Creating Magic at Camp Adventure

Article excerpt

Creating magic for youth and family members of the U.S. Air Force is the goal of a unique and valued partnership between a university and the military. This past summer, the Charleston Air Force Base Youth Services program teamed with the University of Northern Iowa's Camp Adventure[TM] program to produce a summer of fun and developmentally sound day camp experiences. During the summer, children at Charleston Air Force Base (CAFB) have had the opportunity to learn and grow through the exciting and creative Camp Adventure program. The camp's flexible curriculum enables the staff to program specifically for the needs and interests of the children enrolled. Weekly field trips, games, songs and special events are all planned to best use the Charleston area. The activities have focused on creating opportunities for social and personal growth of children, while allowing exploration and discovery.

Camp Adventure: A Program of Excellence

The Camp Adventure program was established in 1985. Operating as a unit of the

School of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services at the University of Northern Iowa, Camp Adventure is dedicated to building mutually beneficially relationships with youth service programs operated by the U.S. military worldwide. Initially serving three military communities in the Republic of Korea, today the program serves all four branches of the U.S. military and is located on more than 70 military installations in 11 countries.

Camp Adventure programs have provided innovative and dynamic services for the family members of U.S. military personnel and civilians in Germany, Italy, Spain, England, Panama, Guam, Belgium, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Korea, Japan and the United States. A full range of age-appropriate leisure activities are provided by highly qualified, professionally trained student counselors and instructors. Camp Adventure is also involved in staff development of U.S. military personnel working with youth; in 1993 it will release a new training program called Total Quality Program Planning (TQP) to be used U.S. Army-wide.

In 1992, Camp Adventure served more than 300,000 children. Its programs and services are based upon a sound set of youth development principles, emphasizing and promoting the individual self-worth and dignity of each child. Camp Adventure strives to produce customized innovative, creative and unique services that are high impact, high quality and youth-focused. The programs emphasize enjoyment and fun while at the same time creating educational and recreational environments that emphasize learning a variety of skills.

The values of Camp Adventure are reflected in its motto; student counselors create an environment of "... magic and delight, joy and laughter, wonder and discovery, fellowship and friendship, learning and sharing, and pride and achievement." Camp staff "... strive to produce the impossible; they have few preconceived notions. If they believe it can be done, it happens. Our bottom line is our front line leaders. We care about kids... and promote positive, youth/leader interactions. Our goal is to create magic moments for youth that last a lifetime."

Front-line leaders both intentionally or unintentionally transmit values to youth and others of the public with whom they interact. There is no such thing as a value-free program, activity or event. Camp Adventure believes that it is important for youth leaders to be aware of the way in which they influence values. The leader's language, dress, attitudes, ideas and behavior toward others, as well as other factors, affect the youth they serve. In every program, activity or event, counselors strive to create "magic experiences" for youth. Magic is operationally defined as "when the reality of the programs created exceed the expectations of youth."

Magic does not happen "magically." It can't be thrown together. The student counselors that are part of Camp Adventure are encouraged to believe in and enjoy programming for youths enough to commit the time and the physical and creative energy to create magic. …