“I feel that Spruce has left me closer to where I want to be in life. This camp has made me realize what makes me happy and what I want to continue doing and through this journey I have found the best in that. I feel a sense of clarity and purity that only I am capable of feeling. Some of my best, most favorite memories ever made were at this camp. And those memories continue to be made to this day. Spruce, and these people are like a second home. Safe. Grounded. Free. Distant. Warm…Even in fifty years I will never forget this place.” -2021 Camper
At Experience Learning, Leadership Camp is not just a stretched out high school program. It is an 18-day experience where we will assess the skills the group already has, we will spend time learning new skills, and then we will step out into the world of planning and executing our own wilderness adventure. You, the campers, will be your own leaders.
We will pair you with our most experienced instructors and experts in adventure, planning, and risk management. We’ll provide the necessary gear, transportation, and opportunity, and you will take it from there. We’ll get the chance to participate in an off-site backpacking expedition, a river adventure, and a rock adventure in one or more of Pendleton County’s amazing rock climbing/caving locations. Read on for more details about all these components.
Expedition Planning: Together we’ll pick a route through a wilderness area. Through this process we’ll learn how to develop an expedition outline, where we plan our days based on the ideal but also take the time to discuss and plan around alternative realities. We’ll think about things like emergency response, communication strategies, varying weather conditions, additional support, and so much more. We’ll also learn how to plan and prepare meals for big adventures. We’ll discuss nutrition and caloric intake while on the trail. Be prepared to dehydrate our own food and run a food pack out. We’ll learn about picking and maintaining your equipment. We will try out different types of gear, inventory what we’ll need, how we plan to carry it, and how we will be able to repair it in the backcountry.
Once we plan and pack, we’ll load up and have ourselves a proper adventure in West Virginia’s wild lands.
River Component: We will travel to the Cheat River for a duckie adventure. If the group enjoys this experience, part of the expedition we plan can include a river component such as an overnight on the river in canoes, or a day trip on a kayak, or raft.
Rock Components: Pendleton County, WV offers some of the best rock climbing and karst topography on the east coast. Don’t just believe us, come and see for yourself! We will be able to have a day on the rocks at nearby Seneca Rocks. We will also climb one of the country’s premier Via Ferratas at nearby NROCKS. There are a wide range of options and no shortage of incredible places, if we should want to have a climbing component of the final expedition.
Reflective components: After we push, prod, explore and adventure we also take time to reflect. These guided reflections can expand each of us in our own way, and through this work we are able to break down barriers to friendship, excellence, and understanding our potential and that of the group when working effectively together.
Leadership Opportunities: Along the way, each member of the group will assume leadership and followership roles as we feel the push and pull between struggle and success through setting and achieving tangible goals.
Transfer Goals: Learning to live in these wild places, learning to care deeply for the other campers and the world around you are components of a program like this. But what happens in Leadership Camp can’t stay in Leadership Camp — the whole point is to take these skills back into our lives at home, school, and eventually college and beyond. We use all our programs, but especially this one, as a springboard to a lifetime of amazing experiences, relationships, and a deeper understanding of who we are and how we can make the world a better place.
Mentorship: We will have the opportunity to mentor our youngest campers by taking an active roll in the Small Fries overnight. As a group, we will help to plan and execute activities and experiences for the weekend adventure. There will be guidance from Experience Learning staff who will be overseeing the program.
Stewardship/Service: Each participant will earn a minimum of twenty hours of community service through the volunteer opportunities in this program, but giving back won’t just be something we can check off a list. It becomes a mindset of seeing the world through the lens of how can I/we help to improve this space? In the end we’ll get to see firsthand that even small gestures can make a big impact.
Through living and working alongside all the different people that come to this camp I was able to experience many different and new ideas, perspectives, and skills that shaped me as a person. — 2019 camper
Stewardship Flashback: In 2019, we partnered with the US Forest Service on the construction of a new quarter mile long interpretive trail at Seneca Rocks. This project included trail building, riparian beautification, and invasives species removal, resulting in the establishment of a permanent trail used by 70,000 visitors annually!
What Folks are Saying:
In this program I was able to be my own leader, which has allowed me to see the ways in which I can improve myself and the ways in which I am strong. – Summer Camper, Leadership Camp
The mountain stewards camp is a wonderful, fun, confidence and skill building experience every kid should go through! – Sandy Frank
Mountain Stewards at Experience Learning is a fantastic week-long summer camp for kids who like the outdoors (or who WILL like the outdoors after this wonderful experience!) Stewardship of our natural resources, self-reliance, leadership, and fellowship, are all integral to this program. My daughter LOVES this camp, and that makes me a happy dad. Experience Learning also has great programs for learners of all ages. I recently completed an excellent Wilderness First Aid course at their wonderful Spruce Knob Mountain Center. Check it out! – Mark Wenzler
I learned so many interesting facts about the world around us that I will definitely take with me, but I also learned how wonderful it can be to be a part of a group in which everyone gives their all and wants to have a great time no matter the challenging situations or the rainy days. – camp participant
I learned to trust myself more and not be afraid to advocate for myself. – Summer Camper, Leadership Camp
Through living and working alongside all the different people that come to this camp I was able to experience many different and new ideas, perspectives, and skills that shaped me as a person. – 2019 Summer Camper
The staff were terrific helping us coordinate what camp would fit us best. So patient and understanding. My daughter had a wonderful week and learned so much and made memories and friends. Great experience! – Kristin Potts
I learned about who I am as a person and that if I look within myself I can find some of the strength and courage that I’ve felt was missing from me. – Summer Camper, Leadership Camp