Archive for the ‘Benefits of Summer Camp’ Category

From the Summer Staff Perspective

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Camp has an incredible impact on campers, but it also impacts our staff members in equally powerful ways. It allows us to reflect on the impact of our experiences and the strength of connections made during our childhood and adolescence. It gives us a perspective on the challenges of growing up that we don’t experience again until we have children of our own. And, possibly most important, it allows us to see ourselves through the eyes, actions and needs of another. We have incredible staff at Sanborn Western Camps because, as an organization, we ask them to put the needs of the campers before their own. The staff members who remain present and focused on the campers’ development end up being the ones who take away camps’ biggest lesson: how to empathize and care deeply for others–and to hold yourself accountable. As one of our long-time staff members and former campers, Iska Nardie-Warner, shared in her following response on self-reflection, “They will ask similar questions of you, and you might want [to have] your answers ready.”

Camp changes the way girls perceive themselves.

I was writing [this] and ended up getting super nostalgic for camp, the staff, and the campers. Anyway, I just thought I’d share some of what camp has given me these past 3 years mostly because I think that sharing in the moment is cool and not done enough, but also because tis the season you know?


Though I have had many reasons for returning to Sanborn, the opportunity to communicate to young girls the power that comes from living outdoors in a solely female community surely covers the main of it.


Fortunately for me, the past two summers have been spent living and working with the same girls. And I can honestly say that watching each and everyone of those unique, talented, and beautiful young ladies challenge themselves physically, emotionally and grow in themselves has been a blessing. We all remember the challenges of being a fifteen-year old girl and to help these special ladies recognize their connections to (and love for) each other and the strength they build when they rely not only upon themselves but each other as well is making a difference.


Camp changes the way girls perceive themselves. Less and less, you will observe, the girls worry about the need to look or act a specific way: instead, they focus on climbing 14,000 foot mountains, riding horses with control, and most importantly asking questions of the world, themselves. And don’t be fooled, they will ask similar questions of you, and you might want your answers ready.


The power of fifteen-year old girls is undoubtedly underestimated. There is something striking about waking each morning and having to explain yourself and your thoughts and actions, almost immediately, to your girls. Their insatiable curiosity prompts repeated recognition of the importance of self-reflection for a counselor.


Honestly, I cherish explaining why my opinions on the importance of female empowerment provide the drive behind my work as a counselor: Sanborn becomes the intersection of theory and practice, for me, and I only fully-understand that because of self-reflection, sometimes prompted by the intelligent young ladies that populate that camp. In other words, these girls challenge me just as much as I plan on challenging them each summer. And I know they will give me just as much as I am willing to give them.

"And I know they will give me just as much as I am willing to give them." Avery (left), a current camper, with Iska (right) during their long trip in Summer 2015.


I could never take my role in their life lightly, and plan to never take for granted the role they have played in mine either because they really are the most special, funny, witty, charming, intelligent, kind, poised, and lovable young women. I miss them to pieces and know that they will be some of the best JCs and people this world has ever seen. And Sanborn—as a place that changes lives forever (for the better)—would be lucky to have any of them that can return.

Cheers,

Iska

Thank you Iska for sharing your thoughts with us and our greater Camp community. We are so excited to continue impacting each other with our campers and staff members as the New Year approaches and brings Summer 2016 with it.

The Joy of Campfires

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

"The brilliance, the warmth, the crackle of the logs…it brought new life to our cold campsite."

There are so many magnificent things about summer camp, and for me one of the greatest of them is the opportunity to sit around a campfire.  Not a gas flame flickering, not a warming lamp on a restaurant patio… but a campfire.

The first campfire I experienced was at Sanborn, and it was love at first sight.  I was a camper on my first unit overnight, far from home.  I was tired from a long hike in wet weather, my feet and shoulders were aching, and a cold front was rolling in behind the rain. But then the counselors built a campfire.  And all of those tiresome things melted away. I couldn’t believe how incredible it was to just stare at the rolling flames.

The mood lifted as campers and staff gathered around.  We gazed at the fire, transfixed by the vines of light tangling in the air.  The brilliance, the warmth, the crackle of the logs…it brought new life to our cold campsite.  There was something mystic about those flames.  It felt like a message from the earth, from nature itself, an encouraging note of warmth and energy.

Throughout that evening, campers and counselors stayed near the fire, working together to prepare dinner.  We chopped and grilled, cooking right over the blaze.  There wasn’t a stove in sight, we literally cooked over the fire.  It felt timeless, as if we were engaged in an ancient task.  I still remember that meal, it’s one of the best dinners of my life.  And not because it was well made, which it was, but because the entire meal was cooked on an open fire.  It lit up my mood and filled up my belly.

"We chopped and grilled, cooking right over the blaze."

That campfire was a first for me, and summer camp is all about firsts.  Spending a night or two out in the wilderness can be scary, but a campfire can chase away those fears.  It’s a process that humans have been doing for eons.

The human race has a special relationship with campfires.  It’s a ritual of light, a safe zone of warmth and community.  Gazing into a the flames, we connect to our past.  For thousands of years our ancestors sat around fires, not for fun, but for necessity.  Human history began by the firelight.  When we build campfires, it brings a taste of the timeless into our cluttered modern world.

It’s essential to be safe when building a fire.  At Sanborn, we don’t have fires all the time, we only build when conditions permit.  Sometimes there are fire bans, other times we’re in National Forest or high country and we simply don’t want to impact the surroundings.  But when we do build campfires, it’s truly wonderful.  A campfire can warm a day and bond a group.  Gazing into the flames inspires you in ways that are hard to describe.  The flames roll and your thoughts roll with them.

Years ago, that night around the fire, the meal finished but we kept the flames going.  We roasted marshmallows and sang along with an untuned guitar.  The flames twisted up into the night with our laughter in tow.  I looked across the fire, into the eyes of my new friends.  The campfire underscored the mood, it was a shared love of the moment.  With each pop from the fire, sparks floated up into the sky, mixing with the stars.  I felt so… connected.

As the night ended, the flames fell into coals and the embers pulsed like a heartbeat.   One by one, everyone headed off to bed, zipping into their tents and bags.  I sat alone with a few others, poking at the embers. Finally, the counselors put the fire out with a crash of cold water.  Steam hissed up into the night, the light fading away.  It was time for bed.

I always sleep like a rock after sitting around a campfire.  It’s almost like the flames were a lullaby for my busy mind.  And then there’s the fun of the next day… because one of the great things about a campfire is that it stays with you.  The next morning you can smell the campfire in your clothes, an aroma of smoke, an echo of nighttime fun.  More than once, I’ve been caught standing stock-still, sniffing my clothes and smiling, remembering the flawless joy of a campfire.

We agree – Camp is Magic

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Facing challenges that seem impossible at the time is part of the Magic of camp.

Maybe being this far back in the forest you would think that it’s hard for the News to reach us, but we do appreciate those of you who help keep us connected to what’s new and trending, and we will never pass up a great article about the Magic and Purpose of Camp! So when this article from the Huffington Post by Kelly Newsome was passed along to Jane by a couple of alums, it quickly made its way around the office and now up on the blog and back out to you, who we have a feeling will appreciate it as much as we did!

We know from first-hand experience that the thoughts Ms. Newsome expresses about how camp shaped her as a person are very real. Camp is an environment where individual growth and self-understanding occur in a way that seems magical. It does not matter where or which camp you attended as a child or worked at in your young adult years or came back to for an Alum Reunion.

The Magic of camp can happen in as short a time frame as a weekend.

And that is where this article struck me as so true. We just enjoyed the camp alum reunion to celebrate our 67th year, and welcomed nearly 50 over-excited “children” (as Ms. Newsome so aptly put it).  The excitement in the lodge on Thursday night was palpable. Pre-historic through present aged camp alum immediately blended together into a new camp community. All weekend they enjoyed together the activities that make up so many happy memories from camp days.

My favorite part of the reunions though are the stories told during meals and “rest time” on the deck. The stories of great adventures, favorite counsellors and campers, and most especially the challenging moments! Just as Ms. Newsome said, “After lice outbreaks, soiled linens, projectile vomiting, and shrill screams in the wee hours of the morning, getting splashed by an oncoming bus on the way to class or stepping in dog poop at the park just doesn’t take a toll on my happiness the way it once did.”

We all have those stories of the great mountain climbs and perfect 5-day horse trips that we look back on fondly, but it’s not these stories that get told with minute-by-minute details and pride in all the sheer will-power it took to boil water in a torrential Colorado downpour. It’s the challenges we all faced, and overcame, that turn into the stories that are now told and reflected on as being the best. You were challenged by Nature, by very-tired distraught campers, by a mountain with 14 false peaks. You struggled, worked as a team, and overcame the worst of the situation to pull through and return triumphant! Those are the memories that you hold dear and those are the times that shaped you into the strong confident human being you are now.  These are the magic moments – and yes, for those of you who are currently campers, this is happening for you too!

The world is changing out there (we do venture out of our forest home enough to know that). It is continuing to become a place of diversified challenges and struggles. Yet, we know that what we’ve done here for the past 67 years and the challenges we continue to embrace, are still helping to grow and shape us into the very best humans we can be. The humans that will take Camp out into the world and “redefine magic” there as well.

Find Kelly Newsome’s article The Magic of Summer Camp here.

Reflections and Realizations

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015
Camp is finally here! We are all together again! My skin can barely hold all joy and excitement inside me! It is absolutely amazing to see everyone, staff and campers, in the lodge, on the trails and playing in the fields. What we’ve discussed for the last ten days is finally being out to practice. First year counselors and fourth year counselors are seamlessly blending together as a group of strong mentors for this group of young people we’ve welcomed home in the last 24 hours. Everyone is experiencing the first few days of Summer 2015 together and looking forward to all the adventure and fun in store.
As I struggle to sleep tonight with all this excitement, I’ve also been reflecting on the past 10 days of training and the conversations I know have happened at both Big Spring and High Trails. The impact will we have on their lives as counselors, wranglers, or leaders on trips this summer is remarkable. We talked about ways to help campers learn both hard and soft skills and build competence and confidence; not only in their lives at camp, but throughout their lives outside of camp. Staff members are taking to heart all the ideas presented to the group and looking for ways they can impact campers.

Celebrating the summit of Mt. Elbert on day 4 of the 2010 1st Session Elbert/ Massive Trip.

This helped me recognize something special about this summer for me. Many of my junior campers from my first summer on staff are now the Junior Counselors (JCs) at High Trails. In fact, a great many of our staff members were also former campers on trips of mine. Over the past ten days, I’ve realized that some of my favorite people in the world are on the staff this summer – it’s because they are the people that made a huge impact on my life!

These are the ladies that were campers on the first backpacking trip I led, on the first trip with 2 mountain climbs, and on the trip that the rain would never stop and I had dreams of our tents floating away. These were the trips that have shaped me into the mountain woman I am today. I remember those instances that I didn’t speak with grace first, I didn’t come into each conversation with the thought of teaching first. Those are the trips that were wonderful in their many missteps and these are the ladies that trusted me to guide them, teach them and celebrate with them….even when I didn’t feel I had the competence and confidence that I was trying so humbly to help them gain.

All the 2015 staff members who I first met when they were campers and took out on trips. (And Ariella too, who has always been a rock of support)

These are the ladies that impacted my life in so many positive and most important ways.

There is a phrase we use around here sometimes, because of camp… Well, because of camp, I have gained the skills and self-confidence of a great leader, all while being too busy playing in the dirt and hiking with my girls to notice.
To the parents who send their most precious treasures to camp, thank you, you are giving our staff members a most precious gift–the gift of being able to grow and change alongside your sons and daughters.

- Jessie

Opening Day First Term 2015!

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Waiting to welcome the campers at High Trails

The Opening Day of camp is the most exciting day of our year and we enjoyed sun and a brilliant blue sky most of the day. We have had more moisture over the winter and spring than we have had in many years, and our green grass and abundant wildflowers are thriving. After almost two weeks of staff training, we are excited to have campers running down the paths and filling the lodges with laughter. They seem as happy to be here as we are to have them.

Luggage was barely unpacked before camp activities began. The stables were busy with Ride-Out and Basic Preparation, and shouts came from the volleyball courts, the Gaga Pits, and all the camp trails. The sounds of old friends reconnecting and new friendships forming were everywhere. Tonight, tent and cabin groups are playing “Getting Acquainted” and “Team Building” games to facilitate the formation of these important living unit communities. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

Tomorrow, our program will begin in earnest and we will have half-day hikes heading out to A-Bluff, Top of the World, the Crystal Beds and other favorite destinations. Basic Preparation will continue at both stables, and we will have introductory sessions in rock climbing and camping skills. We’ll also begin crafts projects, activities at the Interbarn science center, tennis, fishing, and sports. Junior campers will be hiking, riding, swimming, and learning camping skills at the Mountain Odyssey program during their first two days.

On Wednesday morning the girls will backpack out for their Cabinside Overnights at campsites on our property. The boys will camp-out on Thursday night. These first overnights with the living unit accomplish some important goals. They introduce everyone to the fun of camping out; outdoor skills are learned or reviewed; and close bonds are created among the members of each living community. Sanborn Junior campers will also experience their first overnight on Wednesday or Thursday.

Tomorrow night, Opening Campfires will be held at both Big Spring and High Trails, and this year we can have “real” campfires! These are always lots of fun and include great singing and Broadway quality skits. Other special events planned this week include the All Camp Adventure Race, the Counselor Hunt and Cabinside Skit Night at High Trails. At Big Spring the boys will enjoy the Bomber Relay and Unit Skits. Later in the week, we will all get together for a coed ice cream social on Saturday night.

Early in the week, we will be signing up for trips throughout the term. High Trails and Big Spring campers will choose from many exciting possibilities including mountain climbs, horseback trips, tubing/rafting on the South Platte River and wilderness backpacking trips. Counselors and senior staff members will be on hand to help campers select those trips which best fit individual interests. Sanborn Junior campers do not sign up for trips; their program includes two exciting all-day trips in addition to their overnight camping trips.

We will be taking group photos early in the week and will post them on our website—so check us out again late in the week! We’ll also be mailing you a copy of your camper’s group photo with the counselor letter next Sunday. Each Sunday evening, we will send an e-mail to camp families about our activities and we will post photos of activities taken during the previous week in our online community under the “Photos” tab. You will be able to purchase, share, and download photos simply by logging into your online account. Although we can’t promise to show every camper or every activity, we hope these photos will provide a glimpse into life at camp for families and friends.

Resilience, Research and MORE at Sanborn

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

BMWs: Beautiful Mountain Women

Last year, High Trails campers participated in research on the development of resiliency in girls through the camp experience. COEC Director of Research, Heather Huffman, Ed.M. Harvard, Ph.D. UCLA, worked in concert with researcher Anja Whittington, Ph.D. of Radford University to test her newly designed measurement tool, the “Adolescent Girls’ Resilience Scale.” Surveys were administered to a specific population at camp at both the beginning and end of each term and we wanted to share our results with you.

Overall, High Trails campers showed a positive and significant change in their resiliency scores by the end of camp.  Specifically, the girls’ scores increased in the areas of Positive Approach to Challenge, Self-Efficacy, Relationship-Building, and Confidence. Their scores did not change significantly in the area of Positive Peer Relationships. Scores did not decrease in any area. What does this mean, you ask? Read on to learn more about the AGRS scale and how resilience can be defined in the camp environment.

From the Adolescent Girls’ Resilience Scale (AGRS) website:

Simply stated, Resilience is the ability to negotiate and successfully cope with risks, challenges, and/or disadvantages. This includes having feelings of confidence and self-efficacy, being able to approach challenges in a positive manner and developing positive relationships with others.

The AGRS measures several components of girls’ resilience.  This includes:

  • Approach to Challenge: the degree to which girls view challenge positively; respond positively to stressful situations; feel brave and courageous; show persistence, and are flexible when problem solving.
  • Self-Efficacy: the degree to which girls believe that they are capable and believe they have the ability and motivation to complete tasks and reach goals.
  • Relationship Building: the degree to which  girl’s form positive relationships with others, successfully negotiating conflicts in relationships, and feel comfortable with and supported by other girls.
  • Confidence: represents an adaptive approach to challenge and sense of self-efficacy.
  • Positive Peer Relationships: includes interactions with peers and how one interacts with or feels about their peers.

Teamwork and Adventure

The goal of the AGRS is to measure change in the potential for resilience among adolescent girls (ages 10-18) as a result of participating in a broad range of programs designed to promote resilience among girls, such as adventure programming or camp experiences.  The AGRS was tested over three years with a total of approximately 1500 girls from various organizations.

Both Dr. Whittington and Dr. Huffman’s research is instrumental to determining OUR ability to achieve our mission and demonstrate quantitatively that we actually DO what we say we do at camp. The best part? Dr Whittington and her research team are making the AGRS available to the public for free–with the recognition that it is a measurement to be used in outdoor, adventure programming or camp experiences for girls. Just visit www.agrscale.com to learn more.
In addition, over the last four summers, our campers have participated in the ACA’s Youth Outcomes Battery–a measurement tool that can help us show the specific “take-aways” our campers gain at Sanborn Western Camps. We have aligned the ACA’s measurements with our own mission: to live together in the outdoors, building a sense of self, a sense of community, a sense of the earth and a sense of wonder through fun and adventure. Each summer we focused on one set of outcomes aligned with one of the four pillars of our mission: self, community, earth and wonder. We are in the process of examining all of the results from the last four summers and translating that data into meaningful information we can share with parents, alums, campers, and others who are interested in the benefits of the camp experience.

Courage and Competence: The Sanborn High Ropes Course

We know that our camp experience helps develop resilience in girls and we also know that camp has a positive impact on the development of a child’s independence, perceived competence, responsibility, problem solving-confidence, friendship skills, teamwork, camp connectedness, family citizenship, interest in exploration, and affinity for nature…and we can’t wait to share even more of the hard data that says, “Camp is an important part of a child’s healthy development,” because we have known that for over 65 years.

The Importance of Climbing

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Life is a gift, but some days it feels like a chore.  On those days, we can feel overloaded with the weight of responsibility, disappointment, and anxiety.  It’s important to push through those feelings because in the end, life is an adventure.  That’s one of the reasons it’s important to get outdoors.  More specifically, it’s important to climb mountains.

Climbing a mountain somehow resets your brain.  Ascending any peak, no matter its size, is an exhausting journey, a crazy trek.  It changes you as it challenges you.  Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen, but every time I climb a mountain I see the world in a new light.

I climbed my first mountain at camp many years ago.  School had ended, summer rolled around, I assumed I had three months of dullness to look forward to.  But then, my parents sent me to Sanborn.  Boredom went out the door.  I loved it.

It was that summer that I climbed my first 14er.   I’ll never forget that trip.  I remember getting dropped at the trailhead, our packs full.

At the trailhead, ready to climb

Counselors checked the maps, and we set out into the wilderness.  After many hours of hiking, we reached our basecamp.  Rising to the north was the cloud-covered mountain that we were driven to climb.  That night, we ate well, sang songs around the fire, and drifted to sleep in our little village of tents.

We woke long before dawn to find the counselors up and ready.  We crunched down some cold cereal and set out to climb the mountain.  The adrenaline was flowing, the spirit of adventure pushing us.  Hours passed, our line of headlamps bobbing up the steep trail, gaining altitude. I was exhausted and I wanted to give up.  But with encouragement from my counselors, I pushed on.

As early daylight broke on the mountain, we were able to see our progress.  I was encouraged by how high we had climbed.  In the valley below, our tents were so small they were hard to see.  And then we saw an eagle fly.  Not above us, but below us.  Looking down on that powerful bird as it soared across the sky was a shift for my brain.

We pressed on.  After a while, we could see the summit — it was only a few hundred yards away.  I was so excited I joined other campers and we ran… only to discover… it was a false peak.  We learned an important life lesson: don’t burn out racing up false peaks.  I was exhausted, but because of my counselors, because of how much they believed in me, I never gave up.  We pressed on.  It seemed like we were hiking across a lunar landscape.

Climbing a 14er

We were above tree line, no vegetation, the squeak of pikas all around us.  Hours moved like minutes.  We fought the wind and cheered each other on.  Finally, we scrambled over rocks that were billions of years old and reached the summit.  We did it.  There was a mystic silence as we stood on the peak and watched the sun rise over the Rockies.  I laughed with delight, bonding with my Big Spring brothers.  I couldn’t wait to climb again.

Standing on top is amazing, but the summit is not the goal.   The reason we climb a mountain is just that:  to climb.   One of my favorite climbs was years ago, when I was a counselor myself and our camp trip didn’t even reach the top.  A storm rolled in over Mount Harvard and pushed us down long before the summit.  We returned to base camp and took shelter from the cloudburst.  We still had a great climb.  It was an epic trip, long remembered, even though we didn’t make it to the top.  The goal is not only the summit, the goal is the journey, the strength you gain from the climb, and the memories.

Standing on top of the world

When we climb mountains, it clarifies our thinking.  The disorder of our lives — the argument with a friend, the bad grade in algebra — all of it is forgotten.  The mountain is all that matters.  It gives us perspective.  When we climb, the mountain speaks to us in geologic time, a slow-motion language, and it reminds us that that problems are fleeting and life is truly a gift.

~M.Huffman~

Thoughts From the ACA National Conference: Artie the Abert Squirrel Chats with Sanborn Staffers

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

It’s sure nice to have everyone return to the office after attending the American Camp Association National Conference in New Orleans this year.  When 11 of my most favorite people are all absent from the office at once, it sure makes for a lonely week, but then they all return full of excitement about new plans for the summer and ideas for enhancing what we do here at camp. As a seasoned camp squirrel, I know what a driving force these camp leaders are and have seen great innovations come out of their conference learnings.

Jane always organizes a conference debrief meeting shortly after the conference, allowing staff to share in each other’s take-aways and become invigorated all over again. Staff then team up to organize our new insights  into action: new staff week training sessions, new program ideas, and more for the rapidly approaching summer. I had the great opportunity to sit in on this meeting and then to interview people afterwards!

Artie the Abert Squirrel (AAS): Why do you believe it is important for so many Sanborn staffers to attend?

Jane: The ACA National Conference helps keep us on the cutting edge. We learn the latest research and information in youth development, education, brain science, and fun program ideas. The conference really inspires us to provide the best experience possible for our campers and staff.

(AAS): Explain a little bit about the format of the conference and why it’s so important for camp professionals to attend?

Elizabeth: There are so many great reasons to attend the National Conference. It is gives us a chance to network with other camp professionals, and like Jane said, stay current on youth development and brain research, hear creative new program ideas; not to mention–at this last conference in New Orleans–the chance to have a beignet at Café Du Monde between breakout sessions. Each day of the conference there is a keynote speaker that everyone has the chance to hear, as well as breakout sessions that cover a variety of topics from staff training to brain science,  psychology  to program development, and crisis management to effective communication. And in beautiful Louisiana, each day was not complete without an outstanding New Orleans meal as well!

AAS: There were 4 keynote speakers; Jessica Lahey, Scott Cowen, Dr. Deborah Gilboa and Tom Holland. Tell me what you learned from their presentations.

Matthew: Jessica Lahey gave a fantastic keynote.  She discussed her forthcoming book “The Gift of Failure,” and how the principles of that book can apply to camp.  It was a captivating speech about how we can help children to succeed, but also we must give them room to fail.  Lahey outlined a practical approach to teaching campers to discover their own inner independence, resilience, and creativity.

Mike: ‘Dr. G’ spoke to us about the challenges parents face in raising respectful, resilient and responsible children and gave us real-life examples, insightful models and solid tips on how we can continue to strengthen our youth development efforts.  Camp is one of the best places to practice and develop these foundational life skills, and with all of us at Dr. G’s keynote, many thoughts and conversations about the summer have begun!

Patrick: After listening to Scott Cowen I really had to stop and think about where High Trails is. He spoke a lot about being aware of where your organization has come from, where it is, and where you want it to go. I really enjoyed this because our organization has a rich history; I love where we are right now, and I feel has a valuable mission and is relevant in the future.

Ariella: Tom Holland was our Closing Keynote speaker and he followed an incredible performance from Dancing Grounds, a New Orleans dance school that “builds community through dance.” The youngsters who performed ranged from about seven to 17 years old and were led by passionate instructors, Randall Rosenberg and Laura Stein. One of the dances they performed was to Michael Jackson’s song, “Scream.” The highly energized and emotive dance revealed the growth during adolescence and a broader cultural narrative of the pressure kids are experiencing across all aspects of society. I know this is true because 15 year old Empress, totally impromptu (and wildly poised under said pressure), stood in front of 1500 conference attendees and described the story of the dance after they finished. Rosenberg and Stein, in their enthusiasm, pride and even in their shout out to the kids’ parents in attendance (who took the time to pull the kids out of school and drive them downtown for the performance) demonstrated exactly what Tom Holland talked about in his keynote: our opportunity to be part of a transformative experience that positively shapes the lives of children. Throughout the conference, threads and themes came together giving us tools and language to promote quality youth development at camp–and that development starts with supportive adult relationships–which is exactly what Dancing Grounds and ACA camps across the country create and nurture every single day.

AAS: There were 4 days of sessions that ranged from youth development strategies, camp protocols, marketing solutions, and so much more – what were some of your favorite sessions?

Sarah: I enjoyed Kristen Race’s session about Mindful Campers and Leaders.  She gave me some new ideas and tools for debriefing activities and reflective listening strategies for not only myself but for summer staff as well!

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Janie: One of my favorite sessions was led by Michael Brandwein and Dr. Debi Gilboa. The session was about ways to set up a positive camp culture starting on the very first day. Both of these presenters had so much helpful information to share. If you want to learn more about them visit their websites: Michael Brandwein and Dr. Debi Gilboa.

Jackson: I enjoyed learning about autonomy supported programs.  These range from natural play areas, of which we have plenty to a “dream space” area on our trip sign-up sheets for campers to formulate their dream trip or activity, and we can do our best to make it happen! I also enjoyed continuing to learn how the developing brain works and tools to calm the alarm system in our brains.  I look forward to showing this information and these skills to campers in a non-stressful setting so when campers to become stressed, at camp or at home, they have used practice and tools they’ve learned from camp to deal with certain stressors.

Carlotta: I went to a session called Kickin’ Kitchens which asked you to think about the kitchen like a systems engineer by thinking about how easy and obvious can you make the routines of the kitchen for everyone working there from the cooks to the assistant counselors. I am so excited for our kitchens to run even more smoothly this summer!

Jessie: There were quite a few sessions that focused on autonomy and the idea that competence in an area leads to confidence. I am excited to use this idea on trips this summer and to bring the campers more into the planning of trips, especially menus, and to teach them even more throughout the trip, which would give them the competence needed for the responsibility of preparing meals, leading the way, and finding the perfect campsites.

There you have it folks – the ACA National Conference keeps my staffer friends on their toes and ready to enhance the lives of children every summer. Stay tuned for upcoming posts from them that go into more detail about all the research on brain development, and teaching kids autonomy and independence. For now, I learned that interviewing 11 different people is hard work and I’m ready for a snack and a nap! – see you this summer!

Artie the Abert Squirrel

Artie is a well- loved member of the Sanborn wildlife family and official spokes-squirrel to the greater Sanborn community. He has been a long time contributor to the High Country Explorer sharing his knowledge of camp life with campers new and old. Artie is currently practicing his balloon animal creating skills with Jane and knows Jerry’s actual birthdate. Artie is honored to have the opportunity to write for this blog.

Klean Karma for YOU!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Kleanin' Karma (and socks) Since 1948

As we head into our 2015 Sanborn Road Show Midwest Tour, we look forward to seeing many current and past campers, camp families, alums, and staff. These individuals in each of our Road Show cities always articulate and echo the value of the camp experience to the new and prospective campers and camp families in attendance.

We have realized that some of you miss out on the opportunity to share stories and highlights of your Sanborn experience with the World-At-Large, so we would like to encourage you to take a couple of moments and share your thoughts in our new, online review site.

This process not only gives voice to your personal Sanborn Western Camps experiences for Everyone On The Planet to enjoy, but it gives the data-driven logarithms of technological monoliths like Google good stuff to share.

And we like to share.

So thank you, Awesome Sanborn Friends Who Don’t Live in Road Show Cities. And, if you DO live in Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, or Santa Fe, we hope to see you at the Road Show this next week (sorry, Denver, have to wait until February 11th, now).  And for our Sanborn Road Show attendees, if you aren’t The Type To Stand Up And Spout Testimonials In Front Of Strangers, then simply fill out this quick online review instead.

Your Karma will be forever Klean because of it.

Colorado Summer Camp Fun is Coming Your Way!

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Sanborn Road Show 2015

The Sanborn Road Show is an opportunity for prospective and current campers and their parents to meet and chat with Mike MacDonald, Matthew Huffman, Elizabeth Rundle and/or Ariella Rogge, the respective directors of Big Spring Ranch for Boys and High Trails Ranch for Girls; see a digital presentation about a summer at Sanborn Western Camps; and ask questions about the facilities, camp programs, staff, or anything else that may be on your mind!

We are currently coordinating our dates and times for our 2015 show. Please check back soon, or visit our Facebook page for updates.

If you are interested in hosting a presentation, please contact Mike, Matthew, Elizabeth or Ariella at 719.748.3341.

Denver, CO

Wednesday February 11, 2015
7:30 p.m.
1st Plymouth Congregational Church
The Odeon Room
3501 South Colorado Blvd.

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Elizabeth Rundle at Sanborn: 719.748.3341 or elizabeth at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

Chicago, IL

Saturday January 24th, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Winnetka Community House
620 Lincoln Ave.
Winnetka, IL
Local Host: Cathy Burnham 847-272-2160

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Elizabeth Rundle at Sanborn: 719.748.3341 or elizabeth at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

St. Louis, MO

Sunday January 25th, 2015
5:00 p.m.
Church of St. Michael and St. George
The Great Hall
6345 Wydown Blvd (intersection of Wydown and Ellenwood Ave)
Local Host: Carrie and Bill Polk 314-993-9898

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Elizabeth Rundle at Sanborn: 719.748.3341 or elizabeth at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Monday January 26th, 2015
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Christ United Methodist Church-Room
3515 South Harvard
Local Host: Margie Brown 918-260-6808

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Elizabeth Rundle at Sanborn: 719.748.3341 or elizabeth at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tuesday January 27th
6:30 p.m.
All Souls’ Episcopal Church
Christian Family Life Center
6400 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
Local Hosts: Lucy, John and Sarah Covington
jfcokc at aol.com or call 405-848-2639

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Elizabeth Rundle at Sanborn: 719.748.3341 or elizabeth at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

Santa Fe, NM

Wednesday, January 28th
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Santa Fe Prep
1101 Camino de Cruz Blanca
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Local Hosts Mary and Kent Little
mbrlittle at mac dot com 505-989-8977

Additional 2015 Sanborn Road Show Dates will be added in the upcoming months. Please check back soon or call 719-748-3341 to find out when we are coming to your neighborhood!