Lessons Learned at the ACA National Conference: Anne

By Ruby Compton

The Green River Preserve administrative team attended the American Camp Association’s National Conference 2013 in Dallas, TX in February. This post begins a series of posts from our year-round team about what lessons were learned over the week full of networking, professional development, and research about the value of summer camp. First up, lessons learned from Anne, co-director of Expeditions and School for Environmental Education (S.E.E.).



Tug-o-War. The classic game of pull….pull….pull. Sounds familiar, right? While attending the ACA conference in Dallas, TX, we discussed the tug-o-war that is currently playing in our children today. On one side you have the “test, test, test” philosophy. The idea that intelligence takes priority and is what makes the best people. On the other side you have the argument for character qualities and skills, like perseverance, optimism, and self-control. Unfortunately today, the majority of our children are dominated in their everyday lives with the push for intelligence. They are made to believe that this is what counts. On the flip side, character development is a something that our kids are not as readily receiving in school and researchers are finding is hindering to growth, success, and leadership.

Camp is all about character development. It invites exploration and play. Camp is a place of community; a place where everyone has to contribute. A life skill in itself that is vital for survival. Camp is non-threatening, a supportive place where kids are encouraged to take manageable risks and there is an absence of constant evaluation. At camp you are encouraged to go beyond your comfort zone. At camp there is a focus on collaboration and a balance of healthy competition. Camp teaches and values self reliance and resourcefulness. Camp facilitates relationships.

Keynote speaker, Madeline Levine said, “What we all hope is that our children will do well in school. We hope with even greater favor that they will do well in life."

“Our job is to help them to know and appreciate themselves deeply, to be persistent in the face of adversity, to appreciate the world with zest, to find work that is satisfying, friends and spouses who are loving and loyal, and to hold a deep belief that they have something meaningful to contribute to the world.”

As a parent, this begs the question, “What does my kid need to do better in the world? How can I help?”

Loud and clear, research shows that summer camp is the answer. Kids who have attended summer camp are more likely to succeed and develop into fully functioning adults.

*Image from http://optioneerjm.blogspot.com/