Office Information

WVU Extension Service
Kanawha County Office
4700 MacCorkle Avenue SE
Suite 101
Charleston, WV 25304

Phone: 304-720-9573
Fax: 304-205-7863
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:00-4:00
Driving Directions

Topic 3: Camp is for the Camper

Topic 3: Camp is for the Camper

The attitude and participation of both counselors and adults at camp greatly influences a camper’s attitude and participation in the camp program. Camp provides the essential element of belonging by providing the camper with a positive relationship with a caring adult (and older youth) in an environment that is supportive and nurturing. The motto at any youth-centered camp is that “camp is for the camper”. Everything that is done at camp is done on the behalf of the camper. The program, facilities, and staff are all focused on the needs of the camper (Dodge County Camp Counselor Manual 1989). Staff are at camp to give the campers an experience so wonderful they will come back year after year and aspire to be a camp counselor. This training topic will review: * Ages & Stages of Positive Youth Development * Youth with Special Needs * Handling Campers’ Homesickness

Ages & Stages

Its important for counselors to know the physical, mental and emotional characteristics/abilities of the youth they’ll be working with at camp. These resources will help you have appropriate expectations for campers and/or teen camp counselors as well know why youth are behaving a certain way. Please review Ages & Stages to become familiar with the characteristics for the age group you will work with this summer.

Youth with Special Needs

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were established in order to provide a clear comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 is the section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that specifically created civil rights to individuals with disabilities. Section 504 provides that no qualified individual with a disability should, only by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990: An individual with a disability is defined as a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; or (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such impairment. Major life activities include but are not limited to walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, an d performing manual tasks. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employment, public services, and accommodations. The person must be otherwise qualified for the program, service, or job. Please review Youth with Special Needs , a resource developed by the WVU Extension Service several years ago.

Handling Campers’ Homesickness

According to author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, 97 percent of children experience at least some occasional homesick feelings at camp. Considering this statistic, camp will likely have at least a few campers who experience some level of homesickness this summer. Some tips for handling homesickness includes: * Early on, introduce campers to older campers who were once in their shoes. Younger campers getting to know experienced campers helps introduce youth who enjoy 4-H Camp and its traditions. * Ask campers how they’re doing, and really listen to their answer. Let them know its okay to miss home. A quick check-in helps most campers with mild homesickness, and sometimes a group discussion can do the trick: a group conversation at bedtime, for example. * Distract campers with all the fun activities at camp. Distract. Distract. Distract. Find ways to keep campers busy with activities to take their minds off what is bothering them. * It is important to stress that we should never promise a camper that they can call home. Experience shows that a phone call home often escalates the feelings of homesickness. More importantly, the only two people at camp that should call parents, under any circumstance is the Camp Director or Camp Medical staff. Please consult the Deans of Men/Women or the Camp Director if you see a camper struggling with homesickness.