The Impact of the Loss of Free, Undirected Play in Childhood (And What Camps Can Do About It)

As wonderful as the cherished traditions and programmatic aspects of a camp may be, what we teach campers may not be the most important part of their summer experience. The most crucial and unexpected moments of a summer may be when children are left alone to engage in free, undirected play. For many campers, the experience of playing outside “alone” or with a group of friends may be a truly new and joyful one. The loss of time for free, undirected play in everyday life is one of the saddest facts of modern childhood.

Because of Camp. . .The possibilities are endless

For almost 150 years the camp community has had a secret. Not a well-kept secret, mind you, because you can see it in your neighborhoods, in your office buildings, on your favorite TV shows — you can see it at sporting events and hear it on your radios. But just in case it's still a secret to you, it's time for the camp community to shout it from the rooftops. When your kids come home energized from their summer camp experiences with that confident, exuberant, knowing smile you've never quite seen before broad across their faces, it's because camp has given them more than happy memories.

Nature Loves Nurture

In the spring of 2002, Psychologist Wallace Dixon published the results of a survey of 1,500 randomly selected, doctoral-level members of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). He had asked the society members which studies, published since 1950, they considered "most revolutionary."In this series, psychologist Christopher Thurber - an ACA member as well as a member of SRCD - shares a summary of the top twenty most revolutionary studies.

Early Adolescence - Ages 11 to 13

Developmental Milestones

  • Increase vocabulary to 40,000 words (nearly double from ages 8-9)
  • Choose friends based on common interests, rather than parent selection
  • Begin the process of sexual maturation, both physically and emotionally
  • Become more interested in community goals — service to others

What's on Their Minds

Teens at Camp, Camp and Teens

Camp Programs that Dare to be Different!

When TIME magazine ran its cover feature on "Being 13 in America" in the summer of 2005, they wrote about the complex pressures and surprisingly advanced behaviors showing up in many thirteen-year-olds as new phenomena. The good news is that camps serving teenagers have been adapting to these changes and offering increasingly sophisticated program choices to address the challenges teens experience growing up in the shifting world of American culture.

Parents Play a Pivotal Role in Keeping Teens Safe During the Summer Driving Season

William Shakespeare wrote, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date," apparently foreshadowing the all-too-soon approach of fall. But a short summer season is time enough still for even the most unlikely of kids to find trouble in the most likely of places: cars and roadways. 

The Elephant in the Room: Communicating With Kids About the Economy

Not surprisingly, parents may be reluctant to discuss difficult economic times with their children.  Viewed as the province of adult anxiety, the burdens imposed by tumbling stock prices, falling home values, and rising unemployment are a powerful force, with 8 out of every 10 Americans blaming the U.S. economic crisis for much of the stress in their lives, according to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association.