Recently, our two camp directors attended the 2016 Southeastern Fall Camp Conference in Greenville, SC. The conference was hosted by the American Camp Association (ACA) which works as a network of camp professionals to “enrich the lives of children, youth and adults through the camp experience.” (See ACA Mission and Vision)
Joe Gonzalez and Keller Kissam, Jr. of SCWA spent three days at the Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort and Conference Center meeting other camp professionals, discussing resolutions to industry challenges, and absorbing ideas for future projects. “It was the good kind of information overload,” Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez, said about the trip. “I’ve already got one person who said they would send some information over about a project idea.”
Camp for adults in the industry looks a bit different than camp sessions at the Wildlife Education Center (WEC). Here’s how “camp” for adults compares to SCWA education programs.
ACA: If a conference is hosted in a city that is new to you it can be an adventure to travel and explore a new place. If the conference is hosted in the same place year after year, you will probably have some favorite spots. It can also be fun to introduce newcomers to the best places in town.
WEC: Visiting a 410-acre education center means you probably won’t see every inch of the property but you’re sure to have some new adventures. From canoeing to capture the flag, science to shotgun practice, and time under the stars, there is always something fun to do at the WEC.
ACA: Education professionals gather in ballrooms or meeting rooms for seminars, demonstrations, keynote presentations, and discussions. Some sessions will plan team building exercises. Almost all gatherings happen indoors.
WEC: Kids receive instruction about a skill or activity and then practice what they learned in hands-on situations. Campers go canoeing, walk through wetlands, complete an archery course, or try their hand at shooting. Groups gather around campfires for evening snacks, songs, and stories. Almost all gatherings happen outdoors.
ACA: Many conferences will provide a few meals throughout the duration of the conference as a way to facilitate networking. These meals are often boxed lunches or sandwich/salad buffets. Since many conferences are held in a city, you will sometimes see conference attendees grabbing a bite to eat or a drink together in the evening.
WEC: A typical day at Camp Woodie or Camp Leopold will include fresh fruit, juice, plenty of water, vegetables, plenty of protein (our jumbo chicken tenders are a big hit!), maybe a sweet treat, and some type of grain/carbohydrate (french toast sticks are well liked for breakfast…yum!) Students who attend Camp Leopold often want to take the kitchen staff back to their school with them.
ACA: Seminars, discussion panels, and networking events might not sound like fun when compared to summer camp or school field trips but for camp professionals they can be a chance to expand knowledge, inspire creativity, and explore challenging ideas. Professionals often return from conferences energized and renewed.
WEC: Campers are always learning something while at the WEC. Even during transition times, kids are learning about nature and life. Campers often have the opportunity to obtain special certifications, learn from industry experts, and master a new skill.
ACA: Conferences are all about discussion, education, and networking. Camp professionals will have numerous chances to speak with experts in the field, meet staff members from other camps, and exchange ideas and business cards. You might just meet a future employee, consultant, business partner, or boss.
WEC: Summer campers often leave having made friends from other towns and will become pen-pals until the next summer. Some even grow up to be college roommates! School-year campers leave knowing more about their classmates’ interests. They might bond over their new love for the outdoors or decide to work together on their next science project.
While the settings, meals, and clientele differ, the mission of a conference and the mission of a camp for kids is pretty similar. Both experiences help people grow, learn new things, and meet new people. SCWA team members enjoyed their time in Greenville, S.C. but are happy to be back at the WEC and continue working toward the next camp program achievement.
Read about Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold’s recent attendance records in our blog post from August titled: Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold setting new records.