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

Trust in Adventure Gaming

Trust in Adventure Gaming

Obviously deep, intensely emotional, trusting relationships exist outside of LARP communities. The point here isn’t to claim that Wayfinder has some unique ability to provide participants with trust or friends or anything like that. The idea is more this: trust, like the realest kinds of trust, are formed through having intense experiences together. Through the Adventure Game we get the chance to simulate a lot of those intense experiences. I have lived one thousand lives in my time at Wayfinder, and the more invested I have been in each one the more I have grown from it. No piece of any character comes from anywhere but inside ourselves. This is something that comes up time and again. It takes an incredible amount of trust in a person, a group of people, or even a whole community to go deep into that, to explore those pieces of ourselves that we normally keep hidden or ignore altogether.

A couple weeks ago I promised to do a series of posts based exploring different types of trust that are directly relevant to Wayfinder and then promptly got sidetracked. I’m returning for the second of that series now. This week’s focus is trust and how it intersects with the Adventure game. It’s a complex relationship. There are a lot of factors of trust required just in setting up the Game. You have the most basic elements, for example trusting that people will play by the rules (reacting to swords and magic) and trusting that people will respect you as a player (building scenes with you and reacting to/building off your offers). There are also some much more complex trust relationships that go into the Game. There is A LOT of physical trust required in playing with a group of people. You are trusting people to chase you/fight with you (often in the dark or in the woods) in a safe and fun way. This kind of trust can be a challenge, but it’s something we work at all week long. The more contact based elements are things that trust workshops are specifically geared towards building to; whereas the elements based upon the rules are a trust that we work at in our game systems based workshops throughout the week (and here you thought CTF was just for fun).

There’s another important element to the relationship between trust and Game that is something we don’t go into quite as much. That is the fact that despite how much we put into building those relationships with each other before Game, like the actual interpersonal ones between our real selves, there is nothing that brings us together quite like an Adventure Game. Once you’ve stood next to someone on a battlefield, cried over their corpse, or literally died to save them there is a different kind of closeness between you. The trust established through having an intense in Game experience together is one that I have never found in any other setting. It’s hard to approach. You both (or all if there were more people involved in the scene/situation) know that something very real happened between you in the Game. Immediately after a Game that has one of those moments there is always a need to find each other, to talk about what happened, share the other side of the experience, or how that moment effected the rest of each player’s Game. But it doesn’t stop there. There are friends of mine I’ve had for years who we still think back to some of those moments as our most intimate, when our friendships moved from close to unbreakable.

During a Winter Game at the Ashokan Field Campus (a Game that I wasn’t particularly emotionally invested in prior to this moment) where my friend (and in Game mother) cried over my dead body until someone brought me back to life. From that moment the two of us held each other and cried in a room full of people who were holding us prisoner (don’t feel too bad, up until then we’d been some of the main bad guys). I’ve never been much of a public crier. It’ll happen, a tear here and there at an intense community circle or trust workshop, but this was loud, ugly crying. Sobbing on a hardwood floor in a room full of people who I was legally responsible for. It’s a moment I remember whenever I’m having a hard time processing my emotions, particularly in reference to other people. I was able to lean on the community in a way that I wouldn’t normally, to allow for an emotionally intense in Game moment because I trusted them to contain it within the Game understanding that my emotion was a function of character not mental state, and also to lower my guard and enter that place of trust because of the way that an Adventure Game is set up. The closeness that is brought about in those kinds of scenes, even if it is an unspoken kind, is one of the most important factors in binding ourselves together.WFE4

Written by Judson Easton Packard

Published 3/24/2017


Young Adventurers

At the Zena Democratic School, for ages 6-8


Wayfinder Programs

Our Programs

It’s more epic than your favorite fantasy movie. It’s more exciting than your favorite video game. It’s also a community of friends that accepts you for who you are, not what you look like. It’s a safe place where you can come out of your shell and be yourself.

IMG_3616Imagine a summer camp where no matter who you are or what you look like you can feel accepted.  A summer camp where staff and campers hang out and laugh together.  A summer camp where workshops are challenging and entertaining at the same time.  A summer camp where your voice truly matters.

Now imagine if that was just the beginning. That during this live action role playing summer camp you could transform into a completely new persona and interact in an epic adventure more real than any video game or movie. A LARP experience that transcends anything you have experienced. A new world to explore, evil to conquer, magic to cast…where the action and the story itself depends entirely on your choices. At The Wayfinder Experience you’ll have the chance for all this and more.


The LARP Adventure Game at the Wayfinder Experience is based on Improvisational Theatre, a free-flowing form of acting in which there is no set script. Our staff will introduce you to Improv through entertaining (and often hysterical) games and provide you with a sense of confidence in your improvisational abilities. During the experience, participants are given a chance to become the characters they will create and to participate in numerous scenes and interactions.  Wayfinder has helped participants develop a new level of self-confidence through this work.


i-sLPb4SF-MFor those of you who enjoy rugged activity, the Wayfinder Experience is perfect. From large games of Capture the Flag with foam swords, to mass battle enactments, we challenge our participants to push themselves to their physical limits, while ensuring a safe and fun time for all. The true challenge lies in our culminating live action role playing game, as participants are granted the opportunity to defeat enemies, defend strongholds, and dash through this new world in a desperate race to complete their quest all while using play-safe weapons and with an emphasis on cooperation rather than competition.

The Outdoors

wfe2012 part2 321All of our summer camps are conducted in beautiful, natural settings where the atmosphere adds to the brilliance of the experience itself. Participants quickly acquire an appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors, as well as confidence in their familiarity with their environment. From hiking to star gazing to sitting around a bonfire, the Wayfinder Experience utilizes its environment to engage participants in the wonders of nature.


Making New Friends

Like most summer camps, the Wayfinder Experience promotes a setting in which participants may form lasting bonds with new friends. Through the LARP Adventure Game, Wayfinder also provides a unique opportunity for participants to bond not only in this world, but in many others. With an emphasis on community awareness, trust exercises, and cooperative play, Wayfinder participants are sure to walk away with friendships that will last a lifetime. We should know; our founders, current owners, and staff are primarily comprised of former participants who, many years later, remain an incredibly tight-knit community of friends.

Inclusive Space

All of Wayfinder’s summer camps and events are designed to be inclusive spaces. As an organization it is important to us to make a welcoming space for queer and trans youth. LARP provides the opportunity for these campers to explore facets of their identity that may not feel safe to explore in school or other social environments. Through the magic of our live action role playing Adventure Game, we have helped so many teens find the person they are striving to be.

About Wayfinder

About The Wayfinder Experience

In a Nutshell

The Wayfinder Experience is a live-action role-playing company, based in Kingston, New York. We run summer camps, events, school programs and workshops for teens, children and adults. The centerpiece of our programs is the Adventure Game, a transformative experience that challenges players physically, mentally and emotionally, while immersing them in an exciting world of fantasy.

Our Events

Wayfinder operates weeklong overnight LARP summer camps for teens and day camps for children. We also host three-day events, such as our Winter Game in December, and One Day Adventures every month.

Our staff is also available for special events, like our Capture the Flag with swords after-school programs and children’s Birthday Parties.

Our Programming

At our overnight and day camps we offer a diverse range of workshops combining sports, art, “play-safe” swordplay, improvisational acting & intentional community building. All this culminates in our Adventure Game, a live-action role-play that is often played out over multiple days.

During the “Adventure Game” our participants become characters in a magical, legendary story, complete with costumes, elaborate sets & props, masks, treasures, spells & quests. We transform our summer camp facilities into whole new worlds. The stories and settings are prepared in advance, but the end results are dependent upon the actions and choices of the participants themselves. At the end of the adventure, a simple call for “Game!” signals a return to the real world—and the chance to excitedly share experiences and stories!

Our LARP Adventure Games are all original, written and created by our staff (and sometimes our campers) and range in scope from high fantasy to tales of pirates and ninjas, from the Wild West to science fiction, alternate histories, zombies, noir mysteries and everything in-between. No two games are the same and every adventure lets you play a new character… or many!

What is LARP?

What is LARP?

LARP or Live Action Roleplay is a term that can be applied to a broad spectrum of activities. While there are many types of LARP in the world, Wayfinder’s brand of LARP is contained in something we refer to as “the Adventure Game.” Within the context of an Adventure Game, LARP is an immersive roleplaying experience happening within a world prepared by our staff for the players. Each player is given the chance to design their own character, picking the type of character they want to play helps guarantee they have the gameplay experience they want.

At each week of the Wayfinder Experience we lead participants through workshops specially designed to prepare them for their time in the live action roleplay Adventure Game. This includes an introduction to our game systems (such as how the use our magic and swords in the Adventure Game), time to design and build a character, some work on improvisational theater skills to prepare for interactions in the adventure, and a good deal of work on trust to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in Adventure Game.

We view the Adventure Game as a transformative experience where players are given the freedom to explore pieces of themselves they may never otherwise get to inhabit in a safe environment. We have run a wide array of Adventure Games based on anything from the historic to the fantastic. We hope you’ll join us for an summer adventure and find the hero inside!

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Testimonials About Our Programs

What Parents Say About Us

“As a teacher of writing, it’s thrilling to see kids involved in the art of narrative. As a parent, it’s great to see kids find a place to work out deeper issues of the psyche…Through this process, a great sense of self-esteem and confidence in kids seems to emerge…they meet new peers, forge new friendships…learn to work together. The Wayfinder Staff…brings a unique strength and eclectic talent…as a group they maintain an amazing clarity of vision: being a part of a team that helps create something magic for our children, that encourages this incredible community…the staff absolutely and completely respects each kid for whom he/she really is. They really give the kids the responsibility to make choices; they honor each child’s individuality.”

– A.W. Langley, Parent

“My son has been captivated by Wayfinder; by the sheer potential for creative expression, by the intelligence and rich complexity of the stories, by the joy of losing himself in character, and by the broad sweep of personalities participating. Mind you, he is a cynical kid, not given to spontaneous creative expression. He fell in love with the inclusiveness and expressive spirit of everyone involved in Wayfinder events.”

– Julianna Targan, Parent

“Thank you (Wayfinder) for the magic you add to people’s lives and for nourishing and encouraging active imaginations!”

– Tanya Jurcic, Parent

“I must say my son…had a life-altering experience with Wayfinder. I am not saying that lightly. He was really affected by the activities…and I thank you.”

– Andrea Kretchmer, Parent


What Kids Say About Us

Lowell, age 8: “The most fun I’ve ever had!”

Bill, age 15: “The camp, or experience, rather, teaches love, repect, adoration of peers, and allows for a positive environment in which anyone and everyone can feel free to be themselves, without inhibition, at all times.”

Garrett, age 12: “The Wayfinder community are probably the most caring, nonjudgmental, and interesting people I have ever met. This community has helped me mature as a person and for that I am forever grateful.”

Rene, age 11: “People here make me feel special.”

Jesse, age 16: “The Wayfinder Experience is by far the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. In less than two weeks I have made friends that I will have for the rest of my life… Trust me. Going will be the best decision of your life.”

Cutler, age 15: “Thank you to everyone from Wayfinder, whether it be a camper or counselor. The week I spent at Immersion camp 2016 was amazing, in and out of game I got to make amazing friends and was really able to connect with everyone. Everyone’s comradery and friendship was inspiring and hopeful to me. I absolutely hope I can come back next summer. Thank you guys for that one-of-a-kind love that only, from what I believe, this camp can bring.”

James, age 11: Thursday night before camp ended, “I don’t want to go to bed because when I wake up this will all be over.”

Dan, age 16: “The whole week was great. I wish I was coming back next week, and the week after that, and the week after that!”

Mikko, age 16: “These last 5 days here have made my outlook on life better.”

Lemon: “Just got back from Wayfinder and I am actually crying right now because I had no idea how profound of an impact two weeks could make on my life. I have never found a community more innately accepting and kind and supportive of all who enter it.”

Gaby, age 11: “You start to lose your imagination after a while. You can come here to get it back. Its almost like one huge kind of family.”


What Educators Say About Us

“My boys’ aggressive interests are met with respect and then channeled into creative conflict negotiation, a deeper understanding of their own natures… and a healthy understanding of ‘true warriorship’ … kids really understand this, love it and want to participate year after year.”

– Elizabeth Lesser, Co-Founder of the Omega Institute

“The moment The Wayfinders arrived at the town park, it was as if a spell as thick as the summer haze was cast over the children. This magical transformation was instantaneous and did not break even as Lyra, Mary Poppins, Professor Snape, Bilbo Baggins, Winnie the Pooh and Susan Pevensie wished us well and found their way back into reality. The literary scavenger hunt incorporated a little bit of story-telling, a little bit of role playing, and a whole lot of fun. Even the counselors and adults were taken into the magic that this cast of characters delivered straight from their books.”

– Caitlyn Decker, Head of the Hurley Rec Program, about our Literary Advenutres

“I see this (Wayfinder) experience for our teens as much more than ‘the most awesome thing ever’; I see it as an opportunity for them to gain the experiences that later will allow them to join that 4% of people who… can go on to do spiritual work. I see it as an opportunity for them to have a practical experience of who they really are.”

– Jane Martin, Member of the Princeton-Waldorf Parent Council

What The Press Says About Us

Ulster Magazine

Kingston Radio

Hudson Valley Magazine’s Women in Business 2016 honorees


Wayfinder’s History!

A Company for the Community

One of the most important strengths of The Wayfinder Experience lies within the relationships we have built amongst our staff. They have allowed us to operate in an environment of trust and support, and pass on those ideals to our participants. These relationships began when Wayfinder’s founders were very young, attending a summer camp called the Adventure Game Theatre (AGT).
AGT was run by Howard Moody and Brian Alison, and developed many elements of the programming you see today at The Wayfinder Experience.

Many of our founders learned the ins and outs of improvisational theatre, foam swordplay, and world building during their time as participants at AGT. Growing up within the community they began to suggest ways to improve and develop programming. They started to suggest ideas for more advanced ways to run the LARP Adventure Games and blocks of time that would be built entirely around the ideals of community. Their roles as participants slowly developed into full-time staff positions.

As AGT continued to develop under the guidance of that core staff it became clear that there was a need for transition. The Wayfinder Experience grew out of that need. Centering themselves in the Hudson Valley that group of staff split from AGT and started running programming on their own. As time went forward the community came back together and AGT was absorbed back into the Wayfinder Experience. Having combined the experience and expertise, Wayfinder has been able to offer the best programming possible ever since.

Moving into a new decade, in 2012, Wayfinder found itself in need of new leadership. It was at that time this long standing staff members Corinne McDonald and Trine Boode-Petersen took over ownership and all administrate duties to grow the company. They have been running the Wayfinder Experience along side the now larger administration team much to the betterment of the community and company since.