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A View from the Woods.

As I sit here at my son's baseball game fussing over what to write for this column, I watch Dayton trot onto the field to take his position. It's curious the team spirit I sense given the team came together less than a month ago. Eleven boys ages ten to twelve, all sizes, shapes, colors, and abilities bouncing around. Boys who had never played together and some who didn't even know each other prior to the first practice. Yet, these boys share a common purpose, a common passion -- to play a game they love. I've watched them create their shared team culture over the past thirty days. They've moved beyond their differences to a greater goal. They use their rules (norms), relationships, values, and beliefs to mobilize their new team community.

Our ACA world is like Dayton's team, always changing. We, too, have invisible ties that hold us together and give us support and comfort. Yet, what happens when natural evolution demands we change our culture? Resistance can cause extinction.

We are becoming less and less like each other. Our world is more inter-generational, more multicultural, more risk-taking, and more entrepreneurial, thus demanding greater customization. More of us than not belong to constituencies on the fringes. Both the external world around us and our internal world require us to realign our "team."

We need to re-engineer for speed; we must design customizable programs based on shared needs. We need fluid structures that can be nimble and that can respond to emerging issues while maintaining ethical dimensions amid the inherent complexity. We must present an image of shared values and essential elements while capitalizing on strategic alliances designed to advance our influence. We need to celebrate our growing diversity and face the increasing demands on our industry. We must more than ever recognize that our power lies in our ability to look beyond our differences and see our common community -- a team culture with a common purpose, a passion for the camp experience, enriching lives and changing the world.

The culture I'm describing is not unlike the culture you create each year at camp. Regardless of the percent of new staff, new campers, or the diversity within, you go about the business of creating a camp community that respects and values all. You recognize when you can successfully do that you enrich the lives of all those at camp, and when they leave, they will take those lessons and change their world.

Dayton's game is over. They lost. Yet, as I watch them walk off the field arm in arm, I hear them encourage their hearts. "Good play, nice hit, good run, we'll do better next time. We're a team. Yeah!" they say. I smile as I watch the different sizes, shapes, colors, and abilities run to the canteen for a cool, well-deserved drink. I whisper, "Good play, good hit, we'll do even better next time. We're a team!"

Peg L. Smith

ACA Executive Director
COPYRIGHT 2001 American Camping Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:meeting challenges in camp administration
Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Previous Article:Battling the "I Hate This Camp" Virus.
Next Article:Kids' Well-Being Improves.

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