Author Archives: Andrew Moeschberger

Ep. 20 – Kronk

Episode 20.

On the 20th episode of the not-yet-critically-acclaimed POG-Cast, Soy is joined by veteran boat driver and all around wonderful human being Kronk. They chat about why campfires are so wonderful and share a love of artichoke hearts. There’s also a Joke of the Cast and Soy’s performance debut on guitar. 

5 Life Skills Teens Get on OLC (Outdoor Leadership Course)

By the end of high school, teens need to have mastered more skills than just reading, writing and math to be successful, thriving adults.

Gold Arrow Camp’s Outdoor Leadership Course (OLC) helps campers develop important life skills that stretch them far beyond academics: Leadership, Independence, Communication Skills, Resilience, and Responsibility.

The OLC is a two-week program for young people interested in developing important life skills. Trained leaders guide OLC participants on a challenging, six-day, 30-mile backpacking trip into the High Sierras. Throughout the session, campers develop backcountry navigational and survival skills, practice wilderness first aid skills, and participate in GAC activities.

The purpose of OLC is to challenge teens to learn and grow in self-awareness, develop maturity, discover the value of community and working with others to solve problems and accomplish shared objectives. While growing and learning, participants develop five skills vital for success: Leadership, Independence, Communication Skills, Resilience, and Responsibility.

1. Leadership

“Being a part of OLC has influenced my life after camp because it taught me how to be a leader and being a part of a high school swim team, being a leader is a big part of staying together as a team.” – Sophia, OLC Participant

After arriving at camp, OLC participants receive leadership training before departing on the backpacking trip. They do exercises in team building, learn conflict resolution techniques, and practice positive communication. While in the wilderness, campers have the opportunity to learn and practice map and compass navigation, outdoor cooking, Leave No Trace principles and ethics, sustainable backcountry living, and wildlife biology.

All OLC participants serve as “Leader of the Day,” which means they use navigational skills to determine which path to take, when to stop for breaks, and what to do about any situations that arise while hiking. At the end of the day, the “Leader of the Day” receives feedback from trip leaders and peers.

 

2. Independence

Achieving independence is essential to making the transition to adulthood, and participating in challenging outdoor program with other teens is a perfect way to develop the self efficacy needed to feel confident away from home. The hard skills learned during the OLC — navigation, outdoor cooking, wilderness first aid, camping, and hiking —  require independence, curiosity, and creative problem solving.

 

3. Communication Skills

“I really enjoyed getting to discover myself in the woods, thinking and hiking and communicating with my fellow campers.” – Blake, OLC Participant

Effective communication is arguably the most important of all life skills. Trained trip leaders use positive guidance to facilitate reflection, dialogue and group
discussion throughout the program. Leaders encourage campers to think about what happened that day, what their successes and challenges were, and how to grow from those experiences. At the end of the course, all OLC participants have improved communication skills with peers and counselors.

 

4. Resilience 

Research shows that wilderness courses are well-suited to teach outdoor skills, self-confidence in general and confidence during adversity. Participation in an outdoor leadership program have a positive impact on emotional intelligence, specifically on stress management and adaptability. All OLC participants set personal and group goals before leaving on the backpacking portion of the course and work to accomplish those goals throughout the session with the help, direction, and encouragement of trip leaders. 

A multi-day backpacking trip through the rugged terrain of the High Sierra has days that tax participants both mentally and physically. In the Outdoor Leadership Course, teens learn to push through challenges through encouragement from their trip leaders, supportive group dynamics, and building their self leadership. While surrounded by their peers, they learn just how far they can push themselves. They learn, literally, that they can climb mountains. After their OLC accomplishments, finding a way to make it to sports practice or finishing up a college admissions essay seem easy. 

 

5. Responsibility

OLC participants are responsible for managing their equipment, completing tasks carefully and on time, admitting their role in mistakes, and working to correct those mistakes. The OLC equips campers to take the initiative to make their own decisions, fulfill obligations, and grow from their experiences. 

In addition to the skills OLC participants learn and the growth they experience from the program, there is something else that too many teens don’t have the time to find; genuine face to face FUN!

“What I enjoyed about the OLC was that everyday was different, some days we would do longer hikes, and others we would have lot of time to relax and the enjoy the people and scenery. One of my favorite days out in the backcountry was when when we hiked about 5 miles and then hung out in a river for the rest of the afternoon, and then made quesadillas for dinner. The food was always amazing, and there was always plenty to eat. My favorite lunch was probably Nutella and English muffins. We had a lot of Nutella.” – Charlotte, OLC Participant

If you have any questions or would like to know more, visit the Outdoor Leadership Course page, email us, or give us a call at 1-800-554-2267 ex. 0.

Read more at Sunshine Parenting:
Five Reasons Every Teen Should go to Summer Camp
“Ready for Adulthood” Checklist

Ep. 19 – Rugger

Ep. 19

On this episode of the Pog-cast, Soy is joined by Rugger for a lively conversation about Rocks & Ropes, fear, and the value of wearing a watch. There’s also a special guest for the joke of the ‘cast!

 

 

Ep. 18 – Lyric

Ep. 18

We’re back for season 2 of the GAC Pog-cast!

On Episode 18 of the GAC Pog, Soy is joined by Lyric, who has spent almost a decade at GAC, first as a camper, then a CIT, then a JC, and finally as a counselor. There’s also a Joke of the Cast and a GACspiration to start your week off right. 

2018 Dance Themes!

One of our many fun traditions at GAC is our camp dance. On the Thursday before each two-week session ends (and the final evening of our one-week sessions), all campers and staff attend a themed dance. Dances are a great way for us to celebrate the conclusion of a fun-filled session.

Excitement for the dance builds throughout the session, and we practice dancing regularly, including before our daily Morning Assembly and even at some meals.

On the day of the dance, as soon as dinner ends, campers head back to their cabins to get ready. They, and their counselors, put on their costumes in anticipation of the fun night to come. Costumes and props are either brought from home or made at camp. Some people go bargain hunting at the thrift store or at after-Halloween sales to find treasures that fit with their session’s dance theme. Counselors really get into finding ways to interpret the theme.

Once everyone is ready to go, campers and counselors head to the dining porch, which is transformed by our Junior Counselors into a wonderland decorated to match the dance’s theme. After group pictures, it’s onto the dining porch to dance the night away. The DJ plays all of the favorites, from “Footloose” to “The Dino Stomp,” and campers participate in a high-energy evening of fun.

For those campers who are not as excited about dancing, there are games and crafts set up so that they can be part of the fun without having to cut a rug. Throughout the dance there are snacks and drinks, our photobooth, and lots of opportunities for fun.

We’re excited to announce our dance themes for 2018! We can’t wait to see what campers and staff come up with for costumes!

June Shaver Specialty – The Island Life

When our June Specialty campers come back from Shaver Island, we’ll celebrate their week of fun in the sun with an island-themed dance. Whether you want to wear a grass skirt or find an outrageous Hawaiian shirt, you’ll have a blast living the island life.

Session 1 – Feeling Alive For ’85

We’ll be celebrating our 85th summer of friends and fun with a dance that is centered around the number 85. Perhaps you’ll dress as an 85-year-old. Maybe you’ll embrace 1985 and find some leg warmers to go with your neon shirt. Side ponytails and mullets are optional for this dance!

Session 2 – What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

For Session 2, we’re looking into the future and dressing up as what we want to be. Whatever occupation you have your eyes set on, this is your chance to dress for the job you want. We look forward to seeing who Monkey dresses up as!

Session 3 – Lumberjack Dance

What better way to celebrate the conclusion of two weeks in the woods than with a lumberjack dance?! Will you wear plaid flannel and “grow” a beard? Maybe you’ll come to the dance as Paul Bunyan or Babe the Blue Ox!

Session 4 – GACacdemy Awards

We’re rolling out the red carpet for our Session 4 dance. It’s the GACademy awards! (Get it? The GAC Academy awards!) No matter if you dress as your favorite actor, movie character, or Hollywood icon, our photographers will be there, so make sure they get your good side!

Mini Camp & August Specialty – Mythical Creatures

As Mini Camp and August Specialty Camp wind down, we’ll be searching on the dining porch for the many creatures from fantasy and literature that are sure to arrive for the dance. Will you come as an elf, a dwarf, a dragon, or some other creature?

Do Camp Experiences Improve Academic Performance?

Camp Director (and former high school teacher) Andy “Soy” Moeschberger

By Andy “Soy” Moeschberger

In all probability the educationist of the year 2000 AD will look back upon us and wonder why we, the school people of 1938, failed to include the camp as an integral unit of our educational system.
– The Kappan Magazine, the official magazine of Phi Delta Kappa – 1938

If you ever have the opportunity to visit us at camp, you’ll have the opportunity to sing the GAC Song. While many people love the “wadda-ing” that takes place in the chorus, my favorite part comes in the final verse. We sing, “I sure did learn much more here than I ever did at school.”

My love of this line comes from my teaching before I came to work for Gold Arrow full time; I was a high school social science teacher for 14 years.

It may seem odd that a teacher would love a line about learning more at camp that we did at school. But I do, because camp and school operate symbiotically. While those of us in camping and education have known this anecdotally for many years, there is an increasing body of evidence that supports that belief with data. 

Some of that research has been supported by the American Camping Association, and I was privileged to hear one of the leaders in the field, Lance W. Ozier Ed.D. speak on this at a recent conference. He has written on the history of camps and schools (you can read it here). In that article, Dr. Ozier lays out the reasons that camp blossomed in America after the Civil War. As people moved to the cities, adults began to worry that their children were losing touch with nature, and so they sent them to live in nature. How familiar does that refrain sound to us today? 

And yet the challenges for young people are even greater now than they were then. The rise of computers, social media and cell phones have had as great a social impact as urbanization a hundred years ago. Today, camp serves not just as a way to reengage children with nature, but as a way to help them learn vital social skills in a systematic way. We are fortunate that one of our camp owners and directors, Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, has studied the impact of camp on building social skills.  Her research shows that a significant majority of campers report having improved social skills because of camp. She believes that this is because camp counselors are specifically trained in helping campers to improve skills like making friends and listening to others. 

It isn’t just Sunshine that has found these results. According to research conducted by the American Camp Association, campers and their parents report that campers have more social skills, higher self esteem, and more independence.When a child returns to school more comfortable socially, they have more confidence, and are more likely to sit up front, ask questions, ignore distractions and choose a seat near the front. When they do that, they are setting themselves up for more academic success.

But wait, there’s more! Camp also provides an opportunity for children to struggle in a safe and supporting environment. Sunshine has written about this as well. That post is about Growing Grit, a concept that has been moved into the public discussion about education by Angela Duckworth’s research. We think that grit is so important we made it our theme for an entire summer! But there is increasing research that shows how struggling actually changes the way the brain grows. This research in neuroplasticity shows that the brain grows much more when it is engaged in something difficult. So every time a camper tries to waterski another time, or climbs the rock wall, their brains are growing! 

(Interestingly, that same research shows that the brain also grows more and stronger synapses, in mice at least, when they are allowed to roam openly in nature.)

None of this is news to people who send their kids to camp, or those of us who work at camp. We can see anecdotally that kids are more confident and more “alive” after camp. But this research simply confirms what so many educational researchers knew in the early 1900s: going to camp when you’re not in school will help your education. 

Related Posts:

Research Finds Kids Learn Social Skills at Camp

How Camp Teaches 21st Century Skills

Visit Sunshine Parenting for more of Sunshine’s articles about the benefits of summer camp, children’s social skills, and parenting.

Meet Your 2017 Head Counselors!

Head Counselors provide leadership and support for our counselors and campers and make sure each camper is having a fantastic experience at GAC. Each Head Counselor has five to seven cabin groups with whom they work closely. On the first evening of camp, Head Counselors stop by each of their cabin groups’ campfires to introduce themselves and let campers know that they are someone campers can always go to if they need anything. Throughout the session, Head Counselors join their cabin groups for meals, activities, and campfires. They also get feedback from campers on evaluations and follow up with campers to make sure they have the best experience possible at GAC.

Our 2017 team of Head Counselors includes an experienced group who bring 49 summers of GAC experience with them to camp. Three of them (Mocha, Punkie, and Wonder) started as campers here at camp!  Because of all their years of experience at camp, Head Counselors are able to assist both campers and counselors with any challenges that come up at camp.

Bambino, Swag, and Wonder

We’re excited to introduce you to our 2017 Head Counselors: Swag, Bambino, Wonder, Punkie, Puddles, and Mocha!

Punkie, Mocha, and Puddles

Swag:

Fort Wayne, Indiana native Collin “Swag” McCracken is excited to be back at GAC for his 5th summer. His favorite part about camp is the kids, and in his spare time he enjoys sports, writing, movies, laughing, adventures, camping, and traveling. Swag has been a group counselor and has hosted morning assembly for several years. 

Bambino:

Tyler “Bambino” Munoz joins us for his 3rd summer in the Sierras this year. Last year, as a group counselor in Cabin 28, he introduced camp to The Energy Bus, which we adopted as our camp-wide theme for this summer! He’s really looking forward to connecting with campers this summer. When he isn’t passing out tickets to get on his energy bus, Bambino is a Teaching Assistant at California State University, Fresno (Kinesiology) who enjoys Sports, reading, exploring the outdoors, talking to others, and hanging out at the beach.

Wonder:

Stevie “Wonder” Goodrich is back at Gold Arrow for the 12th summer this year. His favorite part about working at camp is watching the kids grow and change from year to year (though sleeping under the stars comes in a close second!). Wonder just graduated from USC and is starting at UCLA’s School of Law in August. He enjoys hiking, rollerblading, spontaneous adventures, and watching movies.

Punkie:

Paige “Punkie” Mueller is a student photographer who enjoys painting, photography, hammocking, and running when she’s not at camp. This is her 11th year at GAC, and she keeps coming back because she loves that she can be herself while helping others grow in their abilities, strengths, and pursue their passions.

Puddles:

Lynsi “Puddles” Nauman comes to the high Sierra from the midwest, where she is a student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. At camp she enjoys stand-up paddle boarding, canyoneering, and sailing. When she’s back at school, her hobbies include hiking, biking, and learning about personality types. She’s really excited to be at camp because she gets to meet and get to know campers and counselors from all over the country and the world!

Mocha:

Meredith “Mocha” Monke has been spending her summers at GAC for as long as she can remember, literally. The daughter of directors Steve and Audrey Monke, Mocha has been at camp since 1996. For the past few summers, Mocha has been a group counselor with younger campers. She recently graduated from Westmont College with a degree in English. She served as an RA (Resident Assistant) and writing tutor. One of Mocha’s favorite parts of camp is reading aloud to campers. Recently, her favorite read aloud book has been Wonder.

We are thrilled to welcome such an experienced group to lead our 2017 campers and counselors!

Ep. 17 – Delta

Ep. 17 

On Episode 17 of the GAC Pog-cast, Soy is joined by longtime GAC staffer Delta. He and Delta chat about what she’s doing while she’s not at camp, how she brings camp into her classroom and what keeps Delta coming back to camp. 

Of course, there’s a Joke of the Cast (it features a wedding in space!) and the inspiring words of Roald Dahl in a GACspiration. 

Ep. 16 – Henry Yeary

Episode 16

On episode 16 of the GAC Pog-Cast, Sunshine talks with long-time camper and Junior Counselor Henry Yeary. Henry has some great insights into what makes the Junior Counselor (JC) program good for teens, as well as thoughts about taking a gap year before college and why he lives the flip phone life. Soy drops in with a joke of the cast that vampires will enjoy as well as a GACspiration from John Muir. 

Ep. 15 – Swag

Episode 15 .

On episode 15 of the Gold Arrow Camp Pog-Cast, Soy is joined by head counselor, morning assembly MC, and disc golf living legend Swag. They talk about vulnerability, Swag’s favorite activity, and Swag’s favorite salad bar item. (It rhymes with “smacon”). Of course, there’s a joke of the ‘cast as well as a GACspiration. If you’d like to make a submission of a poem or a wow for the Pog-Cast, email us at wow@goldarrowcamp.com. We’d love to hear from you!