It is time to plan for the summer of 2022 and update your listing. Camp directors are encouraged to update your camp’s listing(s) on the Camp Channel in regard to any time-sensitive information such as:
- Session dates
- Rates / cost
- Changes in camp programming
- New facilities
- Covid-19 policies
- Virtual (online) programming options
- More recent photos or video (if applicable)
Click here in order to modify your listing. You are welcome to update your information as often as necessary.
Earlier this year, we had also released a new feature update to allow camps to include six photos (previously two) within either a Basic or Full Hyperlink Listing; allowing potential campers / families to better visualize and become aware of all of the fun and unique experiences offered at your camp! If you already have a Basic or Full Hyperlink Listing, simply visit the link above to add more photos.
If you would like to add multi-media elements to your listing, but currently have a free listing, you may upgrade to either a Basic ($49/yr.) or Full Hyperlink Listing ($149/yr.).
If you are a prospective camper or parent seeking a summer camp for the summer of 2021 please keep in mind that many camps have yet to provide their updated information for next summer. It is always recommended that you contact a summer camp directly for the most up to date and accurate information.
The ASC Theatre Camp (ASCTC) is an immersive, residential theatre intensive where students ages 13-19 get to:
- Perform with Shakespeare’s staging conditions in the Blackfriars Playhouse
- Preview the college experience by living on the Mary Baldwin University campus
- Watch live performances by American Shakespeare Center professional troupes
- Explore the infinite performance options available in early modern texts
- Spend three weeks together
In the midst of the current global pandemic, how could any of that be possible?
Hi, I’m Lia Wallace, and you may remember me from such previous blog posts as “Applied Theatrics” and “What I Learned on my Summer Vacation: An ASCTC 2019 Retrospective.”
I’m here to pass on some of the lessons I learned this summer at #SHXCamp 2020, the American Shakespeare Center’s digital version of the residential ASC Theatre Camp. Read on for tips, encouragement, and advice on replicating our successes while avoiding our mistakes.
1. Don’t pretend online is the same as in-person.
Instead, acknowledge and embrace the obstacles and opportunities provided by your new staging conditions.
“To be completely honest (and strongly influenced by discussions I’ve already had with my camper) I would need to see a completely novel approach to online learning that would make us interested in a virtual ASCTC experience. You guys have amazing content and staff, there is no doubt if anyone can pull this off, you can — but so far I’ve seen so many attempts fall flat in engaging people in a way that is anywhere near as powerful as the in-person experience.” – Parent response to pre-Camp survey
When it came time to pivot the residential ASC Theatre Camp into the digital #SHXCamp, I took a look at my list and crossed off everything made impossible by our socially distant reality:
Perform with Shakespeare’s staging conditions in the Blackfriars Playhouse Preview the college experience by living on the Mary Baldwin University campus Watch live performances by American Shakespeare Center professional troupes
- Explore the infinite performance options available in early modern texts
- Spend three weeks together?
The tangible external trappings of the Playhouse or MBU’s campus are vital components of the residential Camp experience, but they would not survive digital transplantation, and pretending otherwise would get us nowhere. We had to work with whatever would survive, which turned out to be plenty — so long as we embraced our new staging conditions. For us, that meant acknowledging the reality of the Zoom box as our primary venue (see item #2, “Use The Device” for more on this) and crafting work that would work in that venue.
To do so, I freed directors Jack Read (Julius Caesar) and Lauren Carlton (All’s Well that Ends Well) from the regular restraints of a one-hour cut or indeed any sort of linear storytelling, and I threw nearly all of our normal “rules” out of the window in favor of one new uber rule: the show portfolios could be anything except for a straight-up “Zoom reading” of the play. Instead of using Shakespeare’s staging conditions to mount one-hour productions of early modern plays for live performance in the Blackfriars Playhouse, #SHXCampers would need to use the internet’s staging conditions to devise multimedia-enhanced explorations of Shakespeare’s text for compilation in a digital portfolio. Armed with these instructions, #SHXCampers got extraordinarily creative. Peruse the digital portfolios to see the fruits of their labors (click here for All’s Well, click here for Caesar).
“This was a super unique experience and I think the Caesar team handled it super well. Our process was super collaborative and I know for a fact that my ideas were heard.” — #SHXCamper
“Oh my gosh. Being in All’s Well with Lauren was incredible!!! She was the best director ever. I loved how we all got to come up with ideas ourselves as well as execute her amazing ideas. The creative freedom she gave us definitely helped get more in touch with character!!” — #SHXCamper
This was hard. We love what we do, and we had a hard time letting it go lightly. ASCTC, like ASC in general, has always been context-driven. What we do (mount one-hour productions of early modern plays) depends heavily not only on why (for live performance) but also on where (in the Blackfriars Playhouse) we do it. Even though we followed the same process of embracing our context to arrive at a final collaborative product, the #SHXCamp digital portfolios look nothing like the normal ASCTC performances — nor should they. After all, online is not the same as in-person.
2. USE THE DEVICE!
“I was surprised that I could make friends very effectively over Zoom!! I love everyone from camp so much.” — #SHXCamper
While I still spend a good chunk of each day lamenting what we can’t have on Zoom (eye contact, side conversations, ensemble work, unison vocal work, eye contact, eye contact, eye contact) what we can have on Zoom is nevertheless remarkable. Here are a few Zoom functions we used (or should have used) to great effect at #SHXCamp:
- Share screen
The digital equivalent of holding up a page for display or glancing (with permission) over your neighbor’s shoulder, screen sharing became second nature at #SHXCamp. Along with a simple view of the screen, Zoom makes it super easy for users to share more. You can send files through Zoom’s screen share function and write on a shared digital “white board” together (see item c. “Annotate” on this list for more about that). You can also share your computer audio — either by itself (perfect for playing music while still being able to see faces in gallery view; came in very handy for the Masquerade Ball and our many impromptu dance parties) or with a screen share (perfect for watching video clips together; came in very handy for Archive Movie Nights).
- Breakout rooms
The digital equivalent of dividing into smaller groups. Hosts can create, open, and assign meeting participants to breakout rooms at any time during a meeting. Co-hosts can float between breakout rooms, as well. I cannot imagine rehearsing any sort of ensemble piece without liberal use of the breakout room function for dividing up scene work and delegating to production team members. It’s easy to use, it significantly increases productivity by allowing you to work on more than one moment at a time, and it provides much-needed variety for participants (especially those who may thrive in smaller groups but be reluctant to engage in larger ones).
Hosts and meeting participants can use the “annotate” function to draw or write on a shared screen (or shared whiteboard). A simple way to engage students’ participation in workshops (especially since Zoom changed the default settings to automatically show the name of each annotater next to their contribution). We used this to mark up text in our rhetoric and scansion workshops, and also to doodle together between classes.
“One of the big pluses of using Zoom is that you can private message people. When I can tell people are stressed out or they’re doing a big presentation or something, I normally drop them a “you can do it!” motivational message in their private Zoom messages! Many campers did this for me and the messages never failed to brighten my day.” – #SHXCamper
While I understand the gut reaction to stay away from chat features (we don’t encourage students to pass notes in class, after all) I want to encourage everyone to check their assumptions in this ridiculous time (and remember all the notes they passed in their own classes back in the day anyway). Connecting is hard when we are forcibly separate. Embrace anything that makes it easier. We set rules around the chat functions on each digital platform in different contexts (e.g. only use the Zoom chat for dramaturgy-related questions or comments during rehearsals and keep unrelated chatter to the appropriate Slack channel — read more about Slack in item #4), which helped keep distractions to a minimum while still encouraging campers to engage with the material together.
- Hide Self View
“Some days were a little harder but I could always turn off my camera and move around and feel better.” — #SHXCamper
Humans are not used to witnessing our own interactions, and anybody who’s sat across the table from a mirror knows how distracting it is to be forced to do so. We gave #SHXCampers the option of turning off their cameras as needed, which they universally appreciated, frequently used, and (probably) abused on occasion. While requiring cameras on is problematic (especially when it comes to issues of access and bandwidth), so was our solution of allowing them to be turned off at-will. Sometimes, we found ourselves speaking to a sea of black boxes, unsure of whether we were being understood or even heard, which was both frustrating and demoralizing. One happy medium exists in the “hide self view” option, which keeps your camera on but removes your video from your own personal Zoom display (so you aren’t staring at your own face) thereby cutting back on Zoom fatigue.
Once we stopped lamenting the loss of our in-person program and turned our attention to what we were able to do online, we found all sorts of tools waiting to be put to creative use. If you find yourself forced to teach virtually this year, don’t panic. Investigate your platform(s) thoroughly, and encourage your students to do the same. You may find more than you think.
3. You will need more time to cover less material, and longer breaks to beat Zoom fatigue. Schedule accordingly.
“More breaks plz to cut some long zoom sessions. The zoom fatigue hits hard sometimes.” – #SHXCamper
Teaching over Zoom is different than teaching in person (see item #1 on this list). Not everything will take longer to do on Zoom, but a lot of things will — including the simple things many of us take for granted. For example, I used to be able to call on a student instantaneously with a simple visual scan and a social cue like pointing or eye contact, none of which is possible on Zoom. Instead, that instantaneous in-person action now takes long moments of verbal explication (instructing students to use the raise hand function, reminding them to unmute themselves, and dealing with the inevitable interruptions and miscommunications that arise from any confusion) to be virtually successful.
“I would have been ok with a longer day if it meant longer breaks in between things.” – #SHXCamper
In addition to the extra time it takes to do everything, our brains are scrambling to keep up with the constantly shifting modes of technological communication we now rely on but never evolved to use. Though advancements in technology outpaced biological evolution long ago, the struggle is still real and the cognition required for success is increasingly exhausting. There are ways to combat the resulting Zoom fatigue (see item 2e. “Hide Self View”) but the best remedy is thoughtful planning. Schedule brain breaks and take the time you need to be effective. Even if you end up covering less material in the short term, avoiding burnout will always get you further in the long run.
“I heard a lot of people talking about screen time and “zoom fatigue”, but that didn’t really affect me. I did school in the spring online from 9-2, so this really wasn’t that different — except that I was actually enjoying this, which made it much easier.” – #SHXCamper
4. Create a dedicated space for online socializing.
“I can’t believe how well you created a camp community experience. The first day online was exhausting and I wasn’t sure how all the hours online would translate into a 3 week experience, but it was amazing.” –#SHXCamp Parent
We realized back in March what many colleges and universities around the country began grappling with in July and August: when you lose the residential setting of your program, you lose the built-in immersion of the experience. The ASC Theatre Camp is about so much more than the content of its classes: it’s about the magic of meeting your people. That magic is not self-perpetuating. It needs time and tending, which it normally gets from the side conversations that happen while campers walk to classes together, the spontaneous board game tournaments in the dorm lounges, the late-night whispers between roommates, and all the other sorts of forced bonding that happen naturally between strangers thrown into a high-pressure, intensely emotional experience together. In order to make the magic happen online, we needed a way for campers to “hang out” during free time and connect during classes. Enter Slack.
Slack is a “channel-based messaging system” designed for streamlining communications between coworkers, not a Learning Management System (LMS) designed for delivering content to students (like Canvas or Blackboard Collaborate). I do not work for Slack, and while I endorse the platform heartily, my point is not to convince you to buy it. But I cannot overstate the importance of having a unified, customizable, segmented communications platform for #SHXCamp alongside our Zoom rooms. Everybody had access to standard channels like “general” and “random” as well as #SHXCamp-specific custom channels like “tutorials and resources” (where we stored instructive files like workshop handouts and demo videos) and “antiracism” (where we compiled information about actively dismantling white supremacy). Specific groups within the #SHXCamp workspace could also access private channels for specific projects or conversations — each cast had its own private channel for discussions related to their digital portfolios, for example. In addition to the private and public chat channels, Slack also allows all members to send direct messages to anybody else in the workspace. These features gave us all the ability to quickly and easily connect with everyone from anywhere, and allowed the inside jokes and “had to be there” moments of camp to happen online.
“If I had to pick one thing [I’ll still remember 20 years from now] though, it’s definitely the friends I made. Because I can confidently say that I made 18 new friends in the middle of a pandemic, and that’s pretty darn cool.” — #SHXCamper
While it took us about a week to get the hang of it (not an insubstantial amount of time in a three-week program), the #SHXCamp Slack workspace became a thriving digital community so vibrant and effective that we decided to keep it forever. We’re creating a SHXSlack subscription benefit for all current and former ASC Theatre Campers (and Camp staff) who join the Epizeuxis Society of ASC donors, which will give them access to this exclusive bubble of Camp resources, events, and friends. We weren’t sure it would work, but it absolutely did — and now we can all keep Camp in our back pockets year-round.
5. We can do this. Together.
“Wow. I cannot say enough amazing things about this camp. I had no expectation that a true residential camp experience could be duplicated, but y’all have absolutely done it. [My camper] has lived and breathed #ShxCamp. It has inspired her beyond measure and surrounded her with a community of passionate people… something she didn’t even know she needed. It has most definitely impacted where she’s considering attending college and even her career plans. She’s already planning for next summer, and I NEVER imagined I would have her considering leaving home for a camp for 3 weeks. Every piece of this camp has been enjoyable for her, and you truly built a community. She’s going to have the same post-camp withdrawals she would if she’d been there in person. I’m mind-blown that a virtual experience could do that, and so thankful that you pivoted this camp to online.” — #SHXCamp Parent
Camp is magic. I learn that anew every summer, and 2020 was no exception. No matter where or how we do it, bringing together a bunch of enthusiastic young weirdos to explore and perform these centuries-old texts is magic. While I hope we never have to do a digital version of the ASC Theatre Camp again, knowing that we can do it is astonishing — and comforting. Weathering the uncertainties of our reality is difficult, and weathering them alone is nigh impossible. At the end of the day, we are what will get us all through this. Each other.
“Thank you so much for saving me from my darkest moments.” — #SHXCamper
Loneliness is corrosive and deadly. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I know I have felt lonelier in the last 5 months than I had in the previous 5 years. But for three weeks this summer, I never felt alone — because I never was. I had Camp with me.
The views and opinions expressed in the article above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Camp Channel, Inc.
This article has been published to provide a first-hand account of one camp’s efforts and experience operating in the midst of Covid-19 during the summer of 2020; for the benefit of camp families, camp professionals, and the public at large. What may “work” for one camp might not for another. We believe safety is of paramount importance and urge those seeking to attend a camp in 2021 use due diligence and contact a camp directly about their systems, protocols, and outcomes.
If you operated a camp or program during the summer of 2020, please contact us to discuss the possibility of sharing your experiences and insights.
Update your camp’s listing accordingly. We are also accepting publication submissions regarding experiences of camps that operated during the summer of 2020.
Update Your Listing
Two new covid related fields have been added. The first provides your camp with the ability to indicate whether you offer a virtual program. A second new field allows you to include your camp’s Covid-19 policy and/or information about possible contingencies your camp might be facing pertaining to Covid-19. To update your listing, visit the following:
Call For Chronicles of Summer 2020
If your camp operated in any capacity during the summer of 2020, please contact us to discuss the possibility of publicly sharing your experiences and insights in the form of a dedicated blog post on CampChannel.com.
Our objective is to disseminate general approaches, protocols, and outcomes pertaining to Covid-19; for the benefit of camp families, camp professionals, and the public at large.
Along with the publication of your account, we would be happy to provide credit and a link to your camp’s website.
Listings for music camps have now been categorized according to: genre, instrument, ensemble, and other areas of interest (music theory, sight reading, improvisation, technique, live sound, recording).
Whether you’re interested in performing classical music, jamming in a rock band, playing in a jazz ensemble, participating in musical theater, or if you just really like to play an instrument or sing; search the Camp Channel’s directory of music camps by area of focus and location by browsing or using a filter to more effectively find and discover music programs that match your particular interests.
One of the best things you can do as you choose a camp is to schedule a tour. America’s best summer camps realize the value of these personal visits and will encourage you to see the camp and meet some of the staff.
I have conducted hundreds of camp tours for campers and families over the past 30 years. There are certain things I know the kids especially want to see and understand to relieve potential anxiety. I also know that parents have important things they want to know too. If you are a first time camp family (especially overnight camp where there are a lot of new things you haven’t even thought of yet) it can be hard to get all the information you want on a tour. So here are my Top Ten questions you should ask before, during, or after the camp tour. I absolutely recommend a camp tour before sending your child to a camp. Think ahead. If you are interested in a camp that is inaccessible part of the year because of snow or other weather conditions, you may need to take a tour the summer before you plan to enroll.
- Where will I sleep, shower, and go to the bathroom? These are the number one concerns of a young camper on a camp tour. Trust me, they are excited by the climbing wall and swimming pool but make sure you see the cabins and bathrooms. I have seen anxious campers melt with big smiles once they can climb on a bunk bed, make sure the bathroom is not smelly (or too far away) and realize there is a place to shower. A great follow up question if the camp has bunk beds (most do) is “how do you decide who sleeps on which bunk?” Some kids are very anxious about a top or bottom bunk and knowing how that will be assigned is comforting information.
- Where and what will I eat? Super important for kids to understand where the food comes from. They worry about this stuff but may lack the foresight to ask the question. So, ask it for them. After all, Moms and Dads want to know this stuff too.
- How do parents and campers communicate? Ask the Camp Director this question with your campers present and listening. As a parent it is very important that you support the camp communication policy. And, it is important for your child to understand that communication will probably be limited. It is also a great way to make it real for them that they will be handling this experience by themselves without calling or messaging you every 5 minutes.
- Where do your campers come from? There is no right answer to this question but it is an important one to ask. First, it gives you a very good idea that the Camp Director or person giving the tour has a handle on who they serve. It also allows you to focus in on the camp environment you want your child to be a part of. Do you want your camper to have camp friends that he/she/they can see throughout the year? In that case a camp with a strong local presence is important. Want to increase your child’s world view and understanding of other cultures? Campers and staff from around the world can provide awesome insight into life in other countries.
- Can you show us where a camper can go if they need help? I love it when people ask this question (and if they don’t I answer it anyway.) For many campers, Summer Camp is new and a bit intimidating despite all the fun and energy. So having a visual reference of the office, health center, or wherever they can go when they need guidance is very helpful. I notice that the kids I can remember meeting on a tour are much more comfortable walking into the office with questions. They know it’s okay to walk through that door because they have already done it.
- How does the weather today compare to a typical summer day. Many campers may not understand temperature as a number of degrees but can will certainly understand “Cooler, warmer, or about the same.” It is important that you and your camper prepare for the climate at camp and this question, asked on a tour, makes it easy to understand.
- Are you accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA?) There are two reasons to ask this question. 1) ACA is the only nationally recognized accreditation body for camps. So if a camp is ACA accredited they have chosen to pursue a very high level of standards for their camp programs. 2) This is a bit sneaky but asking this question sets you apart as a person that has really done the homework. The fact that you mention ACA will get the Camp Director’s attention. They may pay just a little bit more attention to your needs on the tour because they recognize you as a savvy customer.
- Do you have any materials we can take home? Many camps no longer mail a brochure home but rely on their websites to convey the feel and philosophy of their camp. But most camp offices are filled with swag! Your campers will feel special if they have a sticker, comic book, or giveaway item that isn’t widely available. You should get something special because you came for a tour, right?
- What’s one thing my camper should bring that’s not on the packing list? Every camp I have ever visited or gotten to know has a packing list. And, they all have this kind of secret menu of items that returning campers and staff know about but first time campers couldn’t possible know. At one camp I visited it was glow sticks (for night hikes) and at another it was laundry detergent to add to your own bag of dirty clothes on Wash day because the camp never seemed to use enough. Nobody was trying to keep these things secret from new kids but nobody thought to add them to the packing list. By the way, if you were to ask me that question on a tour I would say “Ping Pong balls!” We sell thousands of boring white ping pong balls in our store for a nickel each (Comes out of the kids camp store account.) So save your camp money and stand out from the crowd with orange or colored ping pong balls. You will also save your spot at the table when you don’t have to run to the store for a new ping pong ball. (Ping Pong is very popular at our camp. We have 6 tables!)
- Finally, one for Moms and Dads: Can we see your kitchen? Food is very important and seeing where it is made and served is a nice touch. But seeing how clean the kitchen is, how well organized and fresh smelling it is, tells you the camp pays attention to details. They didn’t just clean the areas you were about to see but they make sure the camp is safe and clean at all times.
So there we have it. Ten questions to ask on your camp tour. And, please make sure you do schedule a camp tour if you possibly can. It will make you and your camper feel much more prepared for the adventure ahead.
Andrew Townsend is the Director of Kennolyn Camps, based in Santa Cruz, CA. Kennolyn offers overnight camps in Santa Cruz and on Huntington Lake as well as Day Camp and Family Camp. Kennolyn has been a Bay Area favorite since 1946. Kennolyn is accredited by the American Camp Association. www.kennolyncamps.com 831 479 6714.
Our interface has been recently updated to improve navigation; allowing visitors to more easily review search results as well as to retrieve information contained within the full listing profiles for individual summer camps.
On mobile devices: a fixed secondary navigational menu for listing results will now appear at the top of your device; allowing you to more easily process and filter results at any moment.
Likewise, on all camp listing profile pages (for all devices), a fixed secondary navigational menu will now appear at the top of your screen; allowing you to more easily view multi-media elements and read specific information displayed for any given camp listing.
We are pleased to announce the recent implementation of SSL security to the entirety of the campchannel.com domain, as well as its other more specialized directories located at:
https://www.VerySpecialCamps.com (Special Needs)
https://www.CampRentalChannel.com (Camp Rentals)
While the Camp Channel does not gather or retain sensitive information from visitors seeking a camp (such as credit card or social security data), we believe an encrypted and secure site-wide digital interface provides an increased level of security and trust for all website activity and engagement.
Online since 1995, the Camp Channel strives to maintain its position and reputation as a leader in camp search.
We are excited to welcome in the New Year with the release of an updated version of our Job Board: featuring improved navigational components and a more uniform format that is helpful to visitors using mobile devices who are searching for a summer camp job.
Information about a wide variety of camp staff positions is now more accessible with fewer clicks and scrolling; offering a more standardized and easily readable format to more readily evaluate information at a glance.
If you are seeking employment at a summer camp, we encourage you to stop by and take a look at many fun and rewarding camp job openings for the summer of 2018.
Are you searching for a facility to host a wedding, company outing, family reunion, or other large event? Many summer camps rent their facilities before and after their primary camp sessions to groups looking to host various events and functions.
Our newly upgraded website – specifically dedicated to camp rentals – has recently received several feature enhancements to improve usability on both desktops and mobile devices.
If you are camp director and would like to list your group rental on CampRentalChannel.com, you are welcome to view our listing options and sign up by visiting:
August 25, 2016 marked the National Park Service’s Centennial (100th) anniversary. Some might say the National Park system is our nation’s “best idea” – for a great number of reasons; some of the most poignant of which can not be easily translated into mere words as a substitute for one’s presence amidst the sublime natural surroundings National Parks afford to those who cross their often frail boundaries into the unique ancient landscapes and habitats contained therein.
A long range historical perspective might reveal how the establishment of the National Park Service represented an effort to not only preserve our natural treasures, but to establish a foundation and cooperative framework to afford what might be considered the equivalent of large scale “communal camp facilities” for generations to engage and establish connections in perpetuity — amidst a contemporary world which often bombards us with a constant stream of trivial information and unending artificial stimuli.
Just as National Parks provide a physical venue for people to come together and perhaps form unseen yet enduring bonds with untrammeled natural landscapes and wildlife, summer camps might be thought of in a similar light in so far as providing a “sanctuary” from some of the more obtrusive aspects of modern life which might affect young people’s ability to better engage in meaningful social interaction and relationships with other individuals at a formative age.
As the sprawl of modern life has enveloped much of our natural surroundings, perhaps so too have technological advancements encumbered relationships among people – young and old. As a society and individuals, we’ve seemed to have generally drifted further and further into the individualized compartments of virtual worlds, electronic devices, and gadgetry; often at the expense of establishing and developing meaningful bonds with others – in real time, in person.
Summer camps offer a forum for kids to establish real life relationships with one another; many of whom are experiencing similar issues in navigating the complicated waters of modern life. A camp environment may facilitate more thoughtful conversation and interaction with others “in the moment” vs. the often caricatured reclusive behavior of reflexively retreating to one’s mobile device or gadget.
In a similar light as National Parks, some camps are able to provide a direct connection to our natural environment at various levels of immersion. Given the apparent decreasing scope of nature (with a capital “N”) from our collective consciousness, the value of such a portal is immense; even as a simple reminder to all of us regarding our essence as human beings and what ultimately sustains us as creatures who inhabit the Earth.
Summer camps come in all shapes and sizes with respect to: locale, facilities, and programming emphasis. Likewise, not all camps take place outdoors in a natural setting; however, even camps that utilize an indoor facility(s) still offer a meaningful venue to congregate and interact with others in a positive fashion.
It is difficult to refute how technology has improved the human condition – offering tremendous breakthroughs and conveniences on a number of fronts. However, without the adoption and nourishment of constructs pertaining to real life bonds and relationships to people and the natural environment, technological improvements will invariably not live up to their potential to help people to prosper; instead, perhaps even serve to perpetuate and amplify disconnects between people and nature alike.
In addition to such commonalities, the National Park Service and summer camps also share the same general historical era with respect to some of their early implementations. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, had extended federal protection to an unprecedented amount of land and wildlife during his terms in office from 1901-1909; a combined effort including: five National Parks, eighteen National Monuments, and the beginning of the United States Forest Service – totaling nearly 250 million acres. It was on the heels the Roosevelt administration the National Park Service formally sprang into existence in 1916.
During the same approximate time frame, the first traditional residential summer camps in the United States started to appear in the early part of the 20th Century, such as the following summer camps which are still in operation to date:
YMCA Camp Mason (1900)
Frost Valley YMCA (1901)
Surprise Lake Camp (1902)
Camp Highlands for Boys (1904)
Pok-O-MacCready Camps (1905)
YMCA Camp Lakewood (1905)
Camp O-AT-KA (1906)
YMCA Camp Copneconic (1915)
Fairview Lake YMCA Camps (1915)
Keystone Camp (1916)
For well over 100 years, enrollment in summer camp programs has been strong and durable; helping to provide children growing up in the midst of unbelievable technological advancements to be afforded the essential tools for establishing and improving interpersonal dynamics at a young age — holding great promise that such can be imparted from one generation to the next in the years to come.
Likewise, National Parks have been a huge success – especially in recent times – with an ever increasing number of park visitors from year to year. Even in spite of the potential detrimental impact to park infrastructure from high visitor usage, it is a heartening sign in a contemporary life filled with distractions to see our National Parks being “loved to death” – for it might very well represent the heartbeat of a society trying to maintain its way in quickly changing and fast paced world.