The first time Jason Knowles took a job at Aloha Camp, in 1997, he was single and had no children of his own. The next summer, he returned to Aloha and met a fellow counselor, Katie Pilcher, daughter of former Lanakila director Paul Pilcher. A few years later, Jason and Katie held their wedding reception at Hulbert Outdoor Center. So when Jason returned to The Aloha Foundation full-time in January 2012 as Director of Hulbert Outdoor Center, he brought a sense of the center’s long history with him. The family also brought two young children and a deepening sense of the rhythms and openings in the school year.
“We looked at our programs with regard to the needs of parents,” he said, as well as in the context of a broader goal of tying Aloha more closely to Upper Valley communities. “One of the questions that comes up for parents is what to do for school vacations.” It didn’t take long to decide to hold a spring vacation day camp at Hulbert for the first time in more than a decade.
The camp, for children from ages 9 to 15, runs from Monday, April 16, through Friday, April 20 — spring break for local schools. The camp gives breaks of a different sort to parents, offering Aloha-quality programming and instruction without breaking the bank. Parents can register a child for $40 a day or for $180 for the full week; families receive discounts for additional children. The camp is also offering van transportation from Hanover, plus options for early arrival and late pick-up.
Campers will spend two full days during the week on Hulbert’s renowned ropes course, working with the center’s professional staff. “We have five full-time staff and nine additional instructors,” Jason said. “Kids get the same incredible staff-to-camper ratio as at Aloha. It’s safe, but even more, it’s so caring.” Every instructor has a college degree, at a minimum, and many have advanced degrees in experiential education — and, of course, years of experience in working with and mentoring children and teenagers.
The camp’s other activities will be equally Aloha-flavored. “We use arts and crafts to get our students outside,” Jason said. “Here, art overlaps with exploration.” Campers might take sketchbooks outside and draw from nature, or go on a hike and make art from leaves, twigs, or other things they collect on the trail.
Jason Knowles is looking forward to re-introducing this Aloha tradition this month – and looking forward to the time when his sons, now ages 2 and 5, will spend their school vacations becoming a part of it.