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Meet Cassie Young of Camp Wildfolk in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cassie Young.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Cassie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My love of Summer Camp began nearly 30 years ago, as a young camper at my local Park. It wasn’t a fancy camp, but it was my second home. It was a safe space to explore, try new things, meet new people, and return to my beloved camp family. I truly grew up at Camp, and yet I never imagined that’s what I could “do” in life.

Fast forward to 2009- I was starting a graduate program for Social Work when I took a summer job that introduced me to the wonder that is intentional Day Camps. It blew my mind the difference you could make in a child’s life when so much thought went into the experience.

The vision for Camp Wildfolk was really birthed from a fusion of those two parts- the simplicity and “traditional” camp spirit from my childhood, joined with the intentional and progressive approach I became passionate about implementing with children.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing worth doing ever is.

There have been endless struggles along every step of the way. And endless miracles.

I suppose the biggest struggle has been related to the cliches of business. Being a small business can be both a blessing and a challenge. There are other camps out there that are bigger, have more resources, etc, (kind of like the Wal-Marts of camps), who don’t mind coming in and knocking the small “Mom & Pops” out of the way.

That’s been hard. I hold the Camp community in such high regard and truly believe there is space out there for all of us.

Camp Wildfolk – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Camp Wildfolk offers a progressive twist on “traditional” Day Camp, with a growth-centered and project-based approach.

We use Project-Based Learning to co-create magical, joy-filled, one-of-a-kind experiences with our campers. At Wildfolk, campers innovate, create, explore, forge deep peer connections, take healthy risks, bond with compassionate adults, develop autonomy, and find joy in exploring their authentic self.

Our camp is camper-centered and intentional with everything we do.

We have what we call, “The Four Spheres of Fun”: Creativity & Expression, Innovation & Exploration, Teambuilding & Movement, and Collaborative Group Projects.

Campers choose between 2-4 activities within each of those “Four Spheres of Fun” rotations- inviting them to engage in a balanced, wildly fun day camp experience. We then splice in all kinds of campy stuff- camp songs, themes, silly dress-up, field trips, water play, shows, and so, so much more!

We were recently voted LA’s Coolest Camp for Kids by Red Tricycle, which was very exciting. But we’re most proud of the feedback and praise we get from our families… Families who tell us their kids used to dread camp, but now can’t wait until they get to come back to Wildfolk. Families who tell us their kids still sing the Camp Wildfolk Theme Song whenever they wear their camp shirt. Or point out every fox they see and say it reminds them of Winston (our mascot). That’s the stuff that warms our hearts and makes us want to put on a tutu and some crazy headgear and bust out a camp song or two.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment so far in Wildfolk history was last summer, when a group of campers BEGGED me to sing our Wildfolk Camp Song for them. They just couldn’t wait until it was time to sing it at the end of the day.

Keep in mind- this is a camp song that I created over the course of a few months, driving alone in my car. I would be at stop lights singing and clapping like a loon into my iphone voice memo recorder.

It felt bizarre when I first taught it to a room of 50+ campers who had never heard it. I was self-conscious and worried that they’d find it lame. But they all bought in. Even our oldest ones got into it. Score!

To see this little thing I created become so LOVED by our campers- it’s my everything.

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