Category Archives: Programming

A Purposeful Climb


Even though I grew up in southern California, water is not my favorite element. I enjoy rafting, but kayaking terrifies me. I’ve tried it once, and I’m willing to try it again, but it’s certainly not “my thing.” Land adventures are far more my speed. At CampBighorn in western Montana, where I work, there are two ropes courses—a higher and a lower—and two challenge elements called Jacob’s Ladder and the Vertical Playpen. These four elements—known as the Challenge Course—are my wheelhouse. I could spend every … Continue reading

Posted in Camp Business, Departments, Issues, Jul/Aug 2014, Programming | Leave a comment

The Value of No/Low-Prop Initiative Games

Photo Courtesy of Ohio State University Extension

The benefits of teambuilding activities such as high-ropes courses have been well-documented. Youth gain valuable skills from being mentally and physically challenged, but what you do when a camp cannot afford to build a course, maintain it, and incur increased insurance premiums? A number of cooperative and initiative games can accomplish many of the same goals with little or no investment. What Are Low/No-Prop Initiative Games? Initiative games are highly active team challenges that require individual members to work together … Continue reading

Posted in Camp Business, May/June 2014, Programming | Leave a comment

Crafty Campers

shoe good

Let’s face it–almost every young camper has made a Popsicle-stick pencil holder, but there comes a time for them to try their hand at some slightly different (and easy) craft projects. Here are some ideas that allow kids to be creative and make something they probably haven’t made before.  Tic-Tac-Toe Bugs Set out 100 or so plastic spoons. Fill each spoon with Plaster of Paris. Add a piece of yarn or embroidery floss to the wet plaster to form antennas. … Continue reading

Posted in Camp Business, Departments, Issues, Mar/Apr 2014, Programming | Leave a comment

Separate Outstanding From Adequate

Photos Courtesy of Dru Belli

When the time comes to hire a new aquatic director for your summer-camp program, or if you are seeking to groom current employees for promotion to an aquatic supervisory position, do you know what you’re looking for? Beyond a comprehensive knowledge of water-safety issues and a strong background in lifeguarding skills, what qualities separate outstanding aquatic director candidates from those who are merely adequate?  In addition to having the aforementioned knowledge, excellent directors consistently exhibit qualities that fall into seven … Continue reading

Posted in Camp Business, Departments, Issues, Mar/Apr 2014, Programming | Leave a comment

Unscheduled Time

Photos Courtesy of Trail Blazer Camps

If the term “decentralized camping” is Googled, you will find a wealth of papers and books dedicated to the subject, yet you would be hard-pressed to find many current programs or camps that utilize this approach. After 150 years of summer camp, this philosophy apparently has all but vanished from the diverse world of camps.  The original idea was developed in the early 1920s by Lois Goodrich and Dr. L.B. Sharp at Life Camps (later to become Trail Blazer Camps), … Continue reading

Posted in Camp Business, Departments, Insider Access, Issues, Jan/Feb 2014, Programming | Leave a comment