Wawenock promotes the concept of individual girls learning about themselves and developing social skills through living and working in groups…cabin groups of 4 to 7, unit groups by age of 20 to 30 and finally the “tribes” which number half of the camper population. Each camper becomes a member of either the Wawenock or Owaissan tribe and stays on that tribe in successive years.
Through the tribes, girls compete, celebrate and collaborate.
The emphasis of the tribes within our program is not on the rivalry. Healthy competition in the activities is part of the “tribe” experience however. The competition is meant to highlight skills girls have developed in the instructional camp program. The program includes tennis, swimming, archery, riflery, smallcraft, etc. A tribe meet is held on Sundays and in each meet there are events where all campers can participate, even those who don’t choose to take instruction in the activity. There is always an “all tribe” event where everyone in each tribe pulls for every other member of the tribe to succeed at some simple task. The spirit during this is phenomenal. At the end of each meet the leaders lead their tribes in congratulatory hugs for the other tribe.
One of the main goals of having the tribes is to give some real leadership opportunities to our oldest campers, many of whom have been campers for up to 6 years. The tribes are “run” by these girls with support from 2 counselors. It is a very important aspect of camp for these older campers.
Through the tribes we expect girls to get out of themselves and work with and for others. There is a big/little sister program where the oldest to youngest in one tribe is paired with the youngest to oldest in the other tribe. These friendships play an important part in each girl’s summer.
Through the tribes we teach the camp traditions and songs. Singing plays an important part in reinforcing camp culture and the experiences campers share, even with alumnae. Each tribe secretly writes a new song each summer and presents it to the camp staff at the end of each season. Song Night is the result and requires a lot of discipline, patience and learning as each tribe independently presents its song and brings back 2 other songs that are not currently known or sung by the camp family. The traditions of Wawenock live on because they are camper driven.
The tribes collaborate on all-camp events such as Council Fire. This is a ceremony in which new campers are welcomed to their tribe, commitments are made to the tribe and the camp community. The commitment to the camp community includes living the ten components of “Wawenock Spirit.” These include ideals and values such as friendliness, sportsmanship, loyalty, effort and initiative, honesty, etc. The tribes also work together on projects like our “Circus” which is a camper run program honoring any staff member who has been at Wawenock for 20 years. In the last 20 years we have had 6 of these events.
Belonging to a tribe and singing, playing games, and competing with your tribe each week and each season is FUN!