What is the overnight camp experience?

For two weeks (12 nights), 46 rising 7th-9th graders from a diverse set of schools will sleep in cabins, swim in the pool, hike through the redwoods, navigate the low-ropes course, learn archery, play 'gaga' and field games, perform skits, and gather around the fire pit. At Camp Common Ground, we will also do simulations and games to experientially learn about what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. We welcome diversity of all sorts, including religious, ethnic, political, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We intend to create a safe atmosphere, where campers can be vulnerable, listen, and share—and we're going to have a ton of fun doing it!

So, is it all over after the summer?

Not at all! At camp, youth devise “plans for disruption” to make change back at their schools. Tuition includes 3 reunions during the school year to reunite campers and work on implementing these plans. Campers may also return for a second summer (woo)! And we hope that alumni and their families stay connected to Camp Common Ground, attending community events for the long haul.


WHAT WILL campers learn?

In addition to picking up skills in archery and hiking, our youth will learn to:

  • Build meaningful relationships with one another (Intercultural Competence)

  • Develop empathy for each other's experience (Social-Emotional Learning)

  • Collaborate and take action with youth from a diversity of backgrounds (Leadership Skills)

After camp, youth will work alongside their school principal to implement a leadership project in their school community. For more information, see our approach.



Dates: June 17 (Monday), 2019 - June 29 (Saturday), 2019 (12 nights)

Rates: $50-$2,600 sliding scale. This means that any camper who is accepted will have their tuition set according to their family's finances. While we have budget constraints, we do our best to make sure finances are not a barrier for anyone. The full tuition is $2,600 and with full scholarship tuition is $50, and families may have tuition set anywhere along that scale, such as tuition of $300, $500, $800, $1,100, $1,500, $2,000, and $2,200. This tuition covers three reunions events during the school year.

Transportation: Transportation will be provided to and from a designated location in downtown Oakland.

Location: CYO Camp in Occidental (for more information on the site, click here)

Note: Eligible campers are current 6th-8th graders (rising 7th-9th graders). If you feel your child might be a good fit, but is not in that age bracket, please contact us


What's a typical day?

  • 8:15AM—Breakfast

  • 9:00AM—Morning Elective (e.g. Archery, Sports, Theater)

  • 10:45AM—Common Experience I (e.g. Intercultural workshop about inclusivity)

  • 12:15PM—Lunch

  • 1:15PM—Cabin Time

  • 2:00PM—Choice (Activities of the day, like Step Dance, Ultimate Frisbee, Bracelet-Making)

  • 3:00PM—Common Experience II (e.g. Leadership activity with the low-ropes course)

  • 4:30PM—Group Swim

  • 6:15PM—Dinner

  • 7:30PM—Common Experience III (e.g. Social-emotional improv games)

  • 9:00PM—Camp Fire

  • 9:45PM—Closing Circle

  • 10PM—Lights out


yeah, But what's it really like?

7:45AM—Waking Up: There’s no alarm, but you feel the cool air and hear birds cooing and you’ve learned that means that your time in your sleeping bag is limited. Your counselor announces quietly that it’s time for morning meeting and your cabin slowly comes to life. Campers slide out of bed and hop down from top bunks. You slip on your usual breakfast attire of sweatpants, flip flops, and your not-so-clean Camp Common Ground t-shirt. 

8:15AM—Breakfast: You serve yourself a generous portion of oatmeal and brown sugar. With a warm belly, you make your way over to the Free Choice sign up sheets and consider your options. Should today be a frisbee, martial arts, or bracelet-making kind of day? 

9:00AM—Morning Elective: You’ve signed up for archery and you make your way over to the course. You wish your cabinmates luck as they head off to the GaGa ball arena and the crafts table. A certified archery instructor reminds you of the safety procedures and the twelve steps of shooting an arrow you’ve been practicing. He pairs you with a partner, and you’ve never met her before. Your first arrow completely misses the target and gets stuck in the net behind it. Your partner laughs and then offers you encouragement. “Commoners are collaborative!” the instructor says. You raise the bow again.

10:45AM—Common Experience I (Intercultural): You’ve been paired with another cabin and are sitting together in Crazy Horse lodge. Two Commoners are standing up on opposite ends of the room facing each other. “Imagine that this Commoner is a white female teacher in a suburban public school,” the facilitator says, gesturing at one of the campers. “And this Commoner is a dark-skinned boy who recently immigrated to the country and joined the school mid-semester.” Some people smile, but most people look nervous. “I’d like us to do something difficult. I’d like you to say some stereotypes that this teacher might have about this student. Remember, this is in no way saying you believe this.” A tentative hand goes up. “She’d think that he’s poor?” “Thank you for being courageous. Please go stand in front of the teacher.” Your hand is a little sweaty, but you seem to be slowly raising it. The facilitator smiles at you, “Yes?”

12:15PM—Lunch: You feel like you've earned your lunch, and fill your plate until it's overflowing. But as you’re walking to the picnic tables your cabinmate points out that a lot of people from the same school seem to be sitting together. You make your way to a table of Commoners you’ve seen in archery but haven’t really spoken to yet. Your cabinmate follows you.

1:15PM—Cabin Time: Some of your cabinmates are napping, and some are reading. Someone is teaching a card game you’ve never heard of and you grab a crate to sit on and they deal you in.

2:00PM—Choice: Your teammate has lobbed the frisbee overhead and you’re dashing across the grass full-speed to get to it. You leap off of one leg to snag it. It catches a breeze and rises a few inches. You come crashing down, and the frisbee plops down beside you. You hear laughter and cheering, and are pretty sure you you have some grass and mud in your mouth. Just as you’re asking yourself why you didn’t choose friendship bracelet-making for Choice today, the Commoner who was laughing the hardest comes over and hoists you up. “Awesome jump! Next time, just wait a second longer.” He looks at you earnestly. “Oh, and close your mouth as your fall.” Tufts of grass fall of your face as you both shake with laughter.

3:00PM—Common Experience II (Leadership): You’ve been hiking for twenty minutes on your way to the low ropes-course before you look up. You’re greeted by massive redwood trees, providing a patchy green roof of leaves that the sunshine fills in. You look down and call out “root!” to warn the person behind you, and hear it echoed backwards as everyone warns the person behind them. When you arrive at the course, you all stare quizzically at the huge see-saw looking contraption. “Welcome to Whale Watch,” your facilitator grins. “Let’s start with this challenge. See if you can get everyone on your team on the Whale Watch without either side hitting the ground.” Ten minutes later, you’re huddled next to seven other Commoners, your thighs twitching a bit to stay balanced, but you’re all cheering and laughing. “Great! Now, let’s try to get everyone off without either side hitting the ground.” The person to your left immediately takes a step to the right and you all hit the ground. People start shouting at each other and you think it's going to be a long debrief.

4:30PM—Free Swim: You bob up and down in the shallow section of the pool. “Do it!” Someone smiles at you. You dive into the deep end, and are surprised at just how good it feels to be under water on such a hot day. 

6:15PM—Dinner: Commoners set the table and the warm food is served! You sit down at a table and realize that a week ago you didn’t know any of the people you’re sitting with. You take a bite and remember just how hungry you are.

7:30PM—Common Experience III (Social-Emotional): You really enjoyed the couples of rounds of “Wiggle, Walk, Freeze,” but now you’re sitting by the Sanctuary with someone you’ve never met, and she’s being really quiet. You’ve already finished the list of questions for that evening, and even though you talked about whether you’d like to be famous, and treasured memories, you still feel like she’s not comfortable with you. In thirty minutes you’re going to be asked to perform at the Common Talents Show, and you need to learn a skill from her fast. You remember that the Common Characteristic of the day is “Listening,” and that sometimes it’s best to share some of yourself first. “I’m really bad at singing,” you say. She raises an eyebrow. “I once tried to sing an Adele song for a talent show and in the middle of the song a baby started crying. I don’t think it was a coincidence.” Her face breaks into a smile. “You should see me dance. I volunteered to do a dance performance at a senior home once, and an audience member wheeled out on me. I’ve never been so embarrassed.” It’s all smiles. “Well, let’s start the band then—a Common Mistake. I can see it in lights.” 

9:00PM—Camp Fire: You’re glad the talent show is over, and you’re feeling exhausted, but you can’t resist the s’mores coming your way. You watch the marshmallow turning light brown and see your talent show co-star rebuilding the fire and you feel strangely proud. Then you realize your marshmallow is on fire. Ah!

9:45PM—Closing Circle: It was a quick round of appreciations before everyone collapsed into an exhausted giggling heap. Your counselor gives up and restarting appreciations and tells you lights out is at 10PM. You see your friend already has the playing cards in hand and is looking at you to invite you to join. You laugh and wave her off. You grab for your journal and flop into bed. It’s been a long day.






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