Our Focus Is To Help Your Child Grow

Yes, it's the most lofty goal possible. But we believe it and work toward it every day.

Therefore, we work with our summer campers to develop a sense of themselves, practical skills and awareness of the world around them.

We want them to recognize that they have the power to make a positive impact at camp, at home and in the future. Then, we want to see them act on it!

How We Do It

Learning to care for animals
Learning to care for animals

Individual Attention

Our counselors are trained to be engaged with campers all the time. Therefore, counselors get to know each camper, their personality, their quirks and what makes them feel safe and secure.

Village Directors consult with cabin counselors to check the state of their cabin and to offer support. Our goal is to meet each camper's social and emotional needs.

Our counselors guide camper choices and provide the support that is needed.

The camp director and leadership team are a part of the process too. We want to know how each camper is progressing and make sure they are having a great time.

Early morning walk to breakfast
Early morning walk to breakfast

Self Confidence / Independence

Campers gain new skills and take care of many of their own day-to-day needs (bathing, making their bed, choosing activities).

They get into a routine and learn to act on their own with less direction.

As the kids make new friends, take risks and participate in new activities, their self confidence naturally grows.

They know they have accomplished many things on their own - and it feels good!

Team building: "Move two feet to the left."
Team building: "Move two feet to the left."

Decision Making

Our summer campers make decisions on a daily basis.

They choose two activities in the morning and one after lunch. They decide how to spend their rest period in the cabin.

They plan cabin activities, especially cabin day (an entire day) which happens once a week and is planned in advance by the entire cabin group.

All of these situations require thinking, making choices, negotiation and coming to a consensus.

Making new friends - an important part of summer camp
Making new friends - an important part of summer camp

Forming Relationships

Campers develop deep friendships with each other and our staff. They live, play, disagree and learn from each other every day.

Overnight summer camp provides a unique context that makes it natural for personal relationships to form. The environment is incredibly safe and nurturing. There are very few day to day pressures and the pace of life is relaxed.

People are very comfortable. It's easy to be yourself. Therefore, people are inviting, they reach out and open up.

As the years pass, many of our campers and counselors return, and they see their friends change and grow. They maintain their friendships from year to year, no matter the distance or challenge. This is a wonderful life skill.

Listening closely at a meeting
Listening closely at a meeting

Living in a Diverse Community

Our campers come from all over the United States and the world.

We intentionally try to create a camp community that is economically and ethnically diverse. We believe this provides a rich experience with many opportunities for learning.

Campers learn that people are not stereotypes and that a true friend can be anyone and come from anywhere.

Cutting fruit. Smoothies for all!
Cutting fruit. Smoothies for all!

Responsibility / A Sense of Ownership

We want our campers to feel like this is their home. We want them to take pride in camp and care for it. Therefore, campers have daily chores. These are meaningful and necessary tasks. Campers participate in cabin clean up every day.

Exceptional work is recognized. We incorporate creative incentives to encourage good work. We want campers to recognize the value of working hard. Cabins are checked by staff to make sure tasks are completed.

Campers also help set tables in the dining hall, harvest produce, collect eggs and help with food preparation. Campers lead our flag raising and flag lowering ceremonies and are encouraged to dream up camp activities and projects. We believe campers, whenever possible, should have opportunities for leadership.

Making a new friend at summer camp
Making a new friend at summer camp

Empathy / Compassion

We play special group games and encourage behavior that challenges campers to think about the needs of others.

The summer camp environment and the experience of group living provides the perfect opportunity for this. We train and give our counselors simple strategies to facilitate this process.

We focus such learning on a daily basis. Staff take advantage of teachable moments to address concepts such as:

- putting yourself in someone else's shoes

- saying “please”

- showing good sportsmanship

- inviting someone to play or to join a conversation

We teach our campers to understand others and not to judge.

Building Self Esteem

Will camp make him/her a better person?

We wouldn’t say better, we’d say more experienced, well rounded, confident and independent.

Managing daily decisions and interactions without direct parental support gives kids a sense that they are in charge of their own lives. This breeds confidence and success.

Will you notice my child?

Our staff will always be there to notice their campers and provide the attention they need.

Our director, and our administrative team also make a concerted effort to talk with every camper on a daily basis.

This is a lofty goal, and we might not always reach it, but we aim high. All of our staff, including kitchen and maintenance, behave this way.

When kids feel they are noticed, they know they matter and feel important. They also feel emotionally safe. A few words go a very long way.

Summer camp sing-along!
Summer camp sing-along!

Will you see my child's unique character?

Of course, though this takes time.

- We consult with camper’s parents, counselors and his/her friends at camp.

- We keep tabs on how each camper is adjusting and experiencing camp.

- We observe campers, talk with them and do our best to develop relationships.

In this way, over days and even years, each individual camper’s characteristics come to light.

Will my child take risks and try new things?

We expect this will happen though we don’t force it. For many campers, it may be his/her first time away from home. This in itself is huge.

The goal is for campers to have experiences they cannot or may not have at home.

Since we do our best to establish a safe environment where taking risks is the norm (and where there is no such thing as failure) it is our expectation that campers will try new things, gain new skills and develop their social/emotional self.

Staff demonstrating climbing wall saftey
Staff demonstrating climbing wall saftey

It may be a leap off our challenge course, dancing for the first time, participating in a serious cabin discussion or just singing with gusto and acting silly. Living with others creates a context for sharing, decision making, leadership, listening, being vulnerable and accepting things as they are on a daily basis.

The outcomes might lead to a feeling of accomplishment, might be celebrated and recognized (sometimes informally, sometimes publically by our entire community). Sometimes campers don’t get what they immediately desire, but this too provides an opportunity for growth.

Will he/she learn new skills?

It’s almost unavoidable! Our many activities meet campers where they are and progressively encourage campers to gain new skills.

Additionally, we intentionally teach our campers to communicate effectively with others. We believe both realms are equally important.

Will you respect my child? Will you teach her/him to respect others?

Yes. At Camp Roosevelt-Firebird, this is an essential, mandatory expectation. When any member of the camp community falls short, we address it in a manner which allows an individual to reflect, set things right and make a change.

Will you teach him/her independence?

The structure of our program is designed to encourage this. Summer campers choose 60% of their own activities every day. Participants are not selected for activities based on age or gender but upon interest and skill level. Campers may organize and lead an activity too. Campers also do chores with their cabins and help with camp service projects.

Meaningful chores and projects that give back to the camp community give campers a sense of competence, independence and self-reliance. Whether it is organizing our recycling, harvesting vegetables, making a camp meal, cleaning a bathroom or creating a program for all our campers -- doing a good job helps kids feel good.

Will my child learn time management and organizational skills?

Yes. Campers must keep their belongings organized and tidy. They often decide what to do and, of course, are accountable for their own personal behavior.

Time management is essential as camp has a schedule and campers move according to signals during the day.

Will she/he learn problem-solving skills?

Yes. Cabin groups must solve differences and challenges that arise within the context of group living. They could be simple issues like deciding how to arrange beds and decorate a cabin or what jobs need to be done. They could be larged issues like how can the camp minimize our impact on the environment.

Campers, with guidance, plan an all-day cabin activity once a week. From what to do at a campfire to resolving a cabin conflict, these are all opportunities to refine and apply problem solving.