Overview and Activities

Camp Chrysalis will be in its 42nd year this summer. Our program has developed a distinctive approach to environmental education, offering children rich experiences that combine recreation, learning, and personal growth. We camp in splendid natural locales as a family of learners together. Our purpose is to explore and learn, as well as to play and enjoy. Around camp and on side-trips, we focus often on active study of the environment and wildlife, to develop natural science skills as well as appreciation; and on basic camping and wilderness skills. Our campers extend themselves in hikes, and then loaf around the swimming hole. Back at camp, they play chess and Capture-the-Flag, learn to whittle and sharpen knives, and just hang out together.

Campers' exploration is as much of their own developing abilities as of what the world has to offer. One learns how to put his fork away and find it again; another, that she can make a tough climb; all learn to make new friends. On the cooking crews, they enjoy working together, taking care of us all. They deepen their feelings and friendships around the campfire with skits, stories, songs from our rich folk heritage; and complement their nature study with leaf-painting on T-shirts, and use saws and drills while working on woodworking, jewelry and other craft projects.

We leave early by bus on the first day of each session and return in the afternoon of the last day. When we arrive at our campsite, we set up a village of tents, our camp stoves and picnic tables, campfire benches and our woodworking and crafts areas. The children bring sleeping-bags, tents (optional), and personal gear; and help us with meal preparation and camp maintenance. We provide good food and many resources, extra tents, much instruction and supervision, and insurance. The campsites have tables and toilet facilities. Beyond this, we’re roughing it; but the camp experience is pleasurable and is not arduous. All activities are paced to enable younger and less-vigorous campers to complete them enjoyably.


Each session includes 35-40 campers (12 for backpacking). Fully half are girls; we strongly encourage their attendance. Though each session is self- contained, most campers return to explore our curriculum further.

All campers help to prepare meals, incorporating local ingredients whenever possible and organic food whenever practical. While the eclectic Camp Chrysalis menu always contains standards like pasta, burrito bar and barbecue chicken, campers take a special interest in foods harvested from the local natural resources, such as berries and sea palms (Mendocino), or swamp onions and Pennyroyal mint tea (Sierra).

Group singing is a special pleasure; campers take home our camp songbook, and a rich introduction to our folksong heritage. We bring many guitars, and offer beginning instruction.

The camp is well stocked with board and card games as well as basic sporting gear. However, the most engaging games are usually those developed by campers or staff (as in the cases of “Shoes in my sand” on the Mendocino beach, a special version of Kick-the-Can played in Big Sur’s redwood groves, or the after dinner “tortilla racing” of the backpacking trip).

Arts and Crafts projects have included:

  • T-Shirt painting, silkscreening and leaf-printing
  • Jewelry-making emphasizing local materials
  • Wood carving and whittling
  • Basic leatherworking
  • Watercolors, pastels, and other media
  • Woodcutting and print making
  • Origami
  • Archery