In The Trenches with Bob Ditter

Smart Counselors (July-August, 2006)

Maybe you’ve seen her on TV. She’s the no-nonsense, matronly woman with that “don’t-even-think-about messing with me” look on her face. She is the person desperate parents call when their children become unmanageable. She’s “Nanny 911” and she knows a thing or two about working with children that any savvy camp counselor […]

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Adventures with Camp Parents (May-June, 2006)

Very often while I am visiting a camp in June or July, I not only hear about challenging camper behavior, but perplexing parent behavior as well. I decided to share one of these episodes as a way of illustrating techniques for working more effectively with camper parents. I have changed a few minor […]

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Scenes from Camp (March-April, 2006)

June and July are travel months for me. Twenty days each month I can be found in a camp somewhere in the United States listening to the tales of counselors dealing valiantly with challenging camper behavior. I have chosen to share a couple of episodes from last summer with the hope that you, […]

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Camper-Counselor Contact—After Camp (July-August, 2005)

Dear Bob, We have a veteran staff member who is excellent with children. He is a school guidance counselor known for his good work with students. He doesn’t seem to have a strong peer group apart from the youngsters he spends time with, and he is constantly creating opportunities to befriend boys through the ski […]

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More Respect (May-June, 2005)

Dear Bob, I am writing in response to the “Frustrated Director” (“In the Trenches, March-April, 2005, “Respect for Authority”). I liked the article and feel that it provides a valuable perspective. I have a few thoughts: 1. I would answer the director’s question (what do I do with this kid?) more directly. From a Camp Director’s […]

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Respect for Authority (March-April, 2005

Dear Bob, Last summer we had a camper who refused to listen to his counselor. He would not help out during clean-up and consistently pushed his dirty clothes under his bed. Getting him out of his cabin to activities was always a challenge, as was getting him back to the cabin or to meals afterwards. […]

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Internet Blues (January-February, 2005)

Dear Bob, We had an upsetting situation occur between two campers during the off season that we’d like to get your thoughts about. One of our twelve year-old male campers began receiving threatening e-mails from a screen name I can’t share with you, but which was itself a menacing moniker. The camper, whom I shall […]

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Changing Practices to Meet a Growing Concern (September-October, 2004)

The verbal and physical abuse and intimidation of campers by other campers has been receiving increasing attention from both parents and camp professionals alike. In a 1999 survey of several insurance companies that count camps among their clients, I found that up to 24% of “crisis calls” to the hotlines of those companies involved […]

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Seven Skills of Highly Effective Counselors (July-August, 2004)

Whether you are a volunteer, a new staff member or a seasoned counselor, working with campers can be both rewarding and challenging. Children can be fun, warm, engaging and energetic. They can also be cranky, mean to one another, over-stimulated and stubborn! Being successful with campers requires that you have a consistent […]

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