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Always Coming Back Home To You

WFE1Always Coming Back Home To You

In all of the Where Are They Now interviews the interviewees (members of our community who have been away from the physical space of camp for some time now) have brought up an important facet of the Wayfinder community. The idea that you can leave camp for any amount of time, and you will always be welcomed back in. The way I have always pictured it is to see camp and our community within that physical space (even though we’re not always at the same location the physical space when the community comes together for an event) as a circle. No matter how long you step away from that circle, we will always have a spot for you to return to. There is no guarantee that you will come back to see the same faces as when you left, and more than likely there will be more new ones than familiar ones. I can promise though that you will be welcomed with the same warmth, the same love that you had when you left.

It helps this idea (both the circle I picture in my head, and the reality of returning to camp) that we put a lot of practice into doing this. At the start of every camp, and then again each morning, we open with a circle. During this time everyone is invited to share how they are feeling, what new experiences they have had since the last circle they were a part of, whether it has been hours or years since they held that space. An exercise I’ve always loved in our circles is when we take a silent moment, look around the circle person by person, and smile at every face that we see. It doesn’t matter who they are or how well you know them, every face you come across is returning that feeling to you.

WFE2Due to the setup of our community around a summer camp, there is always going to be some change in the people who are attending. People’s lives move forward. They go to college. They get jobs. They move on to whatever the world holds next for them. Spending summers at camp you get used to the rotating nature of the people around you. Every time someone new comes to camp it’s a chance to bring someone new into the fold. It’s always exciting to see what they bring into the space with them. New games. New ideas. There’s also, almost guaranteed, to be a friend who has been long absent. Someone who wasn’t able to be at camp for whatever reasons, or you two just haven’t been at the same weeks. Every camp is a chance to reenter these friendships. The function of being a summer camp means that the majority of the people at camp will not see each other maybe nine months out of the year. The friendships we have suspend in time, they tie to the space we hold at camp. It’s why it’s so easy for us to come and go in each other’s lives, to maintain relevance, as Marika put it so well a few weeks ago. We have grown use to coming home to each other.

It can be hard to understand making your home in other people. The idea of home we are always sold probably attaches to a specific structure or town. My home is Wayfinder. It has been since I was 13 years old and came to my first camp. Since then I’ve spent time with Wayfinder at upwards of twenty different lands and locations. No matter where we go, no matter what difficulties that land possesses (everything from giant mosquitos to non-potable water) I know I will be home. Home is the place where you can be yourself, whatever the most honest version of that looks like. Camp is a place where not only are we encouraged to be our real selves, we take time to work on that piece. I talked a couple weeks ago about how characters help us build ourselves so I don’t need to go deeply into it again here, but feeling at home in that space is a big portion of being able to do that work.

WFE3I’ve lived in six states and three time zones. I’ve told myself more springs than I’d like to admit that the coming summer would be my last one at camp, that it was time for me to grow up and move on to a new home. In 2014 I didn’t go to camp for the first time since I started in 2003. The year that followed was one of the hardest, most isolated of my life. There were a lot of external strains that led to this throughout the year as well, but I would be lying if I didn’t notice the weight of not getting to come home to camp and be me. Not having the time to put my stress aside and sit in a circle and fall asleep in the grass when I’m probably not supposed to (OK I’m definitely not supposed to and am probably supposed to be running the circle). Camp is my home. Who knows how long we get to call any one particular place home? If you get the chance to, come back. We miss you.

Written by Judson Easton Packard.

Published 4/7/2017

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Apprentices

Wayfinder Apprentice Program

The Wayfinder Apprentice program is a way for the younger members of our community to learn the core skills that not only allow people to work at the Wayfinder Experience, but have allowed so many of our alumni to go on to successful careers in positions from Website Developer to published Graphic Novelist. Apprentices must apply using the application below in order to be considered for a position. Deadlines will be posted specific to the event. We look for Apprentices who not only show potential and interest in the skills that we are able to develop, but also people who will be a good influence on the community, are ready to be role models for younger participants, and bring a positive attitude to the work environment. If you think that you might be a good fit, send us an application today!

  • Eligibility for Apprenticeships begins at age 15 for day camps and 16 for overnight camps.
  • An applicant should have attended at least two official Wayfinder Experience events, preferably week-long summer camps. 
  • Prospective Apprentices may apply in any or all of the following Departments for an event: Costuming, Sets & Props, Game System, Story, Theater, Play. Wayfinder Experience will place the applicant in a department based on availability and event needs.
  • Overnight Apprentices must register for the events which they are working. Day Camp Apprentices do not have to register.
  • Apprentices are legally considered campers and must follow all camper procedures and requirements.
  • Apprentices will coordinate directly with the head of their department to receive assignments and ask any questions they may have. The Department Head will be responsible for leading the Apprentice through a training program.
  • Any difficulties felt by either the Apprentice or the Department Head in terms of their working relationship should be directed to the Event Director, Programming Director or the Committee for Community Concerns to be dealt with accordingly.
  • Apprentices will be evaluated at the end of the event by their immediate supervisor.
  • We want to push Apprentices to learn a variety of skills. As such you will be expected to work in multiple departments during your time as an Apprentice.
  • An Apprentice should expect to be in the position of Apprentice for a minimum of two years before becoming eligible to be a paid staff member. If an Apprentice shows exemplary mastery and potential in all aspects of camp, they may become eligible for a staff position sooner.
  • Anyone is eligible to become a staff member at 18 years of age.
  • WFE is under no obligation to hire any Apprentice into a paid staff position or to renew an Apprenticeship.
  • WFE reserves the right to make any staffing changes necessary for the betterment of The Wayfinder Experience.

Community Leader

A Community Leader (CL) is a member of the Wayfinder Experience community who is not yet old enough to work at camp but is invested in building a fun, safe camp environment. CLs must fill out an application and return it to the WFE office by the stated deadline to be considered. The WFE will consider applicants based on contribution to the community, financial situation and event need. CLs must contribute positively to the community by fully and willingly participating in workshops, following camp guidelines and providing a good example for other campers.

  • Eligibility for CLs begins at age 15.
  • CLs receive a discount of $50 off the price of the event where serving as a CL.
  • CLs are legally considered campers and must follow all camper procedures and requirements.
  • CLs must support the community through participating in workshops, clean up and participant bonding.
  • WFE is under no obligation to hire any CL into a paid position or to renew a term of CLdom.

Committee For Community Concerns

Committee For Community Concerns

Wayfinder’s Committee For Community Concerns is dedicated to providing a safe, supportive, and caring environment for participants, staff, and community members. This board, which is purely an advisory board, receives reports and concerns from the community, and tries to address those concerns in order to maintain a positive space at camp. The board has a commitment to confidentiality, and, as such, submitting a report does not guarantee the reporter a knowledge of the outcome. The board also maintains the Rules and Regulations section of the staff handbook, and provides an annual training for each staff member. Reports can be submitted to WayfinderCCC@gmail.com. The current board members are…

Lee Jackson Sorge

Lee is an artist, writer and musician born and raised in the Hudson Valley. When he was eleven years old, Lee attended his first Wayfinder event and was enchanted by the magic of play and the joy of creating fantastical worlds. Lee has worked as staff for Wayfinder for nine years, relishing in the ability to help bring dreams to life and the opportunity to be a part of the community he has come to call home. He now serves on Wayfinder’s Community Concern Committee and as our warehouse manager.

Maya Ziv

Maya didn’t join the Wayfinder Experience community until high school (and eternally laments those missed years), but since then she has found her home here. She loves writing adventure games, teaching improv, and especially running/participating in trust workshops. When she’s not at camp she’s attending Stanford University, studying computer science and game design. But she probably really wishes she was at camp.

                                    Reilly JeckerByrne

Reilly got his start at Wayfinder when he was 17 and has been working as a staff member for 11 years, jumping on every chance to work events in the summer and year round. He particularly loves working as a Counselor as that role allows for an opportunity to really get close with the community and participants. When he’s not working Wayfinder, Reilly works at Half Moon Books and spends his days digging through books, old and new, looking for treasures.

Alyssa Greenway

Alyssa first came to Wayfinder as a participant at the fabled Unison Day Camps. She loved turning fantasy into reality, supporting her friends and saving lives as a stalwart cleric. Alyssa took some time away from camp to pursue her passions in the visual arts, and returned five years ago as a staff member. She deeply enjoys teaching LARPs & Crafts, running trust workshops, and helping build the magic of cooperative storytelling.

Mission & Philosophy

Wayfinder’s Mission & Philosophy

Our Mission

Is to create supportive communities for youth that foster personal growth and empowerment through cooperative play and storytelling.

Camp Philosophy

Wayfinder is committed to the idea of learning through active involvement. Our program is designed to encourage outstanding young people to develop a greater purpose in life. This philosophy of experiential education is evident in everything we do.

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The Wayfinder Experience is unique. The workshops we run throughout our weeks of camp teach our participants leadership skills, self-awareness, and on the fly decision making. They are then given the chance to practice all of these skills at once through the live action role playing Adventure Game. The Adventure Game is a transformative experience that pushes players physically, mentally and emotionally, while immersing them in an exciting and engaging fantasy world.

We place our emphasis on strategies that help young people learn to make effective use of both their available resources and innate talents in order to tackle the challenge of becoming productive citizens in their own communities. Wayfinder’s many workshops, games, and exercises train participants in:

  • Social interaction
  • Community building
  • Leadership development
  • Improvisation
  • Crisis management

Wayfinder’s camps and events are held in beautiful, natural environments that allow for safe and supportive education, while still giving a space to have some fun in the outdoors. Through Capture the Flag with foam swords and a variety of other physical games, we strive to teach athletic skills that encourage character development, while still providing entertaining experiences. Our physical program built upon non-competitive game theory engages youth in activities that promote cooperation, sportsmanship, and teamwork.

Our outstanding staff serve as positive role models for campers participants. Wayfinder staff members are employed as workshop instructors, summer camp counselors, and community coordinators. We are responsible, friendly, and professional veterans of the live-action role playing entertainment industry, with many years experience dealing with participants of all ages. We love what we do, and we want to share it with the world.

Each staff member works diligently to help foster self-confidence, responsibility, and individual growth for each participant. We help kids and teens push limits while being mindful of boundaries. We take what we do very seriously and go out of our way to make sure that all attendees are safe, comfortable, and happy. Safety is our top priority. All of our summer camp staff undergoes rigorous training to ensure that they can quickly and capably deal with any difficult situation that may arise.

Wayfinder strongly believes that the benefits of our programs and live action role playing continue beyond last-day farewells to form a foundation for a life of adventure, purpose, and lasting friendships.