No doubt, the goal of camp is to have fun. We often tell our parents we want to send every child home “happy and tired,” and it remains one of the things we do best! But ultimately, a camp experience fosters significant growth for every participant, and it’s critical that every member of our extended community – campers, staff, parents, grandparents, consultants – understand our objectives.
So on pick-up day, “happy and tired” is still the goal. But in the intervening months between summers, we hope every child has a moment where they express an idea, demonstrate a skill, or engage in helping others in a way that reflects growth. We hope that maturation stems from their Camp Stonewall stay. We want a proud answer to the question, “Where did you learn that?” to be, “I learned it at camp.”
Our community values promote character, resilience, independence, and inclusion among all of our campers and staff. But how?
Our participants develop character through enjoying activities open to all ages and skill levels; we collectively honor moments of camper leadership, selflessness, or sportsmanship; we use the 25+ international viewpoints represented in our community to embrace a broader world view.
Our participants build resilience through the sampling of experiences they have never tried before; we facilitate healthy all-camp competition with a focus on graceful success and dignified failure; we tackle individual campers’ challenges head-on with a 1:1, nurturing approach for strategic progress.
Our participants enjoy independence through the freedom of choice-based programming; they determine the frequency with which they communicate home (once per day through “no news is good news”); with each new session, campers weigh in to build and rebuild bunk standards of living alongside each other amicably.
Our participants prioritize inclusion in a community that enjoys robust global, racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, and age diversity; we regularly employ team-building tools to facilitate closeness and belonging in the bunk; we train our staff to recognize and deliberately repair breakdowns in the group dynamic.
In short, we strive to ensure everything we do is on purpose. If each camper and counselor walks away feeling like they’ve tapped into the “best version of themselves” at camp, we have succeeded. And we can’t wait to push ourselves to be even better in the summers to come!