Sangamon was part of the progressive education movement of the Twenties, and we’ve been teaching “life skills” since 1922. The camp’s unique mission and philosophy places the boys at the center of what we do, teaching them skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
We believe that independence, responsibility and decision-making are hugely important skills, and children learn best by “doing”. We put children in charge of their own time, give them a wide range of good choices, and let them choose for themselves. Given freedom and responsibility, boys discover who they are and where their talents lie. They try new things, and expand on previous skills. They concentrate on areas that interest them, and move on when they’ve accomplished what they set out to do. It’s a wonderful thing to see, and we’ve been watching them do it for decades!
We structure the day with four activity periods. Within that structured time, there are fifteen instructional activities to choose from, plus trips out of camp, and each boy chooses for himself each day. Staff make announcements at the end of meals and talk about each of the activities. When the bells ring, campers simply go to whatever activity they’ve chosen. Although many boys haven’t experienced this level of freedom and responsibility, they take to it immediately. The choices are all good, the activities are interesting, challenging, and well-taught. We require that boys go to an instructional activity every period, but the specific choice is all their own.