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5 Reasons Not To Worry While Your Kids are at Camp

Posted by on July 10, 2018

To the parents of campers at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost:

As part of our continued education, we belong to the American Camp and Conference Association.  This non-Christian organization provides professional skills for those of us in the full time camping field.  Every so often I see a nice piece, and today was one of those days.  I have Audrey’s permission to share this piece with you…


Worrying when our kids are away from us is normal for parents. Every time I’ve ever dropped my kids off for a new adventure without me, I’m excited for them. But I’m also concerned about their safety, secretly wishing they would just stay home, then counting the days until they return. I know it’s not rational (few things about parenting are), but I believe my kids are always safest when they’re home with me.

If you are new to sending your kids to summer camp, let me reassure you that while they are away, you can relax your worrying muscles. I’ve spent the past three decades working at a summer camp, sending my kids to other camps, and participating in the networking and training of summer camp professionals. I know A LOT of camp directors, have visited many camps through the American Camp Association accreditation process, and am a faithful reader of Camping Magazine. I definitely know about camp.

Before I share why you should not worry while your kids are at camp, let me qualify that the reasons below pertain to accredited camp programs. The accreditation process is cumbersome, because the camp needs to meet over 250 standards. That’s what I like about it. By choosing an accredited program, you can be assured that the camp meets industry standards. If the summer camp you choose for your child is not accredited, then I recommend that you verify for yourself what their standards are in these areas. Then you can decide if you need to worry.

Here are five reasons not to worry while your kids are at (an ACA-accredited) camp this summer:

1. They’ll have more supervision than almost anywhere else

When your kids are at camp, they will have more adults caring for them than in almost any other setting. To see the required supervision ratios at accredited camp programs (based on the children’s age), visit this American Camp Association page, which refers to staff screening, supervision, and training. Ratios generally range from 1:5 to 1:10, depending on the age of the campers and the activity.

From my own observation, there are far fewer adults supervising kids at school during recess, and I found data to back up this impression: “As instruction, most courts agree that, in typical school age (ages 6-12) playground environments, an appropriate student to supervisor ratio ranges between 40:1 and 90:1.2.” 

Obviously, then, those 1:5 to 1:10 ratios at accredited camps make for a much more supervised environment for kids to play and interact with each other.

2. They’ll be safer than they are on a sports field or in your backyard.

Many parents look at the types of activities kids do at camp and their safety alarm goes off. Swimming? Archery? Campfires? It all sounds so dangerous!

And yet, these and other high adventure activities are supervised by trained staff using safety equipment such as helmets and harnesses and following procedures that ensure a reduced risk of injury. Camp staff who teach an activity like rock climbing are given extensive training before they put a camper “on belay” (the harness system).

Did you know that camp insurance companies don’t allow camps to have trampolines due to how high the risk is for injury? Camps have insurance, health, and other inspections to ensure that they are using best practices to operate their activities. This is a higher standard than most people’s backyards.

In the Healthy Camp Study, which analyzed data from several camps over a five-year period, the injury rates for both day and residential camps were much lower than the rates for many popular sports.

3. Camp counselors receive more training than most parents.

Most camps provide at least a week of training before the summer begins. Many counselors are also required to complete online trainings and certifications before arriving at camp. Camp counselors learn about age group characteristics and how to use positive behavior management techniques. They also have a network of co-counselors and experienced supervisors to guide and support them throughout the summer. I’ve often lamented that a prerequisite for parenthood should be camp counselor training!

4. They’ll benefit from being unplugged.

Do you worry about your kids having too much screen time? I know I do. It’s impossible to miss how today’s teens and young adults—these so-called “screenagers”—are scrolling their way through life and navigating relationships with quick-moving thumbs. We should be worried about our kids’ screen usage and how it’s impacting their social skills development, especially when we read that the average teen spends 6.5 hours a day looking at a screen! One thing I most look forward to about camp is my kids having an extended period of unplugged time, without me nagging them at all.

5. They are feeling happier than they do almost anywhere else.

Many kids say that camp is their “happy place,” and my own research on how camp experiences impact kids’ overall happiness backs this claim. In my 2015 study on the impact of camp on social well-being (i.e., happiness), 3 out of every 4 children surveyed reported being “a little happier” or “a lot happier” after their summer camp experience. So, since as parents one of our top priorities is that our kids flourish and not feel depressed or anxious, being at camp is a great reason NOT to worry about how your kid is feeling.

If you tend to worry about your children, why not take a break and send them to camp this summer?

It could do all of you some good!


5 Essential Summer Camp Packing Tips Every Parent Should Know

5 Fun Ideas for Letters to Campers

What’s the Best Age for Camp?

Ep. 32: Benefits of Summer Camp for Teens

10 Messages for a Homesick Camper

10 Reasons GREAT Parents Choose Summer Camp for Their Kids

Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, MA, with her husband Steve, has owned and directed Gold Arrow Camp (Lakeshore, California) for the past 30 years. She has been a member of ACA since 1989 and was president of the Western Association of Independent Camps (WAIC) from 2007–2010. Audrey researches, writes, and speaks about camp, parenting, friendship skills, and positive psychology. Her upcoming parenting book (Center Street, 2019) offers ideas for bringing the magic of summer camp home. Sign up for Audrey’s book updates at or contact her directly at

Originally published at

What does it mean to be a Christian camp?

Posted by on July 9, 2018

bob Bob Strodel, Executive Director

Probably the most asked question from new families who are checking out Brookwoods, Deer Run or Moose River Outpost is “what does it mean to be a Christian camp?” The question is also asked in another manner “what do you do at camp that makes it a Christian camp?” Both questions are understandable. Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, in Massachusetts, recently completed a survey and discovered over 33,800 different church Denominations in the United States and over three million different church congregations. Each congregation is unique with different strengths and abilities. No wonder there might not be a clear understanding for everyone with so many diverse backgrounds!

If you were sitting down in my office for a visit, this is how I would answer your question about Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost.

Our mission at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost is to introduce people to Jesus Christ in such a compelling fashion that they will come to know Him as Lord and Savior. This basically means we will tell campers about Jesus Christ through Bible studies and our own personal witness, with the hope that they will pursue their own relationship with Christ. The structure of our program, and the kind of staff we hire each summer, reflect that mission. We wish our staff to role model the life and love of Christ to each camper.

The staff that work directly with the campers are selected through an application process involving written paperwork, references, interviews and a background check. If the staff member is responsible for transporting campers on the road, we also do a drivers license check, and they must have a totally clean record for at least 3 years. During the interview we look for more than just good character. We look for staff that are demonstrating actions compatible with our mission statement. For example, we look for staff that are currently enrolled in Bible studies, small groups or other support networks that demonstrate their desire to deepen their relationship with God. Do they attend church or seek out relationships with others who desire to serve God? Do they choose their friends wisely? Do they demonstrate sound judgment and decision-making? We might even ask a prospective staff member a situational question, for example, how would they respond to a camper who wants to accept Jesus as their personal Savior? It is important that each staff member is able to speak to the spiritual questions our campers may ask. Each year we have more staff applicants than we can hire, so the process is selective. While our leadership programs are a natural training ground for future staff members, completion of those programs does not necessarily guarantee a staff position in the future. Because of the low staff turnover rate each year, we can always select the best candidates to fill the limited available positions.

On a daily basis at our camps we do the following formal activities directly related to our mission statement.

  • Once a day we gather for singing of contemporary Christian songs lead by talented staff members. At Moose River Outpost we gather in Moose Hall and at Brookwoods and Deer Run we gather in the outdoor chapel.
  • After singing, all campers and their staff return to the cabins for small group Bible studies. Over one month at camp, topics usually cover some New and Old Testament material, and the topics vary from season to season. This small group study is done in the security of the cabin group, and will last for approximately 45 minutes.
  • At the end of the day, when the campers are in bed, the Counselors will frequently present a short devotional or thought for the day. This might take the form of reading a portion of a C.S. Lewis novel or perhaps simply talking about some of that day’s activities in the context of the morning Bible study.

I would also share with you that we don’t “shove” the Gospel of Jesus down the throats of our campers. It would be wrong as adults and people in authority to manipulate an emotional response out of a camper. You have probably heard stories of religious activities involving public demonstrations of faith, and while there might be a place for that in some circumstances, camp is not that place. We don’t sit around a campfire singing “kumbYah” until every camper has raised his hand. We prefer to simply make the presentation and permit the camper to make a personal decision, not coerced though emotional manipulation or peer pressure.

Since all our camps are located in New England, we often get asked if someone from a Catholic background can attend.  Yes, in fact we have many campers each summer from Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, and non-faith backgrounds who are comfortable with attending our camps. While our non-denominational approach is centered on the historic Christian faith, we are not a denominational camp. We use the 66 book Bible, and our camp philosophy is clearly from an historical Judeo-Christian approach.

Everyone has a different reference frame based on his or her prior experiences. If you are a parent considering sending your child to Brookwoods, Deer Run or Moose River Post, and have questions about some of these topics, please feel free to call me, the Executive Director, at the camp office at 603-875-3600. I’d be thrilled to spend some time with you talking about our great camps!