Welcome to Nature is the Best Teacher, gateway to one educator's journey to combine many of her passions into her career and life.

CampCode & #campdirectorlife

posted May 11, 2014, 1:40 PM by Stephanie Compton

I KNOW...it's been a long time since I've updated this little ol' site of mine. But alas, in the time crunch before camp starts I thought I'd share some of the excitement that has gone on over the last bit of time and what's coming soon in the life of Stephanie Ruby Compton.

Conferences: I've added to my repertoire. ACA Southeastern and ACA National were tons of fun this year. Check out my "About" page for more information on those! Also I will be presenting at the Association for Experiential Education International Conference in Chattanooga, TN in October of this year. Excited to return back to Chattaboogie for a few days and make some more contacts in the AEE world.

Camp: Green River Preserve is looking more and more beautiful by the day. While I love the wintertime, the spring has been a welcome change. I have been trying to get out on trails everyday during the month of May because I live in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains on a 3,400 acre private wildlife preserve and right next door to a 10,000 acre state forest. There's no excuse. Directors of the world: take a moment and get outside! Your soul and creativity need it. I do my best programming when I am out on trail runs, bike rides, and hikes in the forest.

CampHacker: Probably the biggest news of the year is the launch of a podcast from the fine folks at CampHacker called Camp Code. I have been lucky enough to work with Gabrielle Raill and Beth Allison to create a podcast all about my favorite topic which is STAFF TRAINING! It's the most important week of the year--more important than when the campers arrive, in my opinion. And now, there is a podcast entirely dedicated to helping directors train their summer staff members well. I hope you will join us by subscribing on iTunes or the Stitcher app. If you haven't checked out all that CampHacker has to offer, you should--seriously, right now. What are you waiting for?

Publications and Webinars

posted Feb 21, 2013, 5:03 PM by Stephanie Compton   [ updated Mar 5, 2013, 7:41 PM ]

Greetings friends! I had a blast in Dallas at #ACANat13 so thanks to all who I met, whose sessions I attended, and a special thanks to those who came to my Geocaching Night Cap. There were lots of great sessions about the valuable work we camp professionals are doing so keep up the good work y'all. 

A few exciting things on the horizon: My article "Nobody Ever Tells Me Anything" was published in the March/April issue of Camping Magazine. If you are visiting my site after reading the article, I would love to hear your feedback. Please visit the contact page for my email. 

Also, registration has opened for my "10 Things Your Multi-Year Return Staff Aren't Telling You" webinar through the ACA's e-institute. Please register if you are interested or if you have staff members who may benefit from hearing these 10 things that will improve staff retention and staff training. 

Also, if you don't already, you can follow me on Twitter. I am also an avid write for the Green River Preserve blog now that I am working full-time in the year-round camp world. So far I have loved being in western North Carolina, or as I like to call it "Camp Mecca of the East." There are so many wonderful folks here doing such great work and I am looking forward to getting to know all of you even better as the years progress. Thanks for welcoming me and thanks for all that you do. 

Eve eve

posted Dec 23, 2012, 5:05 PM by Stephanie Compton   [ updated Dec 23, 2012, 6:29 PM ]

On this Christmas Eve eve, I wanted to provide a quick update to readers. This evening I plan on posting and linking to some of my videos from my presentation at the ACA Heart of the South Conference entitled "Summer Camp Rated R." Look for links via Twitter and here on NITBT.
            Summer Camp Confessions Highlights (add your own music and share with your camp staff!)
            Summer Camp Rated R: Intro Slides

I move to North Carolina in 11 days and I cannot believe it is almost time. There is still lots of packing to be done and decisions to be made but in 11 days, I'm moving regardless so it best get done! We have some exciting things going on at GRP and it will be a fun adventure to embark upon. Keep up with the move with #movetogrp. A big trip to the Goodwill donation site and the recycling center will certainly be in order as well before the move. Luckily after I move, I have a couple days before I start work to get my life in some semblance of order. Keep an eye on the GRP blog for posts from me about camp, child development, and nature education. If you haven't already, be sure to visit the GRP official Facebook page and Like Us so you can keep up with all of our happenings in western North Carolina.

My trip down the Grand Canyon was phenomenal. I am experiencing P.E.D., aka Post Expedition Depression. I had a blast with the eight co-workers that made the excursion amazing. There really aren't words...so I let the photos do the talking. Find me on facebook to see the whole collection.

And I'm moving to North Carolina

posted Nov 1, 2012, 7:57 PM by Stephanie Compton

    The social media has been abuzz lately with the news so it is finally time to announce here at Nature is the Best Teacher that I am moving to North Carolina in January because I have accepted a position as the Summer Camp Program Director at Green River Preserve! I am utterly humbled by all of the wonderful support I have received from various folks all around my life and I cannot wait to embark on this new adventure. I am most looking forward to getting to travel, to work with many wonderful young folks (campers and staff), to be more involved with ACA, to learn new skills, to live right beside Dupont State Forest, to market camp in new and creative ways ...OK I am looking forward to it all!  
    In the meantime, there are so many things to look forward to before I even get to the new job (see previous post) that it's hard to focus on any one of them.  We have just under three busy weeks to go in the semester here in Mentone, including the best evening program of the year, folk games! It will be an action packed three weeks for sure. I hope to be tweeting from the ACA Heart of the South Conference next weekend so keep an ear out and seek the joy!

Fall is upon us

posted Oct 27, 2012, 6:42 PM by Stephanie Compton

Greetings friends. A few quick notes to announce: 
  • An article I wrote on communication will appear in the March/April issue of the ACA's Camping magazine. More details as I know more. 
  • I will be presenting on Geocaching again at the ACA National Conference in Dallas. #ACANat13 #NightCap
  • Coming up even sooner though is my presentation of Summer Camp Rated R at the ACA Heart of the South Regional conference on November 9th.
  • I'm going to the Grand Canyon for a 17 day expedition down the Colorado river with 8 other current and former Nature's Classroom staff and it is going to be rad!
More news next week!

September First

posted Sep 1, 2012, 10:40 AM by Stephanie Compton

Greetings All!

My it has been a long time since an update so of course there are a few things to tell. First of all, I had a phenomenal summer at Green River Preserve. The camp was gorgeous and the program was neat. I loved being up in the mountains of North Carolina too where we rarely experienced the summer heat that I'm used to in Nashville. I hope to return there next summer. While you are at it, go check out their facebook page and like them. We are hoping to have over 1500 likes before the end of the year. 

At the end of the summer, I trekked down to Birmingham to help teach the LNT Trainer Course at Kanawahala Program Center. This year we had an indoor facility for instruction and the rain came and went while we were still working on presentations. Luckily, nobody got too wet and we had eight graduates at the end of the course. Go forth and train the world my friends!

In other news, I will be teaching a webinar for ACA based on one of my presentations at the National Conference in Atlanta. Mark your calendars for March 26,  2013 and I will post more info here and on twitter as I have it from them about registering. It must be official because I am now listed on the faculty page for the e-institute. 

Another semester is gearing up here at Nature's Classroom Atop Lookout Mountain and we are once again on the lookout for more schools to attend our program. If you know of any schools, teachers, or groups (we do scouts and youth groups as well) that may be interested, please let me know via the contact page or call to request information. 

Finally, if you are looking for a great read about leading children in nature discover, I recommend the book Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature. There are  many phenomenal activities as well as philosophies and methods for getting our kids connected with nature once again. I plan on giving this to all my friends and family that are young parents these days because it is a must read. 

Happy trails and (as we say at GRP) seek the joy of being alive. 

May I? I may!

posted Apr 30, 2012, 9:59 PM by Stephanie Compton   [ updated Apr 30, 2012, 10:00 PM ]

It is almost May? Am I the only one out there saying, "What happened to April? Oh, and while we are talking about it what happened to spring weather too?" While on a geocaching adventure this afternoon, my car's thermometer topped out at 90 degrees! That's a little warm for comfort during EE season but luckily once we got back up on the mountain, it had cooled off to a chilly 82 degrees.

We are in the heart of our season up here on Lookout Mountain. We average approximately 3.5 schools per week over the last six weeks of the season. With the constant coming and going, it can be hard to keep up but every day I discover a new flower or another wonder of nature that makes me so glad to be out battling the pollen and the unseasonably warm spring. The mountain laurel and rhododendron have been unbelievable this spring as they bloomed approximately 2-3 weeks early. I'm sure my students get sick of hearing me say "Do you see how gorgeous it is? I can't get over how beautiful it is right now! Look at this flower! Look at all of these flowers!" It's the part of the year where I really have to pick and choose what I teach because there simply is not time to teach it all.

Summer is also drawing closer and I am glued to the facebook page for the summer staff of Green River Preserve. Our bios went up on their website this week and it will be nice to finally meet the 3-dimensional people who go with all those photos and words. I am hoping to get a few more updates up here on the site before summer rolls around so check back soon for more. One section I want to add is the Toolkit page, with a list of items that I carry in my pack as well as the gear that I rely on for my outdoor adventures. I would hardly say I am a total gearhead but there are certainly things to which I am partial. While I compile my list--I want to hear from you--what is in your toolkit for teaching? For outdoor adventures? For always being prepared?


posted Mar 18, 2012, 9:12 AM by Stephanie Compton

I just finished putting together the presentation for "Work Together. Play Together." I am loving the features within Google Docs. Click on the link for a preview of the presentation. The rest of my day will likely be spent putting the finishing touches on the other two presentations so look for another update this evening!

Also, the travelmobile decided to pull a fast one on me and the check engine light came on Saturday night. Alas, it will be spending some time in the shop this week and hopefully ready to go by Friday. I look forward to seeing you in Radford!

Spring 2012

posted Mar 5, 2012, 3:32 PM by Stephanie Compton

Greetings all! The redbuds and bradford pears are blooming here in Alabama and our season is getting into gear. The ACA National Conference was amazing and I hope that every camp professional will find a way to attend one (or many) at some point during his/her career. If you are looking for information regarding Geocaching at your camp, please click on the geocaching link on the left side of the page or simply click here. One of the most exciting messages that I heard over and over again is how crucial the camp experience is in educating children. We, as camp professionals, are educators and I take a lot of pride in that fact. We are character coaches and professional developers of life skills. It's no small task!

Exciting news from my end: I finally have the privilege of announcing my summer plans. I will be working as a Mentor at Green River Preserve in North Carolina. I am absolutely stoked about this opportunity (though a little bit nervous about their frequent bear and venomous snake sightings...) and excited to learn from the knowledgeable staff there and to meet whole new crop of campers. I will absolutely miss Camp Widji and all my campers there as well as working with the Operation Purple Camp program (Congrats Widji on getting it for the 3rd year!) but Widji will always be my camp home and I hope to make it there at the end of May to help with staff training before moving to North Carolina. I've heard great things about the area and I look forward to exploring, geocaching, and finding new beautiful and wondrous places to share with young people. 

Also, Cody and I will be returning to her alma mater to present at the Mid-Atlantic Association for Experiential Education conference at Radford University on March 24-25. The brochure is here. We will be presenting a session on Geocaching, a session on Leave No Trace, and a session entitled "Work Together. Play Together." I hope to meet more folks within the AEE community and get more involved with the work of that organization. 

Our first students arrive Thursday! Let nature teach us as it enters this exciting season. 


posted Feb 19, 2012, 4:28 PM by Stephanie Compton   [ updated Jul 24, 2012, 7:12 PM ]

It feels like I have been preparing for this conference forever. Considering my proposals were put in at the beginning of September, I have had this conference on the brain for 6 months now and it is finally here. I head to Atlanta on Tuesday for the EPIC pre-conference and then I will be presenting on Tuesday night on Geocaching and Friday morning on "10 Things Your Multi-Year Return Staff Aren't Telling You." I am hoping somebody will be interested enough to come to my sessions! Anyway I am looking forward to a fun and busy week. Listed below are the powerpoint presentations for my workshop for those who may not be able to attend to conference. I will be tweeting from the conference. Look for the hashtag listed above for news from the conference and for the #NITBT for tweets from me. 

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