More Than Science

Sure, campers at Science Camp are going to learn a lot about science and of course they are going to have fun. But what else can be expected from the summer camp experience?

Camp is a venue for:_MG_5991

  • Inviting exploration and play
  • Providing physical and emotional support
  • Focusing on collaboration and teamwork
  • Trying new things
  • Teaching and valuing self-reliance and resourcefulness
  • Encouraging manageable risk
  • Facilitating relationships

In a nutshell, camp is an environment where young adults can really grow.  At the American Camp Association (ACA) Annual National Conference earlier this month, it was great to learn more of the ways that camp leaders can facilitate the experiences that contribute to this.

Planting trees

It is good to see that across the United States more and more school systems are starting to realize that schools, too, need to provide such an environment. An emphasis on test results is not the answer and is actually toxic to an environment that is trying to develop the character traits outlined above.

Professional educators are starting to understand that camp has been such an environment for over 150 years, and that camps, and camp leaders, have a lot to bring to the table.  And camps and camp leaders are starting to realize that they have a lot to offer. Unfortunately, camps have not been good at collecting and sharing data, and educational folks generally love lots and lots of data.  That is starting to change, thanks to efforts by the ACA, and a growing realization among camp leaders how important it is to have that data.

I believe that when camps start to provide data for studies that educators can read and respect, lights are going to go on. Educators will see the tools they need to help provide the right environment, and camps will see how important their work is to youth development and how important it is to expand the reach of camp.


Throw in some nature and you’ve got a winning recipe.

“Send ’em home pale, sick, and tired!”

Words of wisdom from Space Camp!

You have probably heard of Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. I had the pleasure of meeting the director of Space Camp, Marcia Lindstrom, at the American Camp Association Conference in Atlanta. Marcia (everyone at ‘camp’ goes by first name) was on a panel I attended that discussed specialty camps, and one of the topics for discussion on the panel was the importance of downtime for the campers. After the seminar, I introduced myself to Marcia and asked her how she felt about that. I loved her response, her words of wisdom which I will never forget:

‘Honey, we send ’em home pale, sick, and tired!

Marcia went on to explain that they felt that the kids came to be challenged and to learn as much as they can, and that their goal as a camp was to make sure they were having so much fun doing so that they didn’t even notice how busy they were. She encouraged me: ‘You’re going to see the same types of kids, so you do the same!’

Thanks, Marcia, but we are going to send them home TAN, sick, and tired.