to himself: “I’ll never get this right.”

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Courage, Not Comfort! Part II

I am back with Part 2 of our conversation about fund-raising — although I am sure some of you were hoping I would forget! Not a chance. Now we get to the fun part, the rewarding part, and, of course, the part where you will need to remember the joy of facing your fears. I am thinking again of that nervous camper shivering at the end of the diving board, wanting so much to be brave enough to make her first jump into the chilly lake. You are standing next to her and encouraging her, because you know how great she will feel after she takes this scary step.

Hunters and Farmers: Why ADHDers Can Thrive at Summer Camp

In examining the etiology behind the widely diagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), one school of thought, championed by Thom Hartmann, author of the Complete Guide to ADHD, speaks to the concept of “hunters and farmers in modern society.” This approach describes ADHDers as “leftover hunters,” positing that, from an evolutionary perspective, people were either hunters (heads on a swivel, looking for prey and seeking to not become prey) or farmers (methodically planting seeds and plowing fields).

And then there’s the present.

Meet Hakeem Oluseyi

If necessity is the mother of invention, then resilience is the mother of reinvention. Hakeem Oluseyi, PhD, world-renowned cosmologist, science educator, and humanitarian, is well acquainted with both.

“I was born in the city of New Orleans,” Oluseyi recounts. “Neither of my parents had graduated from high school. My father dropped out at nine and my mother at 16.”

The Good Reminder

Spring is a time of renewal and hope, and nowhere is this hopefulness more evident than in our chosen profession. As camp professionals, we catalog time by the changing of the seasons. Summer speaks for itself as we manage that magnificent chaos that can be summer camp. Fall for many of us is a season of reflection and rest, and winter is the season of planning and preparation. But spring? Spring is the season when we begin putting it all together.

Great Things Have Small Beginnings

In 1861, Frederick W. Gunn and his wife, Abigail, took their students on a two-week summer camping trip. The very popular program was repeated for the next several years — a small thing that is credited as the first summer camp. As the idea gained momentum for this new summer experience, more camps opened and, in 1910, some of the camp directors came together and founded the Camp Directors Association of America. This evolved into the American Camp Association (ACA). Today the association has over 14,000 members and 3,100 camps.

Solving the Certification Mystery

With ominous dread, our kitchen crew expected “the visit” any day now. Health inspector drop-ins typically occur in the midst of summer camp chaos, the busiest time of year for camp professionals. This time was no exception. With clipboard in hand, the inspector slowly and deliberately migrated from station to station, dwelling a bit longer in some areas. After the inspector handed over our well-graded inspection report, said goodbye, and the kitchen door slammed behind her, my kitchen staff released audible sighs. “YES! We can relax now.”

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