What is the overnight camp experience?

For two weeks (13 nights), 30 rising 6th-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!

The below photos were taken by Zach at Bridge Builders and we are using them with permission. Bridge Builders is an inspiration for us, and we feel these photos give a sense of the activities you can expect at Camp Common Ground. We look forward to having our own photos soon!


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: Sunday June 19—Saturday July 2 (13 nights)

Rates: Full tuition for camp is $1,900. 1/3 of campers receive full scholarship, 1/3 of campers receive partial scholarship, and 1/3 pay full tuition.

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 5th-8th graders (rising 6th-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?

  • 8AM—Waking Up
  • 830AM—Morning Reflection
  • 930AM—Breakfast
  • 10AM—Morning Elective (e.g. Archery, Sports, Crafts) 
  • 11AM—Common Experience I (e.g. Intercultural workshop about inclusivity)
  • 12:30PM—Lunch
  • 1:30PM—Cabin Time
  • 2:30PM—All Camp Game 
  • 3:30PM—Common Experience II (e.g. Leadership activity with the low-ropes course)
  • 5:00PM—Group Swim
  • 6:00PM—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?

8AM—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. Rather than trudging to the outdoor kitchen in your sweatpants like usual, your counselor instructs you to put on your sneakers or hiking boots and line up silently outside. 

830AM—Morning Reflection: You’re twenty minutes into the silent hike when you decide the morning light won’t burn your eyes, so you finally look up and around you. You’re greeted by massive redwood trees, providing a patchy green roof of leaves that the sunshine fills in. You stop in a clearing in a small gorge, and your counselor motions for you to sit in a circle while remaining silent. You tuck your jacket underneath you so your pants don’t get wet from the morning dew. Your counselor passes out everyone’s journals and explains that the Common Characteristic for today is “Listening." You think about the birds cooing that morning, and the story from the campfire last night, and you begin to write.

9:30AM—Breakfast: The first of three meals is delivered from the CYO staff. Your fellow campers hand out bowls and spoons, and you devour your oatmeal and chat with your cabinmates.

10:00AM—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 instructor reminds you of the safety procedures and demonstrates how to properly hold the bow. 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.

11:00AM—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 America from East Africa 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?”

12:30PM—Lunch: After the intense morning, everyone feels relieved at lunch. 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.

1:30PM—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.

2:30PM—All Camp Game: You’re standing on a field with a blue bandana around your head. You see the red team’s defenders in “Six Flags” are distracted. Your heart races, and you sprint across the line. “Medic!” your teammate shout-whispers to you, trying not to attract too much attention. You dash towards them when you hear screaming and turn to see a Commoner in a red bandana sprinting away from a crowd with one of your team’s flags held high!

3:30PM—Common Experience II (Leadership): After a quick snack break, you approach the low-ropes course with your cabin, and the excited re-cap of the diving point in Six Flags dies down. You all stare quizzically at the huge see-saw looking contraption in front of you. “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.

5:00PM—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. 

6:00PM—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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