We've been joined here in Denver by a lot of other camp people as the ACA conference has begun. While the AIC conference was just independent camps, the conference now includes all types of camps (YMCA, Scouts, agency). The conference was kicked off by an opening general session led by Mark Victor Hansen, author of the acclaimed "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. His energetic session really got people going.
After his session and other proceedings, we had two "educational breakout sessions." Throughout the week we attend various sessions led by either camping professionals or people from other walks of life that work with camps. Some of the sessions that we went to over the last few days included ones on staff evaluation, improving camp programs, legal issues facing camps and parent communication. We also had the chance to meet up with the Wisconsin and Illinois Section of the ACA. This is just a chance to get together with camps in the two states and hear about whats going on in our area. We're lucky to have lots of great camp people in the area.
Wednesday was kicked off with another general session featuring speaker Mawi Asgedom (http://www.mawispeaks.com/). Mawi was born into Ethiopia and had to flea to Sudan as a child. He and his family lived in a refugee camp before World Relief brought him and his family to the United States in 1983. Mawi and his family settled in Wheaton, IL, and he eventually went to Harvard, where he graduated with top honors and spoke at commencement. His story was inspirational and he even was able to tell us about the summer he spent directing a camp while he was still in college.
Day two ended with the opening of the exhibit hall. This is when vendors from all over the country set up booths to show off stuff for all the camps to (hopefully) buy. There were about 170 different companies selling. We got some great new ideas for new NSC logo gear. We'll get to make another trip through the hall tomorrow as we look for some fun new toys for camp. We finished up the day with a NSC dinner, being joined by Jeff, Kim and Lake McCormack.
North Star is well represented over the week as the list of current and former NSC people here include Leb, Sue, Andy, Jeff McCormack, along with former NSC folks Tommy Feldman, Gabe Chernov, Cliff Lissner, Mike Jay, Mike Cohen, Tom Adler, Steve Hitchens and Brad Holland. This group includes eight current or former camp directors in Leb, Sue, Tommy (Mountain Day Camp - CO), Gabe (Birch Trail), Mike Jay (Kamaji - MN), Mike Cohen (Timberlane), Cliff (Chippewa) and Tom (Chippewa).