In The Trenches with Bob Ditter

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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Lesson Plans for Cabins, Bunks and Groups (July-August, 2003)

Anyone who has spent much time at camp knows that most activity specialists draw up lesson plans for running their periods. Well crafted lesson plans go far beyond skill instruction and include safety protocols and rules and regulations, all geared to the age of the campers in each activity period.
Anecdotal evidence suggests this approach […]

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Mid-Summer Letter to Staff (July-August, 2002)

Dear Staff,
Right about now you may be having the time of your life, enjoying the freedom of being in the outdoors in a community of good friends; or you may be wondering, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” Whatever your particular experience at camp so far, I […]

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Counselor Judgment-Camper Risk-Taking (July-August, 2001)

One of the tasks of caring for campers is learning to balance fun with safety.  This balancing act is a central, though often subtle part of what counselors do, and it can be a formidable one.  There are many times when you as a staff person must make judgments that affect the well-being of your […]

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Helping Campers Take Their Accomplishments Home (July-August, 2000)

Dear Bob, At the end of some of our summer sessions we have campers (and we suspect some staff members) who carve their initials into the bunks or write graffiti on everything from the phone desk in the office to lavatories and the shower stalls. No matter what “talks” we have with our camp community, […]

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Taking Stock (September-October, 2005)

Here in New England the late summer days of September and early October comprise a season unto themselves. Cooler at night, with warm, dry days, earlier evenings and the bounty of the harvest at its peak, it is a time for renewal and reflection. Late summer is a slower time for most camp […]

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Campers with a Mean Streak (November-December, 2005)

Dear Bob, Every summer we have campers who, when no one is looking, can be extremely mean to other campers. We have found this in our youngest campers as well as in older campers, both boys and girls. For example, last summer we had a boy in our “puma” group (boys 8 to 9 years […]

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