Wilderness Augusta trips are intentionally designed and facilitated outdoor adventures for children to make powerful, life-serving choices for themselves and others through challenging expeditions and in a skills-based learning environment. Our curriculum and itineraries focus on character development and outdoor leadership through environmental stewardship and awareness and outdoor living skills. We focus on a unique, intentional design of “success counseling” that allows counselors to address diverse learning styles, feelings and needs. We utilize powerful tools with campers such as: Challenge By Choice, Full Value Contract, 100% Responsibility, Compassionate communication and many other opportunities for the benefit of camper growth in mind, body and spirit.
To facilitate an empowering, exciting and safe outdoor experience for children while encouraging their exploration of stewardship, ethics, sustainable ways of being, and wish, wonder and surprise in the wilderness.
To connect every child with nature through challenging wilderness experiences and inspire powerful life-serving choices for themselves and others.
1. Children are empowered and inspired to have outdoor experiences at home and out of school lives;
2. Connection between participants and families, community and the world are intentional, willing and curious to inviting joy and possibility to their relationships;
3. Children feel 100% responsible and integrous for the life-giving decisions, words and actions they choose as it affects the natural world and humanity;
4. Participants develop competency and explicit knowledge/skill in outdoor activities and celebrate their love of learning;
5. Children unwind, expressing their true self and inner-nature -- embracing challenge and change as opportunity for growth -- and experience each other with open hearts and minds through the spaciousness of the wild.
Core strength begins with rooting oneself. Wilderness Augusta has been rolling for five years thus far. We’ve developed and nurtured solid roots that we are excited to build upon.
- Diverse wilderness trip offerings
- WFR & Wilderness Trip Leader Training
- Challenge by choice
- Small group size
- Creativity, innovation & wonder
- Outdoor stewardship
- Interconnectivity & vast wholeness
- Quality training/teaching
- 100% responsibility
- Building friendships
- Consensus decision making
Challenge by choice
Taking healthy risks – We take risks in the wilderness very seriously and through our Lemons and Chains risk assessment for each trip, we work to minimize the danger and telltales of danger along the way*. However, we operate under a risk philosophy that committed to the need of risk in our lives. In fact, there are multiple studies that show risk seekers as healthier humans than ones who avoid risk. And when children are not attune to risk activity at a young age, they actually end up seeking risk later in life. This is often times with a greater fervor in situations that are truly dangerous, not just perceived as dangerous, but statistically more likely of being harmed. Engaging in low risk activities at a young age, while assessed thoroughly, can be a huge benefit for a child later in his/her life.
*Risk is inherent in all backcountry activities. And risk is integral to a wilderness experience J It provides the opportunity to build and instill these values with the people you are working with. Please see our philosophy
Safety - We have been leading wilderness adventures for five years and have had no significant injuries. Since the program’s inception, we have always, always carried emergency communication systems. We have a wilderness liaison on site at Camp Augusta that gets daily updates in case of emergency evacuation. For instance, there was a helicopter evacuation called because of a condition similar to appendicitis. We use a SPOT device as well as satellite phone on all of our trips. If you have any questions about the risks involved in our wilderness trips, please call us. We love risk J
Small group size
Competence & skills-based learning– Participating as part of a group on a trip requires the acquisition of skills such as setting up camp, outdoor cooking, knot tying, selecting campsites, reading maps and many other outdoor living skills. Throughout the trip, each member of the group has opportunities to practice and demonstrate their competence in a variety of contexts. Learning is not quantified, rather qualified as a skills-based experience.
Effective Praise – In a challenging wilderness experience for a participant, educational praise needs to be given carefully and intentionally. In the wild, this can mean utilizing NVC gratitude on summiting a peak, to offering on-the-spot climbing techniques, or even creating a wholesome meal for the group. In offering praise and understanding through our scaffolding techniques, we are able to help a camper (or staff for that matter) to recognize a certain expansive level of self-efficacy. Then they may learn something about themselves that they weren’t able to see on their own as well as the extent and strength in their belief of their own abilities.
Essence - Our Staff Selection is based on personality and character. Everyone promises a quality staff. We invite you to check out our staff selection process.
Qualified Staff - Our Wilderness Trip Leaders are highly qualified and experienced in their field, including possessing Wilderness First Responder first aid certifications, and extensive backpacking and trip experience. We believe in the power of exceptional staff to be positive role models and make a difference in the lives of the children they lead.
Ratios – We have a 1:4 ratio at the most with our wilderness trips. We always provide a lifeguard if there is swimming in rivers or oceans in the itinerary. Our small camper to counselor ratios provide ample one-on-one teaching opportunities on the trail, whether that be learning how to build primitive fires to success counseling opportunities.
Wilderness Activities - Besides the incredible views, songs and laughs along the trail, we have a whole score of wonderful and wild activities we do when we set up camp. Throughout the wilderness trip, campers will be involved in a number of Sensory Awareness Activities among other outdoor teachable moments. In the mornings and afternoons before hitting the trail, we offer campers our specialized wilderness & survival-specific clinics like primitive weapon-making and fire-building. On the trail, we focus on play all the time, whether that is nature-based games, teambuilding activities, breaking out in song and nature art. Depending on the location and nature of the trip, other activities might include bike maintenance workshops, jade stone picking, natural camouflage or wildflower spotting!
Free Play – There are heaps of organizations, studies and articles speaking to the simple idea that play is, in fact, good for children. Play is a crucial component in mental and creative development in children. We have “Outback Acts,” a wilderness version of our Camp Augusta Cabin Activities where campers get to choose a few activities on the Sunday afternoon before we embark on our journey.
Creativity, innovation & wonder
Special Wilderness Wake-Ups: Each morning, campers are woken up in a unique and often wacky manner. They can awake to a day of magic, fun and wonder through Sleeping Bag Wrestling, to a New York Diner in the middle of the forest, to a Unicorn Stampede or a Swamp Safari. There is the classic Winchester Wake-Up, to Weak Sauce Stuntmen or Space Aliens. These wake-ups build connections and foster creativity for the day ahead on the trail.
Environmental awareness and appreciation – Campers are exposed to beautiful, natural surroundings that they have the opportunity to engage with in a hands-on manner. This exposure, coupled with Leave No Trace values, means campers learn responsibility for their impact on the environment while enjoying being outside.
Stewardship & Ethics – Our trip leaders are committed to Leave No Trace backpacking principles, and these values are shared with the campers to increase their awareness of their impact on the natural world, and what they can do to leave a positive mark.
Interconnectivity & vast wholeness
Learning about others - From sun up until sun down, campers will be surrounded by others, and be exposed to new ways of thinking, problem-solving, playing and communicating. They are awakened to themselves – their true nature -- when there is a framework, tools, time, and attention paid to their development while in the wilderness. Campers also engage in a number of fun teambuilding activities that guide the group through the Storming, Forming, Norming and Performing phases of team development.
Needs-shifting – When we focus on our needs while in a group in the wilderness, we begin to realize how vastly different each of our sets of needs actually are. We help campers come up with a vocabulary surrounding their individual needs that serve life within themselves, the group and the world. What if the group doesn’t want to bike the last forty miles of the trip? How do we come to a consensus together and customize the trip to our vastly different needs? Campers begin to understand that they are responsible for meeting their needs and owning up to their feelings surrounding that needs set. When we needs-shift, we weigh in each wilderness campers needs and allow the group to come up with a shared strategy that helps foster a greater connection between one another.
Listening and Compassionate Communication – On the trail, decisions are made through the process of consensus, and each member of a Wilderness Trip is responsible for being part of that process, which involves hearing other points of view, negotiating, problem solving and offering empathy. Our staff are trained in Non-violent Communication and encourage campers to listen to the feelings and needs of others to create a true sense of community. Listening is a skill that can be learned and developed through practice, and we train our staff to actively listen, which involves eye contact, tone of voice, ask clarifying questions and using appropriate body language.
Extensive Staff Training – Each staff member views29 hours of videos on child, culture, and human development before arriving at camp. Over 300 pages of staff manuals are read before staff training, and each staff member takes a 2-hour oral exam on the content, before training even begins. Our residential staff training is over three weeks long, making it the longest in the nation we know of, and more than three times the length of most other camps.
Failing Forward – A Camp Augusta Wilderness Trip provides a safe place to experience failure. Failures that campers make on our trips don’t follow them through life as they are encouraged to focus on the lesson. Many programs don’t mention failure as part of their philosophy, and we differentiate ourselves by understanding it is a natural part of learning and improving. Reacting positively to failure is fostered through Success Counseling and meeting trip members with empathy. We believe that failing forward helps develop resiliency if it can be handled in a space of balance.
Self-awareness – Our Trip Leaders guide group members to empathic understandings of themselves via “Success Counseling”. Campers learn more about their own feelings and needs, and how to recognize them, and choose behaviors in service to their own needs and the needs of others. Camp Augusta Wilderness believes in the power of positive role models to influence behavior and character development and train our staff to interact with campers in ways that serve their growth in positive ways.
Anti-Canalization - On the trail, campers engage in a space of constant newness and wonder. In this way of being, campers open up and allow for a world of insight and possibility that otherwise might not be available to them anywhere else. Campers work in their growth zone on the trail, sleep outside, and learn to live with people holding separate needs and values. They challenge themselves every day in the wilderness physically, emotionally and creatively, adapting their fixed and automatic ways of being into a world of opportunity. Truly, this might be the longest period of exposure to the world as it was 100 years ago that they’d likely ever get in their lives!
Exercise, good nutrition, and knowledge of healthy lifestyle – On a Wilderness Trip, campers eat healthily and get plenty of sleep. We eat together for every meal and engage in outdoor physical activity in a world away from a television and computer screens. In the wild, we have time to gather, take stock, garner insight, pause, breathe and be an antidote to stress and anxiety.
Evening “Embers” - At night, once the moon is up and the crickets are chirping, the group gathers for a time together before going to sleep under the stars. These times, which we call Evening Embers, serves many purposes and forms, such as to create connection, understanding, awareness, character, laughter, history, a sense of family, and a host of other positive ends by being together with these topics, adventures, challenges, and experiences. They get their name from the close of the day being like the embers of a fire. In the wilderness, this exact scenario rings true!
Lasting Friendships - Being out in the Wilderness is a social place to build friendships. A small Wilderness group allows everyone on the trip to bond and form close relationships, as they experience nature together and work together to set up camp. Away from technology and the modern world, friendships are built through play and communication. The wilderness can have the power to move us toward what matters: our true selves and our connections with each other. When given the platform to our over-driven, over-programmed minds and bodies, we have more time for spontaneous, incidental, improvised experiences and play. Conversations are a form of play, and one we have the opportunity to engage in often on wilderness trips.