You might already know that we ask campers to take surveys while they’re at camp. But you might not know why.
We ask campers to take surveys for two reasons: so we can improve camp, and so we can make camp as impactful as possible. We want campers to leave Wildwood with a new enjoyment of being outside, enthusiasm for science, and social and emotional skills gained through cabin life.
Here are a few highlights:
At the end of camp,
In addition to what campers learn, it’s incredibly important to us that campers AND parents are happy with the camp experience.
Last year, our parents and older campers (age 12+) also let us know how we can make camp better. Here’s what we learned:
P.S. If you’d like to volunteer as a photographer this summer, please let us know! Email Jane at email@example.com or text at (913)738-9067. 🙂
A Note About Our Survey Data
In 2021, Wildwood capped overnight camp at half capacity to reduce COVID-19 risks, and served a total of 337 campers. Of those, 66 campers’ surveys could not be matched from pre- to post-, and were excluded from the data.
The remaining 271 surveys were analyzed for camper growth in five areas: environmental literacy (particularly wanting to be outside and feeling connected to nature); responsible decision-making; self-management (being aware of and processing one’s emotions in a healthy way); relationship skills (conflict resolution, feeling connected to others); and social awareness (empathizing with others and reacting accordingly).
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.
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.
Although we haven’t had volunteers on site in the last year or so, we are so so grateful for their work and support. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’d like to highlight the experience one of our dedicated volunteers, David, had working with campers in 2019.
“My name is David. I work at Cerner. In 2019, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a counselor for a week of camp at Wildwood.
How I Got Involved
You might wonder how I came to spend a week with campers at Wildwood.
I first learned about Wildwood in March 2018 when I was searching for volunteer opportunities. I stumbled across a listing for Wildwood’s fundraiser, Take A Wild Guess, at Boulevard Brewery. Between my background as an Eagle Scout and my fondness for local beer, I knew that this was the perfect volunteer opportunity for me. I volunteered at the event–manning a game station for guests–but I immediately felt I had more I could offer Wildwood than a donation or a few hours of my time.
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.
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.
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.Read more
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.
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.