Overnight Camps

A week in the Woods

Nestled in the old coastal mountains on the traditional homelands of the Kalapuya, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians is a place where the water runs clear and clean and the Coho Salmon come to spawn. Ancient trees stand tall and regal, whispering of peoples who have been calling these lands home since time immemorial. 

This is a place where black bears den and raise their young and where cougars travel the ridges looking for food. It is in this hidden valley that we will build a camp community alongside our peers! 

Camp begins at 1pm on Sunday and ends at 5pm Friday.  Parents/relatives are invited to the Camp Expo Friday at 4pm. 

Big Bear Village

Dirt. Food. Gnarly. Visit Big Bear Valley to experience the most epic nature camp experience we have to offer, for students of all genders.

Big Bear Village is a unique and unmatched outdoor experience. Students begin their week with an immediate immersion into nature as we jump right into Miller Creek and go exploring (please ensure your campers have eaten lunch before arriving at camp). The adventures and challenges grow from there. Students will practice basic outdoor survival skills through practical application. The group will build primitive shelters and every student will be given the opportunity to spend the night in one, should they choose. 

Every night our campfires will be lit by the ancient bowdrill technology. Campers can choose to challenge themselves by completing a really challenging, all-day route on the “Gnarly Hike” or to deepen their nature awareness on the “Groovy Hike”. Campers will also have a choice of several electives such as archery, tracking, ethnobotany, and more.

For every night at Big Bear we have a special planned activity. These range from the always-popular Invisible Capture the Flag to the challenging Blindfolded Drum Stalk. During every night activity our instructors will be on hand to support campers to become more comfortable and confident in themselves.

Lodging at Big Bear Village will consist of tents and yurts. Students will need to bring their own sleeping bags. Instructors will sleep in or next to the tents and yurts. There is a full bathroom onsite with flush toilets and showers. We have developed relationships with many local farms and food producers to provide our campers with delicious wholesome foods, the majority of which have been organically grown right in the South Willamette Valley. Students at Big Bear are also expected to put in some work to support their fellow campers. Each day, campers will have rotating responsibilities to help camp function smoothly. 

Campers aged 10-13 will:

  • Practice target archery
  • Build survival shelters and have the opportunity to sleep in them
  • Make wooden spoons or bowls
  • Choose to challenge themselves on the “Gnarly Hike” or deepen their connection with nature on the “Groovy Hike” 
  • Learn full-body natural camouflage
  • Play stealthy night games
  • Sing songs and tell stories around the big campfire
  • Assist with keeping camp clean
  • Ground themselves in the natural world through morning sit spots 
  • Bond with their peers
  • And much more!

Big Bear Village is a unique and unmatched outdoor experience. Students begin their week with an immediate immersion into nature as we jump right into Miller Creek and go exploring (please ensure your campers have eaten lunch before arriving at camp). The adventures and challenges grow from there. Students will practice basic outdoor survival skills through practical application. The group will build primitive shelters and every student will be given the opportunity to spend the night in one, should they choose. 

Every night our campfires will be lit by the ancient bowdrill technology. We will take our students on our traditional Gnarly Hike and support them in pushing their edges during this really challenging, all-day route. Campers will also have a choice of several electives such as archery, tracking, ethnobotany, and more.

For every night at Big Bear we have a special planned activity. These range from the always-popular Invisible Capture the Flag to the challenging Blindfolded Drum Stalk. During each night activity our instructors will be on hand to support campers to become more comfortable and confident in themselves.

For these older students, we have a couple of extra activities planned. Mid-week, the older campers will be given the opportunity to connect with their food in a way that most modern people never do. Campers will be given the choice to participate in butchering several meat rabbits which will help provide food for the camp. Those who choose to participate will be guided through the entire process from live rabbits all the way through cleaning and preserving the meat as well as tanning the hides. We honor and respect the wishes of every camper in regard to their comfort level of participation in this activity and nobody is ever asked to do something they are not comfortable with. Some of the meat preserved from these animals will be saved for the final overnight expedition. 

Students aged 13-16 will also embark on a specially designed “survival” overnight on the last night supervised by our staff. Campers will be challenged to work as a team to make themselves as comfortable as possible while spending the night outside, relying on the knowledge and skills they’ve gained over the week to create solutions to all of their needs.

Lodging at Big Bear Village will consist of tents and yurts. Students will need to bring their own sleeping bags. Instructors will sleep in or next to the tents and yurts. There is a full bathroom onsite with flush toilets and showers. We have developed relationships with many local farms and food producers to provide our campers with delicious wholesome foods, the majority of which have been organically grown right in the South Willamette Valley. Students at Big Bear are also expected to put in some work to support their fellow campers. Each day, campers will have rotating responsibilities to help camp function smoothly. 

Campers aged 13-16 will:

  • Practice target archery
  • Build survival shelters and have the opportunity to sleep in them
  • Make wooden spoons or bowls
  • Challenge themselves on the “Gnarly Hike”
  • Learn full-body natural camouflage
  • Play stealthy night games
  • Participate in team building activities, like juggling bamboo swords
  • Assist with keeping camp clean 
  • Make fire by friction
  • Butcher whole rabbits for camp meals (This is an optional activity. A vegan alternative  activity is also provided.)
  • Test their skills with a supervised overnight “survival outing”
  • Bond with their peers 
  • And much more!

Camp Artemis

The ultimate nature camp experience for girls* with an empowering storyline, all its own.

Immersed in the forest of the beautiful Big Bear valley, campers will have the opportunity to create strong bonds with their peers and unearth that unique confidence that only comes from knowing they have the skills to take care of themselves in the woods. 

Students begin their week with an immediate immersion into nature as we jump right into Miller Creek and go exploring (please ensure your campers have eaten lunch before arriving at camp). Campers at Camp Artemis will learn amazing skills to help them become protectors of the forest, just like the mythical Artemis. We will practice our crafts together as we learn to make baskets and work with leather. We will listen to the forest by studying the language of the birds and learn from the wild plants, using them as food and medicine. We will practice archery with real targets as well as foam arrows. Campers can choose to challenge themselves by completing a really challenging, all-day route on the “Gnarly Hike” or to deepen their nature awareness on the “Groovy Hike”. Each evening, the campfire at Camp Artemis is lit in the ancient way with friction fire, around which special bonds are forged. 

Along with all of these fun activities, opportunities abound for campers to push their edges to grow stronger and to discover and improve their self-esteem and confidence by taking on challenges guided by their instructors and supported by their group. Camp will culminate in a ceremony to celebrate all of the achievements of strength, growth, and self-awareness!

Lodging at Big Bear Camp will consist of tents and yurts. Students will need to bring their own sleeping bags. Instructors will sleep in or next to the tents and yurts. There is a full bathroom onsite with flush toilets and showers. We have developed relationships with many local farms and food producers to provide our campers with delicious wholesome foods which the majority have been organically grown right in the South Willamette Valley. Students at Big Bear are also expected to put in some work to support their fellow campers. Each day, campers will have rotating responsibilities to help camp function smoothly. 

All girls* are welcome at Camp Artemis, including those who are transgender, cisgender, non-binary, and/or exploring their gender identity or expression. 

Campers will: 

  • Practice target archery
  • Build survival shelters and have the opportunity to sleep in them
  • Choose to challenge themselves on the “Gnarly Hike” or deepen their connection with nature on the “Groovy Hike” 
  • Play stealthy night games 
  • Sing songs and tell stories around the big campfire
  • Learn about plants as food and medicine 
  • Assist with keeping camp clean
  • Create crafts 
  • Bond with their peers
  • And much more!

 

*GENDER AT CAMP

Whole Earth Nature School is committed to providing gender-specific camps to help students learn about their gender in a mentored space, and our gender camps serve students based on their gender regardless of their assigned sex at birth, and those who are exploring their gender identity or expression. We encourage families to choose the camp appropriate to their child based on the child’s gender identity or gender expression. This position maintains our commitment to gender equality and justice and responds to modern advances in our understanding of gender identity and expression by welcoming cisgender, transgender, and non-binary kids into an environment welcoming to all.

 

Whole Earth Nature School staff respect a young person’s wishes to be called by a certain name and/or gender pronoun. That is why we invite all students to share their own name and pronouns on the first day of the program. We recognize that youth who identify as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) or who are exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity need to know that Whole Earth Nature School is a safe space where they can be themselves and not worry about experiencing hurtful treatment from others.

Pricing and Dates for All Overnight Camps

All 6-day camps at Big Bear Camp in Walton, OR are $888.

  • Big Bear Youngers 10-13:  June 23 – June 28 (Week 1)
  • Big Bear Olders 13-16:  July 7 – July 12 (Week 3)
  • Camp Artemis 10-14:  June 30 – July 5 (Week 2)

Student Leadership Opportunities

Junior Counselors (JCs) are an integral part of the success of our overnight camp programs. The JC program is designed to give our more experienced students hands on leadership experience in mentoring younger campers. Junior Counselors will get a behind the scenes perspective on what it takes to run a summer camp, will support the activities being taught, and will have the opportunity to advance their own awareness and bushcraft skills. Click here to go to our student opportunities page. 

Visit our student leadership opportunities page to learn more! 

Scholarships