Camp Downer Goals and Objectives

General Camp Goals

The goals and objectives of Camp Downer are derived from several sources: our core philosophies; the natural world; the actual experience of being, living and interacting in the camping environment; as well as the age group of campers involved and certain practical considerations of our particular camp, they are:

  1. To offer a quality, affordable camping experience to all kids.

  2. To promote positive feelings toward community, friends, and self.

  3. To recognize the uniqueness of individuals and encourage personal success and self-confidence.

  4. To provide opportunity for leadership, individual responsibility, and self-reliance.

  5. To promote awareness of the natural world; to value and conserve its resources.

  6. To promote good health and safety habits.

  7. To provide opportunity for development of new skills.

Camp Downer also has continued to be inspired by two 4-H mottos, “learning by doing” and “make the best better”, both of which have broad implications for the Downer camping program.


Programming Specific Objectives

Objective 1. Each camper participates in a minimum of four different programs and demonstrates a skill level that is higher than that which was present upon arrival at camp.

Program — programs are administered under a unique set of goals and objectives which address and facilitate progressive learning.

Leadership is selected for skills in teaching as well as proficiency in given program areas.


Objective 2. Each camper cooperates with camp policies in regards to health and safety procedures.

The camp program provides for a daily cabin clean-up, wash-up time before each meal, a system for cleaning soiled bedding, at least ninety minutes of rest each camping day, and specially trained supervision at possible hazard areas.

Camp staff is trained to monitor the hygiene and eating habits of their campers and to seek support from healthcare staff if some difficulty is suspected. Supervisors of waterfront areas and the archery range are specially trained in the safety of their areas.


Objective 3. Each camper actively participates in cabin and dining hall clean-up.

The camp program provides for time to clean the cabin each day and a weekly opportunity for each cabin to clean the dining hall after a meal.

Camp staff is advised and trained to encourage a cooperative effort among campers on cleaning detail.


Objective 4. Each camper participates in all camp activities such as evening activities, special programs, and free time.

The camp program allows for the presentation of all-camp activities that are attractive and interesting to a wide age range; many are presented progressively, allowing the camper to participate at their level.

Camp staff is trained on how to facilitate activities that will interest youth, and how to adapt an activity to the age or skill level of the camper.


Objective 5. Each camper appreciates and co-exists with other campers, counselors, and administration and shows a regard for the environment.

The camp program begins with introductions among all staff and campers. Each camper is a member of a new group in the cabin, animal group, and program activities. All programs have an increased environmental awareness.

Camp staff is trained on how to supervise and interact with campers in a positive manner with a particular focus on how to encourage healthy group activity among campers. An appreciation for the environment is a prerequisite to leadership.


Camper Development Goals and Objectives

The following list details goals and objectives for Camp Downer:

  1. To provide opportunities that stimulate the development of each camper’s self-esteem, independence, and concern for and service to others.
    • Each camper will participate in getting-to-know-you games and activities during cabin meetings, village meetings, Animal Group meetings, and various other times throughout the session.
    • Staff will provide campers with encouragement and acknowledgement of positive behavior throughout their stay (e.g. meeting and/or exceeding expectations, demonstrating personal growth, maturely and effectively managing conflict, demonstrating care and attention to the environment and the well-being of others, etc).
    • Camp has a firm expectation that all campers and staff respect the rights, physical space, and dignity of all individuals.
    • The staff provide a safe, welcoming, and fun environment so that campers feel at ease to try new things which encourages personal growth.
    • Each day there will be a “Cabin of the Day” which is the cleanest cabin in each village. Campers strive to achieve this by each doing their part to make sure their personal space and the communal areas are kept clean and tidy.
    • Before Campfire each week, all campers will have the opportunity to vote on who they think the “Honor Camper ” in their Animal Group is. Honor Campers are individuals who have gone above and beyond in making camp a positive experience for everyone — embodying what we call the “Downer Spirit”.
    • All campers will have the opportunity to participate in a low-rope challenge course and engage in team building and “Challenge by Choice” activities.
  1. To provide opportunities for campers to better appreciate their natural surroundings and take an active role in the stewardship of the environment.
    • Each camper, while at camp, is encouraged to reduce, re-use, and recycle. Camp has both a recycling and composting program.
    • During each meal, every camper will participate in “Waste Watch” wherein the total food waste from the meal will be measured and recorded. Campers will be instructed on strategies to minimize waste.
    • Each camper will be required to take one “Nature” program while at camp.
    • Each camper will have the opportunity to participate in some nature activity, in addition to their nature program, which could include one of the following: hiking, environmental activities, or other appropriate activity.
    • At the beginning of each session, the campers will be asked to help take care of camp in small ways such as picking up litter, staying on trails, not picking flowers (unless in earth art or a specific flower pressing activity), respecting property (e.g. no graffiti, being gentle with equipment, etc.), and conserving water.
    • Each camper will spend the majority of their time at camp outdoors.
  1. To provide opportunities for each camper to set goals and challenge themselves while discovering their own skills and abilities.
    • Each camper on Sunday will choose their programs for the week. Each camper will be required to take one program from each category (Nature, Sports, Arts) and are encouraged to try at least one new thing.
    • Each day each camper will have two “Free Times” where they can choose a novel activity each time.
    • Campers are encouraged to learn at least one new skill during the week.
    • Camp is often the first time, and/or the most extended time children spend away from their parents/guardians. This alone can provide a challenge and opportunity for growth and independence.
    • Each evening there will be an Evening Activity done primarily with their Animal Group.
  1. To provide campers with the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, individual responsibility, and self-reliance.
    • Once a week each cabin will be responsible for: serving food at a meal, cleaning the dining hall, and cleaning the bathrooms in their village.
    • Campers will be responsible for collecting, counting, and distributing store items amongst themselves.
    • Campers will be encouraged to practice leadership in their Cabin, Animal Group, and within Programs.
    • Campers are expected to clean up after programs and activities.
    • Campers are expected to choose their own schedule.
    • During the two-week session, older campers have the opportunity to participate in two different tiers of our leadership development program. The program invites them to think deeply about, and practice leadership within, the Camp community. More specifically, the program begins to walk them through the responsibilities, challenges, and joys of being a Camp Counselor. Each level of CIT (counselor-in-training) will have the opportunity to plan and co-lead various activities around camp and then later reflect on that experience.
    • The final stage is “Staff Aide” which occurs over two weeks the year after an individual’s CIT II summer.
    1. To provide opportunities for each camper to develop and foster new personal relationships.
      • Each camper will interact with a variety of other campers and counselors in their Cabin, Animal Group, and programs. This will grant them the chance to meet different people and build new connections.
      • Given the wide range of ages and backgrounds at camp, campers will be able to meet and interact with a spectrum of role models and potential friends.
      • Activities across all aspects of camp are designed to get campers up and moving, while working, learning, and interacting with different people.

      Camp Downer believes that much of what Camp can give comes in the small moments, the connections made between individuals in one-on-one interactions where new friends are made and a fuller understanding of oneself, each other, and the broader world is found. This comes from truly living within a community — sharing space and meals, working together to achieve a goal, no matter how small, and discovering and celebrating the ways in which we are both different and the same. Camp provides a diverse range of programs designed to meet the interests and needs of all campers, but beyond the goals of any specific program or activity, Camp Downer asks each individual to embody the “Downer Spirit” — an attitude of service and empathy that inspires the best in oneself and others. It is a kind of grace that young people can bring with them to the multitude of situations they will experience in life. Camp’s goal is to provide an affordable, safe, and fun environment from which that spirit can spring.