Celebrations and preparations.
Almost seven years ago, the American Camping Association, the Canadian Camping Association, the Ontario Camping Association, and the International Camping Fellowship agreed to collaborate on Kumbayah 1994. The steering committee for the Third International Camping Congress should be commended for truly "Bringing Together a World of Outdoor Experience."
The educational experiences couldn't be topped. Representatives from thirty-seven countries were challenged by Dr. Jane Goodall, the world renowned wildlife preservationist; were inspired to achieve our personal and collective best by Olympic Champion Dr. Bruce Kidd; and were spurred on to improve our leadership impact by Leadership Consultant Michael Brandwein.
Many new lines of communication were forged with the provision of simultaneous translation in four spoken languages during all general sessions. In addition, Donna Brandwein enchanted us with her "singing" for the hearing impaired. A very moving connection was created between Peter and Paul (Mary had the flu) and Congress participants at the We Believe benefit. Songs re-sung by all generations in our camps brought tears and laughter as we were linked together in an evening no one wanted to end.
Though the congress provided memorable experiences too numerous to mention, here are a few more highlights: Congress Chair Jane McCutcheon's mother's nine exquisite hand-made quilts... the Evening Under the Big Top... the exhibit halls over-flowing with helpful information and products... the underground Toronto shops... Jack Pearse and the Boys Camp Band... the Girl Guides' musical portrayal of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police... these and many more wonderful experiences enlightened and inspired us and made for some very special memories.
Preparing for the 1995 ACA National Conference
Sunday morning ACA closed Kumbayah 1994 with an awards breakfast honoring people whose special contributions make ACA what it is today -- an organization of caring professionals. (For a review of this year's awardees, see pages 15-16 in this issue.)
Also during the closing breakfast, the 1995 ACA conference hosts gave us a special invitation to have fun in the sun. Next year's conference will be held February 22-26 at the Twin Towers Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, Florida. Be sure to sign up early to Capture the Magic of Camping.
Preparing Staff for the Summer Ahead
The presentation of awards always makes me think of the impact we have on the lives of youth and the young people on our camp staff. This time of year I know you are in the final stages of hiring staff and planning your pre-camp training. Don't underestimate the importance of preparing your staff for their summer experience. Your sensitivity to the feelings of your staff can help then create the kind of life-long memories you want every camping experience to be.
The transition to camp can be very difficult. The campers arrive, and with the exception of a couple of hours a day, staff are on duty with children around the clock. As you are planning your pre-camp, be sensitive to the transition your staff are making. Try to give them some time to go to town. During pre-camp, discuss ways to help staff recognize when they need a break. If possible, plan a day when staff can have their friends or family members at camp. Plan to be there to meet them and praise the work your staff members are doing. Remember, you are a role model for your staff and your recognition of their work is important.
Once camp has begun, it is easy to get involved in administration and not circulate. Don't let that happen! Be ready to observe and recognize the exciting, good things that are happening with children. Smile, it's contagious! Enjoy the wonderful reasons you got into this kind of work. Have a great summer.