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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

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

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


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.

1 Thomas36

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

All I have to say is : Search YouTube Thomas Svensson Camp Unalayee !!! Theres TONS of PROOF of a R E A L CAMP !!!

Shana L.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Being a counselor at Camp Unalayee was my first job when I moved to northern California. A fellow graduate student at the University of Michigan had referred me to the director, and I was hooked. I was lucky enough to work there for a summer, which led to other environmental education jobs and teaching experiences. Since then, I have recommended Camp to several students over the years, and each has been positively influenced in some way. My son has gone to Family Days since he was one; this will be his 11th year. It is a truly special place for the whole family. I find such a place even more important, now that electronic screens are so ubiquitous: at Camp Unalayee, kids are unplugged, and they love it!


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have known this camp since 1970. It truly focuses on helping young people see that they can extend themselves beyond their perceived limitations. Whether it is physical, emotional, interpersonal, or spiritual Unalayee challenges youth and staff to go one step beyond. Started as an interracial project by the Quakers they have used the wilderness experience as a vehicle to build strong individuals who can contribute toward a balanced society. Bob Strickler, LCSW and former director.

Samuel M.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For anyone who has ever spent time at Camp Unalayee, memories represent their personal happy place that they send their mind to in stressful times. Children are actually taught to value others, respect the natural world, and to generally be flat-out awesome people. They do not preach morals or ethical values beyond common sense coexistence and conservation. They take children from all socioeconomic backgrounds, throw them out into the wilderness for 2 weeks and return them as caring, self-aware, self-assured individuals (albeit slightly dirty from all the hiking) that begin eyeballing their calendars in anticipation of their earliest opportunity to go back. With a program that includes backpacking in pristine wilderness, rock climbing, swimming, canoeing, fishing, cooking, a plethora of arts and craft activities, and an impressive counselor-in-training program; Camp Unalayee represents a comprehensive outdoor summer camp experience. As a camper, counselor, and now-volunteer I have been able to watch this organization empower children to be the kind-hearted, introspective, outgoing, leaders of tomorrow that we all can attest we as a people need.