Empowering Girls & Women Since 1919
About Camp Hochelaga
Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain in South Hero, VT, Camp Hochelaga has been offering traditional summer camp experiences for girls ages 6-17 since 1919. For nearly 100 summers, 600-800 girls from all over Vermont, the United States and the world pass through camp's front gate and enter a place of adventure, self-expression, teamwork and life-long friendship.
Camp Hochelaga is an American Camp Association accredited camp and provides overnight, day camp, and leadership development programs that offer opportunities to explore a wide range of activities intended to build character, self-esteem, self-confidence, empowerment and leadership. Camp Hochelaga prioritizes social, emotional and physical safety, to create a magical place where camp traditions, fun, outdoor adventures, engaged staff mentors, and friendships combine to create unforgettable experiences. At 'Laga, our core values of collaboration, kindness, leadership, and empowerment live at the center of all that we do.
Why Camp is Important
All summer long we hear campers talk about why they love camp so much, but it is hard to quantify what our campers get out of their experience at Hochelaga. In 2018 we worked to capture our campers’ experience in their own words and found an overwhelming amount of evidence of skill development and social emotional development across all ages. At camp, kids will:
At Camp Hochelaga Campers Can:
Learn New Skills & Try New Things
Each day at Camp Hochelaga is filled with opportunities to try something new and grow a new skill set. Camp’s programs are intentionally designed to foster curiosity and encourage hands-on learning. Camp’s daily schedule is purposefully arranged to support progressive skill building, meaning that Tuesday’s activity block will build on what campers learned during Monday’s activity block. The daily schedule also includes activity times that promote spontaneity and independence through shorter exploratory activities that change each day. Learn more on the Programs & Activities page.
Meet Lifelong Friends
At the core of it all is Camp Hochelaga’s commitment to a culture of inclusion and the growth of positive, healthy friendships. Hochelaga strives to maintain a safe social environment where everyone feels free to express their individuality, to learn and have fun together, and experience both success and failure in an encouraging way. With the support of engaged staff mentors, campers often meet new friends and build genuine connections that last a lifetime.
Take On Age-Appropriate Challenges
Camp Hochelaga fosters a culture of encouragement and support. Positive, engaged staff create a platform on which campers can step outside their comfort zones and experience the confidence-building feeling of taking on and overcoming challenges that are appropriate to their age. When young people take on challenges in the socially, emotionally, and physically supportive environment of camp they grow resilience, follow-through, and collaboration skills that transfer back into their lives at home and school. They learn about themselves and others in ways that help them navigate the larger challenges they may face later in life. And they build lasting self-esteem and positive self-image that helps empower them in all facets of their lives.
Unplug & Have Fun Outdoors
Camp Hochelaga’s screen-free environment supports campers in stepping away from screen time to grow deeper connections with their camp community as well as the beauty of the natural world around them. Camp encourages campers to be present in the many amazing, fun, exciting moments of each and every day, and to notice and appreciate the nature around them. Hochelaga’s culture creates opportunities to come together and have a blast outdoors as a community empowered by our ability to support one another.
YWCA Vermont is driven by the mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. We carry this mission forward in our culture at Camp Hochelaga by working to create an environment of full inclusion, social safety, and freedom of expression. Camp Hochelaga aims to be a place where any camper, regardless of individual identity labels, is welcomed into social, emotional, and physical safety. We recognize that spaces that are truly safe and welcoming for people of all identities and life experiences are often hard to find and require constant work, intentionality, and culture shift. We strive to continue making Camp Hochelaga a space of diversity, safety, and true empowerment for all by creating a culture of inclusion during our seasonal staff training sessions, growing our summer team by welcoming counselors from diverse backgrounds who model this culture of inclusion at all times, and continuing to grow our Circle of Girls scholarship fund so that the camp experience is accessible to an ever widening community of campers and families.
Camp Hochelaga is traditionally a girls camp program. Under our umbrella organization, YWCA Vermont, we are dedicated to empowering girls and women through our programming. We are also equally dedicated to living and operating in alignment with our mission which inspires a culture of genuine inclusivity and safety for all. We are committed to providing a safe, genuinely welcoming, and judgement free space for youth who identify as cis-female, gender-expansive, trans, non-binary or genderqueer removed from the many defining environments of social media and greater society. One of the largest benefits of the camp environment is the openness with which camp encourages identity exploration, empathy for one another, and empowerment through positive connections with peers and mentors.
If you or your camper have any questions or concerns about inclusion at Camp Hochelaga please do not hesitate to reach out to the year-round camp team.
At Camp Hochelaga, the social, emotional and physical safety of campers is our top priority. Engaged supervision, support and guidance from our camp counselors and larger staff team plays a central role in maintaining safety at all times.
In alignment with American Camp Assocation standards, Camp Hochelaga strives to maintain a staff to camper ratio of 1:4 and never operates with a ratio larger than 1:8 during times when campers are in cabins and overnight, and a staff to camper ratio that is never greater than 1:10 during daily activities. Camp counselors sleep near cabins, and counselors are directly engaged with campers during mid-day cabin times, and during meals, activities and transitions. Our camp staff team is trained to build positive mentor-based relationships with campers so they can offer individualized support, maintain a culture free of bullying, and meet the care needs of each camper in their group. Camp Hochelaga maintains these supervision ratios and practices during all off-site trips and changeover weekends.
Each season Camp Hochelaga welcomes a combination of new and returning staff to our summer staff team from all over Vermont, the United States, and the world. Camp Hochelaga’s year round leadership team intentionally seeks individuals who demonstrate experience in youth development work, dedication and enthusiasm for working with young people in a supportive and positive manner, an understanding of the importance of their role at camp, and the ability to be an engaged and positive mentor to campers of all ages. When welcoming new staff to the summer team, Camp Hochelaga always operates in alignment with American Camp Association standards, completing thorough background checks and professional reference checks.
All staff, regardless of their role at camp, participate in staff training prior to the start of each camp season. Staff training is designed to build a staff-wide and camp-wide culture of engagement, inclusion, positivity, and age-appropriate support. Staff training includes intensive courses on supporting campers who are missing home, bullying prevention, social support and inclusion, mental wellness, and positive self and body image development. All Camp Hochelaga staff are trained Mandated Reporters. Regardless of the topic, all training segments carry a central focus of understanding deeply the many ways in which we work constantly to ensure camper safety and well-being at the physical, social, and emotional level.
Adventure Teamwork Leadership Friendship
“Hochelaga is special to me because everyone inspires me somehow and the counselors are role models for all of us. It’s a second family and there is nothing else like it anywhere.” - Residential Camper
"I love coming back to 'Laga because camp friends are friends like no other. By the end of the first day, you basically are best friends and by the end of the first week, you are pretty much sisters. I love all my 'Laga sisters!" - Residential Camper
"Hochelaga is special because each time I come I meet new people, learn new things, and by the time I'm home, I'm campsick. Everything is exciting because Hochelaga has helped me become open to more new things. My cabin is my bedroom, and Hochelaga is my family! Everyone is kind and caring and the songs warm my heart." - Residential Camper
From the Camp Director
Why is the Camp Hochelaga experience one of magic and empowerment for more than 600 campers each summer since 1919? At Camp Hochelaga we combine an inspiring outdoor, screen-free environment with dedicated, well-trained, enthusiastic camp counselors, programs that support campers in trying new things and building new skills, and a set of core values focused on growing diverse friendships in a socially, emotionally, and physically safe place.
Each season, we see the evidence of camp’s irreplaceable impact in the smiles spread across campers’ faces as they overcome challenges. We see it in the confidence campers encourage in one another, and in the value they place in traditions and ceremonies that have been carried on for decades. And we see it in the connections campers build with one another that remain strong support systems far beyond camp’s front gate.
From Day Camp to Residential Camp, Mini Camp to our CIT leadership program, Camp Hochelaga is intentionally designed to grow with your camper and support them as they strengthen their voice, grow their confidence, and discover their interests. We can’t wait for your camper to be part of the ’Laga community on beautiful Lake Champlain.
Hannah Bogard, Camp Director