Dr. Chris Thurber
Dr. Chris Thurber, children’s recreational camping, independent schools, youth leadership and clinical psychology
CampSpirit.com is the online home of Dr. Christopher Thurber, a board-certified clinical psychologist, author, consultant and father. A graduate of Harvard University and UCLA, Dr. Thurber is a favorite keynoter and workshop leader at international, national and regional conferences on education, youth development, mental health and summer camp. He currently serves on the faculty of Phillips Exeter Academy, an independent, coeducational boarding high school in seacoast New Hampshire. View a schedule of upcoming events.
In 2007, Dr. Thurber co-founded ExpertOnlineTraining.com, a revolutionary set of web-based educational tools for youth development professional and health care providers. EOT is now the world leader in online staff training for youth development professionals, with more than 2,000 subscribing organizations. Dr. Thurber also designed the American Camp Association’s homesickness prevention DVD-CD set, which has been shown to lower the intensity of first-year campers homesickness by 50%, on average. The DVD-CD set, which has sold more than 15,000 copies, is available exclusively from the ACA Bookstore. Learn more about preventing homesickness.
In 2000, Dr. Thurber and co-authored the best-selling Summer Camp Handbook with longtime friend and colleague Dr. Jon Malinowski, professor of geography at the United States Military Academy (West Point). Dr. Thurber is widely published in the academic and popular press and has more than 30 years of camp experience. Dr. Thurber also served on the ACA’s Research Committee for more than a decade and is a long-time member of Phillips Exeter Academy’s Health & Wellness Council. All of Dr. Thurber’s personal and professional work is guided by the principles of kindness and leadership-by-example.
An award-winning contributor to Camping Magazine, Dr. Thurber has also shared his youth development expertise on Martha Stewart, the Today Show, CBS Morning News, NPR and PBS. His ideas on how to maximize the benefits of the camping experience for children have been featured in Time, Parents, Scholastic Parent & Child, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, USNews & World Report, Newsweek, Smart Money, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal. Listen to radio broadcasts and watch television appearances featuring Dr. Thurber.
Dr. Thurber and his wife, Simonida, an analytical chemist and loving mother, live in Exeter, New Hampshire with their sons Danilo (born 2002) and Sava (born 2004). Their boys enjoy gymnastics, violin, school and, of course, summer camp. View the Thurber Family YouTube channel.
Each year, Dr. Thurber conducts faculty development workshops, staff training, consultation, and executive coaching with dozens of schools, camps, corporations, and individuals throughout North America, South America, and Europe. To schedule an event for your school, camp, or youth program, please contact Dr. Thurber directly.
Dr. Thurber also believes you should practice what you preach. This summer will be his 35th season at Camp Belknap, where he serves as the waterfront director and a member of the senior staff.
Dr. Thurber has been involved in independent schools since 1988. In those 24 years, he has taught everything from elementary school French to senior citizen swimming. He now teaches Introduction to Psychology at Phillips Exeter Academy, a private coeducational boarding school in seacoast New Hampshire. Dr. Thurber joined the faculty at PEA in 1999 after a three-year post-doctoral fellowship at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.
Dr. Thurber has been involved in camps for 40 years. He attended three different day camps between the ages of 4 and 11, including Ledgemere Day Camp in Cape Elizabeth, Maine and Portland Sports Camp. In 1980, he spent his first two-week session at YMCA Camp Belknap. This summer will be his 34th at Belknap, where he now serves as waterfront director and senior staff member.
“Schools, families, and camps are symbiotic,” says Dr. Thurber. “It’s no surprise that the first camps were created by professional educators…progressive men and women who were looking for a powerful complement to traditional classroom education. Now, more than 150 years later, there is a renewed understanding of the importance of active learning and exposure to nature. I’m glad to see that the rest of the world is discovering what camp directors and progressive educators have known for years.”