Baldy (a.k.a Andrew Pratt), our illustrious Explorers Director, shares his perspective on what it takes to make Calleva’s Explorers program the best way to introduce younger kids to adventuring in the outdoors.
It will be hard for some people to believe, but I started with Calleva in the late 1990s – yes, I am THAT OLD.
Now entering my 15th year as the director of Explorers (and as father to three little people), I can honestly say that I love working with Calleva’s youngest campers!
When I came back to Calleva after college in 2005, we initiated Explorers with the goal of meeting the short attention span of a typical 6-9 year old. We already knew that since most younger kids have not yet begun to identify what kinds of play they don’t love, most of them are open to try a little bit of everything if they can count on a short timeframe. Even the most reluctant participant can be inspired to try something new for an hour! The first week of Summer 2005, we led 12 campers; by the last week of that summer, our number had grown to 75. Last year, we led more than 140 kids every week on exciting adventure itineraries designed to inspire and empower them as individuals and teammates.
Calleva Explorers rotate between land and water activities all day long. They ride horses on the farm, play games, experiment with basic rock climbing, sing songs, hike and explore our nearby forests, do art projects, and paddle along the creeks and streams near Riley’s Lock. It’s a dream schedule!
A few years ago, we added EXPX, a more focused adventure camp-style “sampler,” specifically created for 9 year olds who are ready for more focused skill building minus the field games, songs and art projects that help to anchor a true Explorers day. Plus, we developed Calleva Cubs, a play-centered program for 4 and 5 year olds. Cubs get to march at their own beat – the activities are very elementary and super varied. Cubs get to have a pure and simple program that nurtures kids’ natural curiosity and desire to explore.
Since day one, the Explorers team has been focused on giving our youngest Calleva campers a wide range of fun adventure experiences in the outdoors. Our goal is for these kids to experiment in an age-appropriate way. Our staff are experts in their disciplines, whether its as professional educators with early childhood specialties or as adventure sport enthusiasts with a passion for introducing kids to the outdoors. We want kids to have fun, learn something new, make friends, and discover the joy of spending time in the great outdoors. Ultimately, we want our 9 year olds to graduate from Explorers ready to make informed Calleva Adventure Camp selections. We find that campers that grow up in Explorers tend to thrive at Adventure Camp, and we feel great about this success!
When people ask me about my job, I can honestly say that I love what I do. At Calleva, we get to make a difference in kids’ lives every single day. What could be better than that?