What does the Nor’wester experience offer to families?
Camp Nor’wester has been providing an outdoor, environmental, adventure program for boys and girls, 9-16 years old, for 77 years. Classic camp activities in a rustic, undeveloped setting allow children to experience first hand the beauty and fragility of our natural world, and their impact on it. Using traditional, low impact camp activities, Nor’wester puts into practice the concepts of conservation, responsibility and stewardship.
Leaving the daily distractions of technology, media and commerce behind, campers learn to find entertainment in simpler, self powered pleasures, be it hiking, singing, clearing trails, creating art projects, or learning how to start a one-match fire or set a table.
Stepping out on their own, away from preconceived images or expectations held by family and school communities, campers encounter challenging experiences in a supportive, group living environment. They learn to build relationships, share adventures and take on responsibilities. These in turn build self-esteem, encourage teamwork, teach accountability and promote positive leadership.
It was EVERYTHING we hoped for in our dreams of what camp would be for him. He came home glowing after a month outdoors, with the happiness of new friends, having accomplished things which were new and/or difficult—and had fun doing it.—A Parent
Nor’wester has proven its worth over many years. It has contributed to the development of thousands of children by increasing their self-confidence and teaching stewardship and cooperation. Young people learn that risk and initial failure are part of achievement and success. They are encouraged to become active participants in a supportive community. It is for these reasons that families return to Nor’wester, year after year,and generation after generation.
Organization: The Unit System
Campers are grouped primarily by grade with approximately 15 children in a “unit.” Younger campers (3rd and 4th grade) are housed in platform tents with wooden floors, the older campers and staff members in tipis. All are furnished with bed frames, mattresses, and mattress covers. Two unit leaders are assigned to each group. In addition, several program staff—such as craft or sailing instructors—live in the unit and participate in some of the unit activities.
As an important member of a unit, each camper shares in the achievements of the group as well as the responsibility of making it run smoothly.
Campers participate in the majority of the program activities with their unit to help develop group living skills and to encourage achievement and interest in a wide range of activities. However, enough flexibility is maintained to allow campers to concentrate on activities in which they have a special interest, with more latitude given to older campers.
If your child wants to do crafts everyday, focus on learning to sail, or concentrate only on drama, then Camp Nor’wester may not be the camp for him or her. We take a more “Liberal Arts” approach to scheduling, requiring all the units to participate in all the activities they are eligible for, especially during the first couple weeks of camp. Later in the session the units may begin to focus on doing more of a favorite activity but we still expect the Unit Leaders to provide a well rounded schedule for the week. In addition, there isn't a lot of “chill time” for any unit, and in particular for the older campers, who typically request it on a frequent basis. Our goal is to actively engage the campers on a daily basis, providing a full schedule of activities. However, units and individual campers are carefully monitored and any group or individual needing some extra rest for whatever reason will be provided that opportunity.