The idea for Chalice Camp was born in a conversation around the kitchen table. Former directors Rev. Sheri Prud’homme and Author and Religious Educator Laila Ibrahim were struggling with how the children in their church could have deeper connections with one another, deeper understandings of themselves as Unitarian Universalists, greater knowledge of our history and more capacity to be articulate about our faith. They realized that within a week-long camp, children could be able to create relationships and explore subject matter in a way that is simply not possible in our traditional weekly Sunday School model. In one 40-hour week at camp, there is nearly as much time with children as in an entire church year of 55 minute Sunday mornings. They decided to create Chalice Camp and make it easily replicable! That was made possible with a generous grant from the Fund for Unitarian Universalism and sponsorship by the Pacific Central District of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Chalice Camp is designed for kids entering 1st through entering 6th grades. We find the camp works well with three or four circle groups, each led by a counselor. The groups are by age and range in size from 4 – 12 kids. Much of the curricular content, therefore, happens in groups of a similar age.
High school youth work as camp counselors that cultivate safe spaces for children to learn and grow. Middle school students are counselors in training and assist with snack, art and groups. Camps offers an important leadership development opportunity.
We aim to be an inclusive community by recognizing that all children come to camp with diverse backgrounds and therefore different needs.
The model for the camp is a financially self-sustaining one that includes a stipend for the director or directors. This prevents burn-out and allows the camp to continue over many years, creating a tradition that children and youth anticipate year after year. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 we had to take a break for a few years for the safety of our staff and campers. However, in 2022 we were able to make a comeback and led our 18th year of Chalice Camp in Oakland, California! We are excited to continue this tradition of Chalice Camp in 2023 and beyond.
We are also happy to say that Chalice Camp has grown all over the Bay, with new camps in Marin, Santa Rosa and Sacramento. Chalice Camp is an important part of creating community for our UU youth. We're ecstatic that camp has grown and evolved to create space for this community all over California and beyond.
We believe that Chalice Camp and religious education is as important as soccer camp or horse camp, and by charging market rate, we convey that to the parents. However, we also understand that each family has their own financial considerations, and therefore we do provide scholarships on a case-by-case basis.