Unplug at Camp - CampHacker #104

The reason behind your no-cell phone policy

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Camp is counter-culture.

Camps (for the most part) don't care about fashion, we encourage people to embrace what makes them quirky, and we don't have cell-phones at camp.

Now, policies differ, and some camps are even experimenting with plugged-in weeks at camp, but we can all agree on is that there is indeed a benefit that we give to our campers when we ask them to unplug from tech while they are at camp.

What? You don't believe this un-named, rogue blogger? Well fine. How about Dan Weir?

Yeah. THE CampHacker Dan Weir.

Dan was the keynote speaker at the Society of Camp Director's dinner this year where he shared his findings on the importance of unplugging both at home and at camp. Dan has done some pretty extensive research, not only in terms of the clinical benefits, but has been actively experimenting with how the unplugged culture at Frost Valley has given campers (and their parents) a much needed tech-free space. 

On this episode of the podcast, you'll find the audio of his talk.

Dan was even gracious enough to share his slide deck for all of you. Click or tap here. Hey. Thanks, Dan! 

No tool of the week this episode, but if you missed it last week, Dan references Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi. Definitely worth a read or listen!


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Encouraging the Next Generation of Camp Pros - CampHacker #103

Because you won't be around forever.

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Okay, that was harsh. You'll be around for awhile. We're sure of it. We love you.

That being said, the reason that we budget, vision and innovate is so that camp will be around for a long time, or as Joe says, "for today's camper camper". That means you need to take a second to think about the type of person you want to be the future stewards of your site and program.

It's a humbling experience to think about a future at camp without you. What makes that humbling experience also comforting is when you know that you've intentionally fostered the people who will take up the torch.

We had the rare opportunity to have Travis, Joe and Dan all in the same room leading up to the Society of Camp Director's dinner, so of course we were going to record an episode! Can you believe we've been doing this for 10 years and it's the first time Dan and Joe have met? Our 3 CampHackers are joined by our producer Matt Honsberger (who feels slightly awkward typing his own name in right now) to discuss their stories of being mentored into their current roles as well as the things they do every day to set the future of camp and the industry up for success.

Take a quick second to think about how you got to where you are today. Who planted the seed of possibility in you? Make sure you thank them and then tell us the story in the comments below! 

Tool of the Week – Make Yourself a Better Camp Director

Travis: www.camelcamelcamel.com - Amazon price tracker
Dan: Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi
Matt: The Better Board - Message Matt for a more detailed explanation
Joe: Google Photo Scan - iOS - Andoid

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First Impressions Last - CampHacker #102

If your first impression was your only impression, how would you fare?

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For most of us, it's off-season proper. We're almost at the point where summer is no longer leaving, it's approaching.

Your autumn may have been full of Outdoor Education groups, clean-up from the summer (seriously, who left the tie dye out!?), or closing up a seasonal site. Now that registration is up, or will be shortly, and your marketing plan is starting to take shape, grab a coffee, a comfy chair, and get critical.

This is the time to start thinking broader about the polish that can be added to your initial customer experience.

How do your staff answer the phone? What story does the home-page of your website tell? Who meets families on opening day? How do you train your super-awesome, yet awkward teenagers to talk to parents? What is your camp's "wow factor" that people experience as they are driving down the camp road?

Take a second and answer those questions super honestly. How are you doing? If there are any aspects of your first impression that made you mentally (or physically) hang your head, no worries, the CampHackers are here to help.

Travis, Gab, Joe, Dan are joined by returning guest-host Jalisa Danhof from Camp Newaygo to absolutely blow your mind with their experience and ideas on how to make your camp's first impression memorable for all the right reasons. Again, have a pen and paper handy for this one.

What special touches do you put into starting off on the right foot with camper families? Let us know in the comments, we'd love to know!

Tool of the Week – Make Yourself a Better Camp Director

Travis: https://www.bonjoro.com
Dan: The Awakened Family: How to Raise Empowered, Resilient, and Conscious Children 
by Shefali Tsbary, Ph.d.
Gabz: LED Twinkle Lights
Joe: Mixed Media Book as an example - Canson Art Pad
Jalisa: The Beacon 8000

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Camps and the Environment - CampHacker #101

Because Camps are a Catalyst for Environmental Stewardship

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It would not be a huge revelation to say that at most camps, kids have a unique ability to discover and foster a relationship with the environment.

It would also not be a huge revelation to say that most camps are inherently taking on sustainability and green-education.

Whether it's teaching kids about the local animals and trees, having a no-food-waste policy or even something as simple as encouraging as campers to take shorter showers, it's safe to say that our industry is off to a pretty good start in terms of "going green".


In the world of technology, nature deficit disorder and climate-change, it's time for camps to raise the bar. From the philosophies, to the policies, to the on the ground environmental practices, we need to start thinking intentionally about what we can do to be leaders of environmental stewardship.

To discuss ways that we can step up their sustainable game, Travis is joined by three new guests - Danny Sudman from Green Camps and of the first partners of the Green Camps Initiative, Jacob Rodenburg from Camp Kawartha and Seth Herschthal from Blue Star Camps. In this episode, you're sure to find both the philosophical motivation and the practical means to make your camp shine green next season!

What are you already doing to be a sustainable and environmentally focused camp? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tool of the Week – Make Yourself a Better Camp Director

Seth: Relentlessly focus on your core values
Seth: The Ideal Team Player
Jacob: The Big Book of Nature Activities
Jacob: Websites: Drew MonkmanStep Outside
Danny: PDF -  10 Free Camp Sustainability Solutions
Travis: Fidget Spinner

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