Goals and Philosophy
Everything we do at Shaffer's High Sierra Summer Camp is with an eye toward helping kids take another step toward becoming happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults. When it comes to activities, we do this through a summer camp program that includes the summer camp classics but focuses on fun noncompetitive, team-oriented wilderness adventure activities. We start off on the first day of camp with team-building games. They range from get-to-know-you games to fun cooperative problem-solving games.
This helps kids get to know each other. It also lets us observe the kids and see who's shy and who's not, and their communication styles. It's a great opportunity for the vocal kids to learn that the quiet ones sometimes have the solution to the problem and so they should be heard. And it's also a great opportunity for the shy kids to learn that Camp is a safe place to contribute without fear of rejection or ridicule. After the first day, kids select their activities. After dinner, they pick two day's worth of activities.
They are not stuck in a block schedule but are free to return to their favorite activities or to sign up with a friend. There are typically 5 to 10 different activities offered during each of four periods during the day. Kids learn how to make choices, to weigh and balance their options. Selecting their own activities helps develop independence and a sense that they are in control of an important part of camp life, which is empowering and builds self-confidence.
The Camp subscribes to the "Challenge-by-Choice" philosophy. Campers select their activities and how far to pursue them while the camp provides the encouragement and support. For instance, if a camper chooses mountain biking, s/he can choose easy rides, intermediate rides, or pursue his or her interest all the way up to our "black diamond" 14 mile ride with a 4,000 foot vertical drop. Building skills and conquering challenges that they set for themselves also helps build self confidence and self esteem. We encourage campers to try new activities. In fact, we play "Activity Bingo" in the bunk groups, which encourages and recognizes campers who try new activities. Being willing to try new things helps build a sense of adventure and a can-do attitude that we believe helps kids face a future which will have its ups and downs.
The Camp focuses on noncompetitive, team-oriented activities because we believe this helps foster a sense of community and of belonging, which in turn helps build friendships and encourages campers to stretch and try new experiences. So, in a sentence, we want your child to be safe, both physically and emotionally, to have fun, to make friends, to stretch and try new activities, and to grow in the process, all while gaining an appreciation of nature.
All activities are conducted within the guidelines for staffing ratios and safety protocols established by the American Camp Association, which accredits our camp. All program staff undergo a rigorous week of training by the Camp and groups venturing off Camp property have at least one staff member who holds at a minimum basic first aid and CPR certifications, and some hold more advanced first aid certifications, depending on the activity.