Camp Woodland Blog

Camp Woodland’s Foundation: Our 5 Core Values

Posted by on June 12, 2022

As we gear up for another summer, we remember 2020 when we brought our leadership team together for what we called our “Summer Summit”. With an end goal of 2 camps – 1 mission – no divide, we worked towards bringing Woodland and Towering Pines together in a way that allowed us to unify our message and plan for the success of the next 25, 50, 75 years and beyond. We also agreed to disagree. Without straying from the mission, there may be programs and systems that look different or are carried out differently at each camp, but we are on the same page with why we are here and what is fundamental to both camps.

Through an iterative process we landed on five foundational core values that guide and direct the decision making and culture of Camps Woodland and Towering Pines. Community, growth, respect, responsibility, and safety provide a compass for how we operate day-to-day and are a roadmap for future planning. Because the meaning of each value can differ based on the individual, we took some time this past year to give clarity to what each looks like when put in action. These phrases provide a clear picture to our camp community by identifying behaviors that demonstrate the underlying expectations of camp. This way we can truly assess if our camp culture is reflected in our everyday interactions and if that aligns with the intention of each core value.

The first value that gives a framework for everything we do is RESPECT. We expect that the members of our camp community respect everyone and everything. Respect is given to campers, counselors, support staff, parents, alumni, visitors, vendors, and people in the local community. Respect is shown in face-to-face interactions, on the phone and through virtual communication and social media. We respect camp property, the animals living here, and nature. It is courteous to respect the belongings of others along with our own. We spread kindness to one another. We show empathy by genuinely trying to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. And, we appreciate one another’s differences by embracing “it is COOL to be YOU”.

Next is COMMUNITY. We pride ourselves in knowing more than everyone’s name. Being a smaller camp, it is not uncommon to know not only the names of each person, but also their unique attributes, interests, desires, dreams, and goals. In our camp community we invite others and do our best not to leave anyone out. The counselors are experts at providing activities for the entire group. Feeling comfortable to be your authentic self is key to belonging and not just “fitting in”. We work to build each other up and offer encouragement and praise for both large and small steps. We aren’t afraid to work through conflict because of the growth opportunity that is presented when there are the inevitable (and normal!) disagreements and struggles that arise in group living.

GROWTH is an exciting part of camp life that we see on a daily basis! While it takes a lot of slow to grow (hence the reason we believe in a 6-week program), being enveloped in the ecosystem of camp over a longer period of time allows us to recognize incremental individual and group progress. We see campers (and counselors) stretch out of their comfort zone by having the courage and support to try new things whether it be activities, foods, or friendships. There is an incredible desire to try again when success is not reached on the first, fifth or 12th attempts. This is followed by resounding applause to celebrate achievements when hurdles and obstacles are overcome.

Next we move on to RESPONSIBILITY. We recognize that we must be responsible to ourselves and others. We train ourselves to think first before leaping into action. This way we can make more informed decisions and fight the tendency to be impulsive. We take ownership of our actions as we have sole control over what we think and do. We also recognize that we are part of a supportive community and can ask for help. It is a strength (not a weakness) to reach out and request assistance when needed.

We include SAFETY to round out our five foundational core values. While listed last, it is by no means least! We consider safety to be a priority every minute of every day. This means that it is important to be alert and pay attention to surroundings both up close and in the distance. When we remember the WHY a policy or protocol is in place, it helps us follow through (e.g. walking on the dock, instead of running, helps us avoid slipping and falling due to a potentially slick surface). Finally, we lead by example. If counselors routinely and consistently model safety practices for campers, and the older campers are a good example for the younger ones, it is relatively easy to stay on track. Safety is integral to our regular program and not an afterthought. When each person does the right thing, we can’t help but take good care of our community as a whole.

These five values intricately connect and relate to each other in a way that ultimately creates “camp” for Woodland and Towering Pines. They are not ideas we merely post on a wall to inspire; but rather, they are concepts we strive to live by every day in both speech and action. We will also share these values with staff and campers throughout the camp season and invite you to give us feedback as to how we are doing.

We can’t wait to see you on June 25th so that summer 2022 can officially begin!