Who Are We?
Located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills near the scenic Yuba River and Tahoe National Forest, Camp Woolman is a Quaker summer camp that embodies values of community, respect for nature, peace, and simple fun. Kids come to learn, play, make friends, and live in an accepting community where they can truly be themselves. In-camp days include morning songs and silent reflection, lots of games, some community chores, choice activities or workshops, a little relaxation time, and lots of playing. In-camp activities include arts and crafts, nature, swimming, gardening, cooperative games, sports, singing, campfires, and whatever else our staff can come up with. We run two camps – Wombat Camp (ages 9-14) and Teen Leadership Camp (ages 15-17). Each week of Wombat Camp includes a 3-day overnight backpacking trip to nearby rivers, mountains and lakes. Teen Leadership Camp is divided into 3 sessions that range from beginner to advanced backing, and include backpacking trips anywhere from 3 to 10 days long.
What Makes Us Different?
Backpacking! - more information on Wilderness Trips
Small, Quaker community where everyone can shine!
Healthy (mostly vegetarian, organic, and grown on site) yummy food!
Camp Woolman was designed after the Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Camps of the east coast, so we could bring some Quaker Camp magic to California. Although we are a Quaker organization, we truly accept and celebrate people of all and any religious or spiritual beliefs. We are not a religious education camp, but rather we use the Quaker beliefs of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, unity, social justice, celebrating diversity, and environmental sustainability as pillars for how we create a safe and accepting community. We often have a blend of Quaker and non-Quaker campers and staff, which allows for a culture of learning and embracing each other's backgrounds and differences. All of our staff are committed to sharing and modeling these beliefs, and our small size (40 Wombat Campers and 20 Teen Campers) ensures every camper is given the full love and attention they need from our counselors in order to shine. Our commitment to these values emanate in our Non-Violent communication methods for handling conflict, the Leave No Trace principals we teach and practice on the trail, and the small community chores we take on with fun and laughter. More information on all of these practices below! More information on the Quaker practices we sprinkle in throughout camp life can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Non-Violent Communication (NVC)
What I want in my life is compassion,
a flow between myself and others based
on a mutual giving from the heart.
—Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD
Non-Violent Communication is a method of using empathy, honesty, and compassion to understand each other's needs and to resolve conflict. Much study and training can be done under the umbrella of NVC, and we train our staff in the essentials of using understanding and patience for working with our campers. This is often expressed in how our staff handles behavior issues or conflict among campers.
When one of our campers violates a rule or appears frustrated and unwilling to follow directions our very first question is never "What is wrong with the camper?" but instead: "What can I do to help this camper?"
We do not use privilege-removals or time-outs as automatic punishments, but instead, we strive to alter the situation so that the camper is feeling safe and willing to share what is the root of their discomfort. When we remove campers who are not following directions from activities we make it clear to them that this is not a punishment, but a chance for them to take a break from the group and check in with themselves. A counselor will sit with them on the sidelines and see if they can help the camper talk through what it is that is causing them stress. Once the camper is able to vocalize that they want to rejoin the group and safely participate in the activity, the counselor will trust that they are ready for this. If a camper skips their chore group's turn for cleaning dishes, we simply ask that they hop on the dish crew of the next meal. If skipping dish crews becomes a pattern we will hold a discussion with the camper to get at the root of the problem. Is there something about doing dishes that is causing them discomfort? Can they come up with alternative ways for contributing to the community if they are unwilling to join Dish Crew? These are just some examples of the many ways we work to make sure our campers feel safe and cared for no matter what. If a camper continually violates safety rules a bigger discussion with the camper's family must be had, and we do our best to ensure the camper knows that we all care for them and we simply want to keep them safe and happy during their time at Woolman.
Leave No Trace (LNT)
Leave No Trace is an honored code for keeping our Wilderness Areas healthy! Backpackers across the globe know and practice these guidelines, even when they are not enforced by law, because nature-lovers know that these practices will ensure we can enjoy and learn from nature without disturbing it. At Camp Woolman we teach our campers these principals, and our staff model them on every single backpacking trip. The LNT principals are: 1) Plan ahead, 2) Only hike on durable surfaces, 3) Dispose of all waste properly, 4) Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos, 5) Only build small campfires with minimal impact 6) Respect all wildlife, 7) Respect all other visitors of nature. Backpacking is a huge part of Camp Woolman, but more importantly is the love and respect for wilderness we inspire in our campers.
Why do we clean our own dishes at camp? Because we're the ones who got them dirty! We also sweep our cabin porches and the bathroom floors, we scout the grounds for any lost and found items, and we practice some crucial mopping techniques in the Dining Hall - all while singing, dancing, and having the time of our lives! Early in the session, we split into Chore Crews, each comprised of campers of a variety of ages and led by a few fearless counselors. One of the first tasks of each Crew is to come up with an awesome team name (such as the Beautiful, burping, blue bobcats), which is often presented to camp in the form of a skit or song, complete with costumes and fun. Chore Crews will help clean dishes and the kitchen after a meal once a day, and after dinner 10-15 minutes will be dedicated to another small task around campus. We find that campers are often too busy singing to complain about chores, and a sense of ownership is grown in all of us as we take a little time out of our day to contribute to the whole community.
One of our top priorities at Camp is to ensure everyone feels comfortable being their true selves. We respect and value every camper's choice of gender pronouns - regardless of biological sex. Counselors and campers alike hold each other responsible for using the gender pronouns each person at camp requests. This summer we are excited to announce the implementation of All Gender Inclusive cabins! Upon registration, you will have the opportunity to sign-up your Wombat Campers to live in a cabin that best meets their needs. We offer Female and Male cabins, as well as All Gender cabins - which house any campers regardless of gender or biological sex. Our All Gender cabins are designed to create safe spaces for campers who do not identify as male or female as well as being available to anyone who is comfortable and excited to be living in mixed gendered spaces. In Teen Leadership Camp teens of all genders will share the Fern House as their living space on site (supervised at all times by the TLC counselors, who reside there as well). All Bathhouses and Bathrooms on campus are equipped with dials instead of signs, which allow the users to chose who they feel comfortable sharing the facilities with while they are using them.
At Camp Woolman we don't just accept each camper for being their true selves, but we celebrate them for it. Our campers come from a variety of backgrounds, and our staff are trained in making sure each camper feels safe in our community, no matter how unique or different they or their experiences may be. Our staff training includes learning how to recognize any prejudices (racial, gender, or otherwise), as they can occur both consciously and subconsciously, and then tools for continuously shedding these prejudices throughout the summer and in life after camp. Our training empowers our staff to create spaces for all sorts of cultures, beliefs, and identities, and modeling this inspires our campers to do the same. Although camp is mostly a place for simple fun, there is also always room for learning and growing. In every activity, backpacking trip, and day of camp life our staff and campers learn the importance of diversity (even if they don't realize it!), and we believe celebrating and understanding diversity is what makes our small community so magical.
Registration for Summer 2020 begins January 1!