During the week of February 11th I attended the American Camping Association National Convention in Dallas. While there I attended training sessions ranging from Risk Management to Staff Training to Teaching Girls to Be Advocates to Camping Standards. There were 5 key note speakers, all excellent: Paul Trough, Madeline Devine, Mawi Asgedom, Dr. Lorena Garza Gonzalez, and Gary Krahn While they don’t work in camping directly, mostly education, all of the speakers emphasized the educational value which camping provides. For example, Paul Trough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character in his book argues that non-cognitive skills—or, character—are better indicators of success: curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, self-control, and grit. He then advocated at how valuable a camp experience is at providing the environment to develop those skills. Madeline Levine from Stanford, author of Teach Your Children Well, and educational consultant in the Bay Area, talked about how the current definition of success stresses academically talented kids, while marginalizing many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement She too advocated that camps can help be this change as kids need creativity, collaboration, innovation in order to be truly successful. Mawi Asgedom talked about the on going tug of war between educational policies and what is truly needed to develop young people. Again, Camp Wins! He offered strategies for us as camp directors to win the tug of war and that the experiences we provide are the more potent. All in all the experts agree that Character Matters and that camp truly is a great setting for developing character. In addition to the scheduled speakers, I had the pleasure of spending time with true legends in the camping field, mentors: Carol Sudduth, Wyonegonic Camps (51 years), Jean McMullan, Alford Lake Camps(70 years), and Pat Smith, Wawenock (45 years). Spending time with these veterans reminded me how ACA Camps is an organization of volunteers, professionals willing to give, of role models, mentors and professionals advocating and providing powerful opportunities for children, young adults and adults. As the keynotes addressed, camp does a world of good and I have to say it is because of leaders like these that the camping industry is so strong, New directors like myself have leaders to turn to and so many examples of well run camps. From this time in Dallas I am even more excited about the upcoming summer. I have ideas for our staff, who come for 2 weeks of training prior to the start of camp. I am eager to look at our policies and procedures and review our risk management. Most of all I am excited for campers to come! We have such a great site on Debsconeag Lake, staff who will be roll models, mentors, teachers and advocates for the campers. How many days until summer?