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Character Development

Social and emotional intelligence have often been referred to as “THE curriculum” of camp.

Beyond the outdoor skills campers gain through progressive, exciting trips and activities, campers also develop strong interpersonal skills through community living and our character development initiatives: Brotherhood of Outdoorsmen at Big Spring and GROW STRONG, at High Trails.

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The term “Brotherhood of Outdoorsmen” was coined by the men of the 10th Mountain Division in the 1940’s but certainly applies to many different individuals and groups throughout history. When Roger “Sandy” Sanborn, a member of the 10th Mountain Division, and his wife Laura founded Big Spring Ranch for Boys, they did so with a passion to make the world a better place. They worked tirelessly to support connections between individuals with the natural world to foster peace, understanding and personal growth.

Similarly, the GROW STRONG initiative seeks to help girls and young women “Grow Responsibility in Our World” while creating a “Sisterhood (which) Transforms and Renews Our Never-ending Growth.” When she and Sandy founded High Trails Ranch for Girls in 1962, Laura Sanborn sought to create a place where women and girls could come together and support each other. She wanted them to see the depth and breadth of possibility and purpose when women work, learn and grow together in the outdoors.

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Staff members seek to know and understand their campers as individuals.

Through intentional staff support, campers learn to recognize and acknowledge their strengths and limitations while they cultivate confidence through the development of outdoor and interpersonal competence.

At both camps, campers leave with a deeper understanding of what respect, responsibility and resilience look like, feel like and sound like—both at camp and in the larger world. They also can articulate how they gained “independence, demonstrated “courage,” acted with “integrity” and developed their character in myriad ways.

With our ever-evolving and expanding global environment, the social and emotional skills taught and learned at camp are more important now than ever before…and the personal and professional success of our campers, staff and alums validates the experience for generations to come.