Biking, GaGa, Four Square, Kitchen and, as Sea Lions, Woodshop all open up to our campers as they turn five and enter Lower Camp. The periods go from 25 minutes to 50 minutes, allowing these young explorers to experience the activities more deeply. As Dolphins (5), Otters (5/6) and Sea Lions (6) expand their reach, they interact more and more with other groups and learn how to navigate mixed-age experiences. They begin to learn from their elders and guide their younger peers.
The cornerstone of the Hayground schedule is that of choice. Starting from the age of five, all campers are presented with 3-5 choices every period of every day. That means that they get to decide whether to go to Cooking, Gymnastics or Biking, Garden, Pool or Yoga. We believe that putting the power of choice into the hands of young people is a critical ingredient for them to learn about autonomy, personal responsibility and prioritization.
Staff in our Lower Camp groups are trained in helping campers with balance. There are challenges associated with making one's own choices and designing one's own experience. Should I do my favorite activity all the time? Should I go where my friend is going even though I don't have much experience with that activity? Should I try new things? Counselors are there to ask those questions and to help campers to push themselves outside of their comfort zones but also to dig deeply into their passions, manage old friendships and cultivate new ones.