Life moves fast and it’s easy to get caught up doing stuff without thinking about why. Sometimes taking a moment to pause to look and think of what we are doing and why are doing it, can really help to center and motivate us. This blog comes from that pause, and to share with you why we do what we do. I hope this inspires you, too! I have worked in summer camp for 20 years and have seen first-hand the impact it has on the children and staff who are involved with camp. That is why I am intentional to build a camp and company that focuses on what I believe is the best benefit to children today. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read about why I believe in what we do at camp!

~ Laura Johnson, CEO, Leadership Academy

What We Believe

At Leadership Academy, we believe that play and outdoor exploration increases creativity, confidence, social intelligence and grit.

The Problem

There is a problem today, and it stems from children spending less and less time outdoors, interacting with each other. Today’s generation spends roughly half as much time outside as prior generations, and that’s leading to a severe developmental impact. This impact is extended to the classroom, where children are required to sit still and be quiet for hours at a time. Some schools have only 15 minutes of recess per day. Active play is essential for the growth and development of children and young adults, and as society is going away from it we begin to suffer. With less time spent playing outdoors with their peers, children have stunted social and emotional development so that out camps are now filled with kids who can read, but lack the basic skills to interact with people. We see the results of ignoring children’s developmental needs in our camps every year, therefore, Leadership Academy has intentionally designed summer camps to help solve this problem.

How We Can Help

At our camps, we take time for children to play together in collaborative and imaginative ways.  This allows the caring staff to support children as they play, build new friendships, learn to communicate effectively with others, and create child-directed activities without adult micro-management. Essentially, we are providing them with an emotionally safe place to practice social skills and build confidence. Within this model we can also help students work through conflicts and help them understand appropriate social behaviors. Our goal is to equip them with words and self-control to handle conflict situations peacefully, rather than resorting to anger, violence, and emotional meltdowns.

By playing with others in a camp community, children develop:

  • self-regulation – the ability to identify and manage one’s feelings, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
  • self-efficacy  – the internal belief that you can be successful at tasks you engage in, a positive self image and sense of “yes I can!”, along with the determination to keep trying despite setbacks or failures. (#grit)
  • peer communication skills – the ability to express their needs and desires coherently and negotiate compromises
  • physical and mental health through engagement in nature – giving kids a coping mechanism for reducing life’s stresses through positive and purposeful activity

These soft skills are keys to success in life.  They grow children into healthy, happy and productive adults.

What We Do

Leadership Academy creates camps that connect children to nature, makes friends and develops social skills for children ages 5-17. Our goal is to get children outside, exploring, learning, playing and having fun so that they develop a strong sense of self and a deeper connection to nature. We operate in partnerships with nonprofit agencies to promote community engagement and grow revenue streams for the agencies that benefit the parks. Our camps are Camp Warner ParkCamp Bells Bend BeamanNashville Sail CampMountain Bike CampTeen Leadership Adventure and Grow Enrichment Summer Camp.

About the CEO

Laura Johnson, Founder & CEOLeadership Academy LLC is owned and operated by Laura Johnson, a professional Camp Director in Nashville, TN.  A lover of the outdoors, Laura is an avid sailor, hiker, explorer, paddler and adventure-seeker. Laura is passionate about fostering an appreciation for each other and nature through summer camp.  She has been operating summer camps for over a decade and spent 16 years with Girl Scout and YMCA summer camps before launching Camp Warner Park and Leadership Academy in 2014. She is committed to helping each child develop the key skills needed to become peaceful, productive, and engaged members of society.

Our Camps