Camp is the best demonstration of moral and spiritual order—democracy is the core purpose. Children learn life skills that become habits of the heart. It is tough to be a kid these days. It is tough to be a parent. In a society where the nature of the family, the work place, and the community have changed dramatically, we can no longer assume that the natural process of growing up will provide children the experiences and the resources they need to become successful, contributing adults.
The American Camp Association, New England is a community of camp professionals who, for more than one hundred years, have joined together to share knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs. ACA New England accredits nearly 350 day and overnight summer camps in the six New England states.
Day camp can begin as early as age three and is geared to children who get to experience camp and still return home each evening! They have the best of both worlds—the camp community which is built exclusively for kids and their own home which provides the security they need at a tender age. Day camp focuses on “what is right” than “what is wrong.” Day Camps typically serve children ages 3-15 during daytime only. For more information, click here.
Camp provides one of the very few links with a world larger than the consumer culture we inhabit—and day camp is one important choice in a quiver of options. The camp experience helps children and youth develop an appreciation of their place and their responsibility in a much larger universe. A preschooler—or even an older child who might be reluctant to go to overnight camp—can join a community that is created especially for her to practice growing up.
Specialty Camps offer a program for every interest. It can be found at day or resident camps and offer opportunities to concentrate on certain program areas such as horseback riding, the arts, travel, sports or computers, among others. Imagine a place where you get to be totally immersed in the thing you love to do (or want to try) the most . . . from being wrist-deep in cake batter or filming a movie to jamming all day with rock stars or learning to drive a race car. Specialty camps offer just that type of fantasy-come-true experience – from fine arts, performing arts, and chef camp, to learning a foreign language, science, engineering, motor sports . . . and much, much more. These camps have very focused programs, they typically have more intensive and professional-level instruction, and often include guest speakers, such as artists, musicians, and those who’ve made a career of that particular activity.
Many specialty camps have informal, hands-on, or immersion approaches to various academic subjects, such as math, science, or language, which may help children who struggle in a traditional classroom to learn material and develop confidence for the upcoming school year. For example, at Camp Motorsport, a race car driving specialty camp for kids ages ten to sixteen, campers participate in racing-related activities that convert abstract math and science concepts into hands-on applications—such as figuring out how resistance and drag impact making the car go faster.
Overnight / Resident / Sleepaway Camps usually serve children ages 6-17 for one to eight weeks at a time; children sleep at camp.
General Camps offer a range of activities. Many provide opportunities to focus on one or two activities while allowing campers to try a variety of others. General camps sometimes offer the opportunity to specialize in an activity.
Trip & Travel programs are often camp-based. Most involve adventure and wilderness. Campers spend most of their time traveling away from base camp.
Camps for Special Populations serve specific clientele such as children with particular medical conditions or diseases or individuals with special needs.
Space Car Camp deal more with real experience of space shuttle and its working.
Going Green and preserving environment:
ACA also encourages Children to go green. Camps across the country are encouraging children to put on their plates only what they will eat, then camps teach children about recycling by converting the leftovers into compost. The compost is then used to fertilize the fields that create food for the campers!
Many camps implement an environmental awareness program entitled, “Leave No Trace.” This program teaches and encourages children to clean up after themselves in nature, so as to not pollute the environment.
Camps create educational programs with local wildlife agencies or even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A Camp for Every Budget
While it’s hard to put a price tag on your child’s learning and growth, you certainly have your family’s budget to think about when you consider camp. The good news is that there is a camp program to fit nearly every budget.
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Here are some benefits of ACA Camps:
- Every child deserves a camp experience.
The unique power of a camp experience complements and reinforces what children are taught at school, at home and at extracurricular activities — rounding out children’s development in optimal ways. Camps specialize in providing physical activity, time spent in the out-of-doors and experiences in teambuilding, athletics and the arts — activities that have been eliminated or are at risk of elimination for more and more school systems.
- Childhood is compromised without a camp experience.
Camp is vital! Camps have the capacity to change children’s lives — influencing, even transforming, their choices and chances and their characters and capabilities.
- Campers learn life lessons.
Camp memories often stay alive in people’s hearts and minds well into adulthood. Lessons include: becoming a responsible member of a group and community, personal and group decision-making, the art of compromise, resilience, how to bust out of one’s own comfort zone to try something new and many more. Campers are often attracted by a specific activity or two; they usually get an added bonus and learn something new and important about themselves at camp.
- Camp gives kids a world of good.
Expect camper growth in independence, self-esteem, leadership ability, peer relationship skills, spirituality, environmental awareness and decision-making when children attend day or resident camp. The largest study of camper outcomes in the U.S., conducted by Philiber Research Associates and ACA, confirmed these benefits of the camp experience — that camp gives kids a world of good!
Bette S. Bussel
American Camp Association, New England
Bette S. Bussel – A biography
“I had no idea when I went to summer camp at age 4 that one day I’d be in charge of thousands of campers who are looking for a positive summer camp experience, just like I was. Life is truly one big circle.”
Bette has been involved with camps since age 4, where she began as a day camper. She evolved to an overnight camper, Counselor-in-Training (CIT), Counselor, Program Director, Camp Director and is now the Executive Director of ACA New England. Bette brings a rare blend of organizational and interpersonal skills to this position, which she has held for more than 17 years. She has established herself as a person with professional competence, strong commitment and the ability to build on the established strengths and esteemed history of the regional nonprofit organization she leads.
Bette received a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management from Ithaca College and a Master of Science in Recreation Management from the University of Maryland.
Prior to coming to ACA New England, she served as the Program Director, Teen Director, Group Services Director and Day Camp Director for the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven. In those roles she received a special citation from the Kovod Society of the JCC, and a Women in Leadership award from the YWCA.
Since taking over as ACA New England’s Executive Director in 1990, Bette has been honored with the New England AIC Award (1994), National AIC Award (1996), ACA National Service Award (1999), and ACA Special Recognition Award (2004).
Bette is a well-informed resource on legislative issues that impact camps throughout New England. She has been effective establishing positive relationships with legislative and regulatory bodies that monitor camps and has worked to strengthen respect of and input by camp professionals in legislative matters.
Bette serves as a member of the national ACA’s Technology Task Force, which advises all 24 regional offices of the association on the use of technology. Currently, Bette plays a leadership role on a committee which is reinventing ACA’s online camp search tool—the Find A Camp Tool.