“I HAVE THE CONVICTION THAT A FEW WEEKS IN A WELL-ORGANIZED SUMMER CAMP MAY BE OF MORE VALUE EDUCATIONALLY THAN A WHOLE YEAR OF FORMAL SCHOOL WORK.”CHARLES W. ELIOT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT FROM 1869 TO 1909
Topics in this category include managing staff, providing constructive feedback, and running effective meetings.
Topics in this category include situational leadership, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving.
Topics in this category include program activity skills, social development, and cross-cultural agility.
Topics in this category include camper mental health, suicidality, self-harm, and evaluation of your camp’s health center.
Topics in this category include safe touch & safe talk, bullying prevention, hazing, and evaluation of your aquatics program.
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“Dear Chris: Once again I am so very thankful for the opportunity to attend your fabulous presentations. Not only did you inspire me to take stock in my innate talents, but your work also inspired insights, resolutions and future plans for camp. Your succinct, easy-going style is so entertaining, approachable and packed with fantastic information. You are an immensely valuable resource in this industry. I credit you with the best training work with my staff. And, as my husband said, ‘He is a stud! So smart and in-shape!’ He aspires. As do I.”
Rachel Bredemus Director, Camp Birchwood
“We’ve had many “guest trainers” at Timberlane over the 30 years of my directorship, including lots of the big names we all see at conferences and whose articles we read in magazines. Chris has proven to be our *most effective* trainer, probably because he connects so incredibly well with the staff. They like him and they see his legitimacy because he also works as a camp waterfront director. So they listen to him. If you’ve never had a guest trainer added to your staff training before, I understand. Many years ago I used to see it as an expense that I could easily and competently avoid by handling our training myself and with my admin team. And we do a great job with that, just as I’m sure you do. However, I am 100% convinced that a top-tier guest trainer makes a big difference for the staff, and ultimately for the campers. You invest in a lot in camp each summer. Enhancing your staff training with an investment like this is an idea I highly recommend you consider, and Chris is–in my opinion–as good as it gets.”
Mike Cohen Director, Camp Timberlane
“Dear Chris: I cannot thank you enough for sharing your knowledge, passion, humor, expertise, talent, genius, knack, and GIFT with all of us! We will serve 3,500 children this summer, and each child will benefit from your time with us. On behalf of each of those 3,500, THANK YOU!”
Dan Matthews Director of Camping Services, Camp Twin Lakes
“Thank you for flying down for our EPIC (Emerging Professionals in Camping) weekend. I always enjoy your sessions! Your passion, energy, and intimate style create a space where people are comfortable having open discussions and asking candid questions. You always take the time to explore answers, which makes us all love learning and feel empowered.”
Krista Rose White Program Director, Eagle’s Next Camp
“Dear Chris: Thank you for such energizing and invaluable seminars yesterday! I know I speak for all 70+ professionals in the room that your focus on courageous ignorance and participant safety was time very well spent. I look forward to the next time we can all be together. As you might have expected, yesterday’s content lends itself perfectly to a fresh look at both of these critical areas for our staff. And your infectious enthusiasm is what camp means to so many. Keep it coming!”
David G. Smith Camp Manager, Lair of the Golden Bear
“Wow!!! and Thank You!!! What a great presentation! Great content and so relevant for the staff of any youth program. Your webinar was incredibly powerful and I’m sure those participating not only enjoyed the presentation but also walked away with a tremendous feeling of having acquired some fantastic tools for staff training. I sincerely hope that all camps, parks & rec departments, and summer schools incorporate a session like this in their staff training because none of us has enough experience “cracking kids’ code” and really understanding how to listen and interpret what kids are communicating. Such a pleasure working with and learning from you, Chris!”
Ian C. Garner Director, Camp & Youth Organization Relations, Markel Specialty
“Dear Chris: Just wanted to drop you a quick note of thanks for your presentation on “6 Ways New Staff Get Drunk”. It is nice to know that we are in touch with our young staff and that their training is going in the right direction to help them grow into the people that are bubbling just under the surface. Thank you for your time and energy that you put into each and every program you present!”
Terry Cohen Owner/Director, Camp Marimeta, Camp Marimeta
“Dear Chris: Marisa and I, and the entire Falling Creek team, were thrilled to have you here as part of the staff orientation and training! Lots of positive feedback indeed. Your topics and teachings were on-target and created much constructive conversation. We send our best to you and your family.”
C. Yates Pharr Director, Falling Creek Camp
“At Camps Kenwood & Evergreen, we refer to Chris Thurber as the “Counselor’s Counselor.” His expertise in youth development and his vast camp experience are incredible assets to our community. Each summer, we ask Chris to spend several days with us, speaking with staff members and campers alike. He is an incredible additional support to staff who are working with challenging campers and a wonderful resource for our kids, offering support and advice. When we are faced with a difficult issue-such as whether a camper should be asked to leave camp before the term is completed-I always look to Chris for objective expert advice. He is also a wonderful resource for our community of parents and has conducted seminars for them to help prepare their children for a great camper experience. I sleep better at night knowing that Chris is part of our camp community.”
Scott Brody Director, Camps Kenwood & Evergreen
“We always look forward to Dr. Chris Thurber working with us during our Staff Training Week. After several years with Chris, it’s as if he’s part of our camp family and we now refer to the day of his visit as ‘Thurber Thursday!’ He not only brings knowledge and expertise, but his personal approach is comforting and has all of us–from the Senior Administration to first year counselors–eager to learn and work with him!”
Suzi Pierce Assistant Director, Camp Agawak for Girls
“Dr. Thurber, I just wanted to thank you again for the wonderful presentations you gave at the ACA New England Conference. I wasn’t planning on attending all of your sessions but ended up doing so! The session on appropriate boundaries was especially helpful for my staff. It is my first year at my new camp and it was great to have an expert confirm some of the changes we will need to make. After attending your sessions, some of our key staff for this summer started to ask how we can strive for professionalism in all that we do without any prompting from me!”
James Cleland Ministry & Program Coordinator, Lakeside Christian Camp and Conference Center
“Through a natural infusion of humor, wisdom, and personal stories, Chris engaged the staff in a very genuine, personal way from the moment he arrived at Congressional Day Camp. The staff and the campers felt comfortable speaking with Chris as he walked around the camp and observed by participating in our activities. Thank you, Chris, for the time you spent with our administrative team at the end of your visit. Your candid observations and questions challenged us in a positive way. You left us all with tangible points of departure for future discussions and directions in which to explore and grow.”
Jennafer Curran Director, Congressional Day Camp
“When Chris speaks, my staff listens. His work with my staff adds a degree of professionalism that inspires my staff the entire summer! When we open staff training with Chris, the counselors suddenly realize that this is not just about the fun and games, but also about their role as youth development professionals. Chris instills a high degree of pride in the work we all do and makes our job as camp directors easier. A great day of training with Chris means a great summer to follow.”
Susan Hooks Director, Riverview Camp for Girls
“We have invited Chris Thurber to work with our staff for the past 8 years and will continue to have him back for many summers to come. He instills the confidence, knowledge and practicality in our staff that is imperative when caring for children. Chris’s techniques are down to earth, easily applied, and thought-provoking. The feedback from our staff each summer reflects the positive environment Chris creates. Our staff encourages us to invite him back each summer, recognizing the great impact he has on their camp experiences, as well as the experiences of the campers. As the directors, we know that our staff orientation would not be as powerful without Chris’s input.”
Brad and Kathryn Finkelstein Campus Kids Connecticut
“Chris has worked with our supervisory staff team for the past six years and the resulting benefits for our camp operation have been extraordinary! Chris provided information, based upon research and experience, related to a range of concerns that we had regarding trends in youth behaviors-sexual aggression, cutting, eating disorders, aggressive behavior, the influence of the online lifestyle-to name a few. The resulting guidelines and policies that we established, along with changes in our supervisory staff training and the orientation of our full staff, have enabled us to be a better camp… offering campers and staff a great camp experience!”
Jani Brokaw Williams Director, Campus Kids Minisink
“Chris has been an integral part our staff training for twelve years running. Each winter, Chris and the camp directors discuss the current staff population and together develop training that is relevant to both the age group and Arcadia’s mission. We make sure Chris covers his specialty, homesickness, as well as a variety of topics such as team building, dynamic leadership, supporting all campers, transitioning from camper to counselor, asking for help, and even Internet socializing. Chris’s training is interactive, interesting, fun, thought provoking and human–a wonderful enrichment program for all camp leaders.”
Louise Fritts Johnson Director, Camp Arcadia
“Who better to give invaluable advice on working with youth than Chris? He is a true professional: always prepared, prompt, positive, energetic, flexible, consistent and courteous. Chris has tremendous academic credentials, as well as clout within ACA, but in our staff’s eyes-and in mine-his most important credential is that he also works at a camp, practicing what he preaches. Chris has a unique way of communicating with all staffing levels and making sense of complex information about child development and leadership. He has always been accommodating and receptive in tailoring his workshops to meet our staff training needs. The tools Chris gives our staff are priceless and certainly our camping program has reached higher standards since we have been working with Chris.”
Scott Hilary Camp Manager, Dorothy P. Flint 4H Camp
“Chris Thurber’s expertise about kids in the camp environment is a highlight of staff orientation; his knowledge and insights around the phenomenon of homesickness are an invaluable part of our staff training. In fact, everyone at camp–from the counselors to our leadership team–draws on his advice throughout the summer. Chris’s style is approachable, and he is a true advocate for the camp experience who works hard to give staff the tools they need to do their job well.”
Marla Coleman ACA President Emerita, Coleman Camps
“Dear Chris, I always look forward to your print articles and blog posts. I also enjoy perusing CampSpirit.com and have sent many parents to your resource-filled pages.
Your most recent article on NOT documenting kids’ experiences really resonated with me. Before a recent school trip to DC, I watched as two parents had a very public disagreement because one of them had forgotten the video camera. While this was going on, their son disappeared onto the bus. As the buses drove off, the parents were still arguing. They didn’t even wave at him! The parents totally missed the experience of saying good-bye to their son because they were so focused on saving the experience. The boy also felt like his actual experience was secondary to the recording and probable posting on Facebook. My own son is going to be a first-time camper at Camp Lawrence and I am so excited to see him arrive on the island as a camper. Your article reminded me to be present in the moment for him and not be worried about documenting his every breath. I too helped train his staff, and I know I am leaving him in good hands.”
Lauren Romanauskas, RN BSN Camp Nurse, Camp Lawrence
“Dear Chris, THANK YOU! I literally just exited your session and am waiting for my next one to begin. I just feel compelled to tell you how much I enjoyed your session. I appreciate your courage to put yourself out there and share personal stories. Shelley Tager said I would love your session and she was 100% correct. So thank you!”
Joey Baez Performance Theater Director, Indian Head Camp
“Thank you so much, Chris, for providing such a timely keynote on sexual assault and abuse prevention for the American Camp Association’s Mid-Atlantic Camp Conference! We also loved your workshop on motivation, “Why We Do What We Do.” Both topics were perfect for our members, as they plan their staff training for the upcoming season.”
John Beitner Executive Director, ACA Mid-Atlantic Section
Chris, I so appreciated your seminar on “Cracking Kids’ Secret Code”! Thank you! I especially loved the training technique you shared about having staff notice behaviors in a movie clip and then sharing what they notice, then watching it again with a heightened sense of awareness. The more perceptive staff become, the more connected they are to the kids. And the more connected the kids feel, the better time they have…and the better they behave!”
Karen Offitzer Assistant Director, Camp Schodack
“Thank you so much for your role in making Directors’ Camp such a powerful experience for me. The weekend reaffirmed me in ways I didn’t even realize I needed. I am smart, educated, playful, and silly. Your example of these character traits in action was a reminder to bring that all to the table.”
Teri Valente Director, Camp Arrowhead
“Staff training week is light years better because of your insights on how staff create the camp’s culture. Several of our veteran staff have told me they feel more empowered because of the mindset shift you explained. I’ve also been a huge fan of your articles on staff mental health. Taking care of themselves–as well as the campers–has become a priority for our team. Seeking peer social support was never easy, but you helped us break that wall down. Thank you so much!”
Liz Logan Assistant Director, Camp DaKaNi
“Thank you for the critical training pieces you provided at our annual conference. So many people have mentioned your presentations and how much they enjoyed them! Our senior management team is looking forward to discussing lots of your inspiring ideas with our front-line staff. Your contributions were exactly what we needed at this time. Thank you for being with us and for providing such great energy and inspiration!”
Ellen McCarron Chief of Park Operations, Vermont State Parks
“Chris, thanks a million for being part of ACA-New England! Your sessions are always so though-provoking and insightful. Your time, energy, and commitment to our industry are greatly appreciated.”
Alex Jackson Director, Camp Runoia
“Thank you so very much for your consultation about managing parental expectations. We followed your advice and the camper in question completed the season on a positive note! Chris, as always, I am grateful for your help, time, thoughts, and affirmation that we’re headed down the right track. Thank you for all your help this season, in so many ways. I deeply appreciate and all you do for so many camps. Because of your support, we can better serve our youth.”
Carrie Kashawlic Director, Fleur de Lis Camp
“Dear Chris, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your support. Every summer brings challenges, and I feel so fortunate to know I have people like you in the wings to lean on for guidance. You truly helped me do the right thing while preserving a positive relationship with a family in distress. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Catriona Sangster Co-Director, Camp Wawenock
“Dear Chris, Thank you for co-leading your fourth amazing EPIC pre-conference at ACA Nationals! The workshops were fantastic. Your insight and encouragement will help grow a talented group of emerging professionals in camping (EPIC). We are so lucky to have you in our industry! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Jalisa Danhoff Conference Chair, EPIC
“Chris, I give your training day with us 10 out of 10 on every dimension. Every workshop you did with us felt like genuine and sincere advice. The “motivational speaker” that we had yesterday was just pop sociology and cheap manipulation. Thank you for investing in our professional development by teaching us valuable skills.”
Anna Lyman Cabin Counselor
“Chris, I just read your most recent article, Continuous Professional Development in the Camp Business “Week-Ender.” Like all of your content, it had a great message, enjoyable to read, and highly relevant. Thank you for all you do to provide quality education to the camping profession! I look forward to your Markel webinar presentation later this month!”
Mr. Ian C. Garner Director, Camp & Youth Organization Relations, Markel Specialty
Dear Thurbs: A heartfelt thank you for all you are doing for the camp industry and for our kids. It was awesome to see you in action at ACA Nationals. You are truly leading by example and spreading the Belknap Spirit! For that, I am forever grateful. Timi-Hi and Seek the Joy.
Seth Kassels Co-Director, YMCA Camp Belknap, Wolfeboro, NH
Dear Chris, I hope you consider taking your training skills on the road more and producing many, many more video training modules. Our world needs teachers like you. You do it well! As I embark on new camp-based work with Camp Quest Ohio, I’m confident that your brilliantly and expertly designed tutorials have endowed me with many useful tips.
Gus Brunsman Sociologist & Senior Staff, Camp Quest Ohio
Dr. Chris Thurber brought loads of energy to his keynote and breakout sessions. His stories rang true for all of our workshop participants. No doubt about it, Chris really knows how to engage and keep the attention of a large audience. Everyone walked away with valuable skills. Thank you, Chris, for your help!
Dan Sturgeon Workshop Chair, New Hampshire Recreation & Parks Association