Wanderers Camp – Outdoor Education & Overnight Experience

Wanderers Camp is an unique outdoor camp founded by Kurt Gantert.  We asked Kurt to tell us about Wanderers and what makes it special.

Hiking at Wanderer's CAmp

Hiking at Wanderer’s Camp

I think Wanderers fills a niche that isn’t served by many Bay Area Programs.  We offer camping/hiking/outdoor education overnight camps for the 7-14 yr olds.  On the east coast, where I’m from, it’s more the norm to start sending your kids away for overnight camps at 7 or even 6 yrs old.  I worked at a camp in Canada that had campers as young as 7 yrs old and most campers stayed for 3 1/2 weeks.  There’s definitely more of a “day camp” culture in the Bay Area, but I feel that there are a fairly large number of parents in the Bay Area either from the east coast or have an outdoors/camping background that want their kids to have an outdoor camp experience because it meant so much to them as a child.

For many Wanderers campers, this will be their first overnight camp experience so we really build much of our program around that type of camper.  I hire very experienced, nurturing and fun staff who really act as caregivers and role models for the kids while at camp.  We keep the kids very busy with hikes, outdoor education lessons, games, beach time, outdoor play, campfires, cooking, camp chores, planning menus, etc….They are usually having so much fun, they forget to be homesick 🙂  We also implement lots of teamwork games and activities that help kids learn how to work in a group and build confidence in themselves.

Locations:  Our camp locations are the northern Sonoma Coast, Mendocino County, and Yosemite National Park.  I chose these locations mainly because I have a lot of experience running programs in these areas and know all of the “kid friendly” things to do.   In addition, I like to visit areas that are rich in natural history educational opportunities.  One example of a natural history educational opportunity is the Hetch Hetchy reservior in Yosemite National Park, which is where San Francisco gets it’s water from.  We do a hike and natural history lesson here on Day 2 of our Yosemite Hiking Adventure.

I find the history of the creation of the O’Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy reservior to be fascinating and I think the campers usually do too.  The story comes alive when we visit, hike across the dam and around the reservoir. In the evening around the campfire after the hike, the campers have a debate based on what they’ve learned about the creation of the Hetch Hetchy reservior. We divide the group of campers into “stakeholders”, which are various groups who may have an interest in the creation of the dam. The kids are assigned the roles and have to really prepare their arguments and “act” them strongly, even if they don’t agree with the position they’ve been assigned. It’s a lot of fun and I think it really gets the kids to see the complexity of real-world environmental issues and that there is no easy answer.

I’ve worked in the Outdoor Education/Adventure Travel industry for 20 years, but my favorite experiences have always been working with kids. My goal is to share my experience in outdoor education with the kids.  See the Wanderers Camp 2014 schedule.

Loving nature at Wanderer's Camp

Loving nature at Wanderer’s Camp

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About ActivityHero

I am blogging on all things summer camp.
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