Unirondack: A Place of Belonging and Self-Discovery

Unirondack is a community that is shaped and re-shaped each summer by its staff members, campers, and volunteers. We offer some things in common with other summer camps: a beautiful lakeside setting, a wide range of daily activities, family-style meals, and the chance to spend time away in the woods. But what truly makes us unique is the energy, caring and creativity of the people who call Unirondack home.

Inventiveness runs rampant. Where else can you build a city in the sand, construct a cardboard/duct tape canoe, participate in a hilarious game show, paint your counselor, take on the persona of your favorite Harry Potter character, play shoe golf, learn circus arts, perform in a play, and still have time each day to swim, kayak, sing, and read poetry around a campfire?

Though we take pride in the creativity and abundance of our activities, Unirondack is more than its activities. It is a place where many people feel completely at home for the first time in their lives.

At Unirondack we live the values that are inherent in Unitarian Universalist principles—acceptance, compassion, and decision-making through the democratic process. At Unirondack each camper matters. We take the time to figure out what our campers need and want. Campers and staff members share their thoughts and feelings about camp and our community during our daily “Camp Council.” Counselors spend their days getting to know campers through shared activities, long talks during cabin time, organized discussion groups, bursts of spontaneous fun, and the careful learning about another person that takes time and patience. Like a great teacher one remembers forever, our campers hold dear the relationships they form with their counselors. And the friendships they make with each other are meaningful ones that continue through the years.

We cherish the uniqueness of each camper. We welcome the nerdy, the creative, the free-spirited, the independent, the flamboyant, the hesitant, the shy, and the self-assured. We are a place of personal safety—a place to flourish. We are
a place where silliness is acceptable behavior and fun is joined with learning. We are a place where campers get to do things they just don’t get to do during their “normal” everyday lives. We are a place of self-reflection and discovery.

Parents often report that their children have somehow changed over the summer, become more confident, developed new skills, and learned things about themselves and others. Children who were doubtful or afraid of coming to camp surprise their parents with tears on departure day. Children, teens, adults and families who have spent a weekend, a week or a summer at Unirondack yearn to return again and again, for Unirondack is a special place—a community that allows us to be ourselves while being part of something greater.

Unirondack’s Abundant Activities

Unirondack’s youth programming is thoughtfully designed to meet the needs and interests of each age group. Each session is filled with a wide variety of creative and enriching activities, community-building experiences and time to appreciate the beauty of the Adirondacks.

Below is a sampling of our daily schedule.

MORNING PROGRAM:

Each morning the entire camp gathers together for a collaborative undertaking organized around a specific theme. Our morning programs are often led by special guests with extensive experience in leadership.

WORKSHOPS & ONE-SHOTS:

Campers choose a week-long workshop and daily “one-shots” from a wide variety of offerings. Choices include drama, dance, music, discussion groups, creative writing, role-playing games, arts and crafts (including ceramics, candle-making, beading, stained glass, drawing and painting) field games, cooperative games, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, nature activities, and other group activities. One-shots teach new skills or provide campers with a chance to try something completely different, while workshops offer the opportunity to explore an interest in depth for a whole week.

FREE TIME:

With so many scheduled activities, campers welcome some unstructured time. Each afternoon, for an hour and a half, campers can choose to swim, go boating on the lake, play games on the field, do aproject in the art shop, or simply spend time in the lodge socializing with friends.

CAMP COUNCIL:

This is where the work of building community takes place. Campers and staff members gather together to engage in relevant discussion—to work out conflicts, to make decisions about the week’s activities, and to share the joys and successes of their day.

EVENING PROGRAM:

Each evening brings a new camp-wide event. Typical evening activities include Wish Night, Carnival, Counselor Hunt, Capture the Flag, scavenger hunts, olympics and game shows. Friday night is reserved for our banquet, talent show and “The Dance.”

CAMPFIRE:

At our campfire circle at the edge of the lake, the community gathers each evening to share stories, poetry, and music. Campers and staff cherish this warm, wonderful tradition.

EXCURSION:

Wednesday afternoon is our all-camp excursion. We venture out to a beautiful Adirondack location where we hike, swim, picnic and play games. Campers return to camp both tired and exhilarated, ready for our Wednesday evening cookout by the lake.