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A few weeks ago Sally, Larry, Frances and I had the opportunity to spend some time at a Camp Conference in New Orleans . We are a part of CODA which is the Camp Owners and Directors Association. We come together once a year for a conference where we listen to speakers and chat with each other about the industry and can bring so many things back to put into practice at camp.

This trip began actually with an Alumni City Social when Sally, Frances and I had dinner with two alumnae and listened to camp stories and all the fun Michelle and Addison had at camp, Addison even brought her old patches and camp photos to show us.

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During the CODA conference, we first heard from Jonathan Haidt who was the opening keynote and spoke about The Anxious Generation which he has a new book coming out in March. We learned so much about anxiety in all ages. How camp and the play-based childhood life help kids these days so much. It is so hard to just give a kid a phone or a screen to watch these days, I am even guilty of that with my two and half year old. How it is so important for children to get outside, experience healthy risks, and become resilient. Camp is so great that we are an electronic-free place where girls get the chance for two weeks to be unplugged, this time helps them in so many ways.

We all learned many things from going to different sessions on team building, fostering teamwork, security at camp, social and emotional behaviors and so much more. On the last day of the conference, Larry led a breakout session about hiring and retaining American staff. We are one of the very few camps that do not hire international staff. As a team we told other attendees about the ways we keep such a high percentage of staff who were former campers. We have a 76-88% of staff who were campers at camp. We talked a lot about our ACIT and Leadership program that starts when girls are at camp. How we stay connected with staff, the team building they do at Orientation, and even our Hero Program is such a neat way for Alumna and staff to be connected.

At the end of every conference the CODA team announces where the group will gather in the fall to tour other camps for a week and this fall everyone will get to come to Alabama and tour all of the camps here in our area. This will be such a fun time that we will all look forward to in the Fall.

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We ended our time in New Orleans with a camper show. We were able to spend some time talking about camp with new families and loved that Ruth had all of her Camp Skyline decor out to show everyone who came.

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