Author Archives: Andrew Moeschberger

Ep. 13 – Nash

Epiosde 13 of the Pog-cast

On Episode 13, Soy talks with Nash about ultimate frisbee, staying positive on the trail, and experiencing the Perseid meteor shower in the wilderness. There’s also a magical joke of the cast, WOWs, and a GACspiration. As always, you can submit WOWs to

Ep. 12 – Bambino

Episode 12.

On Episode 12, Soy is joined by Bambino, and they talk about the theme for 2017, Hop on the Energy Bus. Bambino is the man who brought the Energy Bus to camp in the first place, and he shares about his experience sharing the book with 13 and 14 year old boys. There’s also a Joke of the Cast, TSwift, and Soy reads WOWs and a haiku. As always, you can send suggestions or WOWs to  

The Transformational Power Of Camp

By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke.

“You’re sending Chase to camp for TWO WEEKS?”

Shock is a common response parents get when discussing sending their child to sleep-away camp.
They often face criticism for allowing their young child out from under their direct supervision. In this over-involved parenting age, the thought of allowing an eight year old to go away to camp for two weeks is incomprehensible to many parents. What “non-camp” parents don’t understand is that allowing your child to have a camp experience is a gift that has positive, life-long benefits beyond learning how to sail or rock climb. Camp parents aren’t bad parents who “send their children away.” They are parents who see the value in letting their children have an experience that enriches their childhood.

Parents who went to traditional summer camps as children themselves are more likely to send their children to camp compared to other parents. Many of these parents still keep in touch with camp friends and worked as camp counselors during college. They understand the life-long benefits they gained from their camp experiences and want the same thing for their kids. Experienced camp parents need not read further. This article is for parents who want to know why many families choose to send their children to sleep away camp.

A Taste of Independence

Being super-involved with our children and always being in constant communication with them has become something modern parents brag about. But when do we start letting go and giving our kids a chance to feel independent from us? With cell phones attached at our (and their) hips, our children are in constant communication with us. Forgot their lunch? A friend says something mean? Stubbed their toe? We know right away and swoop in to rescue them.

Intuitively, we know that it’s better to let our kids deal with consequences from their mistakes, face some problems on their own, and get through the day without us, but it’s SO HARD to let them. We feel fortunate to have a close relationship with our child and we don’t want to jeopardize that relationship by turning off our phone or saying “no.” It’s difficult to let them face a problem or bad day at school on their own. Unfortunately, we are setting our kids up for much more difficulty later in life if we don’t start letting them have some independence when they are younger.

Camp experiences at younger ages may help children adjust to later independent experiences, including college. A Stanford Magazine (May/June, 2009) article called “Students on the Edge” published results of research on the psychological health of current University students:
“Unlike previous generations, young people often speak with their parents several times a day. And while family closeness is usually a positive force, it can come with a downside. Administrators at Stanford and elsewhere describe a level of parental involvement that often limits choices and has altered the cultural norms of college life. That includes parents who insist on choosing their child’s area of study and then show up to negotiate his or her salary after graduation.”

Sleep away camps, especially those that do not allow cell phones and phone calls, offer a great opportunity for kids to develop independence in a supportive, safe setting away from their parents. Some parents today think that it’s a comforting thought that their child may end up living with them, or at least calling every day, well into adulthood. Most of us know, however, that when you truly love your children and want the best for them, you need to give them more freedom, responsibilities, and independence as they grow through their different stages of childhood and into adulthood.

These words of a first-time sleep away camp family from the summer of 2016 are especially poignant:

“Our daughter came to us with the idea of sleepaway summer camp. We weren’t completely sold on the idea, having never done camp as kids ourselves. But, she researched camps, fell in love with GAC, and sold us on how great it would be. Having gone through the process now, we agree that GAC is great! It gave our daughter an opportunity to try new things in a new environment, break expectations (her own and others’) and to just be a kid without the worries and complications that kids have in their day to day lives.”

First-time camp experiences are much harder on parents than they are on kids. The relief parents feel when they see their child after a camp stay is palpable, and the amazement at their child’s growth is an equally strong emotion. The independence kids experience at camp can open their eyes to many new dreams and opportunities, and may lead to them feeling more confident about pursuing schools, travels, and adventures further from home. Although it’s hard to let kids go, the words of singer Mark Harris sum up what most parents dream of for their children:

“It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky. I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer you as you fly.”

Read more of Sunshine’s writing about summer camp and parenting at Sunshine Parenting.

Ep. 11 – Tootles and Batman

Episode 11.

On this episode of the Gold Arrow Camp Pog-cast, Soy talks camp and family with Tootles and Batman, long time campers, current staff members, and life-long sisters. They discuss why camp feels so much like family, what it’s like to work with your sister, and how hard it is to remember each other’s camp names. 

Here are Tootles and Batman (and the rest of their family) back in 2008. Can you pick out Batman and Tootles?

How Camp Teaches 21st Century Skills

By Alison “Bean” Moeschberger

“A profound gap exists between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need for success in their communities and workplaces.”
-Partnership for 21st Century Skills

IMG-9205“Having started at Gold Arrow as a little seven year old, I have grown up here. Camp has become my home away from home, and I can honestly say it has shaped who I am today. It has given me confidence and taught me skills far beyond learning how to wakeboard or horseback ride. I am comfortable with myself, I am patient, and I have learned how to become a leader.”

-Katie “Rascal” Baral, 10 year Camper

Parents, educators, and youth development professionals are well-versed in the phrase “21st Century Skills.”  The phrase encompasses our current understanding of the urgent need for our children to be learning more than how to read, write, and do math.  There are many other skills needed to grow into productive, successful adults. As I look at the list of 21st Century Skills, I am struck by how many of the skills are intentionally modeled and taught at camp.  Following are five specific 21st Century skills that children learn at camp:

1. Working Creatively with Others

Campers learn to work cbig-swing-8339reatively with others through working towards goals with their cabin group.  Even something as simple as collaborating on a skit, song, or dance requires being open and responsive to different perspectives and incorporating group input.  An important aspect of creativity 
and innovation is being able to “view failure as an opportunity to learn.”  At camp, with every new and challenging activity, campers are encouraged to challenge themselves and persevere past failure.  They learn that “creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes.”

2. Communication

From the moment they arrive at camp, campers have the opportunity to practice and hone their communication skills.  Gathered around the campfire on the first evening, campersc06-1853 talk about themselves in front of their small cabin group.  They also listen to others share about themselves.  At
meals, campfires, and while walking around camp and participating in activities, counselors guide discussions about deeper issues and make sure all campers participate, even those who are less outgoing.  Listening skills are addressed and enhanced through practice.  Without th
e distractions and escape of technology, campers practice articulating thoughts and ideas and listening to the ideas of others throughout their time at camp.

3. Collaboration

high-ropes-0979When working together at Team Building, during cabin clean up, or while preparing fora performance, campers learn important collaboration skills.  They learn that they need to be flexible. They often learn another important collaboration skills, which is that it is often necessary to make compromises to accomplish a goal.  Counselors encourage campers to share responsibility for tasks and work together.  Campers are also encouraged to value and acknowledge each individual contribution made by team members.

4. Social and Cross-Cultural Skills 

Learning to interact effectively with others is an important social skill that doesn’t come naturally to all people.  At camp, counselors guide campers to learn when it is appropriate to listen and when it is appropriate to speak.  Counselors also require that campers respectfully listen to others’ opinions and treat others with respect.cabin-shot-female-7224

For many campers, their time at camp is their first opportunity to meet and live with people from other cultures. Camp offers the opportunity for kids to form friendships with staff and campers from other countries.  Camp provides the opportunity for campers to gain a respect for and work effectively with people from a range of cultural backgrounds.  On International Day each session, we celebrate and learn about our international campers and staff.

5. Leadership and Responsibility 

Guiding and leading others is an important 21st Century skill.  In campers’ early years at camp, they learn basic responsibility for themselves and those around them.  Even our youngest campers have the opportunity to lead others in a song or game.  As they get older, campers gain more of an understanding of how their words and actions influence others, and they learn how to positively use their leadership skills.


While academics are important, children need other skills to be successful.  Camp offers an ideal setting for campers to learn and enhance many of the non-academic 21st Century Skills.  One line of our camp song says, “I sure did learn much more here than I ever did at school.”   And, when learning is viewed as more global than the subjects listed on the report card, that is an incredibly profound and true statement.

Read about all of the 21st Century Skills at 

Our favorite thoughts from I Heart Camp Day

Every year on February 1st, we celebrate one of our favorite holidays, I Heart Camp Day. Campers and staff join us in this online celebration of camp by taking pictures and tagging us and #IHeartCampDay. These are some of our favorite submissions from 2017. For a full gallery, you can check out the photo gallery in the news section of our website.

Camper Poetry For I Heart Camp Day

Former camper Erin P. sent us this poem that she composed at school when she was asked to compose a poem about something she missed and loved. 

Slept Away

Erin P.

Gold Arrow Camp;
The Home where everyone’s a champ.
The place I miss dearly,
because I used to go yearly.

Smiles, friendship, and memories,
are all objects of treasury.
My cabin mates lead me towards that way,
so I could experience more everyday.

On my last night,
I felt as if I was a knight.
But instead of going to battle,
I received my paddle.

Tears rolled down my face,
but I knew this wasn’t any type of place.
I’d be back,
and I know it’s a definite fact.

I’ll become a JC in 2018,
and make everyone feel like kings and queens,
I’ll then become a counselor in 2020,
and share my love of camp with many.

Long Distance Shout Out

Long time staff member Orange is currently in Bolivia, and sent us this picture, which features local transportation and a homemade sign!

An amazing picture of an amazing place

JC “Sneezy”  sent this shot from the JC backpacking trip. 


A heartfelt caption on I Heart Camp Day

Longtime camper and staff member Caroline “Gaga” Zigrang had these amazing things to say about why she loves camp. 

A Picture That Says More Than a 1000 words about camp

Camper Remi F. sent us this shot, which shows what so many people love about camp, the friendships!

We feel the same way! Thanks again for your many contributions to I Heart Camp Day. We can’t wait to make new memories this summer for you to share next February 1st. 

Ep. 10 – Manners

Episode 10 – Manners

On this episode of the not-yet-critically acclaimed GAC Pog-cast, Soy is joined by Manners. Manners has some great insights into why camp is so good at developing independence. He also shares how camp helps him get through the school year. 

Bringing Healthy Camp Habits Home!

By Dr. Jim “Bones” Sears

For two weeks each summer I work as the camp doctor at Gold Arrow Camp. 2017 will be my 13th summer at GAC and I look forward to it every year. My kids attend as campers, and they have a blast!

boys-cabin-1289I’m always amazed at how good I feel after two weeks up in the mountains! For one thing, I’m always moving. Each morning, I get up a bit early and go for a 30-minute hike. this really gets the heart pumping and is a great way to start the day! The rest of the day, I’m walking all over camp with all the campers going from activity to activity. Sometimes I take an extra trip from the lake up to the nurses’s building to take care of a bump or a bruise, but the whole day everyone is moving. When I get back home it doesn’t have to mean a return to the typical sedentary American lifestyle. There’s no reason why we can’t all wake up 30 minutes early and go for a walk or a jog before starting the day. We can walk or bike to school or work (I actually do ride my bike to work). We can walk to lunch – that’s actually one of the more refreshing things I do. I walk about 5 blocks to one of my favorite Asian restaurants. Taking a walk after dinner is also a great way to keep moving and it usually leads to some good family conversations. I bet you can think of a dozen more ways to keep moving!

olc-0300Aside from constantly moving, another reason we feel so good is how we eat, or more specifically, what we DON’T eat. We don’t snack on junk! We have three healthy meals complete with lots of fruits and veggies, but the absence of junk snacks in-between meals is saving us several hundred calories a day. And it’s not just the calories that matter, it’s the fact that most of the snacks at home are empty junk calories like chips, cookies, or sweets! At camp, the kids are snacking on apples, oranges, or raisins. Take the junk away (even at home) and I guarantee that you will start to feel better. What?!? No snacks?!? It’s funny, but my kids and I don’t even miss it. We’re usually too busy having fun to notice that we’re even a little hungry. It’s interesting that it seems the moment I stop moving and start lounging, that’s when I get the cravings to snack!

bears-adverture-2633One of the other things that I absolutely LOVE about being up at camp is the “no electronics” rule. For 2 weeks, all the campers have no cell phones, no texting, no Wii, no Playstation, no Xbox, no facebook, not even TV! Nothing but nature, and each other. Imagine trying that at home. How much would your kids complain if you told them no TV or video games for the next two weeks? You would have a mutiny on your hands! But up at camp , no one complains, and they have fun…TONS of fun without all that. Apart from all the camp activities (canoeing, biking, sailing etc), even in their leisure time they play games, sing songs, run around and have a blast, without any electronics. The benefits of relating to each other instead of a screen are amazing! It gives some very overused parts of your brain a little time off…and awakens some of the neglected parts. Of course, you don’t have to be at camp to unplug your kids. Every few months, usually on a weekend, I’ll just let the kids know that we’re going unplugged for a day. WHAT?!?! was their response the first time I tried this, but they quickly found other ways to have fun. They invited friends over and rode bikes, played capture the flag, went on a “treasure hunt”, and constructed a fort. When was the last time your family sat around the kitchen table and played cards, told stories, looked at old photos…or did anything that didn’t involve TV or video games?

Try it! You’ll be amazed at how much your imagination can develop and how much fun you can have as a family using each other as entertainment!

sup-0861For my kids (and myself for that matter), the time at camp is the best two weeks of the year. It is the perfect time to give our bodies and brains a much needed vacation from all the stress, technology, lack of movement, and processed foods that are normally a big part of the typical American life. It’s a time to recharge, relax, and remember what it feels like to be in optimum health. It gives me a great goal as to how I should feel all year round. 



Dr. Jim “Bones” Sears is a pediatrician in southern California when he isn’t sailing and mountain biking at GAC.

2017 Theme: Hop on the Energy Bus

We’re thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with The Energy Bus Leadership Journey for Schools to bring The Energy Bus to GAC 2017! As the pilot camp to join the program, we’ll be working closely with the staff of the Jon Gordon companies to develop fun ways to present The Energy Bus ideas to our campers. We believe that many schools and camps would benefit from getting both their staff and campers to live out the positive ideals of The Energy Bus, and we’re excited to be on this bus!


Bambino with The Energy Bus

Our journey with The Energy Bus began during the summer of 2016 when counselor Tyler “Bambino” Munoz shared Jon Gordon’s best-selling book The Energy Bus  with the young men of cabin 28 by reading it aloud over each session. At the conclusion of each session, he invited his campers to join him on The Energy Bus by giving them a printed bus ticket. 

To read Bambino’s whole story and learn about the positive impact he had on his campers, read Hop on Bambino’s Energy Bus,

We were so inspired by the impact The Energy Bus  had on that small group of campers that we decided to make “Hop on the Energy Bus” our theme for all of camp in 2017.

The Energy Bus book is an allegory for our lives, and shows how making some small, positive changes in how we view the world can make a world of difference. This message of ownership over our lives is a powerful one for children of all ages. In a world that too often sends the message that they will be important “when they’re older”, The Energy Bus shows kids what a big impact they can have on themselves and others right now. By making positive changes in how they see and react to the world, they can and will change it for the better. One of our core values at GAC is “Bringing Positive Changes to the World.” We’re certain that by introducing our campers to the concepts of The Energy Bus, they will be catalysts for positive changes at home, in school, and throughout their lives.

Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus, has this to say about why his company started the Energy Bus trainings for schools: “In a world where negativity pervades our education system and schools, we have created a proven model based on The Energy Bus where positive administrators work together with inspired educators to develop positive student leaders who together create an a dynamic and contagious school culture.”

Gold Arrow Camp has been recognized as the first ever Energy Bus Certified Camp, and we have been working closely with Energy Bus Schools director Niki Spears to tailor the program for the camp setting. Sunshine and Bean will be attending a training in March, and Niki will be training our counselors in June to prepare us to lead our campers into a summer full of positive energy!

Energy Bus Schools
To learn more about The Energy Bus, visit Jon Gordon’s website, where you can see many resources related to the program, including the 10 Rules for the Ride of Your Life
Animated Video Preview of The Energy Bus Training Program
Energy Bus Posters


Ep. 9 – Honey

Episode 9

On Episode 9 of the Pog-Cast, Soy is joined by Honey to talk about making a positive change in the world. They also discuss her engagement to Blondie, which took place at camp. There are two camper submitted haikus, a Ross Jameson Joke of the Cast and Sunshine reading a special GACspiration for UCLA fans.


She said yes!