The Unit System is somewhat unique to Nor’wester and is central to our mission and philosophy. We believe that a camper is best supported at camp when they have a strong group of peers and counselors surrounding them, helping them learn and grow from the camp experience.
What can I expect from my unit?
When you’re enrolled as a camper, you will be placed in a unit, most likely according to your age and grade. Two staff, called Unit Leaders, are assigned to your unit for the duration of the session – their main job is to support you and the rest of your unit mates in having the best camp experience you can. They will join you in all activities during the session. Unit Leaders are hired for their commitment to their campers, and genuine interest in spending time with young people. There will also be four or more Department staff living in your unit. You’ll see them during the day in their program area – maybe in the Craftshop, Kitchen, at the Archery range or on a Nature hike, depending on their job. They will also spend time with your unit on Overnights, and during Rest Hours and at night. All of these staff are there to support and connect with you, and hopefully teach you new skills throughout the session.
One of the main goals of the Unit System is for you to have a small group of other campers your same age to live and experience camp with – these are your unit mates. On Arrival Day, before you get on the boats to camp, you will group up with your counselors and unit mates to meet together for the first time. When you get to camp, you’ll learn who your tipi mates are – you’ll be living in a tipi with two other campers in your unit. We hope that in the first weeks of camp your unit mates get to know each other and bond during activities. You’ll probably have some closer friends in your unit than others, but you’ll get to know everyone, and having that cohesive group around you during the session will be a big support and make for a lot of fun experiences together. We often see lifelong friends made at camp!
There will be times when something proves to be a challenge for your unit – a session at the Ropes course, or a tough paddle on your canoeing overnight, or maybe a disagreement between a few campers. These situations do happen, but the point of living and working in a group of peers is that you can get through it together. Your Unit Leaders will be there to facilitate discussion or to help you resolve conflict. A summer camp experience can be challenging at time; we don’t assume everything will be easy. We want you to learn and grow from your experiences and interactions with others, building your understanding of people who come from backgrounds that are different than yours, improving your communication skills, and hopefully making friends and great memories along the way.
Being prepared for and open to the possibilities of this kind of group-living experience will really help you have a great time at camp. Who knows, this year might be the year you learn to sail, or throw your first mug on the pottery wheel! Those kinds of experience will be awesome in their own right, but it will be so much better to have a close group of peers around you to celebrate with when you do them!