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Ethan Schafer Honored by American Camp Association

Ethan Schafer
Ethan Schafer and his son, Andy.

It is our great pleasure to announce that the American Camp Association (ACA) presented Dr. Ethan D. Schafer with a 2012 Hedley S. Dimock Award at their national conference in Atlanta last week. This award, given annually, honors those who have “made significant contributions to the camp profession through related fields such as outdoor education, conservation, recreation medicine, education, architecture, or the social sciences through administrative, legislative, or professional contributions or by participation in local, state, or national program development.”

A practicing child psychologist in Ohio, Ethan serves as consultant for two private schools and as adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology at Case Western Reserve University. He has shared his professional expertise with the camping world since 2003, visiting camps across the country to lead pre-season staff training sessions. On the regional and national level, Ethan has created numerous workshops for ACA conferences and events which address topics such as: working with adolescents, partnering with parents, staff training, behavior management, understanding mental health issues, and stopping risky behavior. His current role on the Summer Crisis Intervention Team places him as a first responder to assist camp management should a major challenge or tragedy occur. Throughout this time, Ethan has contributed numerous articles to ACA’s Camping Magazine, two of which were honored with a Golden Quill Award signifying excellence in written contributions that address the needs of camp professionals: The Psychology of Learning and Behavior Management: What it Means For Camp and Staff Training and Training Your Staff to Manage the Challenges of Adolescence.

Ethan’s Pemi career began in 1986 with a 6-year stint as camper. He returned as an assistant counselor in 1993 (serving, also, as Head Waiter) and was a cabin counselor from 1995 to 1998. He wore the additional dual hats of Division Head and Bean Soup editor in ’97 and ’98. Ethan launched his camp-consulting vocation at Pemi in 2003 and continued to assist with Pemi staff training through the 2007 season and again in 2010. In 2005, Ethan stayed onsite for two weeks as the first Head of Staff for that season.

When asked about his recent ACA award, Ethan replied, “My whole camp career as a psychologist is basically just my trying to export what I learned at Pemi. I combine the lessons of Pemi—fair play and character development—with some basic psychological science to help make more camps do ‘on purpose’ what Pemi does by its nature.” He adds, “I can think of many kids (patients and students where he has worked) for whom camp would do wonders, far more than years of therapy, or in some cases, even traditional school.  I think kids learn more life skills in an afternoon damming up the junior stream with their buddies than they do in a week of school.”

Ethan and his wife Kelly live outside Cleveland with their sons Andy (3) and Adam (6 months). Please join us in congratulating him on having been honored with this well-deserved, prestigious award. Ethan’s continued focus on staff training for camps improves the camping experience for all.