Camp Illahee hosted Bob Ditter last week at Pinecrest when he came into town to lead a day long NCYCA (North Carolina Youth Camp Association) workshop for camp directors at Kanuga Conference center. Bob to travelled down from Boston to lead the day-long training for North Carolina camp directors. A child and family therapist, Bob has been a consultant and educator in the camping industry since 1981. He is an incredible communicator and spokesperson and makes current trends and family concerns relevant to our role as effective camp directors. He has produced training videos and published books for the past twenty-five years and is a regular contributor to Camping Magazine. We first met Bob in Nashville in 1985 when he was a volunteer room host for the ACA (American Camping Association) Conference and we have enjoyed staying connected throughout the years- telling each other, “you haven’t changed a bit!” when we connect at conferences or camp. (Well, maybe a little!)
We closed the Illahee office on Friday so that all of us- Kris, Caroline, Gretchen, Dave, Gordon and I could participate in the event. When Bob Ditter is in town, you are certain to learn a lot! Much of Bob’s work with camps involves new ways and fresh ideas for training counselors and working with campers and families during the summer. Throughout the day we looked at ways to improve counselor and camper development and we reviewed our hiring and interviewing practices. We had a reconfirmation of the strong supervision that we offer at Illahee during the summer which helps to insure camper safety and fun.
Throughout the 30 years of his camp work, Bob has stayed abreast of social issues and trends as they evolve making them relate to the current needs that youth have. One of the topics Bob touched on is the “shrinking radius of play for children”- from a 1 mile radius in the recent past to 500 feet at present. The time playing outside in an unstructured way is really limited for many young people today and one of the main concerns with that is “play” is the process by which kids learn to negotiate and compromise and work with others. One contributor to the shrinking outdoor play time is the increased screen time. Let’s face it; video games, TV and computers are fun and easy! But did you know that the average child spends five to six hours per day in front of a screen? I nostalgically wonder, what happened with watching one 30 minute TV show (Gilligan’s Island) after school and then being chased outside to ride bikes, build forts, play football, jump rope, shoot baskets or start a club? (We had a neighborhood spy club until our parents put an end to it when they didn’t want us hiding behind the neighbors’ hedges.) We do find that camp is like a neighborhood, and campers enjoy the time to “play” while they are here and that time away from the screen and disconnected from the “real world” sure does help with focusing on relationships and growth at camp. We are excited about the experience that Illahee offers young people, and especially all that the girls will enjoy this summer! You can learn more about Bob Ditter at www.bobditter.com.