Creating an Intentional Summer Camp Community: The Power of the “Warm and Fuzzy”JAIME PICKLES – CO DIRECTOR



June 12 2024

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In 2010 Everwood Day Camp was founded, and as former overnight camp directors, we knew the task of creating a camp community from scratch needed to be carefully considered, and intentionally driven. We were faced with many decisions, and some situations that were a bit unique to us. We knew we were only going to have our staff and campers on our facility for 7 hours a day, not 24 hours.

So, in order to create a integrated and focused summer camp community, we had to do something powerful. We had to do something great, it had be consistent, and it had to be something that our campers and counselors were accountable for each and every day. Focused on 21st Century Life Skills, our mission and philosophy were clear, but how would we communicate this mission to our kids and our staff?

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So, we (Dane and I and our founders Scott Brody and Andy Pritikin) sat down and came up with 5 specific characteristics that summarized and reflected the 21st century life skills we wanted to target during the summer, but were framed in a kid friendly way: Independence, Inspiration, Integrity, Teamwork, and Friendship. These became our Everwood 5 Star Points, and we’ve integrated them into EVERYTHING we do at camp. From our staff training and evaluations, activities and special events, to each and every morning and afternoon assembly, our campers and counselors know that these are the things that as a community are valued most. At the end of each day, each camper group meets and counselors reflect on the day and give out the only award we have here at Everwood… the 5-Star Camper award. This award goes to the camper(s) who have demonstrated something unique during the day that reflects they are working hard on 1 or more of the 5-Star Points. And each 5-star camper received our very own Everwood “Warm and Fuzzy” (cute and cuddly little creature they can take with them)… and just like that…. a Summer Camp community, with a clear and consistent and intentional value set was born.

Warm and Fuzzies quickly became the new “in” thing. Our oldest campers even put together a song and skit about what it means to be a 5-Star Camper and earn a warm and fuzzy. All of our campers, were driven towards our value set by their counselors and their peers, as well as fact that they just felt good about the experience they were having at camp and being a part of a really special camp community.

We’re so looking forward the all the 5-star moments to come!


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