Inclusive Communities at Sanborn Western Camps

Camp is both a microcosm of the world, and is also a very small, personal community. A big part of the summer is the creation of a strong, respectful, and highly inclusive community. We do not have the social media algorithms or socio-economic spheres that place people in specific groups. Our camp families span the range of different races, cultures, religions, values, family structures and belief systems. Our campers leave home and come to camp to have new experiences, build character and gain skills–from teamwork to resilience to communication and beyond. Our staff members are outdoor educators, leaders and community builders–they have myriad skills, backgrounds, education, upbringings and beliefs– but are all similar in their deep commitment to helping children grow in confidence and competence in the outdoors.

We meet individuals where “he/she/they” are and we seek to build a community that values a diversity of backgrounds and beliefs, that helps people connect and see beyond those differences, and moves all of us towards greater understanding and respect. We build relationships in our living units, on shared adventures and in this unique work environment. Each of those relationships is built on the real understanding that comes with living, working and playing with others in the backcountry–away from technology and other social and societal pressures.

At camp, we strive to make campers and staff comfortable and valued within their own abilities and identities. We know that our community includes individuals with gender identities that do not fall into binary (girl/boy) categories, and we strive to create inclusive, safe, and private spaces for all campers and staff. While our residential camps (Big Spring and High Trails) have historically been and remain designed as single-gender programs; they are also welcoming of nonbinary campers and staff.

The ability to understand each other’s experiences and perspectives was a primary goal for Sandy and Laura Sanborn when they founded the camp in 1948, and we continue to expand and foster this objective by building an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and respectful community every summer. We value our campers and staff of all backgrounds and experiences and are excited to have your camper join us!

Back to Blog
Ariella Rogge
About Ariella Rogge

Ariella started her career at Sanborn when she was twelve. After five years of camper and five years of Sanborn staff experience, she continued her work with kids in the high school classroom. Ariella and her family returned to Sanborn in 2001 to take on the Program Director role which she held til 2012. She and Elizabeth Marable became co-directors of High Trails in 2013 and then Ariella became the High Trails Director in 2020. In the fall of 2022 she became the Director of Sanborn Western Camps, overseeing the director teams of both Big Spring and High Trails. She lists mountain golf, Gymkhana, climbing mountains and making Pad Thai in the backcountry as some of her favorite activities at camp. Ariella received a B.A. in English from Colorado College and is a certified secondary English educator,an ACCT Level 2 Ropes Course Technician, an ARC lifeguard and NREMT and WEMT. She lives in Florissant in the summer and in Green Mountain Falls during the school year so she can stay involved with the busy lives of her husband, Matt, and two teenage sons, Lairden and Karsten.