Camp Culture - Freedom of Choice
This page is intended to give a more complete understanding of our philosophy, which since its inception eighty years ago , has remained unique and unchanged. Its basic tenet, freedom of choice , permits a program which is challenging, educational and fun, yet flexible. We are often asked, "Do campers, given freedom of choice, successfully take the responsibility for all-around participation and good behavior?"
The answer is yes. The habit of "doing" and of achieving skills is a hallmark of Brown Ledge. Our program is specially designed for the fullest kind of participation. Its goal is not merely to provide an opportunity for campers to elect activities, but also to create an environment in which campers are excited to pursue their interests and feel confident in trying new things.
Creation of such an environment, requires attention to all components of the camp program. In addition to providing talented staff, popular activities and quality facilities and equipment, we find it important to establish an atmosphere of trust. We offer campers a degree of autonomy while allowing them to develop a sense of ownership in camp. Within this framework, campers willingly accept responsibility for achievement and their own behavior. By focusing on the positive, campers respond positively.
Translating this into daily practice means that each of the fourteen activities with its own instructors, is open for instructional purposes throughout each morning and afternoon, Monday through Saturday. (Sundays offer a somewhat abbreviated schedule.) Campers may attend activities when they wish and stay as long as they wish. The riding portion of horsemanship is an exception. Campers are assigned to a scheduled class with girls of similar ability, which meets at the same time Monday through Friday. Perhaps a girl wishes to ride and is placed in a ten o'clock class. On her way to riding she may stop off at the archery range. After her ride she may decide to take a lesson in the craft shop or at tennis before going to the waterfront. The point is, that whatever she may feel like doing, she knows there will always be someone there to instruct and assist her-and she will absorb that instruction because she is there of her own volition, in the mood to learn.
We have found that girls of camp age are pretty sensible people and seem to sort themselves out, to their own advantage, into small workable groups. We see them attending activities with a variety of friends, and encouraging each other. Should a wait develop for a particular activity, girls generally return later, and avail themselves of an alternate activity in the mean time. There are three levels of achievement set forth in each of the activities basic, intermediate and vanguard. The requirements of each level are posted centrally and are available at the activities. These levels provide some direction, yet are not a rigid structure. Through them girls gain focus on achievement in a non-competitive manner.
Brown Ledge does not undertake to be all things to all people, nor does it expect to supply instant, magic solutions to the variety of difficulties one encounters in the process of growing up. The Brown Ledge philosophy, we feel, does offer nearly unlimited opportunity for self-discovery and self-realization in a fun, open and accepting atmosphere.
"Freedom of Choice" then is not a matter of undisciplined do as you please actions. It is rather an experience in democratic living, under optimal conditions, where freedom and responsibility are carefully linked and guided. It is truly wonderful to watch the enthusiasm that goes with the feeling of freedom. Outside observers have remarked on the exceptionally high morale and spontaneity that characterizes Brown Ledge.