Our History and What's On The Horizon
Over the years, Lake Valley Camp (LVC) has been a nimble organization that has continually evolved to better support and empower young people. LVC was originally founded to be a resident camp for youth and families from the city of Milwaukee facing barriers to accessing the traditional overnight camp experience that many youth across the nation enjoy. The organization itself was named for the lake and valleys that make up the resident camp’s geography in Boscobel, Wisconsin. An early version of the LVC mission states: “Lake Valley Camp provides a creative and exciting summer camp experience where youth can develop their unique potential by gaining respect for themselves, others, and their environment.”
After operating initially as a 2-week Milwaukee WI based day-camp for 7 and 8 year olds, and Boscobel WI based resident-camp, serving youth ages 9 to 17, it became apparent that there was an opportunity and a need to offer more, particularly during the school-year. This opportunity was met with a desire from families and partners for more engagement with LVC, an organization they’d come to trust. To support the continual development of young people participating in summer camp, and to help retain a strong team of youth-work professionals for high quality programming in the summer, LVC began to offer year-round programs expanding on the Leadership Training model that many camps across the nation offer. Additionally, LVC offered weekend programming and piloted other interest-focused programs to support key developmental outcomes like self-awareness, self-expression and confidence. During these years the four core beliefs were drafted and adopted to solidify LVC’s values and to guide program design and youth outcomes.
This evolution has not been without challenge. With focus and the bulk of staff time and organizational resources primarily directed to resident camp in our early years, the quality and consistency of school-year offerings fluctuated as did attendance and interest. In response, the Urban Programs team was created in 2016 with the charge to offer exceptional programming in all things Milwaukee-based. The Resident Camp team was also redefined at this time to support strength in leadership and to allow for more intentional focus on providing the highest quality camp programming imaginable. In 2017 and 2018, LVC ran programs year-round with integrity and impact at partner school sites, at our Milwaukee program center, out in the community, on trail, and at our resident camp. This summer, many of our participants engaged in as many as 8 weeks of experience-based programming. We are now better positioned than ever to deliver consistent, high-quality programs that youth and families want and need across the calendar year in a multitude of settings.
At 15 years old, LVC is at a critical juncture. We’ve had the opportunity to step back and really think about who we are, what we do, and why we do it. We have an abundance of feedback, research and data collected over the years to inform decisions about where LVC is going. We understand that 2 weeks, though powerful and formative for some, is not enough to close the exposure gap and support continual growth and development for most. We understand that the societal pressures and obstacles that many youth growing up in the city of Milwaukee face are great, and so offerings to counterbalance these challenges and to prepare our young people for life and leadership have to be both great and plentiful.
Our new mission statement provides clarity in focus and covers the breadth of our service offerings. Our mission is to bring out the limitless potential in young leaders through extraordinary experiences and nurturing relationships. Our belief is that by filling what may be vacant and unstructured time during the year with powerful experiences and supportive people (peers and adults), we can help bring out the best in our youth participants. To adequately skill-build over time, we are looking to be a consistent resource for multiple years with touch-points during the school-year and summer months. With this level of investment we are confident our young people will develop the competencies needed to lead and contribute to the community in meaningful ways.
A child’s potential should not be limited by their circumstance, and we firmly believe that our youth have the right to be involved in activities and pursuits that nurture their spirit and support their passion year-round.
We are not just a summer camp and our programming is not bound by location. It’s far bigger than that. Though our focus remains on serving a core group of youth who participate in summer camp programming as a piece of a comprehensive leadership journey, we’re committed to providing boundary expanding offerings across the calendar year in a variety of environments.
It’s for these reasons that we plan to start 2019 with the same strong values and beliefs under a new name. Our resident camp facility will keep the Lake Valley Camp namesake and “LVC” will live on. As we take this next step into the future, we are seeking to make a statement to those we serve and support that we are a lifelong leadership program, harnessing the power of experiences and relationships.
As we take this next step forward we need your support! Click here to share your ideas and input, and stay tuned for more information as we continue on this exciting journey.