Intentional Summer Camp
Longacre is an intentional summer camp. "Intentional" means two things: first, we clearly articulate our principles, and second, those principles inform what campers do on a daily basis.
The Longacre Principles
Here are our principles in four parts:
- Mission: what we do
- Process: how we do it
- Values: why we do it
- Beliefs: more of why we do it
Our principles should help you determine whether Longacre is a good fit for you and your family.
To offer a multi-year growth experience, with a focus on communication. This is "the what".
Do we actually achieve our mission?
For the past few summers, we have been evaluating ourselves according to six outcome areas: contribution, social skills, positive identity, self-management, social capital and academic self-efficacy.
Last summer's results showed that 79% of respondents made significant gains in at least one outcome area, i.e., showed growth.
You can take this to mean we achieve our mission with four out of five campers.
Want details? Check out our results.
Our process, or leadership philosophy, which we've developed over 42 years, has four pillars.
- Direct communication
These are "the how".
Below, we explain how each pillar ties into what campers do on a daily basis.
It's important that children and adolescents be given the space to make decisions for themselves. Making decisions builds self-confidence and helps children and adolescents develop a bias for action.
Our goal is to help you prepare your child for college, and life outside the home. In college, we want them making good decisions — not choking on their new-found independence.
At Longacre, campers choose their activities daily. One student may ride horses all summer, while another may try it only once. No long-term commitments. That’s how we set it up.
Also, there are hours of unstructured time built into every day. Campers spend that time resting, playing cards, listening to music, throwing a baseball, chatting in groups or taking a shower. Farmers (i.e., campers) tell us that this unstructured time is some of the most valued and influential they have.
Each of our campers is living a tailored experience, while also living in an inclusive community.
Learning to make decisions means learning to make mistakes and learning to embrace mistakes.
There are no cooks or maintenance staff at Longacre. Instead, we all take responsibility to make sure things run smoothly.
Each day we do some work on behalf of the community. We call it crew. There are six people on a crew — boys and girls, older and younger — plus one counselor.
Your crew (of people) stays the same but your responsibility rotates every day. Your goals are to improve your teamwork while helping the community. Many hands make light work.
Sometimes your crew is before breakfast, sometimes it's before dinner. One day you'll wash dishes, another you'll feed farm animals. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes, sometimes 90 minutes. We all do the best we can.
Taking responsibility for others is an easy way to build our self-confidence.
Leaders are passionate people — they want to build stuff, create stuff or achieve stuff — and they use their passion to inspire.
Teenagers don’t have to be passionate about academic stuff. They could be passionate about purple shoelaces. Bit it’s important that they experience passion, that they learn what it feels like to be gripped by something.
If you’re a passionate teenager, chances are you’ll be a passionate college student and a passionate adult (and that’s the way colleges see it).
Our activities are organized into seven areas: build, explore, work, play, rest, care and create. Each activity area requires a different set of strengths. There are all kinds of intelligence in this world and we aim to tap into a bunch of them.
Our counselors are brimming with passion. The most effective way to educate is through passion, and that’s what you’ll be surrounded by here.
Direct Communication (also known as Group)
At Longacre we practice our direct communication skills just like a basketball team would practice its layups.
We meet four nights a week for two hours (we call it Group). During this time we reflect on the day, we recognize our friends for the positive ways they've influenced us, and we resolve conflicts.
This time of deliberate practice promotes our self-awareness and our understanding of others, and it helps strengthen our community. Our meetings give campers the confidence to clarify their thoughts and the skills to communicate directly with others.
Four Pillars in Practice
There are two stages to our pillars in practice:
- Take leadership over yourself
- Turn your attention to others
Let us explain.
1. Take Leadership Over Yourself
The first stage in becoming a leader is taking leadership over yourself. This is a big hurdle.
We teach kids to be on time, to learn what they're responsible for, and to stay through until the end.
To be a leader you have to be willing to set a good example for other teens. Do you have to be perfect? No of course not. But you have to put in the effort.
Setting a good example is about effort. If you can do this you’re off to a great start.
2. Turn Your Attention to Others
We follow others when we are inspired; not for the leader but for ourselves; not because we have to but because we want to.
Therefore, the second step in becoming a leader at Longacre is working well with others. It’s a must.
Let’s say you’ve cleared the first hurdle — you can show up on time, you can figure out what to do, and you can perform — but you want to do things yourself without relying on your teammates: if working with others is a challenge then Step 2 is your focus.
If a teenager can do both Step 1 and Step 2, she's well on her way.
The bulk of the leadership responsibility here falls on our leadership kids, older students in our Leadership Project. These campers have demonstrated a capacity for leadership in previous summers.
We have identified five core values. These values are at the heart of our organization and our summer camp. You can think of these as "the why":
- Loyalty → to our parents, to our colleagues, to our friends
- Inclusivity → of different cultures and perspectives, of otherness
- Self-awareness → a requisite for growth, a building block for lasting friendship
- Independence of thought → looking within ourselves for answers, thinking critically, individuating
- Effort → where work ethic becomes part of our identity
There are other values we hold dear, but if we had to narrow the list to five, these are the five we'd pick.
Longacre is a secular and inclusive organization.
Here is what we believe:
- We believe it's vital to the healthy development of young people that they be surrounded by accessible, fun-loving adults.
- We believe in honoring adolescence. It's a period of great opportunity. Students who develop skills at this age have advantages for the rest of their years.
- We believe in the strength of the community. Students have fun here because they are developing a sense of community and reaping enormous rewards as a result.
- We believe in embracing opportunity. Lots of learning happens at Longacre but very little instruction. Instead, every day our campers are presented with opportunities and encouraged to embrace them. This is experiential education.
Questions about any of this? Please inquire.