North Star Camp for Boys

Friday, February 11, 2011

ACA Nationals Trip Report #2

We continue to have a great time here in San Diego. After a great first day to the National Conference on Tuesday, Wednesday was packed with learning opportunities for us all. It started off with a great keynote from author and psychologist Michael Thompson. One of the most well respected experts on child behavior, Thompson believes so strongly in the power of summer camp that he has joined the board of the American Camp Association and is a regular speaker at our conferences. Thompson spoke on the decreasing opportunities that our nation's children have for unstructured play time and the importance of those activities in helping kids develop many life skills. Unstructured play time is a vital part of any camp program and something we strongly believe in. Check out some of Thompson's blog articles and keep an eye out for his upcoming book "Homesick and Happy".

Much of Wednesday was filled with educational breakout sessions. These are led by experts in the camp industry as well as by those in related fields. Leb, Sue, Andy and I went to sessions on topics like marketing, camper health, staffing issues and behavioral issues. One of my favorite parts of the conference happens on Wednesday... the opening of the ACA Exhibit Hall. Vendors from across the country travel to the conference to sell their products. We get hit up by folks telling us why we should buy their insurance ("sorry, we're really happy with our insurer"), how great their brand of sunscreen is ("yes, we know and we already buy it") and why we should buy our staff shirts from them ("Hey Leb, this is really awesome... can we triple our staff shirt budget this year?"). One of the things we did buy is what we're calling at the moment the Ubercrazy Ping Pong Table. Apparently there are like 30 different games that can be played on this table.

Much of the rest of Wednesday was spent socializing and networking with both old and new camp friends. We also went to more sessions and heard a very moving keynote speech from Joe Ehrmann. Erhmann played both college football as well as in the NFL and his story, including his work as a coach and youth minister was very powerful.

The conference ends today with a few more educational sessions and then a final brunch and keynote. Leb and Sue actually headed back to Tucson yesterday to help finish planning Garrett's wedding, which is just over a week away. Andy and I will spend an extra day in San Diego to enjoy the weather and see the sights. We need to get our fix of sunny days in the 70's as we both will travel quite a bit next week to places like Stevens Point, WI, Detroit, MI and West Lafayette, IN. We'll have a final brief wrap-up of our trip to San Diego which we're sure you'll be waiting anxiously for!