Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder has coined the term "nature-deficit disorder." In April 2005, The New York Times published an article describing Louv’s concern that children these days are Growing Up Denatured.
In light of this, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about a very special place that can help break the vicious cycle that is "denaturing" our children. Each summer traditional camps such as Camp Unalayee in Northern California’s Trinity Alps not only work to connect campers with the wonders of nature but also provide them with a wilderness experience that teaches self-sufficiency, self-reliance and ultimately builds confidence and nurtures a positive self-esteem.
Camp Unalayee was founded in 1949 in the coastal mountain range above Santa Cruz, California. Unalayee was originally started by the American Friends, and while an independent organization since 1956, the camp still holds peace, community and nature as high ideals. In 1960 the camp moved to its current location in the Trinity Alps of Northern California. In 1968 the lands around the property in the Shasta-Trinity forest were designated an official primitive area. In 1985 when the Trinity Alps Wilderness area was officially created and their land holding was "grand-fathered" and allowed to remain private.
Their mission is to bring together children from all walks of life to learn the lessons of respect for nature and community, as well as sharing the joys of camping and backpacking.
Children age 10-17 are picked up in the San Francisco Bay Area and driven by bus to the campsite. Once their, live in small communities of 8-10 children, called tribes. Campers sleep beneath the stars, cook their own meals over an open fire, divvy up chores and hike out to a natural lake each day. The “Leave No Trace” philosophy teaches children an appreciation for nature. These personal competencies are reflected in the four "C’s" of the camp community: compassion, contribution, commitment, and character.
We think it’s great that organizations and corporate America is “going green,” added Lowell Fitch, director of Camp Unalayee. “We applaud and support their very important efforts but this is actually something we’ve been teaching our campers for more than 50 years.”
Here is an excerpt from a letter written by Sam a 13-year old Camp U camper: "Camp had been everything I wanted and more. I made more friends in two weeks then I normally do in a semester of school. (At Camp U) I learned the value of simplicity. As cheesy as it sounds I felt a definite sense of fulfillment."
There is still plenty of time to enroll for summer 2007. There is space in each of the three summer sessions. To learn more about Camp U or to find out how to enroll, visit www.gocampu.org