What Kind of Camp Is Aloha?
Aloha is a traditional sleep-away camp in Vermont for teen girls who love living simply in nature, learning new skills and making fabulous friendships. For more than 111 summers, girls from the world over have shared the magic of Aloha, surrounded by pine forests, sunlit meadows and Lake Morey’s sparkling waters. But Aloha is not just about the places we love and the traditions we embrace – Aloha is about the community we create intentionally together. Every summer, we craft an intentional environment for girls where it is okay to fail, and where neither failure nor success determines self-worth. We introduce girls to skills, programs, and opportunities that they may never have encountered previously, and the newness of what we offer creates a safe space for them to take risks and embrace new challenges. And because the stakes might not seem as high as they do back at school – do you know of anyone who was denied entrance to the college of her choice because she was not able to light a fire in the rain? – girls can learn to take chances. They find courage, develop resilience, and experience success – all without ever posting it on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.
What Do Aloha Campers Do?
Aloha offers all the familiar activities of summer: swimming, canoeing, sailing, hiking, tennis, music, arts and crafts — and less common ones, too: kayaking, crew, mountain biking, rock climbing, archery, woodworking, theater and photography. Aloha also specializes in wilderness tripping – week-long hikes, white water canoeing and kayaking, and back-road biking through the Green and White Mountains. Aloha campers consciously choose how to spend their days, trying out new activities that expand their horizons as well as improving skills they’re already passionate about. Moreover, our girls understand that challenging themselves to expand their horizons involves learning both “hard skills” – how to tie a square knot, tend a jib sail, or do a front pike dive – and “soft skills” – how to be a trustworthy friend, a loyal advocate, or a patient listener. We give girls a language that allows them to recognize and name their strengths, laying the foundation for them to develop skills we know to be essential to happiness and wellbeing: courage, dedication, perseverance, and compromise. Because they practice these in an environment free of judgment and full of sunshine and clean air, they get used to recognizing and evaluating their own efforts, so that their motivation to try harder and do the right thing becomes both internal and self-fulfilling. Not only do they find a voice to identify and state what they want, but they know what they need to do to get it. Independence, resourcefulness, problem-solving and grit – these are attributes that need to be cultivated, and we know how to do that.
What’s It Like to Be a Camper at Aloha?
Each summer, girls love getting to know our beautiful campus, our time-honored traditions, and our Aloha summer community by spending time in their tent families, living units, and age groups. We put a great deal of thought and energy into crafting a summer experience that showcases the true Aloha spirit of warmth, enthusiasm, camaraderie, and fun. We focus our activities on balancing excitement for the new with appreciation for our respected customs – playing games, building tent family and unit cohesion, wearing our camp uniform, and singing a lot of songs. We examine and tweak our program each year, asking ourselves what works well and what we can do better, and we strive always to communicate and reinforce the core values that make this place such an intentional and life-changing experience. The young women who share the summer with us speak often of the impact Aloha has had on their lives – how this place is a haven for them away from the pressures and stresses of the outside world, and how this community allows them to become more flexible, more empathetic, more resilient, and more self-confident. What our girls tell us in their own words, time and again, is that Aloha helps them to become strong women: “At Aloha, I can stop to appreciate the beauty of the world around me…At Aloha, I feel like I am enough…At Aloha, I can just be.”
The Aloha Magic
Every summer scores of returning campers and counselors welcome teen girls who are new to Aloha — and sometimes a little apprehensive. We pay special attention to helping each newcomer feel at home and at ease in the camp community, and with the three or four girls in her tent or cabin “family.” Aloha “families” live in camp “units” with girls of all ages, participating in cookouts and overnights together, planning surprise parties for the rest of the camp, and entertaining their campmates in special programs and ceremonies.
Campers and counselors say their Aloha experiences have changed the way they handle life’s challenges for the better, and help them to succeed at home and in school all year long. In camp evaluations parents frequently praise the new depth and maturity they see in their daughters: “I can’t believe the girl who came home is the same one who went to camp just a few weeks ago!