Our younger campers enjoy an unhurried, consistent daily rhythm. Our middle campers follow a rhythm with more variety. Our older campers experience new challenges and a variety of outdoor trips. In this way, we are able to meet the needs of each age group we serve at camp.
Our youngest groups at The Nature Place have a consistent daily routine that provides a comfortable rhythm throughout the excitement, new friends, and exploration of activities at camp. Approximately ages four through seven, these campers have lunch and swim at the same time each day, and always have time set aside after swim to change, have snack, and settle in after a full day before heading home. Age-appropriate activities are often shorter than for older campers, allowing more time for transitions, more time to engage with a project without rushing to the next, and more time to explore what we find along the way from the chickens to lunch at Indian Rock, or going from art to the garden. The environment and feel of each day at camp are held strongly by counselors for this age group, providing a strong foundation from which campers can make friends, learn, and have fun. Campers this age will go on two day hikes during the summer, and will have one very exciting Almost Overnight! Just like all campers at The Nature Place, these campers come to camp by bus or by car (a few get to walk!), welcomed and guided by a bus counselor and/or by counselors greeting them (often singing and in costume) upon arriving at camp. Having fun with our weekly themes, starting each day singing and laughing with all campers and staff at morning share, and attending Friday afternoon share at the end of each week connect our youngest campers with all ages at The Nature Place.
A typical day for this age group is filled with variety. Campers approximately ages eight through eleven have changing daily schedules, hobby time each week (a double-period choice activity), longer activity periods, and the addition of overnight camping trips. Archery and tree-climbing are two new programs appropriate for this age. Days at camp are full, with each activity taking up to 50 minutes, sometimes more, and while transition times are shorter than for younger campers, campers in this middle age group still have time to fully immerse themselves in a project, time to stop in the woods on the way to the archery field, as well as unstructured time just to be outdoors with friends. Making new friends and spending quality time with old ones are an important part of camp for this age group, and counselors help guide this social aspect of camp within the framework of each day’s activities. Overnight camping trips generally begin at age eight with one onsite overnight, and increase in frequency, length, and variety as campers get older, so that ten or eleven year-old campers are going on three or four separate overnight trips throughout the summer. These campers sing and laugh during morning share each day, act in skits and sing songs at afternoon share at the end of each week, have fun with our weekly themes, go on two day hikes in Harriman Park, and participate fully in all we offer at The Nature Place.
Our oldest groups at The Nature Place begin to spend more time away from camp hiking, camping, canoeing, rock-climbing, backpacking, and exploring. Some days in camp will be full of our usual activities while others might be spent immersed in longer programs (a morning-long group art project, or an afternoon of games and trust-building activities). Social relationships, both old and new, become increasingly important for this age group, approximately ages twelve through sixteen, and programming in and out of camp is an opportunity for group bonding and building relationships. Like all campers but often even more so, this age group is developing an awakening sense of self: Who am I? Who am in relation to others? With the guidance and mentorship of counselors they can respect, these campers are challenged, have fun, and learn a lot about themselves and the world around them. Our oldest group at camp will often arrive at The Nature Place Monday morning, go on a three or four night adventure for the week, and return to camp dirty and accomplished to tell us all stories from the trail during Friday afternoon share. While many of the activities campers have come to love (swim, stories with Chuck, cooking, etc.) are still part of their experience, older groups at The Nature Place will venture both further afield and deeper into what we offer at camp.