Structure and Philosophy

What is the mission of Camp Chrysalis?

Camp has two core missions that center around Nature and Community:
  • Development of an appreciation and understanding of the different natural environments that we live in and explore every day, and a beginning awareness of our responsibility as Eco-Stewards (citizen guardians), who care for and contribute to the preservation of these places.
  • Development of a strong sense of community that respects and supports each individual’s unique nature and growth while building strong and long-lasting relationships between its members. We have always worked to make our camp a safe and risk-free space for all of our campers and staff. Over the past five years, we have become more aware of the needs of our LGBTQ+ campers and staff to have a welcoming and supportive place and have committed ourselves to making this space at camp.
  • Connecting with Nature

    To encourage the natural connections, we have several talks in small and whole group within each session that focus on the specific ecology of that session. As importantly, we help our campers connect with their animal-selves, overcome their fear of getting dirty, and move safely within each environment.

    Building Community

    To encourage the building of community, each session starts with an introductory circle where campers and staff affirm the ways in which we want to interact with, respect and support each other. We continue developing these strong connections in our small groups. We moderate age appropriate talks that support good hygiene at camp and staff openness to helping campers with the pubescent changes that could occur (wet dreams, periods, etc.). In addition, in our older sessions, we facilitate discussions of gender variance to help our campers deepen their awareness of the societal forces that stifle individual growth and personal self-expression.

    We also use our questions-of-the-meal to encourage our campers to share more personal memories and feelings with each other. These questions could include: a significant thing that you learned in the past year, a quality that you value in a friend, a favorite place that you enjoy spending time in, your choice of a minor super power, and more.

    How does camp promote independence and personal growth?

    There is a lot of encouragement for personal growth at Camp Chrysalis. Campers learn to set up and take care of their own tents, wash their own dishes, put away general camp gear, and keep track of their own gear. In addition, we teach campers how to use our woodworking and other tools safely and efficiently and monitor this use continuously. These lessons continue in our small groups activities where, for example, campers learn how to use sharp knives in a kitchen setting, while helping prepare meals for the camp.

    How do you use small groups to structure Camp Chrysalis?

    All campers and most staff are divided into four groups of about nine campers of mixed ages and genders and two staff each. These small groups act as a family and develop a personality as campers play games and connect deeply with their group members and staff leaders. These small groups share camp responsibilities together to support our community each day (cooking, cleaning, pickup and campfire prep). They also do most hikes and nature activities together paired with a second group. As the week progresses, we pair up each of the four groups with another group, so campers share activities with all the campers and staff by the end of the week.

    What are the camp meals like?

    Camp meals are kid-friendly with organic and fresh food whenever economically and logistically feasibly. We are dependent upon our large coolers and block ice to keep food fresh. Staff eats with the campers and like to teach their small groups to cook. Campers consistently say that our food is some of the best at any camp. We are able to accommodate most food needs easily including gluten-free and vegetarian.

    Breakfasts change daily and consist of pancakes, French toast, eggs and potatoes, hot and cold cereal with fresh fruit and yogurt served daily. Hot cocoa appears on cold mornings within each session.

    Lunches are traditionally a sandwich buffet with sliced turkey and cheeses, baked tofu, lettuce, tomato onions, as well as PB&J, and and a variety of bread. We usually offer a quesadilla and leftovers lunch and bagels with cream cheese each session.

    Snacks consist of fresh fruit or carrots with pretzels, chips or other carbohydrate.

    Dinners change daily with entrées of hamburgers and hot dogs, pasta with a vegetarian tomato sauce and garlic bread, pesto pasta, homemade macaroni and cheese, chicken burrito bar, vegetarian stir-fry, barbecue chicken, and black bean chili. We do ask campers to choose either salad or sliced carrots at most dinners.

    Desserts happen while at our campfires and consist of home-baked treats as well as the obligatory marshmallows and S’Mores.

    What’s a typical daily schedule?

    There really isn’t a typical day but, in general, here is how a day might go:

    7:00-8:00: Campers rise and get dressed to start the day. We roust late-sleepers by 8:00 for breakfast.

    9:00: Whole group meeting to discuss the day.

    9:30: Small group meetings to check-in with campers, brush teeth, play a game, and discuss the day’s activities so they are ready to go at 10:00.

    10:00: Two small groups start an activity at base camp while the other two groups might start a different activity either at base camp or beyond.

    12:00: Lunch, usually a sandwich buffet.

    1:00: Often a swim in the heat of the day.

    3:00: Afternoon snack (often fruit and pretzels, chips and salsa, etc.)

    3:30: A flip-flop of the morning activities so all campers do all activities.

    5:30: Dinner prep for one small group while other campers might get the campfire ready, play games, do woodworking and crafts on their own (with staff support and supervision).

    6:30: Dinner.

    7:15: Clean-up and after dinner games and activities.

    8:00: Campfire activities begin.

    9:30: Time to brush teeth and get ready for bed.

    10:00: Quiet hours begin until 7:00 the next morning.

    Other days might have half the camp (two small-groups) leave for a full-day hike after breakfast with lunch packed in only to return before dinner while the other half might stay close to base camp for other activities. The next day would see a flip so every camper does all activities.

    How do you incorporate “Leave No Trace Principles” in your camp?

    We introduce these principles early in the week to campers ( and value these ideas greatly. However, we also believe that our campers should learn about edible plants and the ways that indigenous peoples used the local plants in the past. In addition, rather than just observing tide pools and beaver marshes from a distance, we teach our campers to move carefully and safely in these natural environments to discover and appreciate more fully the wonders of these places.

    What do campers bring home from camp?

    Besides an increase in personal confidence and ability to take care of their personal belongings, campers often bring home a comfort with “wild” places and an appreciation and understanding of the plants and animals that live within them and the ecological processes that created them. They have many stories of the hikes they’ve taken and the experiences that they’ve shared, the personal growth that has occurred, as well as the new friends they’ve made. In addition, they take home a Bare book journal with naturalist sketches, poems, thoughts and observations that they’ve made while at camp, a Camp Chrysalis songbook filled with historical and modern folk songs, and a CC bandana. After camp is over, we post photos of our activities to give families visual memories of the sessions. We also encourage campers and families to become part our Facebook Camp Chrysalis Group where staff and campers share nature stories and photos during the year (