WHAT MAKES CAMP PHOENIX SPECIAL?

At Camp Phoenix, we combine a carefully crafted learning curriculum with an environment fit for curiosity, adventure, joy, and bonding. Our program is unique in its approach and distinct in its values. See below for an overview of what we stand for and why:


WE BELIEVE ALL YOUTH DESERVE ACCESS TO NATURE, WONDER AND EXPLORATION

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“I wonder if I’ll learn about space one day.” “I wonder if I’ll reach my goals in the future.” “I wonder if I’ll ever see my auntie again who passed away.” Here, campers are lying on the grass, looking up at the starry sky during our activity “I wonder.”

At Camp Phoenix, we believe all youth deserve access to nature, and while we focus on achievement, leadership and community, the outdoors is the catalyst for magic to happen between these goals. Nature uniquely allows youth to be vulnerable, self-reflect, and connect to others in ways they aren’t able to in classrooms. We’ve seen kids who “never really talked to each other” at school, share deeply personal struggles around the campfire, and tearfully hug each other in solidarity.  

In these moments, youth understand the power of community and their individual power within it to affect change. Camper Emily Blake says, "I learned that even if we were all different, we were all part of the same community, and that was when I really felt like a part of something bigger and more amazing. I've learned more about myself, nature, our community, and how to be a part of a greater cause."

WE BELIEVE YOUTH SHOULD GAIn, NOT LOSE, LEARNING IN THE SUMMER

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Research from John Hopkins University shows that while low and middle-income children learn at the same rate during the school year, disparities in resources result in low-income children losing two months of learning on average each summer. During the summer, middle income parents have greater resources to take their children on vacations, spend more on extracurriculars, and have greater access to nature—experiences that allow their youth to develop leadership skills and have fun while learning.[1] By the 9th grade, two-thirds of the achievement gap can be attributed to inequitable summer opportunities.[2]

Learn more about summer learning loss through the video below: 

We are committed to social justice

We recognize that power and privilege impacts every aspect of our lives, and therefore strive to have a critical conscious lens in all of our actions. It is our vision to be an organization that reflects the world we wish to live in: one that mirrors diversity, catalyzes change from within, and gives radical joy and love to our community and ourselves.  Camper Taliyah “Eclipse” Tate says, “My favorite memory was the lantern ceremony. We light on fire these lanterns that float into the sky at night, and we talk about our hopes and fears in our lives. It was special because it let me fly my fears away. Camp helped me become the person I want to be. I don’t know what I would do without camp.”

We believe in community-centered change

We see Camp Phoenix’s vision coming alive when our youth one day take our jobs. Our youth are powerful leaders in their own right before joining the Phoenix Phamily, and we fully expect them to take the reins of leadership one day, as High School Counselors-in-Training and eventually Counselors, Camp Directors, and Executive Directors. Camper Victor “Slither” Soto says, “My pledge to myself is that when I get older I will do good things in my life to make my family and this camp proud. I will make our home a better place for all.” Our co-founders and leadership team are stewards of our organization until this occurs, and we are intentional about creating leadership opportunities for this to become a reality.

Learn about how this approach translates to impact


[1] Flohr, T. L. & Rigolon, A. (2014, April 14). Access to Parks for Youth as an Environmental Justice Issue: Access Inequalities and Possible Solutions, Buildings, 4, 69-94. doi: 10.3390/buildings4020069. About Citizen Schools, Citizen Schools Website. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from: http://www.citizenschools.org/about/

[2] McLaughlin, B., Smink, J. (2010) Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-row Seat in the Education Reform Arena. New Horizons for Learning, The Johns Hopkins University