No tug of war or tug of clique
May 1, 2014 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I would like suggestions for a summer camp for adolescents that is NOT sports-oriented or competitive in any way. Should be a place with good arts and creative activities, and most important, that actively fosters a culture of social acceptance, kindness, tolerance for quirk. I'm looking for the east coast. I know about many camps on paper, but would like to also hear experiences your kids or you have had at specific camps that sound like this.
posted by third rail to Education (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Camp Unalayee
posted by parmanparman at 7:55 AM on May 1, 2014

Will come back and write about it later
posted by parmanparman at 7:56 AM on May 1, 2014

I'd recommend a UU Camp. It's about as hippy-dippy as you want.

This one in the Adorondaks looks like it might be up your alley.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:56 AM on May 1, 2014

I went to SIG for three summers as a kid, after 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. I also went to astronomy camp the summer after 7th grade.

They were great for me. It was really the first time in my life that I was around other smart kids who enjoyed learning things, and it was the first time I really ever felt comfortable and accepted around a group of peers. SIG suffered a bit from "rich kids who are there every summer for multiple programs and know all the same kids" cliques, but between the dorms and the different classes you could take, you were always going to find chill, nerdy friends with shared interests. It was basically like going to short-term pretend college.

Tolerance for quirk was big. It was basically all quirk.

I always gravitated more toward the science/math sides of the programs than the arts ones, so can't really speak to that specifically.
posted by phunniemee at 7:57 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a friend in high school who was a counselor at a computer camp in White Plains, NY. Memory's a little hazy, but it was held on a college campus in town - in fact, I think it was this program. I visited once, and it seemed like a pretty cool outfit.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:00 AM on May 1, 2014

Girls Rock! My daughter went to the DC camp for 3 years, and I highly recommend it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:03 AM on May 1, 2014

Deerfield Academy Summer Arts Camp (DASAC), an arts camp that is pretty much the definition of quirky. Feel free to memail me about it.
posted by sonmi at 8:16 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might look into some of the longer Outward Bound courses. The competitiveness gets channeled into teamwork.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:20 AM on May 1, 2014

Probably too late for this year, but the Center for Talented Youth summer programs are basically built on a foundation of quirk. My experience there as a non-sporty, creative, shy teenager was very positive.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:20 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I went to Duke Young Writers' Camp for three years and worked there for two. I have no idea what it's like now, but I loved it then.

Conversely, I went to a Girl Scout camp for three summers during my middle school years, and as much as I liked it, there was a definite cliquey feel, and you could immediately tell who the popular girls were.

"Nerdy" camps in general are generally more accepting of quirk.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:21 AM on May 1, 2014

I really loved Buck's Rock, but that was a long time ago.
posted by jeather at 8:23 AM on May 1, 2014

Duke TIP. Total culture of joy. I cried the entire car ride home.
posted by duvatney at 8:40 AM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

The lead up (PSAT scores 15 years ago) is academically competitive, but the Duke TIP classes were summer camp for really smart kids. So, generally weird ones. I took behavioral ecology class at the Duke/USC Marine Lab (Which appears now to be just the Duke Marine Lab), which is probably more outdoorsy than, say, the math camps in Kansas City or wherever.

Also, Space Camp!
posted by cmoj at 8:41 AM on May 1, 2014

So I don't know what your budget is, but I highly, highly recommend Camp Ballibay. It's located in northern Pennsylvania, and it's an arts-intensive camp, with other non-competitive activities. I went there in my early teens and it literally changed my life, in terms of how I thought of myself, self-confidence, etc. I was there in the mid-90s, but from what I can tell from FB etc., it's still pretty awesome.

Feel free to memail me if you want to hear more gushing ;)
posted by sabotagerabbit at 8:42 AM on May 1, 2014

Dorothy P. Flint Nassau County 4-H Camp
It is a working farm, so if the kid is in the farm program they get to rise early to milk cows, slop pigs, collect eggs, pick corn etc. They also have a horse program, and when I went there model rocketry was one of the elective arts classes. The only sport I played there was a game of "farmball" which is basically rugby in a well used sheep pasture.
posted by Sophont at 8:45 AM on May 1, 2014

It's been decades since I was there, but at least back then Buck's Rock was exactly what you're looking for.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:08 AM on May 1, 2014

My son could be a poster child for quirkiness. He's been going to Friends Camp in Maine for several years now, and loves it.
posted by mneekadon at 10:10 AM on May 1, 2014

My sister went to the All Arts and Sciences Camp. Not outdoorsy at all; had a certain level of clique but that's to be expected with the age group.
posted by dekathelon at 11:44 AM on May 1, 2014

TIP TIP TIP TIP all the way.
posted by MadamM at 12:16 AM on May 2, 2014

Seconding SIG!
posted by alygator at 6:23 AM on May 2, 2014

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