Outside Influences

A Thousand Summers has the great fortune to partner with some of the highest quality outdoor adventure summer camps in the United States. Though their natural environments differ, they share common philosophies of social and emotional growth through supportive communities and outdoor experiences.

“Outside” looks different for the kids in our A Thousand Summers program depending on which camp they attend. They might spend their summer exploring Rocky Mountain National Park or the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. They may find themselves at the bottom of a rock canyon in the Utah desert or learning about ancient cultures at Mesa Verde and in the Four Corners region. They may learn to love the remote North Woods of Maine and the Appalachian Trail or the stunning lakes of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some even get to venture internationally to canoe through the pristine wilderness and interconnected waterways of the Canadian Boundary Waters. And starting this summer (2022), some of our campers will have the amazing experience of living in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest at our newest associate camp, Camp Nor’wester.

I see the impact of camp on my son. He is much more responsible, independent, and confident in himself. Thank you for allowing these low income kids to have these opportunities and beautiful experiences in their lives…You have had a great impact on my son’s life that he will never forget.

  • parent of a Sanborn Western Camps camper

“My son had very welcoming and friendly camp counselors. He LOVED them. I know that those counselors made a huge difference for him. He was AFFIRMED. He was encouraged. He was accepted. It was great.”

  • parent of a Camp Kawanhee for Boys camper

Regardless of which camp they attend, all of our kids experience incredible scenery and invigorating activities from sunup to sundown. The highlight of their day might be standing on the summit of a snow-capped 14,000-foot peak, hiking to a pristine lake deep in the backcountry, or sleeping under the stars on a multi-night backpacking trip. Maybe they enjoy a lunch on the trail in the middle of a wildflower meadow, a shaded forest, or on the fragile tundra. They might feel the exhilaration of sliding down a summer snowfield or rafting or canoeing through whitewater canyons.

“Being outside and with other kids—this has been a huge lack in his life, and I am so glad he has gotten a chance to do both of those. He is maturing so much, and I can see the leaps from before to after camp. He is calmer, he is more confident, he feels more steady within himself. It is wonderful.” 

  • parent of Kooch-i-Ching camper

They could spend their days learning backcountry camping and survival skills—how to build a fire, cook outdoors, pitch a tent, build a shelter, use a map and compass, administer first aid, and Leave No Trace. They may overcome fear and self-doubt on a technical climbing route or create lifelong memories when things don’t go as planned on a challenging hike. They might experience the peaceful sounds of the canoe or kayak paddle dipping gently into the smooth water or the exhaustion of spending the day battling a strong headwind or navigating difficult portages.

“Each year I talk about the small summer successes that have pushed my daughter to growth. But now, as the years have passed, I see an overall picture, one that has deeply been shaped by her experiences at summer camp, the loving guidance of the camp, and the commitment of her mentor. She is passionate, driven, not willing to accept no as an answer, motivated to take the difficult route, and determined to succeed. It has been a beautiful journey to watch unfold. I cannot wait to see how that continues throughout high school and into her leadership years at camp.” 

  • parent of a Clearwater Camp for Girls camper

Maybe their day is spent as simply as splashing their friends in a cold mountain stream, building rudimentary stick dams in the creek, and letting their imaginations roam. Their time may be spent collecting firewood, finding the perfect flat spot to pitch a tent, and ending the day by roasting marshmallows and singing songs with friends around a campfire.

However they choose to spend their days at camp and whatever “outside” looks like at that particular camp, the kids learn and grow through their experiences. Their time away from home in a challenging yet supportive outdoor environment pushes them out of their comfort zone. They try new activities, meet new people, and discover new things about themselves. They become more confident, more independent, more responsible, and more resilient. Camp teaches kids life lessons and helps them develop essential social-emotional skills that stretch their potential and help them realize there are no limits to what they are capable of achieving.

“My son definitely feels like he was able to overcome some challenges and anxiety this summer. He has come home with a more relaxed demeanor and things don’t seem to agitate him as much as they did before…he seems to be much more able to roll with things since his return.”

  • parent of a Camp Thunderbird camper

“I am always astounded at what a different young woman comes home from camp each year…there is a new maturity, a clarity about the purpose of her life and her place in the world, a newfound understanding of what is truly important in life and her role in making a difference in other’s lives.”

  • parent of a Cheley Colorado Camps camper

The A Thousand Summers Campership Program opens up a whole new world to our kids and, in many cases, has a profound impact. The parents of our campers regularly tell us how incredibly grateful they are for this opportunity and what a remarkable difference it made for their child. As you can see from the parent comments we’ve included here, the particular camp they attend or the natural environment of the camp doesn’t matter. The personal growth experienced is universal.

“I have seen lots of different programs throughout my life that are geared toward kids and their growth. This is one of the best I have seen by far. My favorite part of this is growth in themselves in an austere environment. It is far too easy for our kids in today’s world to stay in a comfort zone of screens and social media. By unplugging them for a long period of time and sending them into areas where discomfort is going to be normal, they tap into a whole new area of development and self-discovery. This is just an amazing thing, and I can’t say enough about how much it has helped my son.” 

  • parent of a Colvig Silver Camps camper

Summer camp is powerful in many ways and unquestionably important in the development of young people. Thank you to our wonderful associate camps who provide such rich programming opportunities and experiences for the kids we serve. And thank you to everyone who finds it in his or her heart to share the gift of camp, whether that gift is for their own family members or for kids who deserve the opportunities and advantages that summer camp provides.

“This opportunity that you have given our daughter to attend camp in a different ecosystem, surrounded by inspiring counselors with college experience, has been a window into another way of life she will always have with her… Our family is grateful and blessed with your generosity, which has helped our daughter explore beyond what our family can provide.”

  • parent of an Ogichi Daa Kwe camper


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