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  1. Four Ways Nature Contributes to a Better Life

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    CCCA | The Power of Camp

    Camps and retreat centers offer direct access to nature—and in incredible locations! Mountaintops to waterfronts, these scenes in nature create a sense of wonder. It’s one of the trademarks of a true camp experience, and spending time in nature, as studies have shown, can improve your life.

    Here are four ways being in nature develops a better quality of life:

    Say hello to happiness
    The London School of Economics and Political Science conducted a study to find links between well-being and surrounding environments. More than 20,000 participants used a mobile app, which would ping them at random moments. They found 93 percent of the participants’ waking hours were spent indoors or in vehicles. Yet when surveyed through a mobile app over the course of a year, “on average, study participants [were] significantly and substantially happier outdoors in all green or natural habitat types than they are in urban environments.” 1

    You’ll think smarter
    “Scientists are quantifying the effects of even small doses of urban nature not only on our moods and well-being but also on our ability to think—to remember things, plan, create, daydream and focus.” 2

    Nature evokes wonder
    Having a child-like curiosity can make us look at the world differently, and as one professor says, treat others better in the process. “I think we can say pretty certainly that having a little bit of awe every day in your life would make you happier, kinder and more compassionate,” University of California, Irvine, psychologist Paul Piff, says. 3

    Nature helps us rest and reflect
    When was the last time you didn’t hear the lull of traffic or the pinging of your phone for a few hours at a time? In an over-stimulated culture, we can forget how much our minds and bodies need a break from all the distractions. “Come to the woods, for here is rest,” John Muir once wrote. 4

    Carving out time at a camp or conference center may be exactly what you need to improve your quality of life.


    1 https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/1126863
    2 https://davidkanigan.com/2017/01/29/sunday-morning-come-to-the-woods-for-here-is-rest/
    3 http://psb.soceco.uci.edu/news/fight-winter-blues-try-dose-nature
    4 http://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/favorite_quotations.aspx


  2. Secret to An Energetic, Epic Summer

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    Word of Life Youth Camp

    Vince stared at the clock’s sluggish secondhand. It was almost here. Then the final bell rang, ending the school year and welcoming the long awaited days of summer.

    Instead of spending this summer with postures slouched toward mobile devices and veg’ing on the couch, Vince and his friends will experience an energetic and epic summer at camp—being active for hours and making memories to last a lifetime.

    More Than Fun and Games
    While camp offers tons of ways for kids to have a blast, there are more benefits than fun and games. Physical activity supports greater cognitive function. So while Vince and his friends play an intense game of capture the flag, they are involuntarily improving their brain health.

    Being active produces more neurons in the hippocampus—the part of the brain that consolidates learning and memory formation. Exercising also increases “the connections among existing pathways,” and enhances “brain organization and integration.”[1]  When brain circuits are pumping, there are significant improvements in memory and mood. [2]

    Abundant Activities
    At camp, Vince and his friends have the chance to be with friends their own age while participating in ridiculously fun activities. They might choose to spend time on the waterfront canoeing, swimming and waterskiing—or better yet, being launched off a giant blob into the water.

    Afternoon pickup games on the court are a staple at camp. Playing basketball, dodge ball and volleyball gets kids moving and allows them to develop a better sense of teamwork and sportsmanship—lessons that are hard to teach when they’re at home on a laptop.

    Vince can look forward to color tag, ultimate Frisbee and soccer, played in an open field with fresh air and sunshine. Or he and his fellow cabin mates can embark on a nature trail or an extended hike with other campers. Exploring nature is a must-do summer activity, and many camps are located in beautiful, scenic locations ideal for adventuring.

    Find a Camp Today
    Whatever activity kids might be interested in, there’s likely a camp for it, and chances are, they will remember their weeks at camp more than time spent in front of a screen. Narrow down your search to find a camp at ThePowerOfCamp.com.


    [1] Mitchell, Debby. Learning Through Movement and Music: Exercise Your Smarts. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2011. Web.

    [2] https://www.fastcompany.com/3054847/can-exercise-really-make-you-grow-new-brain-cells

     


  3. Camp is Good for Your Brain!

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    Photo Courtesy of CRISTA Camps

    At camp, kids are given opportunities to participate in activities that boost brain development. According to Scholastic’s Parents & Child magazine, here are a few tips to help kids have healthier brains:

    Movement gets the brain going.”[1] Physical play is a hallmark of camp. Campers get moving, participate in new games and adventures, and have plenty of time for free play.

    Stress disables learning. Cortisol, a hormone that kills off connections in the learning and memory parts of the brain, is produced during trauma.”[2]  One of the benefits of camp is that it provides a reprieve from the stress many students face today. They are given time in nature, time away from peer pressure and stress, and get some quiet time to reflect. Camp is a place where kids can just be kids.

    Music boosts learning.”[3] At camp, kids sing around the campfire, sing in group gatherings and even sing at the table. Music helps campers build memories but, according to Scholastic, it also improves spatial orientation and mathematical thinking.

    1,2,3 http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/thinking-skills-learning-styles/5-fast-facts-about-your-childs-brain


  4. The Impact of a Camp Counselor

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    Word of Life

     

    Camp counselors play a distinct role in the summer camp setting. They are the leaders. Mentors. Mediators. Parents-away-from-home. And they can be some of the most influential people in a young person’s life.

    Whether it’s teaching kids how to make friendship bracelets, playing in the pool with hundreds of wild campers, or having deep conversations, camp counselors get to share their hearts of gold with impressionable children who never forget them.

    Counselors serve.
    They teach.
    They listen.
    They put in long days of hard work.
    They problem solve on the spot.
    They give their summer breaks to help rowdy campers get to know Jesus.

    The impact these leaders have on youth is tremendous. Campers observe how their counselors interact with other campers and staff members when things are going smoothly, and when times are tough. In a way, counselors pave the way for the next generation—showing them how to serve well, work hard and play hard. Many camp staff leave their summer gig inspiring campers to be counselors one day.

    Are you interested in working at camp or know someone who would? Go to www.ThePowerofCamp.com to find a job.


  5. Swapping Screen Time for the Best Week of Summer

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    When kids return from summer camp, they might be able to teach their parents a thing or two. Yes, they will have learned fun games, traditional camp songs and how to adjust to new routines. But today’s campers also learn a lifelong lesson that campers in generations past never really needed—the benefits of a digital detox.

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids ages six and older should have limits set on their media use. In addition, parents should also monitor their own media consumption. “Young children can tell when their parents’ heads are always in their cells,” Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos says. “The lack of attention from a parent can make ‘kids’ levels of irritable behavior worse.’”[1]

    So when kids go to camp, they get to experience hours of fun without technology vying for their attention or the attention of their youth leaders or camp staff.

    At camp, cabin mates, dining hall buddies and camp counselors contribute to increased face-to-face interactions helping kids develop deeper friendships. Kids learn to communicate with peers their own age and trusted adults—a skill they will continue to refine throughout their lives.

    Camp offers plenty of activities to get campers moving and have real-life fun. Instead of sitting on the couch being entertained by TV, movies or mobile devices, days are spent playing tag, swimming or zip-lining.

    If screen time is swapped for a mix of exciting activities, meaningful conversations and lasting friendships, kids can experience a healthier way of life. A lesson parents can learn, too.

    [1] http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/screen-time-media-rules-children-aap/index.html

     

     


  6. One Thing Expert Says All Kids Need

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    Pre-school is the new kindergarten. The National Center for Education Statistics reported “the percentage of three- to five-year-olds in preprimary programs who attended full-day programs increased from 39 percent in 1990 to 60 percent in 2013.”[1] Kids are plugging into the classroom earlier than ever before, but is it beneficial? What happened to children embracing free play and exercising creativity beyond the classroom walls? Author of The Importance of Being Little and former Yale lecturer Erika Christakis endorses play as a key component of childhood development.

    “I think the number one thing is that children need to feel secure in their relationships,” Christakis says.[2] “And children learn through others.” She says it’s essential “for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn.”

    If the most important element to fostering a child’s growth and development is building secure relationships, then we need environments to support play, learning and channels for relationships to be nurtured.

    Camp is that environment. It’s a place where trusted adults create spaces for kids to make friends, engage in hours of play and enjoy life as a kid. It’s a unique time to invest in relationships in a significant way.

    “Playful learning is embedded in relationships and in things that are meaningful to children,” Christakis says. What’s meaningful in the eyes of a child? Exploring their surroundings. Having the chance to be heard. Feeling valued and loved. What camp offers is a place for childhood to be embraced, relationships to be deepened in a short amount of time and imagination to be stirred. Find a camp at www.ThePowerOfCamp.com.

    [1] https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=516

    [2] http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/09/465557430/what-kids-need-from-grown-ups-but-arent-getting


  7. You Love Your Kids – But Does Summer Drive You Crazy?

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    It’s sneaking up on us…summer. The days when your kids sleep in and enjoy a life without so much routine. No more running them to soccer practice, or squeezing in evening PTA meetings. With those blessings also comes the reality that they are home. All. The. Time.

    “I’m bored.”

    “What is there to eat?”

    “Can Ryan/Sarah/Sam come over?”

    You’ve heard it ad nauseam, and while you love having your kids around, as a mom or dad, this provides some significant challenges. Maybe you’ve even looked at summers past and resolved this summer will be different. Maybe you had the goal of teaching the kids a new skill or craft. Perhaps you wanted to visit historical and cultural sites and really make summer meaningful.

    Or, you’ve bought your kids a stack of entertaining books with the hopes that this summer they’ll fall in love with reading, only to be met with an eye roll and “Ah, Dad!”

    You’re not alone. According to Michael Thompson’s piece in The New York Times, many parents are looking for solutions to make their kids’ summer better. For many, summer camp has become a stellar choice for their kids.

    He also describes the unusual truth that while your kids may be tired of being taught by you (and their teachers), they’re eager to learn from their camp counselors.

    “Children want to learn from older children, and, at a camp that means older campers, C.I.T.’s (counselors in training) and camp counselors. They want to live with them, emulate them, absorb them. In our age-segregated society, camp is the only place in America where an 11-year-old can get the sustained attention of a 19-year-old. In return for the attention of these ‘older children,’ campers will make sacrifices. They will follow all kinds of rules and adhere to all kinds of rituals that they would likely fight at home.”[1]

    He points out parents are often amazed when kids return home from camp by how much they’ve matured—by their willingness to clean up after themselves, try new foods and act more responsible. These are some of the lesser-known benefits of summer camp. For parents who wonder what secret camp counselors have that they don’t:

    “There’s just no contest between parents and counselors. The college students are vastly better looking than we are; they are truly cool and they have dazzling skills. When children need a summer filled with growth and change (not to mention fun and glory), I tell their parents to give camp a chance.”

    [1] https://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/why-camp-counselors-can-out-parent-parents/

     

    CCCA | The Power of Camp

     


  8. What Zuckerberg Knows

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    The Power of Camp

    It’s no surprise that millennial executives are doing life differently. Leading differently. Communicating differently. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is no exception. It’s been reported that when he is faced with making a key hiring decision, he often takes the candidate for a walk in nature. Several people have reported a walk and talk on a wooded trail outside the Palo Alto headquarters.

    Maybe Zuckerberg has discovered the secret researchers have reported: we think more clearly and are more creative when exposed to nature. If a short walk in the woods helps with critical decisions, imagine what a week at camp can do.


  9. Working At Camp Provides “What It Takes”

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    Photo courtesy of Word of Life Youth and Family CampsPhoto courtesy of Word of Life Youth and Family Camps


    It’s a competitive world for graduating seniors, both at the high school and collegiate levels. Will they be able to get into the colleges of their choice? For college graduates, what kinds of internships will position them well for their careers? Will there even be jobs waiting for them?

    Working at camp provides an impactful way for young adults to prepare for their future. Harvard University has outlined what it takes to become a student on their campus and the characteristics that define an Ivy League leader. Many of those traits can be honed and developed while working at camp. We’d even argue that this can happen faster at camp.

    Harvard wants to know, do students care deeply about something beyond themselves? What about maturity, character, leadership, self-confidence, warmth of personality, sense of humor, energy, concern for others and grace under pressure? At camp, leaders are given direct opportunities to develop all of these qualities. By nature, camp compresses life: relationships develop quickly, campers present unique personal challenges, crises create opportunities for daily learning and the collegial environment teaches rapid assimilation and teamwork.
    In a New York Times blog post,1 writer Dan Fleshler describes why his daughter wants to work at summer camp rather than taking a high-profile internship:

         “‘What I do there matters,’ she insisted. In several conversations, she told us about helping a camper cope with her mother’s debilitating depression and comforting others whose parents were fighting or separating, about aiding 11- and 12-year-olds who were coming to terms with their sexuality, battling anorexia, confronting body fear. She talked about the many hours devoted to water-skiing lessons, about instilling the confidence needed by awkward, gawky, painfully self-conscious 8- and 9-year-olds to stay prone in the water, hold on to the rope, then rise up and stay on their feet as the boat pulled away. ‘What’s more important than that?’ she asked.”

    Indeed. What’s more important than that? The power of camp prepares the leaders of today and tomorrow. There are hundreds of summer camp jobs available. You can find one at www.ThePowerofCamp.com.

     

    1 https://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/the-camp-counselor-vs-the-intern/?_r=0