What We are Reading: 2012

Camp Pinnacle29 May, 2012

Memorial Day weekend conjures up vision of a beach, a lounge chair and  a slew of summer reading opportunities. As the Executive Director of Camp Pinnacle, one of my many jobs is to stay in touch with trends affecting kids, the environment, education and the outdoor industry. Though none of these books would qualify as “Beach Reads,” I’d like to share some of the more interesting books I have read this year, so you can see what is affecting our thinking as we prepare for  counselor orientation.

In Homesick and Happy, renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, shares a strong argument for, and a vital guide on how to raise an independent child.  A great champion of summer camp, Thompson explains how camp ushers children into a thrilling world offering an environment that most of us at home cannot: an electronics-free zone, a multi-generational community, meaningful daily rituals and a place where time simply slows down. Through outdoor adventures, children have emotionally significant and character-building experiences; and often grow in ways that surprise even themselves.  Dr. Thompson and Steve Baskin are good friends and Steve is featured prominently in the book!

True North presents a concrete and comprehensive program for Leadership success. The book offers interviews with 125 of today’s top leaders along with a comprehensive plan to help young leaders follow their internal compass and become authentic leaders. I have read dozens of books on leadership over the years and this is one of the better ones and will be featured in our leadership blocks at counselor orientation.


Generation iY: Our last Chance to Save Their Future. This is a fascinating book and a call to action about some of the general characteristics of the current generation and the potential train wreck they may be headed for.  Generation iY: documents how self-esteem parenting, the digital ghetto, and a sugar coated world view may be harming our children. Unlike many books of this sort, Dr Elmore offers some practical solutions in what is an engaging and practical though sometimes disturbing read. Definitely worth reading if you want to make sure your child doesn’t return from college to make a permanent home in your basement!

Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers draws on some of history’s most brilliant thinkers, from Plato to Shakespeare to Thoreau, to demonstrate that digital connectedness serves us best when it’s balanced by its opposite, disconnectedness.  Time spent outside in nature is of course the ultimate disconnect! Power’s examines other times in history when we have gone through periods of dramatic changes in communication and translates these lessons from the past into life in our current digital world.


We love Wendy Mogel! The Blessing of a B- is a follow up to her wonderful The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and focuses on the challenges of parenting adolescents.  During the teenage years, a child’s sense of entitlement and independence grows, the pressure to compete skyrockets, and communication becomes fraught with obstacles. Mogel emphasizes empathy and guidance over micromanaging teens’ lives and overreacting to missteps.  She reveals that emotional outbursts, rudeness, rule-breaking, staying up late, and other worrisome teen behaviors are in fact normal and necessary steps in psychological growth and character development to be met with thoughtful care, not worry.  She brilliantly translates ancient Jewish teachings into modern parenting techniques. This is a reassuring and thoughtful read for any parent of young teenagers or tweens.


The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  OK – we aren’t using many of the themes from this trilogy in counselor orientation but it would be pretty hard to relate to today’s kids without knowing all about the Hunger Games! The fact that parts of the movie were filmed just 15 minutes from Camp Pinnacle makes it easy to be big fans! Are you on Team Peeta or Team Gale?

By John Dockendorf


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