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A view from the woods.

What about tomorrow? But, what about tomorrow, Mom? My youngest, Dayton, was like many other young children in America this fall, deeply disturbed by the events of 9-11. Nightmares, sleepless nights, physical and emotional symptoms as a result of anxiety. What about tomorrow?

As ACA professionals, we must ask the same question, for what worked yesterday, may no longer be the answer. Our world is dramatically characterized by uncertainty today. That inevitability creates a whirlwind of possible change. Gretchen M. Spreitzer and Thomas G. Cummings describe the unpredictability poignantly, "The specific context a leader faces is hard to grasp because it's like stepping into a river -- you can never step into the same place twice because its flow is constantly changing."

Yet, in the ACA tradition, we must answer the unknown by fully engaging our imaginations and creative processes. We will need to look over the horizon, seek the clues that will inform us, identify the challenges, and respond confidently. In that fact, I trust tomorrow will be the same.

I believe ACA camp professionals are experienced in turning uncertain complexities into opportunities for learning. We understand how to pinpoint value in a sea of diversity and adversity. We have learned to innovate when dealing with cross-cultural values and language. We have time-tested experience dealing with diversity of age, gender, and ethnicity in our camp communities. We have managed the massive onslaught of technology finding a place for the electronic future in our communities while preserving our traditions of independence, rest, and reflection. We are "thought-leaders" practiced in action.

More importantly, we need to reposition ourselves to be tomorrow's leaders, to answer the question "What about tomorrow?" We must learn to be the first movers; early adapters with the ability to bring together a myriad of differences and challenges into the deeper understandings of the whole. For we are mentoring tomorrow's true leaders, children, and youth.

When camp professionals answer the question, "What about tomorrow?", we need to tell parents we will help their children reach their full leadership potential. Children and youth learn to test, debate, innovate, and learn while participating in the camp community. While keeping children safe we are also providing inspiration, empowerment, hope, and support. The camp discourse breathes life into a community democracy. We nurture civic duty and positive social contribution embraced by the values of humanity and the natural world. We take children and youth seriously. We treasure life. We understand that young people do have the power to change the world, and our contribution to that healthy outcome is a commitment we feel in our hearts. As camp professionals, we have access to the richest pool of future leaders and we will not squander the opportunity to enrich a life that may change tomorrow for the better. Let's answer Dayton's question, "What about tomorrow?"

Peg L. Smith

ACA Executive Director
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Title Annotation:mentoring tomorrow's leaders
Author:Smith, Peg L.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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