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Camp Leadership Training

By David Petherick, CEO Australian Camps Association

Camp Leadership Training – Ulaanbataar, Mongolia

Since 1987, the International Camping Fellowship (ICF) has supported the development of an international network of resource sharing. I recently travelled to Mongolia to co-facilitate with John Jorgenson from Ontario, Canada, a workshop for young camp leaders in Ulaanbaatar. The program was designed to celebrate how we differ and celebrate what we share in the camping movement around the world. At this landmark time after 25 years, we also wanted to take a special look back at the things that have defined the camping movement and another special look forward at what we must preserve and develop to face the challenges of tomorrow.

The curriculum for this particular workshop was developed with the intention of supporting younger camp leaders (experienced camp counselors, program leaders, middle management and assistant camp directors) to appreciate the principles and acquire skills in:

  • general camp leadership
  • leadership with specific emphasis on global and environmental themes
  • opportunities for further training in the camping field
  • awareness of the broader international camping community



The core areas of knowledge were introduced and specific content areas were also covered. The core areas were:

  • What is the International Camping Fellowship? – Camping around the World
  • Creating and Keeping the Camp Community
  • Teambuilding and Teamkeeping
  • Programs for Conservation and Camping Sustainability
  • Program Design and Creativity
  • Leadership Techniques in Songs, Games, and other Social Recreation
  • Camps for People with a Disability
  • World Café – Networking on Key Camp Topics
  • Multicultural Ideas and Activities
  • The Value and Values of Camp – Power of Social Capital
  • Camp Leadership – Play with a Purpose
  • Risk Awareness and Risk Management
  • Camp Program Principles and Global Citizenship , and
  • A Camp Leadership Assignment.

There is no single correct way to run a camp or outdoor program. Each year operators and managers teach their staff how they want things done in their camp. That is the choice of the manager and the organisation responsible for the camp. This workshop attempted to cover a wide variety of camp operations in a variety of settings and presented some best practices for those camp operations. The topics that we introduced were universal in need but varied somewhat in content. Participants were open minded and generous in sharing their own experiences. They also actively considered how the workshop content could be adapted to their own cultures and settings.

We were fortunate to have an enthusiastic and energetic group of 36 young camp leaders from Mongolia, Australia, Russia, China, Hong Kong, England, USA, Canada and Vietnam.

There was a strong spirit of cooperation and we had the opportunity to learn a wide range of games and activities from the different cultures of the participants.

It was clear throughout the program that despite our cultural differences the thing we shared in common was a conviction that camps and outdoor education programs deliver a wide range of positive outcomes for young people.

We hope that the young leaders who attended will stay in touch with each other and continue to share their ideas and resources. There was also interest from many of the countries in attendance to send their young people to Australian camps and to have young Australians visit their camps. We think this would be a very beneficial program for both the Australian and International students. We will continue to explore this idea to see if we can play a part in facilitating such a program and we will be looking for interested partners to help us to do this.

David Petherick


Australian Camps Association

(03) 9430 2900

David was appointed as the CEO of the Australian Camps Association in 2006. He is convinced that camps and outdoor programs help young people understand and develop leadership and respect for themselves, others and the environment.

David was also a Professional Educator who majored in physical education and was a youth worker for 10 years.