Posted by: Birch Rock Camp

Today, Mike and Rich attended the American Camp Association New England Conference* in Manchester, New Hampshire.  They each attended three separate workshops before listening to the keynote speaker talk about anxiety in campers, parents and staff.  There are a number of workshops to choose from, and all are by professionals in camping, child psychologists, or professionals in rescue, insurance, etc.

Rich attended three:

1)  Leading the Leaders:  About mentoring the TOP players at camp, the administrators and area supervisors, etc.

2)  Helping Children and Staff Cope With Worry and Stress:  Learning techniques that reduce anxiety and strategies for when to use them

3)  What’s In Your Camp’s Blind Spot?:  This workshop was run by insurance folks about how to cover all your bases when hiring a contractor.

Mike’s three:

1)  What I Learned From My Dog?:  A workshop by a child psychologist about what you can learn from your pets can be transferred to children.  For example, positive attitude, consistency, acceptance, being proactive, and establishing positive relationships.

2)  Healthy Competition:  Can healthy competition exist?  Is competition good or bad?  Are pointless games pointless?  Leave with a clear sense of how to train your staff about competition.

3)  How To Eat An Elephant?:  Putting your camp facilities priorities in order- one bite at a time.


The Keynote Speaker was Dr Anthony Rao, who spoke about anxiety.  He spoke about it’s rise since the 1940s and how it is related to the world we live in.  About the fact that the modern child can name more synthetic creatures from video games and card games then they can actual animals in nature.  They are not around nature enough!

Dr. Rao also talked about identifying anxiety and how it gets passed around camp.  He DID say that anxiety is at its lowest in the summer months when kids are out of school, outside having fun and getting their exercise.  “The camp experience matters.  It may be the last true place where healthy development of skills and forging of friendships remain untouched by technology and modern times.”

*Mike and Rich have been attending these conferences every year since 1997 and often a few senior staff members will come along too.  We are all here to learn.