• What Signal Does Your Sign Send?

    Swim Sign_586x300

    All camps have signs. You passed a few on your way to where you’re sitting now, reading this blog post. What did they say? Some probably listed archery range rules, others pointed visitors to the office and one showed the mileage to Rome. No doubt there is a sign currently located at the top of [...]

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  • Are You Gonna Eat That?


    Said one way, the question, “Are you gonna eat that?” is an informal query among friends that is the chummy equivalent of “Can I finish that?” You might here it at a diner among best friends. Although you’d never lean over and pose the question to the queen at a state dinner, the question is [...]

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  • Time Redesign: Overcoming Obstacles to Efficiency


    What happens when we intend to make a choice—such as mowing the lawn before watching the game on TV…or cleaning out the closet before shopping for new clothes—and we fail? What does that say about us? We may feel guilty, but that feeling doesn’t tell us what went wrong. In Part 2 of this series, [...]

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  • Time Outs as Treats

    Boys on Percival_940x410

    Solitary time is missing from our daily schedules. Those restorative, reflective moments when we can appreciate, take stock, problem-solve, meditate, or pray have been eclipsed by smart phones, shared calendars (that others shoehorn appointments into for us) and a general feeling that time must be filled to be functional. But let’s not be trite. “Time [...]

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  • Lead Me Not Into Temptation

    Sava's Penguins_crop

    I offered to watch my 8-year-old’s belongings tonight at Gate B8. From across the hall, he had seen the Chicago Museum of Natural History store in O’Hare. We could both see the realistic looking stuffed animals, including arctic foxes, ring-tailed lemurs and three-toed sloths. (Beanie Babies are so ‘90’s and Webkins are so 2010, don’t [...]

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  • Helping Young People Cope with Loss

    Boy Tree_586x300

    Following the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I’d like to share this helpful article, written a few years ago with Jeanne Stern and Connie Morse, my colleagues at Phillips Exeter Academy. Grief is natural and individual. We live in a close community. Naturally, when a member of our community dies, [...]

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  • Why Advances in Staff Training Matter to Moms and Dads

    Why Staff Training Matters

    Back in the day, all a college kid needed to land a camp job was to be a college kid. Camps were started in the latter part of the 1800′s by progressive educators-college professors and prep school headmasters-with degrees from Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Columbia and so forth. Naturally, the young men (and, eventually, women) those [...]

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  • On Not Documenting Every Moment

    Dacha and Sava in Trunk

    I had a surreal moment last summer. I’d been attending camps for 39 years, working at the same camp for 30 years, and writing about camps for nearly 20 years when I finally got the chance to drop off my own son at camp. Gulp. The summer of 2011 was Dacha’s first two-week stay at [...]

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  • Tiger Fun: Saving the World by Taking Camp Seriously


    Beneath Amy Chua’s personal struggle in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother lies a deeper ambivalence about learning: What on earth should we do with our children outside of school, during unstructured free time? Chua is at times conflicted but wryly proud of her intense, authoritarian solution, a luxury reserved for high-achieving, high-functioning parents. At [...]

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  • Camp Industry Professionalism – 2008

    Historical Roots In the late 1800s, when the camping movement began to accelerate in Canada and the US, dozens of new camps were founded by progressive educators. Some of these professionals had doctorates in education; others were seasoned teachers or headmasters at private schools. All of them were looking for alternative pedagogies—methods of educating children [...]

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