Winnarainbow Kids Camp is a unique overnight camp for kids ages 7 – 14 that provides a multitude of activities focused on the Arts as well as time in Nature, creating community and having BIG FUN. Check out our Teen Leadership Program for youth ages 15 – 17!
When kids come to Winnarainbow they are given the chance to follow their hearts and choose their adventure.
From learning a trick on the trapeze, walking on stilts, writing their own song to taking a bike ride through the fields and swimming in Lake Veronica, we have something for every camper. Each evening there is a special program for the whole camp to participate in. Every session the campers and staff co-create performances which we share with each other.
Winnarainbow offers one and two week sessions throughout the summer, each ending in a Community Show Day where you will have the opportunity to experience the Camp Magic alongside your camper.
Please continue to explore our website and don’t hestitate to call or email the office to speak with our staff if you have any questions. We are here for you 100%. Sessions fill up fast so if you want to reserve your campers spot, don’t hesitate to register!
Readiness For Camp
by yatiel owens, MSW, Camp Winnarainbow Director
In looking through the literature and checklists that are out there regarding “when is my kid ready for sleep away camp” I realized that I have some considerations to share based on my experience as a Clinical Social Worker working with children and families for the past 20 years as well as my 30+ years at Camp Winnarainbow.
Camp has been a part of my life since I was 15 and my kids’ life from their birth. I met my Life Partner at Camp, married over 25 years ago. Though we did venture into other careers as we raised our three children, our family never left Camp – all of our “vacations” were to come and work at Winnarainbow. And now we are honored to make this community our life’s work.
If you want straight up numbers, I would say 8 is the perfect age and 12 is late. All 3 of my kids became campers when they were 6 years old. I saw a distinct difference between their experience at Winnarainbow at age 6 and the next summer at age 7 – which is the youngest age of our campers. At age 7 my kids had more manual dexterity and were better able to learn circus skills and participate in all of the activities. By age 8 they were fully engaged in community life, asking other adults to help them and performing on stage. So if I were to just blurt out an age I would say age 8 is a perfect age.
Those are my kids though. In following our stated Winnarainbow values, we recognize that each person develops within their own family and environment and that each person’s story is distinct. Each person is unique to themselves. You are asking for your kid based on who they are and how they walk through this world.
Here are some of the things I offer for your consideration when you’re thinking about sending your camper to sleep away camp (I’ll speak in general terms about “Camp” while also adding Winnarainbow specific details):
- First, the questions “when is my kid ready?” and “which camp is for us?” are not two separate questions. Every camp is different and has different expectations and requirements. Camp’s have a responsibility to be clear about how “ready” we need your kid to be. So in exploring the readiness of your child you can also be asking Camp what they will be providing to support your child.
- You are the expert on your kid. The Camp staff are the experts on what camp experience they provide. List your top 10 needs and what you might be worried about (why are you questioning if your kid is ready? What are your specific worries?) and then comb through the Camp’s website to see how they answer your questions. If you can’t get the information you need from the website then call the Camp Office. This is definitely a conversation that I want to have with you. I can also put you in touch with parents of current campers for a non-staff point of view.
- Your own readiness to send your kid to camp is a consideration as well. Sometimes Kids and Camps are ready before Parents are. I will propose to you that when our kids are away from us, in an environment that supports them taking safe risks, focusing on the active growth of their ideas and explores their own Voice…we as parents are following our values of Good Parenting.
Winnarainbow partners with you and works to give you all of the information you need WHILE your camper is with us. We have an App that gives you real time pictures and updates. We have a system where you can call any time you want (daily) to check on your camper and we will get a real time answer back to you within 24 hours (not letting your camper know that you are checking up on them).
You also can speak to your camper any time you want if you ask.
Also, we will call you if there are any concerns, if your camper is struggling, if we have questions about how to support your camper. We are Partnering with you in the endeavor of raising your camper to be who they want to be and to have a meaningful experience.
- Most of the current checklists and articles focus on your camper’s independent skills for taking care of themselves. In my experience, while this is one thing to consider – putting on their own clothes, taking a shower with little help, has successfully slept away from you, is able to ask for help, etc. – this is not universal. This static checklist does not take into consideration that these won’t look the same from kid to kid or family to family. For Winnarainbow we value every family and camper as unique and “independent” will be defined differently.
- The question then is how does the Camp define “independent” and what does the specific camp you’re considering expect your camper to be able to do? Winnarainbow Counselors are specifically trained to care for your camper and help them with their physical, social and mental wellbeing. So while a level of independence and communication skills is desired, we emphasize INTERDEPENDENCE and help campers with their basic human needs and to gain real life skills.
- For us at Winnarainbow, YOUR family values in raising your kids, WHO you want to partner with in raising your child, HOW your kid learns and WHAT your camper needs from a summer experience are extremely important considerations. For us, we want you to consider not only your camper’s readiness but also which Camp is for your family. We are a program that recognizes that as a Responsible Adult for a youth, you are dealing with a lot on the day to day. We will never know all that you worry about but we want to partner with you for a short time each year….for years and years to come.
Camp is a community that will have a HUGE impact on your kid.
Camp Winnarainbow’s Generations are Doctor, Lawyer, Artist, Gardener, Activist, Writer, Bus Driver, Server, Chef, Social Worker, Physical Therapist, Tech Geek, Inventor, Puppeteer, Teacher, Scientist, Famous Comedian, Mother, Father, Uber Driver, Friend….
The ultimate goal of Camp Winnarainbow is to create a space where we can lean in, learn from each other, talk about our differences and ultimately learn to follow our inner voice and be our own self. We look forward to partnering with you in your camper’s growth and include all in our Community.
- Aerials: Trapeze, Silks, Cloud Swing, Rope
- Stilt walking
- Acting & Theater
- West African Drumming
- (new for 2020) Outdoor Recording Studio
- Juggling, Diablo, Flower Sticks, Hats and Hoops
- Visual Art, Social Justice Art
- American Sign Language
- Nature Walks
- Bike rides, water carnivals, waterslide, chess, Magic the Gathering, ping pong, LARPing, after dinner sports, ORJ club, the Labyrinth and much more!
A Day In the Life
8:30 Let’s Go Cocoa! Campers are awakened by the conch & can go to the kitchen for cocoa. If a camper wakes up earlier, there are staff who help them make their way quietly to the kitchen where there are games, conversation, & cocoa.
8:50 Morning Circle! We start the day together by singing songs, sharing a dream or two, & hearing about the activities & performances to come that day!
9:30 Tipi Clean Up.
9:45 Morning Reading. Wavy Gravy (and other guest readers) regale the kids with selections from readings such as the Dr. Seuss, Naruda’s poetry, & The Paper Bag Princess.
10:10 Warm Ups. Campers have a choice of high, medium, or low warm ups to get ready for an active day! When we gather back at the theatre we do vocal warm ups & breathing exercises (important for any performer).
10:30 Classes. Juggling, stilting, Shakespeare, oh my! Campers never know what they’ll fall in love with until they try! 2 class periods offer campers amazing new experiences as well as opportunities to practice their skills. See a full list of classes here (link activities)
12:30 Showtime & Afternoon Activity Announcements! Campers gather back at the theatre for a quick “showtime” to show what they are learning/practicing and for the rest of camp to see what they might experience if they attend a new class.
1:30 Free time. Campers are free to join the many activities that are happening throughout camp, hang out with friends, or head to the Lake to swim and ride the 350 foot water slide! Afternoon Activities may include art projects, stream walks, ping pong, chess, knitting, gymnastics, fun at the creek, dressing up at the costume castle, letter writing, unicycling, stilts, aerials, & much much more.
5:45 Tipi check-in. Campers connect back in with their counselors and tipi community about their day.
6:00 Dinner Circle. Songs, lake announcements, appreciations, random acts of theatre…anything & everything happens at dinner circle where our community gathers together to celebrate the day & hear about the evening activities.
6:30 Dinner time!
7:00 After Dinner Free Time. This time is often used to prepare for the evening program – whether it’s getting props ready for the Tornado of Talent, picking out a costume for the Dance Party, tying up stilts for the Cabaret, or trying to guess who the guest performer is going to be! There’s also after dinner sports, juggling, Camper Clubhouse, & more.
8:00 Evening Program! Every night there’s a different Evening Program, ranging from the Tornado of Talent to Adventure Night to the Costume Dance Party (see full schedule below). Our Performance Coordinators work with all the campers to prepare & polish their acts until they shine like stars on the professional outdoor Rainbow Stage. Counselors & campers gather in the theater to watch & cheer – we laugh, we cry, we are amazed!
9:30 Brush ‘em if you got ‘em & Lights Out Counselors help campers get ready for bed and finish the day with stories, songs, and quiet tipi time.
Full Evening Program schedule (2 week session)
|Week 1||Tipi Skit Night||Teacher Talent||Fire Circle||Tornado of Talent||Guest Performance||All People’s Day||Sleep in Sunday & Movie Night|
|Week 2||Costume Dance Party||Adventure Night||Cabaret||Cabar-B||Awards Night||BIG SHOW!|
Full Evening Program schedule (1 week session)
|Tipi Skit Night||Teacher Talent||Fire Circle||Dance Party||Tornado of Talent||Awards Ceremony|
Our Philosophy About Being Human in a Community
Community is an important part of our values. We believe that campers gain abilities that carry on throughout their life by learning how to create community and by being an unconditional member of that community.
Basic Premises We Agree On
- We all want to be the best human we can be. In any one moment we may make a poor choice. If we take something we want to give back.
- Behavior is a language. It’s our jobs as adults to help interpret what is being said and if it’s not fitting in with our community (such as yelling or hitting or play fighting) work to find how they can express themselves differently.
- We all come to Camp with a “tool belt” – skills we’ve learned about how to be a community member, how to get along with people, how we communicate, etc. Sometimes our tool belt has limited choices and a person uses a hammer for everything. Building skills is our main focus in the work and play that we engage in.
- We all come from different cultures – as defined by our individual story. This means that we cannot assume we all have the same definitions. “Respect” looks different in my family and community than it does in yours. We are curious and wonder where we each come from and we ask.
- Campers are at different developmental and chronological levels. All 14 years olds are not the same. But basically any restorative practices will take into account age, tools, story, what happened and how often any one camper is being called to sit in circle.
- Not all behavior needs a circle. We as the Adult Staff can notice, interrupt the behavior, have a talk and move on. Sometimes you will ask the camper to meet you at the Orange Tree at a certain time and ask an Advocate to meet you there to decide if we agree a Task is appropriate. These are all part of our practice of being the best human we can be.
Offering Restorative Justice (ORJ)
When We Do Need Circles
Circles of Restoration involve any number of people, from 2 Campers + an Advocate to a full circle called from our Camp community. In circles all voices are heard. When Harm needs to be repaired, the Affected’s voices are invited in and strongly influence the final Agreed upon reparations.
Research regarding Restorative Justice suggests that these practices work best in communities that have already invested time and effort in building good Relationships and Work out collective norms, so conflict can be handled with sensitive and effective protocols.
We understand that these practices are living and breathing within our community. We are open to constantly learning and that “fairness is not sameness”. Since we sit in circle and listen to story, taking into account each person’s tools in the moment, no circle or outcome will be exactly the same. We have the flexibility to fully respond in time and place. Healing is not guaranteed, but it can become more possible.
Being Sent Home
Extreme misconduct is rare at Camp Winnarainbow, but when it does occur, it must be addressed. Campers who involve themselves in illegal drugs, physical violence, overt sexual activity, or endangering other campers, the Facility or the environment may be dismissed from Camp upon the Directors’ discretion. Situations will be evaluated individually along with parent conferences.
Besides the goal of BIG FUN, we at Camp Winnarainbow also want to do everything possible to provide a training ground to nurture leaders for a peaceful, harmonious and sustainable culture. Community is an important part of our values. We believe that campers gain abilities that carry on throughout their life by learning how to create community and by being an unconditional member of that community.