SCWA staff members attend camp for adults (aka the 2016 Fall Camp Conference)

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 Woodie, SCWA’s summer education program, has earned accreditation from the ACA. Camp Leopold, SCWA’s school-year program, is working on earning ACA accreditation now.

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Keller Kissam, Jr. SCWA’s Camp Woodie Director, and Joe Gonzalez, SCWA’s Camp Leopold Director, pause to snap a selfie during the 2016 Southeastern Fall Camp Conference hosted the American Camp Association in Greenville.

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.

LOCATION

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.

ACTIVITIES

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.

FOOD

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.

 

 

LEARNING

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.

FRIENDSHIP

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.

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Camp Leopold kicks off 2016 – 2017 school year

Camp Leopold kicks off 2016 – 2017 school year

School is back in session which can only mean one thing… Camp Leopold is back in full swing!
Last week, we had our first Camp Leopold session of the school year. Students from numerous schools across the state visited for the day as part of a collaborative event with the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA). Thursday was also the first session for our two newest instructors, Tom and Laura. They did such a great job that students and chaperones were surprised to learn it was their first session. (kudos to them!)
It was hot and humid. What else can you expect during August in South Carolina? Despite the heat, students had a blast learning about agriculture and wildlife management, human impact on our natural resources, and team building on our challenge course. We look forward to these schools coming back in the future!
The session was made possible with support from South Carolina Farm Bureau. Corporate sponsors and chapter fundraising events play a large role in the success of our education programs. As always, we appreciate their support.
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SCISA students participate in team challenge course exercises during their Camp Leopold session. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

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Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

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SCISA students and chaperones participate in team challenge course exercises during their Camp Leopold session. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold staff.

SCISA students look out over a waterfowl impoundment from the WEC observation deck. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

SCISA students look out over a waterfowl impoundment from the Wildlife Education Center observation deck. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

Camp Leopold is the South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s school-year education program. Our mission is to, “Create an ecologically literate citizenry by heightening student awareness of the natural world, fine-tuning the skills necessary to read the landscape, and instilling a love, respect, and admiration for the land so that each individual might develop a personal land ethic.”

Want your school to have a fun and meaningful outdoor experience that meets South Carolina school standards ? Contact Camp Leopold Director Joe Gonzalez at joe@scwa.org.

Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold Setting New Records

Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold Setting New Records

Commentary by David J. Wielicki – SCWA Executive Director

The 2016 Camp Woodie summer session set an attendance record with 986 campers. Thanks to support from local chapters, SCWA members, and corporate sponsors, we were able to provide 202 scholarships for youth to attend Camp Woodie.

I would like to extend a special thanks to the SCWA Education Program Team who did an outstanding job running Camp Woodie. The Camp Woodie Team was led by second year Camp Woodie Director, Justin Grider, Assistant Director Keller Kissam, Jr., lead shooting instructor Katie Childress and a phenomenal team of counselors, expert instructors, and facility support staff. Past Camp Woodie Director, Ed Paul, who is now our Director of Sales and Marketing for Education Programs and Joe Gonzalez, Camp Leopold Director, were also a big part of Camp Woodie’s success this summer.

We are both saddened and excited to report Justin Grider, Camp Woodie Director, has taken a new position in his home state of Alabama. Justin will be helping to lead youth conservation education efforts for the Alabama Department of Natural Resources. Everyone will miss Justin and his wife Hannah but we are comforted by the fact they will become leaders in youth conservation education in their home state. As Justin begins this new position, he is helping SCWA fulfill part of the SCWA Wildlife Education Center mission which is to train education professionals who will have an impact on conservation education across the country.

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SCWA recognized Justin Grider’s excellent work as Camp Woodie Director at the August board meeting.

While employed at SCWA, Justin did an outstanding job mentoring Keller Kissam, Jr. and Katie Childress. Keller has accepted the position of Camp Woodie Director while Katie Childress has accepted the position of Assistant Camp Director. Keller has served as a camp counselor for two summers and as the Assistant Camp Director this past summer. Keller will work part-time until he completes his degree from Clemson University in early May 2017. Katie Childress is a Clemson graduate with a major in Environmental and Natural Resources and a minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. Katie started her full-time position on August 15, 2016. Justin Grider will continue to work with Keller and Katie over the next year to assist with the interviewing and hiring of camp counselors, counselor training, and the maintenance of American Camping Association certification standards. Over the next eight months, Katie will handle all Camp Woodie calls, camp registrations, and inquiries about the summer 2017 session. Katie, with assistance from Ed Paul and Jonathan Patrick, will handle all youth hunting programs.

 

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Keller Kissam, Jr (left) with a camper and fellow counselor Carter White (right).
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Katie Childress (left) with fellow counselor Brynne Baxley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a supporter of SCWA, you can be proud of the fact that your Association employs a highly skilled team of wildlife education experts who are delivering quality conservation education programs. The SCWA Education Program Team will continue to improve the quality and impact of the nation’s largest wildlife conservation camp program. In the coming year, we look forward to breaking another Camp Woodie attendance record while doubling the number of camper days of our school-year program, Camp Leopold. Read about the first Camp Leopold session of the 2016-2017 school year in our August 24th blog post.

Your support is critical to the success of these programs and is greatly appreciated.