Freedom of Choice 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 than it has in past decades.

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?” The answer is YES. The habit of “doing” and of achieving skills is a hallmark of Brown Ledge.


“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 them 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?

We look for the best in every girl. We expect the best from every girl. We say the best about every girl, and then we find the best in every girl.

— Harry E. Brown, Founder