Part of what makes the Camp Akeela experience so special is that each camper is an active, valued member of the camp community. We believe that everyone has a role and a voice in shaping the camp from summer to summer. This is an incredibly powerful component in helping campers feel confident, competent and connected.
Our camp communities are small and intimate. Everybody knows one another. Unlike many camps, we provide a select amount of structured, supervised, mixed-age activities. These events foster leadership skills, pride and responsibility in older campers, who serve as role models for younger campers.
Making friends, developing self-confidence, achieving independence, and treating others with kindness and compassion… these outcomes explicitly drive everything that happens at Camp Akeela. Yet we never lose sight of the fact that children come to camp to have fun!
A focus on important life skills underlies every activity at camp. For example, campers in a painting class are working on art skills and creativity, as well as practicing cooperation and teamwork. What really makes Camp Akeela unique, however, is that this same art activity is carefully customized to support the specific social goals of the campers in that particular group.
The Cabin: Home within a Home
At our Vermont site, campers live in a bunk with up to 8 other campers and at 4 staff members. At our Wisconsin site, campers live on college dorm halls that are organized into “cabin groups”. In both cases, there is an unusually high staff-to-camper ratio, and some counselors who stay with the bunk group throughout the day. This allows our campers to feel a strong connection to staff members who really know them and who understand their needs. Cabin group dynamics are a top priority at Akeela. Our attention to camper selection and bunk placement ensure the right fit for every camper. Once at camp, campers participate in the majority of their activities with their bunkmates and cabin counselors. Cabin groups meet several times daily to touch base about what’s gone on and what’s to come. This provides the ideal environment for campers to make friends and improve social skills in the presence of caring adults.
Our entire camp community comes together several times each day. We all eat meals and snacks together, enjoy a variety of all-camp evening activities and special events, and gather each night for Evening Meeting. At Evening Meeting, campers are recognized by staff and peers for their achievements. Imagine the smile on a camper’s face as the entire camp applauds his first archery bull’s eye or her fear-conquering ride on the zip line!
Evening Meeting is also when the directors read from and lead a public discussion about items in the camp Suggestion Box. This empowering tool is a great way for all community members to have their voice heard.
Akeela campers are responsible community members. They work with their bunkmates to tidy their cabin each morning. Groups also rotate through “dining hall duty,” setting up and cleaning before and after meals. Because of the context in which these important tasks are presented, campers really embrace them. Community service projects are also available as special events and optional programs.