Immerse yourself in nature at a secluded 500-acre mountain wildlife sanctuary in the Appalachians of West Virginia, where staff and campers learn and live together in a friendly, non-competitive community. Each day is filled with warmth, high energy and laughter as well as time for solitude, reflection and a sense of wonder.
Explore the natural world through games, song, story, study, music, arts, hiking and swimming. Campers sample topics in plant, animal and earth science, participate in overnight trips, and pursue their strongest interests in a project of their own design. Each afternoon brings an array of choice activities. Evening programs are occasionally small group choices, but more often whole group gatherings.
There is one staff member for every two campers. Groups are small and there is plenty of individual attention. Campers develop sensitivity to the natural world, respect for others, and personal growth through direct interactions with nature, scientific information, and experiences as part of a community.
BCWS summer camp was founded in 1963, and has been in continual operation ever since. The director is directing for her 31st year. The staff are high school, college, graduate students and teachers, most of whom were once BCWS campers themselves, and are knowledgeable in specific areas of the natural world. They bring their education, experience, energy, creativity and sense of humor to each moment.
The camp is located 2 1/2 hours west of Washington D.C. The forest and meadows shelter a wide diversity of plant and animal life. The spring- fed stream and pond support a rich aquatic ecosystem and provide good swimming. The night sky is speckled with stars. The spacious main lodge includes an all-purpose room with open-hearth fireplace, dining porch, field study and work areas, infirmary, and library. The canopy walkway is 10 minutes walk from the lodge. Staff and campers share meals family style. Campers sleep in two staff-supervised sleeping porches, where screens invite in fresh air and the night sounds.
The Adult Weekend was created at the request of parents who were themselves wishing to remain at BCWS in the cool green foliage, watching the sunset from the mountaintop, sleeping to the sound of owls and katydids, waking to birdsong, and trying their hands at the various activities and inactivities. The population includes adults in their 20s to 70s, some of whom are entirely new to the program. Some are constantly active, some take time in the hammocks, by the pond, or on a solitary stroll. The staff are always available with workshops or hikes, but the entire schedule is optional for participants. The menu includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, specially planned to appeal to adult palates.
“Our son talks about camp all the time and is excited to return. When together, he and his fellow campers reminisce and laugh Burgundy has enriched his life in so many ways. He's become an avid birder, he's more confident, he writes about camp in his school essays...I could go on and on. We're very thankful for BCWS! We love the atmosphere, the philosophy and the staff.”
Melissa S., BCWS parent
“You inspired me to love animals. Now I want to be a biologist! You let me think twice and think not only for myself, but others. “
Marie C., BCWS Junior Camper
“Recently my mom told me the only reason she sent any of us to camp was so we would learn how to clean things and make our beds. Mission accomplished, but here I was thinking she sent us because we loved it and we never talked about anything else.”
Both our kids attended BCWS for YEARS and loved it! So much creativity goes into planning fun and educational activities and kids truly love the feeling that they are figuring out the wonders of the WV woods on their own. Our kids learned how to have fun away from the cushy suburbs: no cell phones, computers, a/c etc and they came home each summer more confident and independent. Would recommend this to any family!
Our entire summer is built around our child's camp session. That's meant giving up other really great opportunities, but that's our child's choice, summer after summer. The atmosphere is fun, personalized, encouraging of inquiry, fostering safety-minded outdoor exploration, appreciation of close study of the natural world, gently structured for growing independence, and even the food is good, (nice samples at drop off) some of it grown on site. Older kids design their own study project; it's a great place to be smart, have fun and enjoy the outdoors in a friendly community. Another parent told me, mystified, that her kid refused a European vacation in order to return to camp. Best for kids who are happy with outdoor time, or want to develop this in themselves. Highly recommend.