Camp Unalayee Association

Rating: 4.98 stars   57 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Environment, Sports

Location: 3921 E Bayshore Rd Palo Alto CA 94303 USA

Mission: Camp Unalayee is a wilderness camp for kids from all walks of life, begun in 1949. We are a community that cultivates a deep respect for the natural world. Our programs offer a balance of freedom and responsibility that generates self-confidence while creating a safe place for kids to discover their own creativity, new friendships and a unique sense of community. Our campers: · Grow through personal challenge and cooperative living · Develop respect for themselves and others · Develop a sense of self and the confidence to stand up for what they believe · Experience challenges and unexpected accomplishment · Have life changing experiences that stay with them forever · Become stewards of wild places We stand for: · A deep love of the wilderness · A commitment to self-discovery and responsibility · A dedication to transformation · Being a place of friends Camp provides a world away from technology where kids have fun working together and becoming a part of a community and a place they can always come home to.
Target demographics: Children age 10-17 from all economic, cultural, ethnic, and social backgrounds.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 145 campers per year come to summer camp on scholarship.
Programs: Unalayee operates a wilderness summer camp for children ages 10 -17. Campers live in small groups outdoors, prepare and cook their own meals. They spend 1/2 of the two week session on the trail exploring the natural world and learning wilderness skills. We also have a teen leadership program and a two-week backpacking program for more intensive primitive and outdoor skill development.
2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 94-1422951
650-969-6313
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Community Reviews

Rating: 4 stars  

Camp Unalayee was a place where I was allowed, as a camper, to be whoever I chose to be. As a teenager, that was a truly important thing. When I came back to camp as a counselor, it gave me a profound experience that shapes my work as a major gift fundraising. Camp Unalayee taught me that you can't keep a great experience to yourself. It is the reason that I crafted a course to help others raise money for charitable ideas they think are worth their time. Occasionally, even in Europe, I have worn my Unalayee shirt out and had the surprise of meeting fellow alumni with the most wonderful stories that often leave me wishing I were back at Mosquito Lake. The most important thing a charity can do is inspire loyalty and Unalayee does it better than almost every organisation I have consulted or worked for.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Quite well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

1998

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Rating: 5 stars  

It was a wonderful and memorable experience to be one of the international counselor at Camp Unalayee in 1992. At then in 1992, It was my 1st time visiting USA, my 1st trip leaving Singapore all by myself, 1st long haul flight journey from Singapore to US, 1st time taking an aircraft, 1st time attending the summer camp, this was an awesome and exciting journey for me.
The camp has fantastic orientation program for all counselor before the summer camp season starts. Not forgetting the caring and fatherly camp director - Lowell Fitch who has followed through with me to ensure that I could adapt to the complete wilderness at Camp Unalayee which I have no experience at all while I was staying in a big city in Singapore. My sincere heartfelt appreciation to Lowell Fitch and his mother, this experience has significant impact in my personal development and my great interests towards wilderness.
In addition, I were privileged to have a few great mentor/buddy who have guided me - Craig , Bob , Katherine , Rueben. All these names were deeply imprinted in my mind despite it has been more than 21 years ago.
It was an enjoyable time spending three sessions with kids coming from different background and upbringing. There were so much fun in participating and organizing tie dye workshop at craft shack, teaching the kids to speak Mandarin, cooking over the fire using pint cone as a fire starter, leading the kids for hiking trip, baking delicious cake in the kitchen, experiencing solo nights during the hiking trip, sleeping in the tent with deer roaming around me, kayaking in the freezing lake water, camp fire on special day and so many more . These experiences were 21 years ago yet every details of the experience were still so cleared.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Keep the fantastic experience for each and every kid to enjoy and appreciation of wilderness, this is the best and unique experience for them. Possible to get more funding from the government so there are more kid could participate in this special backpacking experience in the wilderness.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

1997

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Rating: 5 stars  

For the second year in a row my two grandsons enjoyed a two-week Camp Unalayee adventure! Upon returning home, each said, "Oh, I can't wait to go NEXT year...AND I can't wait 'til I can become a junior counselor!". Both my son and daughter in law continue active participation in the camp.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

Camp Unalayee is the finest wilderness backpacking summer camp in the country. Sounds too strong. No it is not. What other summer camp is inside a USFS wilderness area, is located on a spring fed Alpine lake, has the PCT pass though its property, has a dozen or more Alpine lakes within a days hike distance and requires all its campers to don a backpack and hike over the ridge for 2 and 3 nite overnights.

If you want your child to learn to go into the mountains and the woods safely and confidently send them to Camp Unalayee. Your child will not be left inside.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Encourage the trail hikes to go farther, to go 100+ miles like we used to do.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

Unalayee arguably may be the best wilderness, backpacking summer camp in the U.S. if you want your child to love the mountains, to feel comfortable in the mountains, in the wilderness, let them come here. They won't regret it. And no one ever comes to Unalayee for the money, we all volunteer here even if we get paid. An amazing place.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I was a camper at Camp Unalayee about 23 years ago, when I was 14 years old. I only went to Camp U once, but the wonderful memories from my wilderness experience with them come back to me often.

What comes back to me most persistently is the kinship I felt with nature beauty of the wilderness, which kindled a life-long awareness of my interdependence with the more-than-human world. The trails of the trinity-alps, the views of Mt. Shasta, the cool and sweet waters of the mountain streams...these were some amazing days immersed in a rugged and incredible landscape. Simultaneously the staff helped to kindle friendships that were emotionally strong and compassionate. We were expected to encourage and support each other, and I remember the kindness of the campers who were with, although I had never met them before.

I would recommend Camp Unalayee to young people who are interested in the out-of-doors and backpacking, and to parents who are interested in having their children develop a loving relationship with the more-than-human world. This is an excellent program.

-Michael Caulkins, BA, MSc, PhD

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

1997

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

THe knowledge and confidence I gained as a camper at Camp Unalayee was unique and something I couldn't get anywhere else. It really harnesses the power of the wilderness and communities to build you up.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I really can't think of anything I would change. I wish it was closer to where I live now.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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Rating: 5 stars  

The first time I came to camp was after finishing 8th grade. I live in Israel and came to camp as a means to improve my English. As it turned out, this experience had pretty much changed my life. When I was there I felt at home. In the end of this session and before even talking to my parents i said to people: "see you next summer" because not coming back didn't seem possible. I did come back last year for to sessions and in one of them I participated the CIT training which was amazing. I will be back this summer as well for another two sessions.
The Unalayee community is unique and amazing. Everybody feel at home there, even people from the other side of the globe. It's a great fun spending the summer in such a loving and caring community. i felt stronger when i left Unalayee, it helped also a lot after leaving, back in Israel. After spending there only two summers i can already refer to it as a second home of mine.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

This is such an amazing community! Last summer I participated in the CIT program, and I loved it so much I decided to come back as a counselor this year. When I first got to camp, it was apparent that most of the campers had been coming for many years, this being my first year, I had no clue what to expect. By the end of the first week I didn't feel out of place at all, and I had such a great time I ended coming back for the next session! Such a strong community of unique and creative people (the campers and counselors)

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Camp Unalayee is a wonderful camp that introduces kids to the Wilderness. They bring kids to the mountains who have never walked anywhere there was not a sidewalk before. The provide generous financial assistance, so any child that wants to go can.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

One of the very best things I ever did for my kids was put them on the bus to Camp Unalayee. Not only did they flourish with their time in the high lakes country and become avid backpackers, they also found a large family, a network of friends that are incredibly supportive and interesting, and probably found the best friends of their lives. I've since involved other friends with sending another generation of kids to Unalayee, and they too treasure the community as much as the place. I love going there myself for family camps, trekking around to the beautiful lakes that dot the mountains.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

Best thing i ever did for my kids was send them off to Camp Unalayee. The both remain ardent backpackers with a love of the wilderness, and my daughter still works there as a counselor many years later. And to top it off, i enjoy going to the family camp and introducing other young kids to the experience. Its the great non-video game alternative to engage your kids in the real world.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing the glow on my kids' faces after a couple of weeks in the high country.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

i wouldn't change it at all.

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