This week, Mikayla, Brickell, Stanley, Tim, and I gathered to discuss our first of many ACA articles. To refresh you, ACA stands for American Camp Association, which is a nationwide association dedicated to always improving the camp experience and protecting camps legally. Tim worked for ACA for a time and is completely on-board with their mission, graciously spreading it to each camp in his wake. (www.acacamps.org)
After some check-ins and moments of appreciation (it’s been a long week!) we dove in to an article titled The Case of the Melted Fingerprints by Avery McGaha. (http://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/articles/case-melted-fingerprints)
The article starts by addressing the existence of real risk management scenarios that exist at camp before it segues nicely into its philosophical lesson, that we not only manage those physical risks, but also our campers’ perceptions of those risks. It is important to help campers feel they are in a safe environment to take risks in their physical endeavors as well as in branching out to the people around them. Avery uses an example of an inner city kid asking seemingly ridiculous questions about the great unknown nature, and instead of laughing out loud at his ignorance, a co-counselor answers the kid honestly and without judgement.
Topics of Discussion
Happy Valley’s Risks
We began our discussion in Tim’s cozy lodge office with identification of some of Happy Valley’s risks. Well, said Stanley, “it’s cold in the mornings!” Tim concurred this could be a reputation risk. Tree stumps, the pool, the ropes course, and the forest all are inherently risky.
In examining the experience with the inner city kid, we discussed the importance of being compassionate and understanding towards each individual’s personal experiences. Maybe the scared adult had a sister get infected from an ant bite and that’s why he asks if there are ants in the grass. Some ways we can facilitate comfort in opening up are to give a “ridiculous” question its due examination. “Well, what do you think will happen if we come across a snake?” Open up the conversation, allow it to be acceptable to ask questions.
In order to be able to tell people “it’s safe to take risks here,” you have to do your part in minimizing those risks. Walk around the grounds with a Risk Management filter on. Tend to obtrusive tree stumps, educate campers on the dangerous flora in your area, lock up the pool chemicals.
Mikayla’s attention was drawn to the structure of the article, noting how it started with imagery of physical events and then turned to the philosophical lesson before tying everything back in to the concept of fingerprints.
Each week, you will see a post like this one – a summary of our discussion of an article as it relates to us and our campgrounds. The purpose of these discussions is to bring up issues and happenings in camps that relate to our four pillars of operation, which are 1. Site and Facilities, 2. Administration, 3. Hospitality, and 4. Food Service.
We hope to foster a deeper learning of the camp environment and an understanding of the American Camp Association. We also aim to get the discussion going with you, our readers. Your years of experience with camp can greatly contribute to the conversations!
Over and Out,