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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Chewonki Foundation Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Educational Services, Elementary & Secondary Schools, Environment, Environmental Education, Literacy, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection

Mission: Chewonki inspires transformative growth, teaches appreciation and stewardship of the natural world, and challenges people to build thriving, sustainable communities throughout their lives. Chewonki serves people of all ages throughout the year. The living is simple and our communities are always small. We teach and learn in settings that take advantage of indoor and outdoor classrooms, the woods and water of Maine and beyond, as well as the land and buildings of our 400 acre campus.

Target demographics: Students from K-12, adults, families, active senior citizens.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 20,000 young people have an educational experience that taught them about the natural world.

Geographic areas served: Maine, New England, United States, Abroad

Programs: a semester school for high school juniors, summer camp programs for boys and girls, wilderness trips for teenagers, outdoor classroom programs for school groups, traveling natural history programs.

Community Stories

201 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization that does well by the local and broader community it serves. Takes its mission of environmental education and creating nurturing learning environment seriously and succeeds.

4

Advisor

Rating: 5

If you are looking for an organization dedicated to environmental education for students of all ages, look no further than the 501(c)(3) Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, Maine. It will meet your highest expectations (as it has mine), whether your interest is in a summer camp for boys or girls on a 400n acre Roger Tory Peterson Sanctuary on the Maine coast, or to study up-to-date methods to conserve energy. Programs, led by well trained knowledgeable leaders, stress community building and foundation owned properties throughout Maine offer many ecological habitats for study. They are reached by hikes, boats and kayaks.
It has been a pleasure to be associated with Chewonki for over over 70 years as a camper, counselor, board member and advisor. My time there led to advanced degrees and professional positions in environmental education.

Comments ( 1 )

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Betta 11/01/2013

Thanks for being our 200th reviewer Renny!

2 Carol Ann P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chewonki offers campers and students opportunities to unplug, reflect, learn and grow. My sons have had the challenging and rewarding experience of participating in Wilderness Trips. And we have a soon-to-be-Semester student in the house!
I had the privilege of volunteering in the Development Office for about 3 weeks. I remain impressed w/ Chewonki's crystal clear mission statement, generous scholarship awards and the exceptional quality of people that Chewonki attracts and retains.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chewonki fosters an appreciation for the simple things, for the environment, for meeting a challenge head on, and for living and working in community with others. This appreciation often shifts a person's (especially a young person's) entire worldview. This is the magic of Chewonki. You hear over and over and over again: former Chewonki participants say that Chewonki has changed their lives. It changed my life.

3 Caitlin C.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Never before have I been a part of such a caring and thoughtful community. Both camps (in Wiscasset and at Fourth Debsconeag) attract the most interesting and inspiring people from all around the globe, and I am honored to say that I worked there for two summers. Every trip leader and staff person I have met at Chewonki puts all of their energy and passion into each day.

The Chewonki Foundation is an exceptional community filled with beautiful people. I hope to return to Chewonki as a trip leader again. I would hope too that those unfamiliar to this place would come and join us for the days to come!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience at Chewonki changed my life. After graduating from their semester program, I went on to join their Girls Camp leadership program and later became staff. The lessons that I learned at Chewonki will stay with me forever; more than technical wilderness skills, I learned how to listen, to create and foster community, and to lead others to their own self-discovery. All this because of the outstanding staff and programming at Chewonki.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chewonki is a fantastic organization that I hope to stay involved with. One of their programs is a Semester School for high school juniors, of which I was a student this past spring. It was one of the best things I've ever done!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Chewonki Foundation changed the way I will live my life forever. I went for a semester last year and learned about the importance of finding my true self, exploring the world, how to truly enjoy learning, and it taught me so much about agriculture. The people that are a part of this Foundation have hearts bigger than anyone I have ever met. They are experts in what they teach and their goal is to truly better this world and create leaders that will make a change. I will always go back to Chewonki knowing it is my home and where I found people that cared whole heartedly about me and the things I love. A feeling like that does not come easily and requires a lot of thought and skill. This is such a wonderful foundation in every way shape and form.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Chewonki Foundation has educated and inspired young people for almost 100 years! I was a student in a year-round program in 1975, a wilderness trip participant, a wilderness trip leader and now a board member. Much of what I did in my professional and academic life hails back to what I learned about myself and the interests I developed at Chewonki. The foundation has a wonderful, vast campus and fantastic staff. Its teachers lead by example to impart their reverence and knowledge of the natural world, high school academics, wilderness adventures and leadership - the list goes on. I, like most folks who've had the good fortune of being in a program at Chewonki, was transformed by my experiences there.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

No doubt Chewonki changed my life. Granted, I am one to believe that every experience you have changes your life in some way, but Chewonki changed mine in a significant and positive way. I have experienced the organization in a few different capacities: I was a semester student during my junior year of high school--a program that provides value for almost anyone, from anywhere. We worked and learned and explored in atypical ways, and I will certainly never forget those four months. I keep in touch with my classmates and teachers equally. Secondly, I participated in Chewonki's Wilderness Leadership Expedition during the summer after the Semester School. I got a taste of what is a virtually unmatched wilderness trip program for teens, and was able to learn a great deal about white water canoeing technique, as well as leadership skills and wilderness medical training. It sounds cliché but I think I'm going to say it anyway: Chewonki builds an extremely strong bond among its community, such that wherever I go, if I meet a Chewonki person, I know we will have more than enough to talk about

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

Chewonki changed my life, and I know it will continue to change the lives of others for decades to come.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked for Chewonki for three summers at their boys camp. It changed my life. It's hard to put into words, but I will never forget my experiences there.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I participated in their semester program as a junior in high school, and I've gone to visit several times since -- the organization encourages development of an authentic self, and they still remember me and treat me like family. The experience taught me to believe in the inherent value of my individuality, and to recognize my capacity to work for socially responsible changes in the world. It drove me to alter my list of colleges to apply to, switch majors, and pursue a career path I wouldn't have considered before.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Chewonki has had a profound influence on my life and three of my children as well.

When I think of my years as a camper and counselor two words come to mind joy and core values. From its very beginnings in 1915, the people who serve this incredible organization as teachers, volunteers, cooks, managers, etc. have found ways to expose participants to the joy of being with and learning from the lessons nature provides. We have all benefited from the experiences of jointing together in community to become better responsible citizens.

I recommend a Chewonki experience to anyone seeking a safe place where people genuinely care for each other while providing ample room for joyful experience and personal growth.

Not many organizations stay in business for a hundred years. I takes a successful track record to stay in business this long. And with the continuing support of all those who are touched by its good work I pray for another successful 100 years.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been associated with Chewonki for over 50 years as a camper, employee, board member and now an advisory board member. Operating a boys camp, girls camp, co-ed wilderness trips, a semester school for high school juniors and an outreach natural history program that reaches thousands of students each year school,the organaztion provides a foundation for young people to grow, mature, learn and interact in the natural world around them. Lessons learned here have been passed on from generation to generation as well as world wide.

1 Terry45

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering since November 2011. I come to Chewonki for one day(sometimes two) a week to help create The Chewonki Archives. Chewonki was founded almost one hundred years ago. It is a really fun project as we have amazing albums, photographs, the papers of the founder Clarence Allen, plus movies, audio and memorabilia. All the staff at Chewonki are so positive and enthusiastic, it is a joy to be part of the organization. As I am there so much, I have gotton to know many people and work together. Chewonki lives the values that it is teaching, and being part of that is what makes volunteering at Chewonki great. We listen to each other and respect each other. The people that work at Chewonki are cheerful, caring and always ready to help each other and pitch in. We have dish crew where everyone takes turns cleaning up after lunch. Usually 5 people have signed up and its actually really fun, because everyone is working together in harmony.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

We discovered Chewonki for our sons through Boys Camp and Wilderness Trips. Not only did the boys have a great time through repeat programs but they also learned about themselves, the natural world, and the community of people - especially counselors and program directors - who loved their company and their universe, who formed honest, personal relations with the boys. We now have personal experience with nearly all of Chewonki's programs through the friends and family we have introduced to its programs. I became involved to give back but it's Chewonki that gives back so generously to me. My hope as a board member is that we can keep Chewonki strong - and help make it even stronger - while making its programs available to even more children, teens and adults. Chewonki is a superb advocate for a joyful but also a thoughtful, intentional relationship to social communities and the natural world. The world needs Chewonki and I am so very honored to be a small part of such a powerful and transformative organization. There are many best parts of Chewonki but one of the very best of all that superiority is the people.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

What makes Chewonki a great organization is the people who lead it, and the space where you are when you help at Chewonki. My most memorable afternoon in recent years was when I turned myself over to the staff at the farm and did what I was told. I had a chance to help prepare a field (and learn the difference between rock walls in New England), collect eggs from the hens (and have one for breakfast the next day) and milk a cow! The sky above us that beautiful afternoon is not one I will soon forget. And the lessons I learned from Megan are not soon forgotten!

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Chewonki is an amazing place where children and adults can learn more about the natural world and the future of sustainability while also learning more about themselves! The organization is filled with dedicated professionals who spend endless amounts of time and energy improving the environment around them.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

Chewonki simply does good work. My experience with Chewonki includes attending the Chewonki Semester School, leading wilderness trips, and serving as an Advisor. More than any other organization I have encountered Chewonki does one critical thing very well. It is conscientious and intentional about pursuing programs that achieve its mission. While this may be a high-level success, it is extremely rare among non-profits and for-profits alike. Luckily for its students, the adherence to Chewonki's mission comes without pretension or dogma, and it translates into extremely impactful, educational, and fun experiences in the outdoors. I don't know anyone who has left their Chewonki experience without feeling enriched and challenged to live a more intentional and conscientious life of their own.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

I'm the parent of a Chewonki Semester School student - that was over 20 years ago. Chewonki changed my son's life. He learned what it means to be a trusted member of a community, learned to be a steward of the natural world, and found an outlet for his quirky sense of humor. I'm happy to say that he never recovered from the experience. He returned to work as a camp counselor for many years, a math intern, and the IT person. My husband and I have been Chewonki enthusiasts for years, and two years ago I became an Advisor to the organization. I've heard wonderful things about the girl's camp, and look forward to seeing granddaughter become a camper. Chewonki manages to stay true to its mission while at the same time keeping pace with changes in technology, educational pedagogy, and environmental pressures. It is just a magnificent organization!