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Russell Patterson
American Camp Association (ACA)
National Conference
Atlanta GA.
February 9-12, 2016
American Camp Association Conference Reflection

Breakout #2
What Happens When You Let Kids Choose? Lessons From No Rules Camp.
With Scott Arizala, Jack Schott, & Laura Kriegel

Scott Arizala is the leading expert, trainer and consultant in summer camp,
working with programs & thousands of staff across the country. He is the award-winning
author of Smore Than Camp, and founding faculty member of the online staff training
resource ExpertOnlineTraining and GoCampPro. He is the Executive Director of three
camps for kids with different needs, and recently had a vision to start a new camp.
In the summer of 2015 He started a brand new with one basic idea in mind. You
should be treated the way you want to be treated. The vision behind this idea was could
there be a camp that ultimately consists of letting the kids choose and be free to do what
they want while at the same time have a lasting positive impact. My initial thoughts on
this idea of having a camp with No Rules were preposterous, and I did not see how this
could ever have a positive impact on young teenagers kids. Scott began to explain why
and how he saw this vision coming to life, and presenting stories on the different
outcomes that developed through the No Rules camp. Kids were given this
responsibility of choosing the activities and daily life decisions around the camp, and

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whatever they choose they has to accept the consequences of making those decisions.
This idea became more and more appealing in my eyes because Scott was not creating a
camp, but a society of kids making decisions that affected each day.
As an outdoor educator at Georgia College & State University one theory that we
have discussed in-depth is the idea of experiential learning. This idea is placing
participants in a situation that gives them the opportunity to take on a challenge, and then
reflect on the idea of what they choose to do and why, which in this case would be giving
them the freedom to choose what they wanted to do and let them debrief it themselves.
The next day would be an opportunity for them to apply what they learned the day before
and make changes to their day. This No Rules camp is an intriguing idea and could see
many benefits to the idea but could also see many downfalls as well.

Keynote
Leadership Making the Hard Decisions
With Jody Oates

Jody Oates is the president and principal consultant with Kaleidoscope, inc., a
nationally known planning and consulting firm that works with camps, retreat and
outdoor centers to help them thrive. He provided visionary and strategic leader as the
Executive Director of camp and retreat centers and also with Kaleidoscope working with
many shapes, sizes and styles of outdoor centers across the country. This lecture
explored leadership and systemic change, including several case studies from struggling
camps who are now thriving.

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Mr. Jody begins the lecture by making a statement that leaders are inclined to

manage rather than lead. This statement is interesting to think about in the perspective as
an outdoor educator and becoming a future leader in the outdoor industry. As a leader it
is important to remember that we are more than a individual that manages the minuet
details of everyday life, we have the ability to influence and impact the community
around us. In order to influence and impact we most understand what it means to be a
leader. A leader defined by Mr. Jody is an individual that is more concerned with the big
picture concept and how they are going to influence staff members to get to that point. In
order to become that leader Mr. Jody goes through several questions and examples to
paint a picture that shows the leadership qualities and characteristics that a leader will
exemplify. Recognizing what you need to change when problems arise and a making the
hard decisions is a must in order to keep the vision of the end goal. Using the models of
change such as design thinking and adaptive leadership in your operation will help to
shape your corporation and vision of what you believe your organization should look
like.
Being a leader requires you to be open and honest with your intentions, being
clear about why you do what you do, and making sure your mission is understood.
Incorporating these actions into your leadership role will entice others to follow your
lead. The last and final point that Mr. Jody strongly expressed was the act of taking thou
authority. These action referrers to the idea of each person is invited to lead now it is our
job to go lead.

Keynote

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Wisdom Transfer
With Rob Parker

Rob Parker has over thirty years of experience in organizational leadership on a


local, national, and international level. Rob has worked closely with Fortune 500 CEOs,
philanthropists, sports and entertainment figures, foundation leaders, and government
officials in the US and around the world. As CEO of Wisdom Transfer, Parker is a
frequent speaker on leadership and personal development. Mr. Parker gave a lecture over
what transformation is and should look like.
Mr. Parker began the lecture with a metaphor that was unique to the situation.
When in an airplane and the oxygen mask fall from the ceiling, the flight attendants
always remind you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first then to your children. Why
is this? He asked. Well, if you lose consciousness how are you going to be able to put the
mask on your children? The same application can be applied to a transformational leader.
If are in a leadership role you should take responsibility for your actions then attend to
any other situations at hand. Mr. Parker goes on to explain that a good transformational
leader has a good balance of mixed humility and personal will. Well-developed
transformational leaders should also carry a vision and a heart full of integrity. There are
several thoughts that come to mind when thinking of the idea of a good leader. Dr. Parker
explain the difference with a few basic principals as to how to determine if they are
leading with good intentions. A good leader with serve not rule, coach not control,
empower not constrain, influence not direct, and will always be thinking of two ways not
one way.

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Mr. Parker end the lecture with eight characteristics of what a transformational

leader should look like. A skilled listener is the first attribute of a leader who wants the
best for his team. After listening communication follows, to influence other and to
delegate the right way communication is key. Always having a vision as to what the
future will look like, will help to never be satisfied with where you are at. There is always
something better to be done. A problem solver is classified under a good leader because it
signifies creativity and imagination, and shows relentlessness to give up. A good leader
has the ability to create and hire a team to develop and empower others around them
which will lead to a successful program.

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Russell Patterson
Jude Hirsch
ACA Conference
21 February 2016

Events Attended

Tuesday:
1:00pm-1:45pm:
- First-Time Conference Goers Welcome Session
2:00pm-3:30pm:
- Opening Keynote Event With Scott Barry Kaufman
4:00pm-5:15pm:
- Awesome Energizers & Icebreakers

Wednesday:
-10:00am-11:15am:
- Leadership-Making the Hard Decisions
1:15pm-2:30pm:
- What Happens When You Let Kids Choose? Lessons from No Rules
Camp
2:45pm-4:00pm:
- The Decline of Outdoor Play in Children-and the Rise in Sensory
Issues
4:15pm-5:30pm: Keynote Event with Rob Parker
5:30pm-8:30pm-Exhibit Hall

Thursday
10:30am-11:45am:
- Empowering Teens: From Drinking, Drugs and Dangerous Friends to
Leading and Living Extraordinary Lives.
12:00pm-1:00pm:
- Exhibit Hall
2:00pm-3:15pm:
- Your Reputation is on the Line-Transform Crisis into Value
4:15pm-5:30pm:
- Risk Management for Camp Adventure Programs: Minimize the Risk
Gap by Hiring and Training the Right Staff for Your Program.

Friday
9:30am-10:45am:
- Becoming a Transformational Leader
11:00am-1:00pm:
- Final Keynote/ Closing Session