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Camp Unalayee Association

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Camps, Children & Youth, Environment, Environmental Education, Recreation & Sports, Sports, Youth Development

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.

Community Stories

102 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee is an empowering, supportive, challenging, life-changing/enriching experience for everyone involved. And you leave with friends for life. I highly recommend this camp over any other! A place where you can truly be yourself and have the support and encouragement to face life’s challenges as well as the inspiration to do better. And it is located in an amazing wilderness area, that feeds your soul. This camp is a gem!!

L Nicole L.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a camper I loved beading and making silk-screen prints for t-shirts, but it was the backpacking that really made the biggest impact on my life. It showed me in a real and tangible way how strong and capable I could be, and I carried that with me away from camp. I was a counselor, then a volunteer when my work schedule became more demanding, and now serve on the board of directors. I still come up to Camp U to volunteer on work projects when I can, it is a gorgeous and special place.

Ben S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee is a life changing experience. Such a wonderful place for kids to experience the beautiful wilderness of Northern California with all its ecological diversity. Camp is a wonderful social space as well, encouraging lifelong friendships. And they are generous to low SES campers and their families as well. (Full disclosure: camper for 4 years, staff for 11!)

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a camper and then counselor at Unalayee, I saw it change many lives including my own. Camp gives kids the chance to really immerse themselves in the wilderness in a safe and fun way, and especially kids who otherwise would never have had that chance.

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Jay W.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

In the late 1970's, I was a backcountry ranger in what was to become the Trinity Alps Wilderness of northern California. I would spend five days a week on the trail, I would run into groups of campers and counselors from a nearby camp -- Camp Unalayee, wilderness summer camp run by the Camp Unalayee Association. One of my key duties was to provide information to groups on what was then called "low impact camping" and wilderness ethics. The groups from Camp Unalayee were always exemplary in their behavior. They would always leave a wilderness campsite cleaner than when they arrived. Above and beyond that, Camp Unalayee brought young people from a wide range of ethnic and economic backgrounds into the wilderness, which then and now can be a transformative experience. They called the camp a "Place of Friends." I believe Camp Unalayee is vitally important in today's world. Many years later, like 38, I joined the Board of Directors of the Camp Unalayee Association. It is today, a very well run and stable non-profit organization.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

To put it simply, Camp Unalayee is a very special place, especially for the youth who attend as campers. Located within the Trinity Alps Wilderness, this true, wilderness camp provides life-changing experiences for boys and girls who spend part of their summer at the camp. This "Place of Friends" allows campers to live in the outdoors for two-weeks at a time, unplugged, off-line, and engaged in a wide array of camp activities. From the walk into camp at the beginning of a session, to the end.....campers sleep under the stars, cook over a campfire, hike, rock climb, fish, canoe, and swim..so important in today's world.

Elizabeth S.6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son went for a journey into the mountains and learned how to make a fire, how to navigate, how to be alone and at peace in nature. Camp Unalayee helped him grow into a kind, gentle and capable person.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son loved his experience at Camp Unalayee. It introduced him to backpacking and was his first sleep away experience. He was beaming when we picked him up and definitely wants to return next year - and sign up for more hiking time next year. I particularly liked that they organize the camp such that the kids are building skills to become more independent (cooking their own meals).

Marcel2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

A life changing summercamp. I'm from The Netherlands, and I spend 3 summers at Unalayee. As a counelor in 1990, went back the next year, and a few years ago with mine daughter of 11 years old. And now she's in love on Unalayee too!!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm from The Netherlands and I was a counselor in 1990 and 1991. That was livechanging. In 2012 I wet back for the thirth time, but this time with mine 12 year old daughter. Is was an wonderfull experience for her too. Even now days she wants to go back and do it all over again.
Marcel Lancée, The Netherlands.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee has changed my life for the better in more ways than one. The outdoor experience that camp offers is unparalleled and the relationships that are created last a lifetime. I have met kids from all walks of life, an experience few are lucky enough to have.

Avery M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Camp Unayalee has honestly been one of the best experiences of my life. The camp counselors are so kind and caring to everyone, they are very enthusiastic, and helpful. The food is really good for being cooked over a campfire. Even if you don’t like backpacking this camp is still very fun!

David W.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Going to Camp Unalayee is something my daughter talks about and looks forward to ALL year. I highly recommend Unalayee to anyone with kids. It’s a very special place.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Both my kids looked forward all year to returning to Camp Unalayee. They love the supportive Unalayee community and adventuring in the Trinity Alps wilderness. I also went as a kid and it was truly life changing.

Fiona S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Not only have I been able to experience the beauty of the Trinity Alps Wilderness and develope talents needed to backpack over the past 8 summers, but I’ve also made long term friends with very diverse backgrounds—people who I never would have met if I hadn’t gone to Camp Unalayee, where we bonded through sharing the same highs and lows while backpacking in the wilderness.

rhiannon.aurora15

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee taught me skills I’ll use the rest of my life, and gave me friends I’ll never forget. It’s one of the most valuable organizations i have ever had the privilege to be a part of and I support it wholeheartedly

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee is an amazing experience. You can hike, swim, fish and live outdoors for two weeks every summer. The friends you make there can be lifelong and camp is always the highlight of my summer.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough about Unalayee. Certainly it has had a massive impact on my child’s life and has allowed her to grow succeed and be at peace with herself. But also Unalayee has exposed her to the larger world of kids and families who are different than hers. Here is truly an organization that walks its talk. Unalayee has a mission to support include and bring the beauty power and grace of the wilderness to everyone and in everything they do they work towards that mission. We are glad they are a part of our family.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son doesn’t always get to participate in everything that his friends do, because we have limited resources and are a single parent family. Thanks to this camp, he is able to take these amazing adventures with a group of friends that he has grown up with. It is something he will never forget and will help shape who he becomes. Thank you!

Tom Dodd

Client Served

Rating: 5

I sent both of my kids to this camp, and they both had wonderful experiences. Since then I've attended several family days camps myself with friends, and have gotten another generation of kids turned on by the camp. It's an amazing environment, creative, loving, community building. It transforms kids into their best selves in the wild and beautiful and challenging camp experience.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

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Katie57

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee is a life-changing place. Where children learn to be more communal, self-reliant and connect with nature in a way that is a rare this day and age. They also gain self respect through overcoming challenges. The staff is uniquely dedicated and caring. Doing their best to ensure that children have a special time.

Previous Stories

Former staff

Rating: 5

Awesome summer camp that changed my life. It has led me to my friends, family and most of all to my community.
I started going camp Unalayee at 12 and at 32 I can't wait till my children are old enough to attend.
Through wilderness, backpacking, and a close knit community you learn so much about your self when your there.

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Claire Rossi de L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to camp there 3 years in a row as a kid! I’m not studying Environmental Science in college and hike as often as I can! Thanks:)

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Changed my life and worldview, and now changing my daughter’s!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

When our son was 13, he decided he wanted to go to a sleep-away-from-home camp. We looked into several and decided that Camp Unalayee would be a good place. I called the camp office and got several references. I called one of the numbers and the following conversation ensued. "Hi, is this xxx?" 'No, I am sorry you have the wrong number." "Oh, please excuse me, I apologize for disturbing you" (I am ready to hang up phone.) Woman on the other end says "Why are you calling me? I feel like I really should be talking to you." I say, "Nothing, never mind, I am sorry to bother you." She is very insistent, "Please, why are you calling." I say, "Well, I got your number for a camp reference.". She says, "Oh. Unalayee. I should have known." Conversation about camp follows, the essence of which is "Camp Unalayee made my kids the people they are today." Fast forward several years. Our son, who is now 27? I would say with confidence-- "Camp Unalayee made him the person he is today." And we are proud of that person. Thank you Unalayee. And the mysterious reference from years ago.

Review from #MyGivingStory

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a Happy Camper mother. My son attended Camp Unalayee some 30 years ago and nearly every following Summer since that first adventure. As he grew older, he became a counselor in training, then a counselor, later he helped manage program, and after training as a paramedic and finally a fireman, he acts as a medic backup. His wife and daughters attend family camp each year and his oldest, now 12, dreams of becoming a counselor.
What more can I say, Camp Unalayee is our family. Thank you "Place of Friends".

Client Served

Rating: 5

My boy Rio loves camp Unalayee like a home away from home. He would stay all summer if he could! He talks about it all year long and plans to become a CIT and then a counselor when he's old enough. He has gone for three summers straight since he turned 10, and each time he returns from camp, he seems different.....more grounded, mature and centered. We feel so blessed to have Camp Unalayee to help us raise a compassionate and generous-hearted boy!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Both my daughter and son have attended Unalayee and loved it. It's an inclusive, creative, calming atmosphere and the staff and campers let each kid be themselves. Art and the outdoors are celebrated. Highly recommend!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee is a wonderful organization and I feel incredibly lucky to be connected with them. For me, the most outstanding feature is joy: so many people are always not only excited to be there but deep-down joyful. The beauty of the wilderness setting has a lot to do with this, of course, but it’s the air of confidence and calm that matters most: all the staff and many of the older campers seem to be thinking “we are capable and know what to do, it’s not complicated, we can live fully in this moment.”

Campers learn practical skills, get stronger, make friends, and build self-confidence - but in the end the experience is much more than that. Camp Unalayee strikes a rare balance between promoting group experience - with the goal that everyone helps out and everyone belongs - and honoring individuality - giving campers choices of activities, alone time when needed, and many opportunities to perform and create. And another balance comes to mind, between economy and exuberance: the economy of leaving few traces and living simply; the exuberance of the long hike and the high peak climbed, the all-out splashing game on the shore of the lake, the crazy performances improvised around the campfire. These essential social, ethical, and emotional lessons are not deliberately “taught” or forced, they just grow naturally out of the camp experience.

I am the parent of a camper who returned for many years, and I myself participated as an adult camper at family days and as a volunteer. We paid when we could, took advantage of camperships when we couldn’t, and plan to keep giving back for the rest of our lives.

Josh I.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Camp unalayee has been a highlight for our teenage son the last 2 summers. The first summer as a 12yo he participated as a camper as basecamp. He came home with tremendous stories about great activities, fun cooperative games, and amazing backpacking trips. Last year, as a 13 yo, he did a 12 day backpacking trip through the Trinity Alps. His wonderful stories of wilderness, camaraderie, and working together to get his 'tribe' through the trip made me feel like he got a lot more out of camp than just fun. Cam Unalayee has given our child a unique experience outside of what the other 340 days a year are like for him and helped him become more independent, able to work together wirh others better, and love the outdoor.

Previous Stories

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee has been a fantastic opportunity for my children! My son and daughter have expressed amazing experiences and emotions that I dont think kids normally get. Listening to silence, seeing a bear, swimming in the mountains, singing around a campfire, and howling at the moon! The friendships at the camp are rich and they look forward to seeing these friends year after year.

Kirsten7

Client Served

Rating: 5

Every summer since 2010 (or was it 2009?) our boys have gone from campers to counselors in training, and then to work as counselors, first spending 2 weeks in the Trinities and Marbles, now about 9 weeks. Each step of the way, Camp U has been just an amazing community that manages to wrap together fun, growth, challenge, friendship and so much more. As a parent, I see camp from a gravel parking lot where we drop them off and pick them up - for me that lot is one of my favorite destinations, especially at pick-up when we see the kids emerge from the woods, dirty, scraped up, energized and calm at the same time. Ever grateful it's been a part of our lives, and quite certain it always will be! Thank you Camp U!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son who is now a senior in high school has attended Camp Unalayee ever summer from the time he was 12. It has become his special place to go every summer and he looks forward to it for months. Over the years my son has grown from a very timid shy kid to a very confident and driven young man. I credit a lot of that confidence to the time he spent at Camp. Time where he can hang out in the wilderness, with his people, and not worry about the stresses of everyday life. I can't say enough good things about this program.

Billy13

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee changed my life. A city kid all my life, this camp brought me lifelong friends and wonderful experiences. Honored to be part of the family at this magical place.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

There is no place my kids would rather be! the counselors! the food!! the hikes! the camaraderie! the location! the lakes! the education! the animals! the bus ride! TOTAL kids package!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is the place of dreams. Once you go it's always on your mind I can't wait for next year when this year just ended, great kids and family camp, would highly recommend

Shirley U.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee gave my daughter the time and space to challenge herself and free herself. Her experience was beyond beautiful and energizing. She has muscles inside and out upon her return. She sled down a snowy mountain in July and had counselors who nurtured her freedom and skills. What a wonderful camp. So very grateful. A must do !

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

My child had SO much fun! She learned a lot about herself and the way she interacts with others. I felt that she grew much more here than in any other place.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Unalayee has been an amazing experience for my daughter. She has gained a confidence not only about hiking and camping but about her place in the world. She has made great friends and talks about camp year round!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Unilayee was an awesome experience for my shy reserved girl. She blossomed in good company and was positively radiant upon her return from camp. A real game changer for her self esteem! Thank you Camp Unalayee!!

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Unalayee is an incredible community and environment that provides campers and staff the opprotunity for immense positive growth physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. I've witnessed so many campers bloom into self-confident, capable, caring, team-players with a newfound reverence for nature and the medicine it provides. The staff are experienced, highly skilled, aware, well-trained, incredibly enthusiastic and awesome role models for the campers. This camp fosters the expression of each unique person in a caring accepting community. Truly a place of friends that enriches the lives of all who experience it!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A great way to nurture community! My daughter went to Unalayee and loved it! She will never forget carrying the shovel on the trail! I will never foget how thrilled she was to explore the wilderness among friends, the wide open sky, forever in her heart.