Our Girls Camp Freedom of Choice Philsophy
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
In 1926, Harry and Marjorie Brown developed the Freedom of Choice philosophy for Brown Ledge not because the girls of their time were over-scheduled, but because they knew that girls of “camper age” are able to make good choices; that girls know what they like to do and, if given the freedom to make their own choices, will choose well.
Although our world has changed quite a bit since Brown Ledge was founded in 1926, our camp’s Freedom of Choice philosophy has not. Considered progressive education in the early twentieth century, this philosophy is still relevant today, and, arguably, might have a greater impact on a camper’s growth and development at than it has in past decades.
Why We’re Different
Our Freedom of Choice framework makes us different from other camps.
Brown Ledge does not undertake to be all things to all people, nor does it expect to supply instant solutions to the variety of difficulties one encounters in the process of growing up. The Brown Ledge philosophy, we feel, does offer nearly unlimited opportunity for self-discovery and self-realization in a fun, open and supportive atmosphere.
We are often asked, “Do campers, given freedom of choice, successfully take the responsibility for all-around participation and good behavior?”
“Freedom of Choice” is not a matter of undisciplined, do as you please actions, it is an experience in democratic living under optimal conditions where freedom and responsibility are carefully linked and guided. It is truly wonderful to watch the enthusiasm that goes with the feeling of freedom. Outside observers have remarked on the exceptionally high morale and spontaneity that characterizes Brown Ledge.
Brown Ledge’s structure of open activity time communicates to our girls that we believe they are capable of making decisions and that we trust you to make good decisions. That is not to say that campers will not make mistakes. But at Brown Ledge campers are given the space to make mistakes because failing is as important to the learning process as succeeding. What better place to experience failure than a place where your friends, and counselors are there to build you back up to try again?
Our Philosophy in Action
Kate is walking to her riding lesson in full riding gear while carrying her tennis racket and tennis shoes.
Kate rides at 10:00am but likes to play tennis and go to the waterfront, as well. Kate likes to spend her whole afternoon on the waterfront so she carries her tennis equipment down with her to her riding lesson. This way Kate can fit in a tennis lesson before lunch. No one figured this out for Kate – she thought of this plan on her own.
Clare loves to shoot at the range, and she is a very talented archer, but she decided to be a waterskiing JC this summer.
Being a waterskiing JC means that you are working at least two hours a day in your department teaching younger campers. Nonetheless, Clare wants to earn her Archery Vanguard which requires a tremendous amount of time at the range. The Head of Theatre just asked Clare if she could run lights for the Three-Act Play.
At first, Clare is so excited to be asked to take on such a responsibility that she said yes right away. Now she is unsure if she can follow through, and do a good job, since she has two other major commitments.
Clare talks to her bunkies and to the JC Director about what she should do. After a few discussions, Clare decides that she will help with the lights but that she will tell the Head of Theatre that she cannot run lights for the show because she wants to focus on her other two obligations; her department and her vanguard.
Grace & Alex
Grace and Alex are sitting on the office porch. It is raining slightly and the sky looks like it could storm later. They are discussing the weather and how it might affect their plans.
Alex is excited because the storm might bring high winds – great conditions for sailing the Laser. Grace wants to get down to Archery before the heavy rain rolls in because she needs to shoot her round for the Camper-Counselor tournament. But both want to get to Arts and Crafts before dinner because they need to make decorations for their bunkie’s birthday dinner.
Neither can remember whether there might be Soccer practice this afternoon so they know they need to keep that time open and listen to announcements at lunch. How will they get it all done and remember their commitments?
They’re Brown Ledgers – they’ll figure it out.