BCWS summer camp was founded in 1963, and has been in continual operation ever since. The camp nurtures in children and teens a respect and sensitivity to the natural world through greater knowledge of self and nature. The campers develop this through direct interactions with nature and the staff, through learning scientific information, and through gaining experiences as part of a community.
Exploration of the natural world is interwoven with games, song, story, music arts, hiking, and swimming. Campers are introduced to plant, animal and earth science, participate in overnight trips, and then pursue their strongest interests in a project of their own design. Each afternoon brings a new selection of activities.
Children and teens learn and live together in a friendly, non-competitive community. There is one staff member for every two campers. Groups are small and there is plenty of individual attention. Evening programs are occasionally small group choices, but more often whole group gatherings.
The director is directing for her 30th 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.
BCWS is located in a secluded 500 acre sanctuary in the Appalachian Mountains, 2 1/2 hours from 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 dormitories, where screens invite in fresh air and the night sounds.
An 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 all the schedule is optional for participants. The food includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, and upgrades during the weekend for adult palates.