Last week, the year-round staff of GAC converged on the American Camp Association National Conference in Orlando for a week of fun and learning. Sunshine, Monkey, Bean, Soy, Chelster, Gem, Glitter, and Delta all traveled across the nation to see world-renowned speakers and learn from other camp professionals. They also found time for some fun while they were in Florida.
GAC started the week with a trip to Universal Studios Orlando. The highlight of the day was being joined by our long-time “awesomeness coordinator” Cheerio and her husband Buzz, who live in Orlando. They were wonderful tour guides as we hopped on the Night Bus for a trip to our newest bus stop at Diagon Alley. We also took a test ride on the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade, but we thought it might be too hard to get the train all the way to camp, so we’ll stick with buses for now!
At the conference, we heard from Florence Williams, a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature, who shared with us the positive ways that being in nature supports brain health. It was great to hear about the science that supports what we’ve long known anecdotally: experiencing the awe of nature is good for us. We also had the amazing opportunity to hear from Dan Heath, who has written an incredible book on moments. We were especially flattered that Mr. Heath featured our paddle ceremony in his keynote address, sharing with camps from around the world what we do to make that moment so important for our graduating campers. Following his keynote, we took the chance to meet Mr. Heath and get a group picture! The closing speaker, Hakeem Oluseyi, shared his amazing journey and how adults helped him along the way.
Bean and Sunshine had an impact on the conference as well. Sunshine presented on two different topics, including our theme for this year (making friends) and Bean won a national award. By the time we arrived back to California we were all exhausted, but excited to get back to camp!