We’ll put out a new podcast about summer camp and the lessons we’ve learned each Friday from January until June. We hope you’ll take a moment to listen and then bring a friend to listen, too. We’ve got plenty of space around the fire and all the s’mores you can eat! 

Subscribe on one of these digital campfire sites:


Summer #1,Campfire #5

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Anti-Fragile Kids

with steve baskin

This podcast is sponsored by SCOPE, an amazing organization that helps to send children from financially disadvantaged families to summer camp. You can learn more about SCOPE online and through social media @supportscope.

Steve Baskin has figured out how to be a life-long camper. (Mostly, as you’ll hear in this podcast, because he’s a life-long learner!)

He first attended camp when he was 8 and he continued for 11 years. In his years as a camper and a counselor, he discovered the power of the camp experience to develop confidence, social skills and joy.

He even wrote about camp in his college applications as one of the defining experiences of his life. After graduating college, serving a stint as an investment banker, Steve went to Harvard Business School, where he decided to pursue what everyone there secretly yearns to do: summer camp.

Since 1993, Steve and his bride, Susie, have been the full-time camp owners since of Camp Champions in Marble Falls, TX. I’ve known this self-described ‘camp nerd’ for almost as long as I’ve been in camping and have learned a lot from him over the years. I’m sure you will, too!

Steve has written (a lot!) for Psychology Today on youth development education and parenting as well the Camp Champions blog, and given several talks both on the TEDx platform and at the Harvard Business School.

Great Books for Parents

Anti-Fragile by Nassim Talib is more about the financial markets than anything else but applicable to so many aspects of our lives. Here’s a good review of both the anti-fragile idea and how to move that way in your life from a resource I trust.

A Season of Life by Jeffery Marx is one of the more memorable books I’ve read in a long time. It’s the story of Joe Ehrmann, a former wild man NFL defensive lineman who turns to helping those less fortunate. In the process, he develops a new style of coaching young men to startling good results… and I’m not talking about their record.

BONUS - Here is a fantastic list of books, articles, and videos for anyone interested in working with children from Camp Champions.

Great Quotes for Parents

  • I’m sorry to hear that you and ‘so and so’ are having a hard time. Let me know how you work it out.

  • Social media is an accelerator of anxiety for children more prone to feel anxiety.


Summer #1,Campfire #4


Anxious about Anxiety

with bob Ditter

This podcast is sponsored by SCOPE, an amazing organization that helps to send children from financially disadvantaged families to summer camp. You can learn more about SCOPE online and through social media @supportscope.

I first met Bob Ditter at work retreat after my first summer as a camp director. Boy… did I need his help! Thankfully, he’s been offering his help to camp leaders and families for a long time.

Bob is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in child, adolescent, and family therapy based in Boston. He’s written numerous articles for the ACA Camping Magazine, a wide range of helpful summer camp training material, and two important books listed below.

Around the campfire, Bob and I talk about something we see a lot in our society: the rise of anxiety in our children, young people, and adults.

Did you know that 25% of 13 to 18-year-olds have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in the US? And, it’s not just affecting middle schoolers. One out of every eight college student have reported elevated levels of anxiety.

Summer camp provides a lot of great methods for reducing anxiety for our campers (and staff) that we can incorporate in our lives back home.  

Make sure to join us next week as we talk with Steve Baskin, director and owner of Camp Champions in Texas, about how we can help build Anti-Fragile children.

Great Books for Parents

While Summer Camp Rules may be geared more towards people who work with children, I learned a lot from it as a parent, too. Bob takes his 30+ years of experience and wisdom gleaned from summer camp and distills it for everyone.

Next Generation Camp Leadership is one of my go-to books for developing, training and managing our 220 summer staff.

Bob has a long list of articles written for the ACA Camping Magazine. Reading one or two a week would be really helpful!

Great Quotes for Parents

- Create a space in which kids can fail and feel safe doing so.

- The more you try to eliminate a worried thought from your mind, the more it tries to assert itself.

- Anxiety says to us, I’m here for two things - comfort and certainty. The truth is that life is never always certain and never always comfortable.


Summer #1,Campfire #3


Raising Kids the Summer Camp Way


With Roz and Jed Buck

I’m excited to have Roz and Jed Buck on the Campfire Conversation podcast tonight. As parents, teachers, decorated camp directors, and deep thinkers, they are uniquely qualified to talk about raising kids.

Roz and Jed met at summer camp, married, had children, and tried for years to get back into camping with their own place. After 5 years of searching, they agreed to take over the reins at Meadowbrook Day Camp, a wonderful day camp in Long Valley, NJ.

After instilling their Tiger Philosophy (Teamwork, Integrity, Generosity, Enthusiasm and Respect) into the campers and staff for 13 years, both decided it was time for a new challenge.

Having left the zany life of camp directors, they now share their considerable knowledge around the country helping camps, small businesses, and schools create better teams and outcomes for their people. (Hire them to speak at your camp, school, small business or conference - they are great!)

Around the campfire tonight, we speak about raising kids, well-meaning lawnmower parents, setting up the culture you want, how to expand our thinking about the need for risk, and a lot more.

Great Books for Parents

Blessings of a Skinned Knee and Blessings of a B- by Dr. Wendy Mogel. I’ve read the first book a few times and it keeps getting better as I get older. The second is now on my short list, especially having three boys in middle and high school!

Great Quotes for Parents

“Life begins at the edge of our comfort zone.”

“We either win or we learn.” (Thank you, Nelson Mandela! Here is a great resource for more of his sayings.)

*Any purchases of the books through the link above will help raise money for SCOPE, a charitable organization that helps to send children to camps all over the US.


Summer #1,Campfire #2

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Planning Spontaneity

With Jeff Leiken

Tonight we speak with Jeff Leiken of Evolution Mentoring and Mentor Counseling. From his website, www.Leiken.com:  

Jeff Leiken is an internationally recognized expert in the field of helping teens and young adults build substantial, thriving lives.

Utilizing his unique combinations of skills and unconventional methodologies, he is able to help most young people who had not found the legitimate caliber of help they needed in the conventional options that are readily available anywhere. His clients regularly go on and become far more confident, successful, fulfilled adults, with fulfilling careers, meaningful relationships and true personal happiness.

He is a Master Trainer of the MythoSelf® Process, a Master Practitioner of NLP, Co-Creator and Master Trainer of the cutting-edge HeroPath for Teens™ program, a published author and popular speaker and trainer for organizations who work with youth.

 He holds a Masters Degree in Educational Counseling, a Pupil Personnel Services Credential from the State of California, served as Adjunct Faculty at the University of San Francisco Graduate School Of Education, and has guest lectured at Stanford University. Jeff has served as a trainer and consultant with over 150 Summer Camps across North America.

Though he is based in San Francisco with his wife and children, Jeff travels extensively, having run programs on 3 continents and 10 countries, and has offices in San Francisco (and Marin), New York and London.


Adolescence is Not a Disease by Jeff Leiken. I’ve read it myself and highly recommend it. Many of Jeff’s summer camp and teen articles can be found here.

Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell and John Gray is a thorough, enlightening and, at times, terrifying book. Well researched and well worth the read.  

Other Useful Ideas

  • Spike Ball – great game. We’ve got them at our camp and at our home. Simple to play, easy to set up, and not that expensive.

  • Plan some spontaneity – go for a walk in the rain, head out for a random ice cream store trip, be a bit goofy… in the right way. The kids need to laugh – and so do you!

  • When you are with your kids, be completely present with them.

  • I mentioned an study suggesting kids laugh more than adults. That may be an urban legend as I can’t find anything online that is supportive of that claim. (And, I still think it’s probably true….)

*Any purchases of the books through the link above will help raise money for SCOPE, a charitable organization that helps to send children to camps all over the US.


Summer #1, Campfire #1

Welcome to Campfire Conversation

with Cole Kelly


I love summer camp. There are few experiences better for children (and the staff members who run it) when it’s the right fit for them and there family. Kids build independence, empathy, maturity and become more creative. They unplug from social media, disconnect from Fortnite, and interact face to face with kids and staff from around the world.

The phrase we hear a lot? “I get to be my best self at summer camp.”

This, then, is the problem - camp only lasts for a few weeks each summer. And the kids returning home rarely give more than a ‘it was fantastic’ answer to the ‘how was camp’ question we parents ask. These kids - who now make their beds, treat their siblings better, and exhibit signs of becoming a happy adult - can’t tell you how it all happened.

A summer Camp Ted Talk

The Campfire Conversation podcast is built to answer the questions, “What is so great about summer camp” and “how can we create similar outcomes for our kids back home?”

Each Friday night (until June rolls around), I’ll host a conversation with a summer camp director or thought leader. We’ll dive into different ideas on why summer camp helps to create great outcomes for kids (and staff!) and how we can bring this knowledge to apply back in the real-world.

We hope you’ll join us around the campfire. You can subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher. You can also join the conversation on our facebook page. We’d be pleased to hear from you!