Parenting Expert Debi Gilboa trains CIC Staff!

(this note was written shortly after staff training when the first campers were at camp)

Hi CIC Families!

My name is Debi Gilboa, and I met the entire amazing staff of CIC during their Staff Training in June. Tom and Maria invited me to their beautiful island retreat to talk about how kids and teens can use their time and fun at camp to become even more respectful, responsible and resilient.

This staff was truly the most impressive I’ve ever met, with the dedication and professionalism of seasoned adults, and the energy, creativity and enthusiasm of the most camp-loving of people! In our 3 days together, we brainstormed and solidified strategies to make this summer at camp the best any kids have ever had.

Resilience, our main theme, is the ability to overcome adversity. These counselors are ready to help campers navigate any difficulty with one eye on the situation itself, and the other on the children involved. In this way, kids will be a part of solving a challenge they face and also learn skills for overcoming future obstacles.

Responsibility is a wonderful by-product of camp life. The campers have obligations about safety, health, friendships and fun and this will be a great chance for you to get a child home who is even better able to take on new tasks with confidence and competence.

Respect, crucial to any relationship, will be purposefully built at camp. The counselors prepared to engage with each camper and to monitor the social dynamics in each group in order to ensure that each child experiences respect while learning to treat others in the same way.

As I said, this is a truly amazing staff. I’m a mom of four boys from Pennsylvania, and I’m ready to send my kids all the way to CIC next year! I’m also a family doctor and parenting author, “Get the Behavior You Want … Without Being the Parent You Hate!”  I hope you’ll be in touch through my website if you have any questions or feedback for me, or would like to discuss a different parenting issue. Also, please feel free to download the handouts from the workshops I did at CIC.

Have a wonderful summer!

Dr. G

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What are your kids doing this Summer?

With summer quickly approaching, what are your kids going to be doing this summer? Many kids across the country have already or will soon be enrolled into a variety of summer camps. Summer camps provide a vast array of benefits for your child that aren’t just limited to the physical activities, but are also able to provide unique situations that boost their confidence. Many camps offer activities that kids don’t typically get to experience on a daily basis at home. Having the opportunity to master some of these activities such as water skiing, archery or climbing on high ropes courses allows them to gain independence, discover new talents and work together as part of a team. To discover more about the benefits of sending your kids to a summer camp, click on and read our infographic below!


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The Power of Summer Camp

Did you know that camp has more of an impact on children than just as a fun escape for the summer? Here’s a short video on the benefits of sending your child to summer camp from Madeline Levine, Ph.D., who delivered this keynote speech at the 2014 annual Western Association of Independent Camps conference.

As both a member of the Western Association of Independent Camps and an ACA accredited camp, we believe in the positive power that camp has on children. We buy into this belief at Catalina Island Camps, to ensure that we cultivate an environment that provides our campers with the opportunities to grow in immeasurable ways.

Thank you to Madeline Lavine, Pd.D. and the Western Association of Independent Camps for providing this material.

Learn more at

Madeline Levine, Ph.D. is a psychologist, educator and co-founder of Challenge Success, a project birthed at Stanford’s School of Education. A New York Times bestselling author, she is a frequent keynote speaker for schools, parents and business leaders. Books include: Teach Your Children Well, The Price of Privilege, and more.

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From Camp to IKOS!


Mina is a Park City High School Senior. She was a CIC camper for nine years, including two-weeks as a Camper in Leadership Training in 2012. In 2013 she was a Counselor in Training. She is returning in 2014 as a Counselor in Training II. Today, she shares with us a story we find fascinating and think that you will also. IKOS is an engineering project. The project is now raising money through Kickstarter to go into production. You’ll find the link at the bottom of the page to learn more. Congatulations Mina!

I was eight years old my first year at Catalina Island Camps. As a young camper, I was afraid to experience new things like snorkeling, rock climbing, and simply being away from my parents for two weeks. Camp placed me in a new environment and offered countless opportunities to go outside my comfort zone in a safe but challenging way.

IKOS pieces

Taking those experiences into my educational life, as senior year was approaching I was having a very hard time choosing what courses to take. A new engineering program at the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) was being offered. I had the choice to either play it safe or take a chance and participate in this new program.

After choosing PCCAPS, I met Mike Wong, the mentor and head engineer behind IKOS. Our IKOS team consisted of myself and two other high school students and we were challenged to invent something new and creative. And that’s how IKOS came to be.

IKOS Sphere

Put simply, IKOS are a modular, spherical construction toy for inventors of all ages. They are named IKOS because of their geometry: icosahedrons on spheres. With one standard shape, users can create everything from a full sphere to abstract curved creations. When you want to enhance your creation, snap pieces together vertically to create anything you wish. You can design anything you can dream up by adding other items or painting the sphere to create a unique and customizable 3D puzzle.

IKOS Desk Lamp

Each day at IKOS I work to incorporate the principles I learned at CIC. Principles like respect for environment: because we are dedicated to making IKOS from 100% recycled HDPE, we are turning milk jugs and other plastic containers into the toy of the 22nd century. Principles like it’s important to think and venture into new experiences: IKOS are more than a building toy; they are a revolutionary way of thinking.

IKOS are perfect for any age or background because you can expand on your designs when you are ready and when you feel confortable. IKOS have no instruction manual or suggested creations.  A set of IKOS and an imagination can take you as far as you wish!

IKOS Animal

For a detailed presentation about IKOS check out our Kickstarter page. You can fund the project for as little as $1. Please support the spherical revolution by pledging or sharing this page with friends! Thank you!

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Learn about CIC At Meet and Greets

Come learn about Catalina Island Camps from Tom and Maria Horner and the CIC staff on March 11 or March 27 at 7 pm at the CIC offices 707 W. Woodbury Rd Unit F Altadena CA 91001.

We’ll show camp videos, talk about the benefits of camp and answer questions.

Parents are welcome to bring their children as well.

The first 20 people to RSVP will also receive a free copy Of Tina Payne Bryson’s book The Whole Brain Child. Tina Bryson was a keynote speaker at the American Camp Association Conference this year.

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#CampChat March 6 CONNECT Transcript

Our #CampChat on Twitter last night was full of great insights about how kids CONNECT at camp. Travis Allison of  was our guest expert and he brought along with him many of the camp directors from the Facebook group CampPros.

Here’s the full transcript of the night. Here are some highlights from Travis.

Join us next week on Wednesday March 12 as we talk abuout the things kids DISCOVER at camp.


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Catalina Island Camps hosts #CampChat on Twitter during March

#CampChat is a one hour weekly Twitter gathering of parents, camps and youth development experts to discuss summer camp. #CampChat topics address the benefits of camp and practical preparations for camp.

This year’s topics are; “The Benefit of Camp”, “Unplugging Kids at Camp”, “Making Connections at Camp”, “Discovery at Camp”, “Preparing Yourself and your Child for Camp” and “Packing for Camp”.

#CampChat experts include Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, Dr. Chris Thurber, Chicka Elloy, and Travis Allison. Our moderator is Ciaran Blumenfeld whose blog  is read across the internet by thousands of readers. She poses questions to Catalina Island Camps and our experts.  Learn more on her blog about #campchat.

Future #CampChat Dates are March 6, March 12, March 19 and March 26. All Chats are at 7 PM Pacific Time.

To join us, log into to and search for the hashtag #CampChat at 7 PM Pacific time. You can follow along or join the conversation.

You can also review past #CampChat transcripts here:

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I’ve been thinking about my first years as a camper.

I first went to camp when I was seven. I was a handful. My energy was boundless. My attention span was fleeting. At home, my parents always found me by the trail of chaos I left behind me. No one really ever knew exactly what I was up to, and most of the time I wasn’t telling!

Camp was my rabbit hole. When I went to camp the world changed. I found a place where I could be myself. I was part of a group. No one teased me.

Every summer my counselor was the greatest man alive!

I learned to ride a horse and swim in a pool. We made a fort together in the vast wilderness that we called the Desert. One summer I got to make the flag we hid in our fort.

I came home at night and couldn’t stop talking about camp. I fell asleep during dinner. Camp was a magic elixir for my parents.

Today, as a camp owner and director, I want parents and kids to have magical camp experiences.

Unplug, Connect and Discover.

In 1968, I didn’t need to unplug. We only had 13 channels on the TV and there was an annoying cord on the phone. An app was what you filled out for a job. We played through our imagination. We made our own rules and when we disagreed, we figured out the solutions ourselves.

At camp I connected with boys my age. I looked up to counselors and wanted to grow up just like them. There were so many powerful connections at camp for me. Nature. Horses. Dirt. Songs. Games. Stories.

Today’s campers need the world I grew up in 40 years ago. They need time away from computer screens video games and smartphones.

They need a break from tutors and enrichment and schedules. They need to connect face to face and discover their world “IRL” from the ground up.

Camp still creates the same connections today. Those connections build interpersonal skills that kids need to grow up as effective students, productive employees and happy, healthy adults. Camp built connections give kids resilience.

A camp parent told me this week that the whole reason his daughter was successful in college was because of her experiences at CIC. Her experiences at camp gave him the confidence to send her to another state to follow her dreams.

Businesses call the skills camps develop 21st century skills and wish more young employees came out of college prepared for the workplace.

A child’s world is full of discovery.

At camp I discovered a safe place. I discovered a place I could explore. A place we created together as a group of kids. I discovered a world beyond school and home that I could call my own.

Today campers need experiences like camp to complement their academic education and prepare to enter the workforce. Skills like collaboration, critical thinking communication and creativity are central to the camp experience.

Today we Discover life on an island full of sunshine, wind, sand and the outdoors.

While camp is a special place, what happens at camp is what is important.  At camp we discover amazing things about ourselves. We discover we can be good at difficult things we didn’t know we could do. Things we wouldn’t try in a less supportive environment. At camp, we discover we can be responsible, independent and a good friend.

Camp is more than fun and games. Camp builds the skills children need to grow up, navigate college and contribute to their community.

Come to camp. Unplug, Connect and Discover.

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What campers tell each other about the camp experience

Sunday night, we invited our older campers to stay after closing campfire to share about their CIC experiences.

It’s impressive when a teenager will stand in front of their peers and talk about the feelings they experienced during camp.

They stood in the dying light of the campfire, in front of the campers and counselors who had become their friends during the last two weeks. For some the words came quickly. Some knew they had something to say and the words were harder to find. Several repeated what others said before them. None of that mattered as they were talking about why the experience they shared was so meaningful to them.

Camp is a powerful experience and last night confirmed that fact more deeply for me.

One of our counselors, who is a former camper, shared about the first time he saw camp, and how he knew instantly it was a magical place. That was eight years ago. He’s now delivering the magic to others.

One camper shared how her four weeks at camp had opened her eyes to new friends and experiences. She did things she never thought she would or could do. Now she envisions a time when she is a counselor and can share those same experiences with younger campers.

Another camper described moving to California and struggling to make new friends until she came to camp. Camp is her safe place. She can come here and know that she is with friends and can be herself.

Campers talked about the friends they made and the things they accomplished. They told others they loved them and that they considered camp to be their family.

A first-year camper talked about his friend who cancelled at the last minute, leaving him to come alone. He had resigned himself to being alone at camp. He was stunned at how easily everyone became friends and how he was actually never lonely at camp.

Several campers talked about counting down the days to when camp starts every year. One boy described how his parents questioned his countdown when they had a spectacular family vacation planned. Camp trumped the European vacation. I asked the group who else counted down the days; most hands went up.

The most significant topic to me was how kids escape from the drama of home and school at camp. How easy it is at camp to be yourself without judgment or criticism. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Los Angeles, Phoenix or France. Drama rules teenager’s lives in many ways and they treasure the escape that camp universally gives them.

The majority of these campers went home Monday. I asked them to think about how to take their camp experience home with them. I challenged them to keep camp alive with them the rest of the year. There are 120 new campers joining the 20 who are staying for four weeks. I wonder what they’ll have to say in two weeks.

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Play or Internship?

Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, ponders on the value of play and a counselor’s role. Is it play or is it an internship? I think it’s both. What do you think?


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