Geography: We seek a sense of connection and belonging to our most immediate living unit. By building a core foundation of consistent, caring individuals, over the course of a summer camp season, that regular interaction with the same people builds confidence in and develops new interpersonal skills. Campers might connect with other individuals throughout the days and weeks, but they always return to their living units, to those core “home base” groups where they are known, appreciated and have the deepest connections and friendships.
Access: Kids at camp do not have access to their computers, phones or other devices while at camp. They are not fragmented and do not have the “illusion of certainty” that comes from engaging with a “world” from the comfort of their bed, able to idly swipe past individuals or situations that don’t interest them. At camp, on the other hand, they have to engage with real people, day in and day out, and respond to the idiosyncrasies and emotions of those around them.
Challenge: We do hard things at camp. We wake up extremely early to climb mountains and “hawk” our horses. We squat in “lightning position” in Aspen groves during really intense thunderstorms. We have to eat food that doesn’t taste quite right and drink iodine treated water. We have to sleep on uneven ground with people sliding into us all night long. We learn how to compromise and be curious instead of getting frustrated with our friends for not being like us or for not understanding who we are (or for accidentally pushing us off of our sleeping pads).
Near Peer Role Models: Our emerging adult staff are neither irresponsible kids nor jaded adults. They are THE adults in this space and they take their roles very seriously. These counselors model inclusivity, kindness, openness, caring and a genuine desire to know and to see each and every camper in their living units, activities and trips. They see the value and strength in each camper and, in turn, those campers have a safe foundation from which to take calculated social and physical risks: talking to a new person, discovering I am strong enough to climb a mountain, asking for help and watching how adults can make and keep friends in a small community. But they are not parents and they see the world differently. Having a variety of adult perspectives within a singular living unit or on a trip leading team or while playing a game of Gagaball provides campers with a wealth of intra- and interpersonal skills they can try on and try out both at and beyond camp as they seek to build new friendships and interact with others.
At camp, Brooks’ writes, “We learned about one another’s worlds and created the joint world out of our own friendships. We learned a capacity that I wouldn’t have been able to name until decades later — social range.” The social range at Sanborn is vast and deep and encompasses almost 75 years of incredible summer experience and an unfathomable amount of small, trajectory shifting moments for every individual who has been a part of a summer here. It is a “joint world” that Sandy and Laura Sanborn created out of a desire to create a place where people could recognize they had more in common than not. A place where people could discover their shared humanity and build friendships based on real-life, shared experiences…not only on favorite popular cultural references or material goods.