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Volunteer Spotlight: Justin and Matt

Volunteer Spotlight: Justin and Matt
New wall at the main campfire, designed and constructed by Justin and Matt Dreier

This summer, we were lucky enough to have father-son duo Justin and Matt Dreier create a new outdoor wall for Wildwood. Justin serves on the Wildwood Board of Directors, and Robyn, Wildwood’s executive director, approached him about the project.

Another volunteer–Kyle–had created an indoor wall for Wildwood, complete with led lights, and a fabric-covered logo. (Pictured below)

We loved the piece so much that Robyn asked Justin if he would be willing to take a shot at creating a weather durable version for the main campfire.

Justin and son, Matt took on the project, undeterred by the challenge.

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The Wild Robot in the Woods

The Wild Robot in the Woods

Wildwood loves summer reading. Research says that kids who read during the summer retain more school-year learning and enjoy reading more.

At camp, kids read everywhere–on rules for fishing, in directions for sunblock and insect repellant, on signs in the cabins.

Reading at camp is more fun and engaging when we add a sense of community to our reading program. That’s why we are so excited to introduce a common read this year, The Wild Robot written by Peter Brown.

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How To Leverage Wildwood Staff Experience Into Your Next Job

How To Leverage Wildwood Staff Experience Into Your Next Job

Potential camp staff have a lot to consider when taking a job at Wildwood. Whether the candidate likes kids, where camp is located, how much the job pays, and skills to be gained rank among the chief concerns.

In a seasonal job, we know that it’s also important for candidates to be able to leverage their experience to snag a new job or internship.

We want to make sure the experience is meaningful, fun, and useful as staff move into their future careers. To that end, we’ve included a few tips below for Wildwood camp staff (past, present, and future!) to add to their resume.

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Black History Month: Celebrating Leaders in the Outdoors

This February, we’re honoring Black History Month by celebrating Black individuals and organizations that make a difference in the outdoors. These leaders include scientists, rock climbers, ultra-runners, cowboys, and more. Check out the leaders below!


1. John Francis, Planetwalker

John Francis “Planetwalker” is an environmentalist and author.

In 1971, he watched oil spill into the San Francisco Bay, and was so disconcerted that he swore off all motorized transportation. For the next 22 years, Francis walked everywhere, raising awareness about the importance of the environment. This earned him the nickname “Planetwalker.”

Francis got frustrated when his words didn’t make enough difference, so he also took a vow of silence for 17 years!

He ended his vow of silence in 1990 on Earth Day, and also earned a PhD in land management.

A year later, Francis was named UN Environmental Program Goodwill Ambassador, and in 2008, National Geographic published his memoir, Planetwalker

Today, Francis continues his work as an advocate for the environment.

Learn More: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/9-pioneering-african-american-outdoorspeople

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Outdoor Mindfulness Activities

mindfulness activity: nature art

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed just existing in the world. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s critical that we take care of both our mental and physical wellbeing. Keeping mentally healthy during this time is particularly important for kids, whose brains are still growing and developing.

At Wildwood, one of our favorite strategies to keep kids’ (and adults’) minds healthy is by engaging in mindfulness. Not only are mindfulness practices usually quick and simple, but they can have an impressive positive effect on mood.

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What’s In A Friendship Bracelet?

What’s In A Friendship Bracelet?

Making friends is a huge feature of the camp experience. It’s easy to bond in five short days. Campers eat, sleep, and try new activities together. They participate in unique traditions and are encouraged to be their most authentic selves. 

As much as we’d like to believe that the most salient parts of camp are the carefully thought out, academically rich activities we construct, it’s the new friends with whom campers complete these activities that they remember most. 

So when a pandemic came knocking on our door, we decided to do something to keep friendships bright. Specifically, we decided to create a friendship bracelet kit designed to increase campers’ social-emotional learning, and feelings of connection.

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Camp Tricks for A Happier Homeschool Experience

happy campers at a campfire with their counselor

For many parents–maybe even you–this fall will include some degree of homeschooling. Whether it’s full virtual school, a part virtual schedule, or parents leading full homeschool lessons, being tasked with managing a student’s needs can be daunting and stressful.

So, while we might not be able to stay at home with your child, we’d like to offer a few camp tricks to make homeschooling just a little easier.

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The Art of Unstructured Play

Kids engaging in Unstructured Play

As a kid, I made “quicksand” out of dirt and hose water; I picked dandelions and made houses for roly-polies; I played “spy” with my brother and two neighbor boys. Little of this play was directly supervised, and none of it was directed by adults.

As an adult however, un-planned play time with kids leaves me with a deep anxiety. I worry that they will be bored. I’m terrified that they will be hurt. I hear myself reflexively cry out “Be careful!” and watch their every step.

I think, “I must be doing this wrong. Don’t kids need structure?”

But they probably need less regiment than I think. Despite my anxiety, kids thrive on unstructured play.

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Wildwood’s 40 Years

40 years of Wildwood

“Wildwood?! I went there when I was a kid!”

Folks tell me this when I meet someone new and tell them where I work. High schoolers and adults alike remember spending time at Wildwood with their sixth grade class or at summer camp. In fact, we estimate that 160,000 Kansas Citians have visited Wildwood at some point.

What’s wilder is that Wildwood is turning 40 this year!

We created a new 40th anniversary logo, and we think it’s time to re-tell the Wildwood story.


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Why You Should Work for A Camp

Why You Should Work for A Camp

It feels impossible, but summer camp is a mere four months away! We just opened registration, and we’ve started recruiting for summer staff, including counselors, cabin leaders, lifeguards, and more.

Laura, our Operations Director, and I will meet hundreds of college students this spring for recruitment. We’ll try to tell them why they should spend their summer at Wildwood.

But it’s hard to explain all of the “why’s” in a few minutes.

Most broadly, working at camp and, more specifically, Wildwood offers transferable skills, experience working with youth and practice leadership skills, and a chance to change KC-area kids’ lives.

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