Family Work Camp (June 15-22, 2014)
Family Work Camp is, quite simply, the best week of the year. It’s a time to relax with friends and family, unplug, and re-connect with the simple joys in life. It’s a time to work hard, make music, sing, holler, run, lay in the grass, and eat healthy vegetarian food. It’s a time to teach your children about how working with others, digging deep and getting sweaty can be the most fun you will ever have.
Since Family Work Camp is probably unlike anything you’ve ever done with your family, it’s helpful to know what to expect and what to bring. It’s been our experience that talking with your children about camp, and camp life, before you arrive will ensure that everyone gets the most out of camp. Most importantly, it’s helpful to know that we approach our work projects as enjoyable undertakings, where friendships are developed and shared and new skills are learned. For some of us it may take a day or two to shake the old associations of work as unpleasant stuff you have to do. Helping ourselves and our children enjoy the morning work period is one of the aims of the camp.
With this in mind, consider the following as you contemplate whether to join us this year:
- Kids and Adults Together: Because work is the core of the camp activity, it’s important to know that there is not a separate children’s program during the three-hour work session. Kids and adults work together, on crews needing differing skills and abilities.
- Safety: Some crew projects are more hazardous (involving roof replacement, painting on ladders, etc.), and we don’t allow young children to participate. Most projects, however, are not, and we will help guide you and your children to appropriate work. Please help us respect the importance of safety in all that we do when we suggest particular crews for your family.
- Supervision: Some children work alongside their parents, particularly in the first few days, while others are ready immediately to join up with a crew with other adults and kids. You and your child can decide what will work best, and adjust as needed. Use your best judgment and be supportive as your child tries out this new place. Each crew leader will be attentive to ensure that children (younger and older) stay on crews throughout the morning, and adults will share responsibility for all children. However, remember that you the parent, not camp staff, are primarily responsible for their safety and their conduct.
- Stay the Week: The best practice and general expectation at camp is that families come only if they can stay the whole week. It takes time to get into the swing of things, and coming late or leaving early does disrupt the flow of work for everyone. Occasionally we make provision for a family member who needs to come late or leave early because of work commitments—if this is your situation, contact the camp director to see what can be worked out. However, know that work camp is much easier when your kids are well supervised by their parents.
Mornings are taken up with breakfast in the dining hall (7:15-7:45) and work crews (8:30-12). After lunch in the dining hall (12:30-1:30) we relax. Families will spend time together and with others enjoying time on the lawn, playing board games in the dining hall, sharing craft projects, trips to the pond for swimming and making friends. Bring that knitting project that’s been languishing, your guitar (lots of musicians here), and your favorite games. Dinner is at 5:30. There’s games in the evening and dancing under the stars.
Housekeeping and Dining:
Accommodations are simple. Depending on space, you will be either in a tent (bring your own) or a cabin. Bring everything you need – sleeping bag and sheets, pillows, towels, and flashlight.
Food is vegetarian. Everyone (kids and adults) participate in at least 3 kitchen crew shifts over the week, preparing breakfast, lunch or dinner, and clean-up. We can accommodate food allergies, but lesser dietary restrictions (like hating vegetables, lentils or beans) are harder to handle with a camp of 80 people.
Finally, a note about technology: Our power is limited at Sierra Friends Center, and while the cabins have outlets, they are not designed for late-night computer use. Our internet connection is very slow and we don’t encourage use by visitors, since it greatly impacts the normal business activities at Sierra Friends. Streaming video is not possible. If you are in a tent, you won’t have power at all. We do not provide access to computers at the Center for campers, and the dining hall is a laptop-free zone. So, leave the technology at home, and enjoy the starry skies!