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: 5 stars   Featured Review

Camp Unalayee is the most life changing community I have ever been apart of. It is more than a summer camp; it is a powerful, loving family that is deeply passionate about showing children and families how sacred and beautiful nature is, as well as the importance of trust, respect, and courage. There is no place in the world I'd rather be. Camp Unalayee is the only place I can be my true self 100% of the time. I am accepted for who I am, I am challenged to be the best person I can be, and I am honored for expressing myself fully. Camp Unalayee encourages us to dig deep down into the depths of our hearts and souls and to celebrate growth, friendship, challenge, courage, music, laughter, wilderness, community, and FUN. The friendships I've made at Camp Unalayee are the strongest I've ever had. My friends, family and myself have all noticed what a positive impact Camp Unalayee has had on me these past 5 years. I'm more confidant, thoughtful, healthy, and compassionate. Camp has touched me and changed me in a way that I am eternally grateful for. In my first week up in those mountains, I felt like I had been grabbed by a hook and pulled deep into its core. I will forever be connected to Camp Unalayee. It's the closest to utopia I've ever been. I am so incredibly grateful for Camp Unalayee.

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?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I've been a part of Camp Unalayee most of my life. First as a camper, then as staff as a young adult and then back again in middle age when my own kids were camper age, and now into my senior years. It changed my life, formed it really. It is truly The Place of Friends. Everyone in my family loves camp and it will always be the place we can come home to.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I was a camper at Camp Unalayee, for 8 years. To say going to camp made for the best summers of my life would be an understatement, going to camp honestly changed my life. I am 24 years old now, and am still friends with people that I met my first year at camp when I was 11. I have found shelter with camp people all over the country, all of whom share my complete passion and love for Camp Unalayee. Camp Unalayee not only helped me appreciate a life outside of the internet and cell phones, but helped me grow more confident in my abilities to over come challenges, and really work and live as a community. I can't say enough about how much Camp Unalayee means to me.

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

...not change anything.

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?

2013

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Camp Unalayee is, perhaps, the world's last rural outdoor camp. It provides an amazing, mulit-cultural, mixed socio-economic environmental experience for kids. It's a true, grass-roots organization, and runs entirely on volunteers and lightly paid staff. It's been around for 50+ years. It's hidden away in the Trinity Alps. It's a very special place - everyone should send their kids there.

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

Probably time to bring the fundraising part of the business into the modern world and expand the mission

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?

2013

 
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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  

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

 
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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

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I have volunteered at Camp Unalayee for 18 years, and have watched the camp experience change the lives of the kids that attend, as well as the volunteers. I plan to be there every summer, as long as I am we'll enough to totter up the hill.

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?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

This summer was my 20th year at Camp Unalayee. I met all of my best lifelong friends and mentors there. I have enjoyed amazing wilderness adventures with amazing and wonderful people from all over the world there. I cannot say enough about how great Camp Unalayee is and how important it has been in shaping me into the strong independent wilderness woman that I am today. I carry with me always the most important rule of camp, respect. Respect myself, others and the world around me. Thank you Camp Unalayee! I look forward to spending my next 20 summers in the Trinity Alps Wilderness with all of my friends new and old.

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?

2012

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

Camp Unalayee is the greatest place on Earth! This year will be my 20th summer, I have been going as a camper, counselor, board member, volunteer and client since I was 9. I have learned and grown so much at camp. The best part about going to camp all of theses years is the amazing relationships I have developed with the community of friends I have made there. I look forward to the next 20 years of summers in the rugged Trinity Alps Mountains wilderness with the greatest people and spring water ever!

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?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Camp Unalayee was one of the great experiences of my childhood, teens and adulthood. The impact it had on my life and the foundation it provided is profound and hard to put into words.

Plus it was a lot of fun. I went the first time when I was 10 and cried for a week - tried to go home. After that I didn't want to leave and went back every summer for 10 years for all 3 sessions, became a CIT at 17 and a counselor at 18. I went back last summer after 30 years of being away, and in a virtual world of texting and computer relationships realized these kinds of wilderness experiences are more important than ever.

Our youth is so far removed from the "real" world with their iPhones and IMing and instantaneous virtual/visual stimulation and computer graphics that to travel to the Trinity Alps is truly like a journey into another era.

And from what I saw last summer, it is having the same positive impact on teens in the 21st century as it did on us oldsters from the 1970s - it opens your eyes to a world that is fast disappearing, and the skills it gives you translate into everyday life, giving new confidence, awareness, appreciation and compassion.

The wilderness experience forces kids to draw on reserves of strength they never realized they possessed - which will carry on into other areas of life when faced with situations that call for that same strength. Except after Camp they will know that strength is there, and bring it forth.

I cannot emphasize enough my deep appreciation for Camp Unalayee and how it has helped me through life to this day.

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

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Send your kids there this summer! It will change their lives forever (for the better, of course!). I have been going there since I was two and I recommend it for everyone. The beautiful wilderness, the amazing people and friendships made. It is the most unique place in the world!

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

How to work together with love and compasion.

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

Help them financially so more people could attend.

 
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