Posts Tagged ‘American Camp Association’

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.

Why You Can’t Always Believe What You Read

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

In a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “10 Things….Summer Camps Won’t Tell You,” and I was struck by the odd contrast between the title and the actual content of the article.  The “10 Things” were all apparent quotes about the camp experience that had neither context nor sources. Beyond this issue, I realized that the Colorado Springs’ Gazette’s version was incredibly abbreviated.  The full story is here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-summer-camps-wont-tell-you-2013-05-03 I am not sure why the content was completely butchered, but the story was awful to read and completely misleading to our local Colorado readers.

Perplexing structure and writing aside, I want to examine the source-less “quotes” as potential societal trends impacting the camp community, and perpetuated by this sort of poor journalism.  By looking at each of the “Top 10” with a more balanced and fair perspective, I think we can see that the Gazette (and Ms. Wieczner) missed an opportunity to present the ever-changing summer camp experience as what it truly is:  A fluid, agile environment of youth development professionals who are committed to excellent client and customer service and who, quite frankly, have a better understanding of what children need today than most other youth serving organizations.

True, as a camp director I have a particularly acute bias, but I am also a parent of a camp-aged child who—like most of his peers—NEEDS the camp experience every summer, and I am a certified secondary educator who sees the woefully paralyzed state of our nation’s public school system post-NCLB and knows that, for many, a camp experience will provide necessary character and values development that no longer exists in most educational curriculum.

As an editorial response to Jen Wieczner and the Gazette’s re-working of her article, I would simply point out—like we do at camp when we are mediating situations that arise in the unique, respectful community we create each and every summer—there are two sides to every story.  To equate the joy of making and eating s’mores around a campfire (gluten-free graham crackers provided) with friends with whom you have made authentic, real friendships (grounded in healthy risk-taking and shared, fun experiences) far trumps any access to cellphones.  As parents, we know (deep down) that these independent experiences with support from young adult counselors develop character and self-efficacy in our children in a way that we cannot replicate at home.

Because of cultural trends, summer camp is more important to whole-child development today than ever before in history, and our professional accrediting body, the American Camp Association does a brilliant job providing not only a body of research to support that claim, but also shares a great deal of non-biased information about accredited camps all across the nation.  Being an accredited camp means holding ourselves to standards that are above and beyond national and societal expectations.  Camp gives kids a world of good in a world of social and cultural stressors…so let’s see if we can answer the question Ms. Wieczner asks: “will campers have any fun?”

1.  “It’s called camp, but it feels more and more like school.” Unlike the mass-consumption, Hollywood image that equates a child’s summer camp experience to the movie “Red Hot American Summer,” camp has ALWAYS been about education.  Beyond the emotional intelligence camp develops in campers through community life and opportunities for free play, many camps have made the choice to offer campers more specialized study AND play in fields that interest them.  This trend is far more representative of the desires of both campers and parents to be able to “specialize” in something while at camp.  This specialized focus may be for future college prospects or it might simply be to honor a child’s own interests…a key way to help children enjoy the camp experience.  If a camper has helped pick which camp he attends, his ownership of the experience will be that much higher.

2. “There’s not enough bug spray in the world to protect you from these pests.” Nature.  As Woody Allen so eloquently said, “I love nature.  I just don’t want to get any of it on me.”  There are bugs in the woods, there are sometimes mice in the cabins, and there are even porcupines munching loudly (and quite rudely) in the trees above your tent while you are trying to sleep.  Critters and bugs can be a bit icky for some, and bedbugs are undoubtedly a concern, but—for some reason—I am much more concerned about sleeping in a hotel near a bustling airport than sleeping in a bunk at camp.  Plus interactions in the outdoors are typically memorable and create an ongoing sense of wonder, and a stewardship of and connection to the natural world.

3.  “PB&J and ice cream?  Not anymore.” Look.  Let’s be real. Going out to eat with my four and eight year old sons is an exercise in limited options.  Most camps have policies and procedures surrounding food allergies and dietary restrictions.  Some camps are completely nut free, some are not.  Some actively limit the amount of sugar, some do not.  Some provide daily vegetarian or vegan options, some do not.  Just like choosing a restaurant, you can choose a camp that will accommodate the nutritional needs of your child.  Yet, just like at a restaurant, you can’t make them sit at the table indefinitely if they refuse to eat…but you can take away dessert.

4.  “Your kid has a cellphone, but that doesn’t mean you can talk to him.” Exactly.  That’s the point.  How often do you try and get your child OFF of her phone?  Unstructured time in the outdoors, away from technology gives children the opportunity to develop authentic friendship, teamwork and leadership skills with REAL people…who, more often than not, are actually REAL friends, too.  As for not being able to talk to your kids while they are at camp, just think of it as a vacation for your kids…plus letter writing is a skill they will use for the rest of their lives.

5.  “Homesickness?  Try I-miss-my-kid sickness.” A tool we use at camp when campers are homesick is to help them understand feeling that way is normal and then we try and get them excited about all of their upcoming trips and activities.  Let’s try it for parents:  Being kidsick is normal.  Lots of other parents feel the same way.  Let’s look at your calendar for the month and see what exciting things you have planned.  Ohhh, look!  You have a dentist appointment next Monday, and this Thursday you are hosting your book club and you haven’t read the chosen book (Cloud Atlas) yet.  Then, the following week you have a waxing appointment and have to take your visiting sister-in-law (she has horse teeth, really?) to lunch. (No wonder you are kidsick.  Just know that blubbering about your 10 year old leaving for a few weeks is more understandable than sobbing uncontrollably when your 19 year old leaves for college.)

6. “There’s a bully born every minute.” One of the key differentiators between bullies and “upstanders” (peers who speak up when they witness bullying) is that most bullies lack empathy.  Teaching children friendship skills, and providing environments where individuals are respected for who they are is a key component of camp.  Pranks and cabin raids are more typical in Hollywood portrayals of camp than in camp itself.  Parent Trap is over 50 years old, and to think that our campers continue to both look and act like Hayley Mills in the film is cultural hyperbole.

7.  “It’s a dangerous world; we’re just camping in it.” Right.  Better to be camping in the outdoors than texting and driving, experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and unprotected sex, and away from the fear saturated media.  Camp provides an incredibly safe place where kids can be kids, and—in all honesty—one of the overarching goals of camp is to actually give campers life and relational skills that will eventually make the world a safer place because kids who come to camp understand our shared humanity.

8. “You think getting your kids into college will be hard?  Try getting them into camp.” There are THOUSANDS of camps.  If the camp you are waitlisted for doesn’t give you other ideas for similar camps in the region that have similar programs or goals, then that camp doesn’t recognize the importance of capital C “Camp” for childhood/youth development.  And, as a parent, if you buy into the hype that there is only “one” camp for your child—then you are denying your child the opportunity to have a new and unique camp experience.

9.  “Our camp feels more like a reality show.” One of the most prolific and outstanding speakers at American Camp Associations across the country is family therapist Bob Ditter.  During training sessions, Mr. Ditter talks about “getting on the same train” as your campers—meaning, that in order to completely connect with kids, we need to know and understand (and even read or listen to) THEIR worlds.   So yes, we offer Katniss Everdeen archery competitions,  Zombie Apocalypse hikes, and Superhero horseback rides—not because these are culturally cool—but because these types of activities echo what our campers are into, relate to, and plus they are great springboards for even more innovative and creative programming.

10.  “Some counselors have to be taught to keep their hands to themselves.” Ah, just in case Ms. Wieczner readers hadn’t been scared effectively enough after noting summer camps’ apparent limited  fun, bugs, lack of communication, bullies, mass shootings, the threat of social isolation, and the ever-present and insidious nature of cultural trends spread through technology (which makes the whole cell-phone thing even more hypocritical), now we can also worry about our kids being abused at camp.  Yet Ms. Wieczner is correct when she says “assaults and abuse are rare at camp.”

Though there is plenty to take issue with, in the end I think Ms. Wieczner’s title brings up a very good point:  as parents, we have to be responsible adults, do research and ask camp directors hard questions about the nature of their staff training, the goals and objectives of the program, the mission and philosophy of the camp, and we also have to ask those “boogeyman” type questions too, just to allay our fears (many of which are spurred on by articles like Ms. Wieczner’s and liberties taken by subsidiary editors).

Camps that are worth their salt will be open and transparent about their policies and practices, and we (camp directors) like it when parents are thoughtful enough to ask:  “tell me about your hiring process” or “what sort of emergency/crisis management plans do you have in place?” or “why can’t I talk to my child when he is at camp?” or “how do you handle homesickness…and if I need to call or email you for reassurance, is that okay?”

When we are practicing and modeling the skills required to eventually let our children go and become successful, functional adults, our children will grow too.  If we have confidence in the leadership at our chosen summer camps and are even brave enough to consider sending our child to camp in the first place, our children will not only have fun at camp—they will flourish.

~Ariella Rogge~

Meet The Outdoor Play #GNO Twitter Party Panelists…proving that play trumps politics any day!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Visit www.momitforward.com to learn more about #GNO!

Tonight, from 9-11 p.m. EST (7-9 p.m. MST), Sanborn Western Camps is sponsoring a #GNO Twitter Party with host Mom It Forward about the Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids (and Adults!).

The Twitter hashtag #gno stands for “Girls (& Guys!) Night Out”.  Once you are on Twitter, do a search on the hashtags #gno and #sanborncamps to join the chat or follow the chat and tweet using Tweetgrid.  This promises to be a very informative, fun conversation with folks from all over the country.  It will get you pumped up to get your whole family outside this weekend (and maybe even tomorrow morning)  as well as give you information about the importance of play, summer camp, the Children in Nature movement, educational trends, and much, much more!

As some additional motivation to stop by, Sanborn Western Camps is giving away a full Sanborn Junior tuition (or a 1/2 tuition for the full term) for summer 2012 or 2013,  based on availability.  Visit momitforward.com for more details on how to enter.

We wanted to take a moment to thank all of our panelists for tonight’s #gno party.  They are incredible people to follow on Twitter and in the blogosphere.  We look forward to their insights and contributions during tonight’s event.  Play on!

Our tremendous panelists include:

@acacamps The American Camp Association (formerly known as the American Camping Association) is a community of camp professionals who, for nearly 100 years, have joined together to share our knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs. Because of our diverse 7,000 plus membership and our exceptional programs, children and adults have the opportunity to learn powerful lessons in community, character-building, skill development, and healthy living — lessons that can be learned nowhere else. Dawn Swindle, head of ACA Publications (both print and web) will be tweeting using @acacamps and also @acacampparents during tonight’s #gno Twitter party.  With her years at ACA, and as a long time camp professional, Dawn is a great resource for parents and camp professionals alike.  Learn more about ACA and their rigorous camp accreditation process by visiting www.acacamps.org.

@acacampparents CampParents.org is a comprehensive summer camp resource for families—offering expert advice from camp professionals on camp selection, readiness, child and youth development, and issues of importance to families. ACA helps you find the right camp for every child.  Learn more about ACA and use the impressive camp finder tool at www.campparents.org.

@activekidsclub Kari Svenneby is not a professional tree hugger, though she is a proud wildcrafter and self-proclaimed “Polar Bear Mother.”  She is an urban mother, librarian and classically trained chef championing the benefits exposure to nature gives children.  She is so passionate about getting kids outside, Kari made it is her business. When looking for inspirational ideas about the natural world in magazines and online she found very little. Her passion turned into a business idea. She has set out to make an exciting website connecting children with nature for adults and kids.  Thus activekidsclub.com was born.  Kari is a “love refuge” from Norway who speaks 6 languages, and her posts and tweets offer a unique cultural perspective on natural play that are not to be missed.

@banteringblonde Fiona Bryan is a techno-goddess.  She blogs about social media and all things “banter-worthy” at Banteringblonde.com, was a 2009 Top #50 Tweeple on PRSarahEvans.com, and writes regularly for the popular blog Technorati.  Her passion for motivating and empowering women to be positive role models for their families led her to found MomActive in early 2009.  Momactive is a multi-media outreach initiative that includes a weekly Blog Talk Radio program, MomTV live stream video program, and the MomActive.com community and blog.  Fiona hope to check off a bucket item list sometime this spring when she takes a trip down The Nature Place’s zipline with her friend, Ariella Rogge from @sanborncamps.  As a former camper and current Director of Marketing and Public Relations for New England Music Camp (@nemusiccamp), Fiona appreciates and understands the growth and wisdom that comes from a summer camp experience.

@ChildrenNature 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.  Typically hosted by Suz Lipman ( see below for more info about @slowfamily) who is a writer, blogger at www.slowfamilyonline.com, soapcrafter, jammaker, hiker, retro-enthusiast, and who claims she will work for peace, justice & cheese.  For @ChildrenNature, Suz shares incredible information, research, and cutting edge ideas with parents, educators, researchers, camps and like-minded organizations who are passionate about getting kids outdoors. 

@GoExploreNature Debi Huang is a Los Angeles-based wife, mom and adventure guide for two young boys.  Her blog, Go Explore Nature, is a place for her to share her family’s nature adventures. She hopes to inspire you to get your family outside, too. She has weekly reviews of nature adventures (her recent holiday beach trip was a favorite of the frigid mountain set); she also shares stories, inspirations and lessons learned from nature; and she has THE cure for the #FF blues: “Fun Friday” activities that feature simple ways to connect your kids with the natural world (reader favorites include a winter scavenger hunt and taking a color walk.)  She is a prolific blogger and an anchor in the Children in Nature movement.  But our favorite thing about Debi?  She has been writing letters (REAL MAIL!!) to her Big Explorer and Little Explorer since before they were born.

@hoo_dee_hoo Meredith Sinclair is a Chicago-land mother hung up her teacher hat after having kids, started a blog to “find” her writing voice, and now writes and vlog on her own site and Chicagoparent.com about daily life as a full-time mom of two young boys and the challenge of maintaining her vengeful girlie side in a home fueled by undistilled testosterone.  She believes PLAYtime is vital to our health and well being…not to mention it makes us all WAY less grumpy…however, if you ARE feeling grumpy, you should just take a moment to watch Meredith talk about the game Pajaggle in her Holiday Play-list post.  Her enthusiasm, and great ideas, are contagious!

@ImaginationSoup Melissa Taylor is a freelance writer, an award winning educational blogger at ImaginationSoup.net, an award winning teacher with a M.A. in Education, the Book Editor-at-Large for Colorado Parent Magazine and a parent of two children, ages 5 and 8. As a teacher, she won Outstanding Teacher in Douglas County Schools. She worked or the non-profit P.E.B.C. as an instructional coach and trainer and hosted groups of teachers in her classroom for learning labs.  Taylor understands instruction, literacy, assessment, differentiation, learning styles, multiple intelligences, learning disabilities and curriculum. Taylor hopes Imagination Soup will gives parents plenty of ideas to keep their kids learning every day…mostly by keeping learning fun and playful!

@JylMomIF Jyl Johnson Pattee lives, works, and breathes a special kind of magic.  As the founder of MomItForward.com, Jyl combines a passion for communication and people, and she launched the site in 2008 with the mission to “change the world one mom at a time.”  We think the concept is a perfect use for value-added social media (and a great metaphor for human relations all the way around)—great ideas are TOO great not to be shared.  She is THE hostess of the weekly #gno parties on Twitter, which started in September 2008. Jyl is known as a “connector” who brings good ideas and people together both on and offline to make a positive impact for causes and brands through education and sharing of experiences.  Jyl is also a tremendous mother to two active boys, an intrepid traveler, the creator of the EVO conference, a wonderful writer, an occasionally irreverent wife to Troy, and a great friend to any parent online.  Please take the time to visit her and learn more about Jyl, the EVO conference, the Mom It Forward movement, #gno and much, much more at www.momitforward.com.

@kaboom KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to saving play. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being. To fight this play deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! in 1996 in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 89,000 places to play, built more than 2,000 playgrounds, and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities across the country. KaBOOM! also provides communities with online tools to self-organize and take action to support play on both a local and national level. Hammond chronicles the founding of the organization and the importance of the cause of play in his The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. The book details how businesses and communities can work together to save play for children across the country. All author proceeds support KaBOOM!. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

@sanborncamps Ariella Rogge, Program Director/Assistant Director/Outdoor (and indoor) Educator/Social Media Junkie/Mom of Two Boy Wonders/Toilet Plunger, manages the @sanborncamps Twitter account both day (and more consistently) by night.  Ariella has been involved in some capacity (see “Toilet Plunger”) at Sanborn Western Camps since she was 12.  She is a true believer in the transformational power of the camp experience for all children because for her, like Richard Louv (author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder) says, “The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.”  She would love to answer any questions you might have about summer camp (or help direct you to the right person!)—either at Sanborn or anywhere else—feel free to email her at ariella at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

@slowfamily “Slow down. Enjoy lost arts and each other. Trade frenzy for fun.”  Suz Lipman’s About Slow Family page is about as far from a traditional bio as one can get…and that is exactly as it should be.  Conceived to connect to that part of ourselves and our families that somehow got lost in the shuffle of our busy lives, the Slow Movement speaks to all of us who have had enough:  “Enough” to super-parenting and consumerism and running around (“racing to yoga”, as it were) and not being happy anyway. As Suz says, the Slow Movement is really about having more fun. It’s also about being authentic, deciding what’s really important, restoring a sense of wonder, appreciating and helping one other, and taking time to enjoy and honor life’s simple pleasures in the relatively short time we’re all here together.  Amen to that!

@TroyPattee Troy Pattee is a Man Among Women.  Troy is THE “G” in #GNO.  Troy’s wife, Jyl, founded the Twitter #GNO (Girls Night Out) party—and has brought her affable “Guy” with her to every event.  @sanborncamps first connected on Twitter with Troy—and later with Jyl—because he has an unnerving propensity to be skiing EXACTLY when we wish WE were skiing (and, we’ll admit it, sometimes the snow IS better in Utah).  Troy has a fabulous blog called Dadventurous.com where he will be sharing tales and adventures with other like minded dads…and—knowing Troy–probably moms, too.  Check out the blog at www.dadventurous.com and hang with him during the weekly Tuesday night #gno Twitter parties.

@windycitymomma Renee Keats is an urban mom living in the suburbs who defies classification, writes thoughtful blog posts about her adventures in (and out) of her neighborhood (which she calls Utopia/Pleasantville) that can be found at Windy City Momma.  She lives in Pleasantville with her husband, daughter (K), and a wickedly funny cat named Sabine who has changed family dog’s (Maya) name to “Beast.”  She loves having green space, growing a mostly organic garden and quotes from John Hughes movies almost as much as a circa 1987 Big Spring camper.

Meet Our #GNO Panelists…Incredible People, Incredible Ideas

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Tonight, from 9-11 p.m. EST (7-9 p.m. MST), Sanborn Western Camps is sponsoring a #GNO Twitter Party with host Mom It Forward about The Benefits of Summer Camp and Why Outdoor Play is Important for Kids.

The Twitter hashtag #gno stands for “Girls (& Guys!) Night Out”.  Once you are on Twitter, do a search on the hashtags #gno and #sanborncamps to join the chat or click here to follow the chat using Tweetgrid.  This promises to be a very informative, fun conversation with folks from all over the country.  It will get you pumped up to pick a great camp for your kids this summer as well as give you fantastic outdoor adventure ideas for the whole family!

Sanborn Western Camps is giving away a full Sanborn Junior tuition (or a 1/2 tuition for the full term) for summer 2011 or 2012,  based on availability.  Visit momitforward.com for more details on how to enter.

We wanted to take a moment to thank all of our panelists for tonight’s #gno party.  They are great people to follow on Twitter and in the blogosphere.  We look forward to their insights and contributions during tonight’s event.  Think summer!

Our tremendous panelists are:

@acacamps The American Camp Association (formerly known as the American Camping Association) is a community of camp professionals who, for nearly 100 years, have joined together to share our knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs. Because of our diverse 7,000 plus membership and our exceptional programs, children and adults have the opportunity to learn powerful lessons in community, character-building, skill development, and healthy living — lessons that can be learned nowhere else. Dani Shaw  (@DaniShaw), self-proclaimed “techno-naturalist” who also happens to be the Field Executive for ACA Texhoma, will be tweeting for @acacamps tonight.  Dani’s twitter tagline “wandering but not lost” sums it up for many of us who love the unlimited possibilities of the outdoors.  Learn more about ACA and their rigorous camp accreditation process by visiting www.acacamps.org.

@acacampparents CampParents.org is a comprehensive summer camp resource for families—offering expert advice from camp professionals on camp selection, readiness, child and youth development, and issues of importance to families. ACA helps you find the right camp for every child.  Dawn Swindle, head of ACA Publications (both print and web) will be tweeting using @acacampparents during tonight’s #gno Twitter party.  With her years at ACA, and as a long time camp professional, Dawn is a great resource for parents and camp professionals alike.  Learn more about Dawn and use the impressive camp finder tool at www.campparents.org

@balmeras Bethe Almeras, The Grass Stain Guru, is an award-winning author, web producer, and eLearning designer. Bethe is the Director of Education & Outreach for Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play.  Co-founder of the National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour®, she has been connecting people with play and nature for many years. A gifted speaker and trainer, Bethe also specializes in inclusive education and accessibility issues for individuals with disabilities.  We love Bethe because, as she says, “I also believe that childhood was meant to be messy. Muddy. Slimy. Silly. And most of all, joyful. Steeped in awe and wonder, childhood should be spent outdoors as much as possible, and should rely on imagination and whimsy as much as it does on rules and regulations.  I firmly believe that nature is the best therapist and teacher any of us will ever have, and that the magic of childhood should be rooted there, and the peace of adulthood is waiting there. It’s not only in nature, but the connections we make with ourselves, and each other, when we slow down long enough to notice the beauty around us and simply play.”  Agreed!  Visit her at www.grassstainguru.com

@banteringblonde Fiona Bryan is a techno-goddess.  She blogs about social media and all things “banter-worthy” at Banteringblonde.com, was a 2009 Top #50 Tweeple on PRSarahEvans.com, and writes regularly for the popular blog Technorati.  Her passion for motivating and empowering women to be positive role models for their families led her to found MomActive in early 2009.  Momactive is a multi-media outreach initiative that includes a weekly Blog Talk Radio program, MomTV live stream video program, and the MomActive.com community and blog.  Sanborn Western Camps has partnered with Fiona on MomTV and looks forward to hosting an upcoming moms retreat with her at The Nature Place.  As a former camper and active alum of New England Music Camp (@nemusiccamp), Fiona appreciates and understands the growth and wisdom that comes from a summer camp experience.

@CarissaRogers Carissa Rogers is “a Mom of all trades…a Jack of NONE.”   She is a consummate blogger, reader and co-founder of the MomItForward and #gno concept.  She has three wonderful children and, like many panelists, believes in Manifest Destiny…and she just keeps going West.  She writes about her family, blogging and social media tips, great books she’s read, and really tasty recipes (some of which may find their way into the Sanborn Western Camps kitchens this summer!).  We are excited to have Carissa as a panelist because she knows all of the tricks and tips to make everyone’s ideas and voices heard.  Read more about All Things Carissa at www.goodncrazy.com

@chatterboxcgc Christie Crowder would fit in perfectly at camp: she is creative, clever, candid, and always heavily caffeinated…not to mention that  she has an inner “Solid Gold Dancer” (think Ms. Sanborn circa 1996). She ditched corporate America and her own successful project management firm to become a full time author/blogger, certified life coach, and now, certified social media consultant. Through writing and coaching, she helps others discover their true passions and entrepreneurial spirit.  She is co-founder of The BlogRollers Media, a contributor and Executive Editor for the Work & Business section of HybridMom.c om, the host of The ChatterBox Show, and is launching a new internet video show called The Coolest Things Show this month.  We are excited and honored to have Christie’s humorous wisdom as part of our panel.  Visit her at Inside The ChatterBox

@ChildrenNature 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.  Typically hosted by Suz Lipman (@slowfamily) who is a writer, blogger at www.slowfamilyonline.com, soapcrafter, jammaker, hiker, retro-enthusiast, and who claims she will work for peace, justice & cheese.  For @ChildrenNature, Suz shares incredible information, research, and cutting edge ideas with parents, educators, researchers, camps and like-minded organizations who are passionate about getting kids outdoors.  Tonight @ChildrenNature will be hosted by Rue Mapp (@outdoorafro) of www.outdoorafro.com

@CraftyMamaof4 Kim Janocko IS a Crafty Mama!  With her sidekicks Mr. Z, Pookey, Boo and Bubba (not to mention three dogs and a few large piles of laundry), Kim manages a busy household, a fantastic blog, and manages to make crafts.  (We see a future Arts and Crafts Coordinator…or maybe someone our A & C coordinator should emulate!)  With great coupons, giveaways, craft ideas, recipes and a quality gift guide for all ages, the CraftyMamaof4.com blog is one not to miss.

@evolvingmommy Catherine is a Colorado mom who has a beautiful, graceful blog that shares insights about life, motherhood, terrific recipes, and the elusive search for balance.  Evolving Mommy is a chronicle of her journey as a mother and her search for balance. Searching for balance is an interesting ride, to say the least. I learned a lot about myself after becoming a wife and mother but the learning and growth didn’t stop there. It may sound corny but everyday is a chance to learn something about myself, the people I care about and the world around me. Catherine has a beautiful daughter, Maddy, who we hope will someday be a High Trails gal.  www.evolvingmommy.com

@JylMomIF Jyl Johnson Pattee lives, works, and breathes a special kind of magic.  As the founder of MomItForward.com, Jyl combines a passion for communication and people, and she launched the site in 2008 with the mission to “change the world one mom at a time.”  We think the concept is a perfect use for value-added social media (and a great metaphor for human relations all the way around)—great ideas are TOO great not to be shared.  She is THE hostess of the weekly #gno parties on Twitter, which started in September 2008. Jyl is known as a “connector” who brings good ideas and people together both on and offline to make a positive impact for causes and brands through education and sharing of experiences.  Jyl is also a tremendous mother to two active boys, an intrepid traveler, the creator of the EVO conference, a wonderful writer, an occasionally irreverent wife to Troy, and a great friend to any parent online.  Please take the time to visit her and learn more about Jyl, the EVO conference, the Mom It Forward movement, #gno and much, much more at www.momitforward.com.

@outdoorafro During her childhood, founder Rue Mapp split her time between urban Oakland, California and her families’ working ranch in the Northern woodlands, where she cultivated a passion for natural spaces, farming, and learned how to hunt and fish. As a youth, her participation in the Girl Scouts and Outward Bound broadened her outdoor experiences, such as camping,  mountaineering, rock climbing, and road bicycling. But Rue was troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities. So for two decades, Rue has used digital media as an important and practical tool to connect with people of color who share her outdoor interests.  We are thrilled to have Rue on our panel tonight tweeting on behalf of @ChildrenNature.  Be sure to visit www.outdoorafro.com to read her blog and learn more about the community.

@sanborncamps Ariella Rogge, Program Director/Assistant Director/Outdoor (and indoor) Eductor/Social Media Junkie/Mom of Two Boy Wonders/Toilet Plunger, manages the @sanborncamps Twitter account both day (and more consistently) by night.  Ariella has been involved in some capacity (see “Toilet Plunger”) at Sanborn Western Camps since she was 12.  She is a true believer in the transformational power of the camp experience for all children because for her, like Richard Louv (author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder) says, “The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.”  She would love to answer any questions you might have about summer camp (or help direct you to the right person!)—either at Sanborn or anywhere else—feel free to email her at ariella at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

@SITSGirls Where to begin? Tiffany Romero is one of the most multi-faceted, intelligent women we know…and, yes, we are biased because she also runs Tocaloma, an incredible day camp in California.  As one of the founders of The SITS Girls (The Secret to Success Is Support), Tiffany takes her myriad skills on the road to lead Bloggy Boot Camps all over the country.  These training camps give women the opportunity to increase their understanding of blogging and social media, while sitting next to their favorite people from their online world. Tiffany is also the Southern Section chair of WAIC (Western Association of Independent Camps) and keeps those in the WAIC and the ACA community aware of the positive impact technology can have on camp professionals.  Check out everything Tiffany does online at thesitsgirls.com.  You can also follow her other Twitter handles, @TiffanyRom and @CampDirectr

@TeacherMomOfTwo By day, Diana is a French teacher.  At home, she is a multi-tasking wife and a mother to two darling children. One question which challenges Diana (and all of us) is: how do you find a balance between work life and family life? Or rather, can you? For Diana it is recognizing the little things and realizing they matter most. Her blog, TorontoTeacherMom.com, began to record memories of my kids as they grow up and to connect with other.  With great giveaways, excellent insights, and articles ranging from obscure board games to tips on getting your kiddos to bed her blog is one not to miss!

@TroyPattee Troy Pattee is a Man Among Women.  Troy is THE “G” in #GNO.  Troy’s wife, Jyl, founded the Twitter #GNO (Girls Night Out) party—and has brought her affable “Guy” with her to every event.  @sanborncamps first connected on Twitter with Troy—and later with Jyl—because he has an unnerving propensity to be skiing EXACTLY when we wish WE were skiing (and, we’ll admit it, sometimes the snow IS better in Utah).  Troy has a fabulous blog called Dadventurous.com where he will be sharing tales and adventures with other like minded dads…and—knowing Troy–probably moms, too.  Check out the blog at www.dadventurous.com and hang with him during the weekly Tuesday night #gno Twitter parties.







Beyond 101 Nature Activities—Part I: Thinking Outside the Bag

Monday, February 14th, 2011

In his 150th ACA Anniversary keynote address, Joe Ehrmann noted that a recent study of elderly individuals in this country showed—if they could “do it all over again” they would take more risks, reflect more, and do more things that would live on after they were gone. This is the very stuff of childhood…and it is disappearing.

Risk taking is being undercut by our culture of fear and oppression. Reflection is giving way to constant motion and unending distraction. Taking action that makes the world a better place is seen as too idealistic and unattainable to people who are accustomed to the instant gratification our society so readily provides.

101 Nature Activities for Kids--from Sanborn authors Elizabeth Rundle and Jane Sanborn

Yet we can reverse this trend. We can reconnect children, and their parents, teachers, and mentors, with the outdoors and with themselves. We can reignite their sense of wonder.

At the recent American Camp Association conference in San Diego,CA, Sanborn leadership team members Elizabeth Rundle and Ariella Rogge led a presentation entitled, “Beyond 101 Nature Activities.” The goals of the session were to:

1. Help participants engage and reconnect with their sense of wonder.
2. Demonstrate ways to teach other staff members, adults (parents/community members) and mentors the value and importance of outdoor play.
3. Learn tools, activities and strategies to get kids outdoors, and—in some cases—help them learn or re-learn how to play and how to just BE.

The “Thinking Outside the Bag” activity reminds us that our world views can sometimes be fixed and grounded in the known and the familiar. Yet children operate in a day-to-day world that is both unknown and highly unfamiliar—sometimes a little uncomfortable and scary—but mostly unexplored, uninhibited, and experience-rich. So we wanted to push our participants gently into that same unfamiliar space—back through that door of the known, and into the world of imagination, fun, and possibility.

Each participant was given a paper bag with a random natural object hidden inside. From here, participants were asked to transcend their “adult” (and somewhat “fixed” mindset) and connect with the children they once were. Using only their sense of touch as their guide, participants explored their object and answered the following, very unscientific and very imaginative questions:

• What color does your object feel like?
• What does this object smell like to a mouse?
• Where would this object be camouflaged?
• Would your dog eat it? Why or why not?
• What sort of creature might use this object and how?

A lively discussion ensued in which we “juiced up our imaginations” and “had fun.” In a few short moments, we had shifted our focus into the world of possibility, imagination and wonder. Yet the joy, surprise and amazement that followed when participants actually saw their natural objects was almost as rich as the sense-deprived, imaginative experience in the first place.

Take a walk this afternoon, gather a handful of natural objects, hide them in bags for your family, and then come up with your own creative, imagination-juicing questions to help them—and you—reconnect with that forgotten sense of wonder, and that vast, untapped realm of the imagination.

What questions will you ask?