Archive for February, 2010

A Great Resource for Reconnecting Kids with the Outdoors

Saturday, February 27th, 2010


The vision and mission of the Children & Nature Network is to give every child in every community a wide range of opportunities to experience nature directly, reconnecting our children with nature’s joys and lessons, its profound physical and mental bounty.

The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) was created to encourage and support the people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect children with nature. The network provides a critical link between researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being. C&NN also promotes fundamental institutional change and provides resources for sharing information, strategic initiatives and success stories.

The C&NN news service and portal,, offers parents, youth, civic leaders, educators and health-care providers access to the latest news and research in this field as well as practical advice, including ways to apply new-found knowledge at home, at school, in work environments, and in the community. The network also engages a diverse community of institutes, organizations and industries by providing a forum for publishing and presenting research, reports and case studies on children’s health and nature, and related program-development strategies and support.

–Jessie Tierney

Mr. Smith Goes To Camp

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
I don’t watch TV much, but the other night one of those old-fashioned movie channels was playing “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and it caught my attention. I couldn’t believe that I had never seen it before. After all, I’m one of those retro people who watches “It’s a Wonderful Life” every December. I know all the characters, every plot twist, every line, and still tear up when Clarence gets his bell.
So, I was casually watching Jimmy Stewart when I was electrified by the fact that he was introducing a bill in the Senate to create a summer camp. (OK, to be honest, he was proposing a “Boys’ Camp” but that’s forgivable because the movie was made in 1939 – I’m sure that today he would propose a “Girls Camp” as well.) I watched in amazement as he identified the skills and ethics the boys would learn at camp and pitted them against the corruption, greed, and dishonesty in Washington. And then he engaged in his heroic filibuster (really, who besides Jimmy Stewart could make a filibuster heroic?) based on the highest ideals of America.
As I thought about it later, I realized that maybe things have not changed so much in the 70 years since Mr. Smith went to Washington. Summer camp still stands as an antidote to the dysfunction and partisanship of many of our political systems. The goal at camp is to build a community based on respect for everyone, an appreciation of diversity, honesty, and teamwork. The goal at camp is to learn to appreciate the natural world and to interact with nature in ways that Leave No Trace. The goal at camp is to help young people to learn the social and emotional skills, which will help them to become happy, ethical adults.
Is it possible that if every politician had a camp experience as a youngster, the tone and attitude in Washington would be more functional, civil, bipartisan, and inclusive than it is today?

Good News for Environmental Education in the Classroom

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The following is excerpted from the No Child Left Inside Coalition Website:

Environmental Literacy Included in Obama’s New Education Budget: Historic First


Together with their legislative sponsors, the No Child Left Inside® Coalition today cheered President Obama’s budget as a historic moment, noting that environmental literacy has been included in the U.S. Department of Education budget for the very first time.

“This budget takes an important step toward boosting environmental education in the classroom and giving more kids the opportunity to get out and learn about the natural world around them,” said Senator Jack Reed (RI). “Environmental education can help raise student achievement in other core subjects like math and science.  This is a smart investment in our children’s future and the future of our planet.”  Click here to read more.

Additionally, The Washington Post published an article on February 2 detailing the current administration’s proposal, titled President Obama Seeks to Revamp No Child Left Behind Teaching Standards.  Read it here.

Find out ways you can support this proposal here.

–Jessie Tierney

President Obama seeks to revamp No Child Left Behind teaching standards

Rocky Mountain High

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

One of our campers, Greta Ohaus, wrote this exceptional poem


Following the mountain roads,

I breathe crisp untainted air, it softly breathes back

Across the genuine smiles

Scattered around the fire’s enticing glow.

Galloping through the mountain valleys,

I see colors flash by, too slow for my heart

That beats in time with my horse

And the strong stride underneath me can take me anywhere.

Trekking up the mountain’s side,

I hear thunder growl and moan

In the distant textured sky

Where the sun’s rays peak through behind gathering clouds

Warming my back and spreading through my aching body.

Dancing into the mountain’s mysterious night,

I listen to the people I love

Sing their lungs out

And thrash around like maniacs they aren’t afraid to be.

Crying to Rocky Mountain High,

I pull the people who shaped my life close

We take in the sweet mountain air

The flaming sunset

The piles of adventure filled letters

The tie-dyed shirts

The war painted horses

The tear stained smiles

And the majestic mountains surrounding our home.

Liberators, Integrators, and Hope Generators with Mawi Asgedom

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Find the Invisible kids. This was Mawi’s call to action during a morning keynote address at the ACA National Conference. How do we do that as youth development and camp professionals?

We SEE all of the campers. We KNOW all of the campers. We seek to build AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS with our campers. These campers may be invisible because they aren’t “seen” by the adults in their lives, they may not be “seen” by their peers, and some may not even be “seen” in the camp community as a whole because they are unable to attend camp. It our job as youth development professionals, and as a greater camp community to come together and help ALL of our youth be seen, be respected, and be known.

Youth today can create their lifestyles at a depth unknown to the adults around them. When we were young, many of us had perimeters when it came to our chosen “lifestyle”. Sure, we could relate to, talk to others about, and put on the appearances and behaviors of our “chosen” lifestyle: the sports, music, fashion that defined those styles. And then we’d head home, where we were sharing (typically) a single phone line and we were battling our family members for control over the TV remote…and we would just be ourselves.

Youth today can maintain the lifestyle they choose almost 24/7. They can IM and tweet and Facebook chat about it late into the night under their covers. They can shut their doors and Google search, watch YouTube videos, and Hulu shows that inform their opinions of their lifestyles. They can create virtual worlds where they, in fact, are both known AND invisible. They can be invisible, safe…and yet they can still FEEL known.

What lifestyles are your kids embracing? Are they known in the virtual world or in the real world? How can we help them find unique identities beyond their embraced “lifestyle”? How can we help them see that–Because of Camp

Mawi Asgedom

–they can and will be able to create a lifestyle for themselves, rather than having that lifestyle dictated to them by the outside world?

By teaching them how to make a friend, and how to keep a friend; by helping them understand the importance of values; by modeling authentic, healthy relationships; by spending time in the outdoors; and through the recognition that the world is both very big and very small we can help promote the “camp” experience for invisible and visible children all around the world.

In the end, “camp” will mean one thing to a child refugee in a remote village in Africa, something else to a kid on the Upper West Side, and something else entirely to an indigenous child living on a reservation. It is our responsibility, and our mission, as Mawi said, “To make the invisible, visible” and to make the summer camp experience as we know it, accessible to all.

Opening Session at ACA National Conference

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

100 Campers for the 100th Birthday Celebration!

Our super Sanborn Western Camps choir crew ask, "Why no Dew?"

Singing "Choo-Choo-Cha!"

The first day at the ACA National Conference in Denver, CO, 100 Colorado campers kicked off the ceremony by singing camp songs with the nearly 1000 conference attendees. Elizabeth Rundle, along with other directors and staff members from the Rocky Mountain Section, had the privilege of teaching the campers the camp songs (new for some) transporting the kids to and from the conference venue, getting them lunch, and just hanging out with them.

When the campers arrived in “Capitol Ballroom C” the energy in the air was electrified. The campers were SO excited to be there—and they loved the unique opportunity to connect with other camp-loving kids from all over the area.

They wowed the audience with a three-part round, an interactive call and response that left Those Of Us Above 30 bent over at the waist, elbows back, knees together and tongue out while singing, and a beautiful camp modified rendition of “Taps.”

Most of all, they energized the 100th anniversary celebration of an organization made up of so many fantastic individuals from all over the country and world who are committed to the importance of a camp experience for each and every child.

Because of camp….

ACA National Conference 2010

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

We are all at the ACA National Conference in Denver right now. So far, the conference is providing us with great resources from other camp professionals from around the country. We are connecting and reconnecting with people that recognize the importance of children going to camp. These are people who understand the necessity of reconnecting children with nature.

We are gathering a lot of great information that will help us create stronger programs for our campers, as well as bring you new ideas about the benefits of summer camp, nature activities, and youth development.

Please check back next week for new ideas and posts!

Summer Camp Should Be Fun

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I just read a blog post this morning where a blogger is “taking the summer off” from attempting to find fulfilling, educational, inspirational activities for her kids. She simply doesn’t want to deal with the pressure anymore of the “right” summer program. I don’t blame her. As a parent, the pressure to “position” your child is ridiculous, and, sometimes, paralyzing.

My son is only 5 and has a hard time w/ his “k” pronunciation–I had mentioned it to LOTS of people–spouse, teacher, school speech therapist, and the like–and everyone told me to STOP being dramatic and reactionary.

Yet during his Valentine’s Party yesterday, the speech therapist came in and pulled my son and another boy out of the class to “play”. The subsequent explanation was that my son wasn’t pronouncing his “k” sound at all (shocking), and that he was “helping” another boy with his pronoun use, and boy, it was a good thing I was there so she could talk to me about it in case it didn’t improve by the end of the year and then there would have to be additional intervention/pull-out/IEP action during kindergarten.


This is probably the first true crossroads moment in my mothering career: I was/am at a complete loss. I could freak out and blame the school, blame the naysayers, blame myself…or I could see it for what it is—a deficit to be worked on—and get on with it. Parents encounter these crossroads repeatedly through the journey of Human Being Facilitation/Creation/Motivation/Inspiration/Frustration/Celebration known as Parenthood.

Parents who lose sleep over what their children SHOULD do during the summer should take a deep breath and remember that it is called “summer vacation” for a reason.

In my opinion, and in the opinion of my mom, camp should just be a place where kids can be kids…away from the angst and turmoil of constant judgment, positioning, angling and other unauthentic behaviors that typically leave us confused and, at worst, paralyzed.

So, if you DO want your kids to go to summer camp this year, then let them help choose the summer camp and the program.

THEY need the break, too.

-Ariella Rogge

Benefits of Outdoor Time

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Last week we participated in the Outdoor Blogger Summit Challenge, which was to post stories and ideas about the outdoors and how to get more people to play outside. OBS has posted the results, and it is pretty interesting to read other people’s ideas.

The OBS is all about getting people outside and supporting other blogs (such as Sanborn Western Camps) in their efforts to spread the word about benefits to being outside and in nature. It is always nice for us to hear about other people who encourage time outside.

There are so many people affected by snow right now – roads closed, airports closed, schools closed, work closed, have to shovel, stores closed. Instead of looking at the negatives, think about all the fun that you can have in the snow. We just posted these ideas about Snow Storm Fun.

What are your favorite outdoor snow activities?

Playing in the snow with your children is beneficial to you and them. You all get fresh air, time to use your imagination, spend time together when everyone is usually so busy, fun exercise, nature awareness. What is better than an excuse to play in the snow with children?!

We All Need Nature

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

This is a fun story I wanted to share:

Last Saturday in a MBA class at the University of Denver the professor had students close their eyes and then asked them to think of the place where they experience complete happiness. It could be any place in the world where the students’ level of happiness was out of this world. He then asked the students to raise their hand if their place was inside.

Of 20 students, only 1 hand was raised. (This man’s wife just had a baby.)

The happiness we have from being outside is much more far reaching than many of us realize. When you sit back and think of that one place that makes you really happy, what do you think?

Is your happy place inside or outside?