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Environmental Education & Youth Leadership

Registration for Leaders on the Lake 2021 is On Hold

Hosted at Camp Hochelaga, YWCA Vermont's Leaders on the Lake is a weekend program for middle and high school girls ages 10-17 who would like to explore science, ecology, the environment, and environmental justice while expanding their leadership skills! Young leaders have an opportunity to explore nature, learn about the environment, and be hands on with a unique outdoor project as a way to give back to the local community.

Leaders on the Lake 2020: CANCELED 

It's time to get MUDDY!

Did you know there are numerous health benefits of playing in the mud? Science shows that today’s sanitized world is actually contributing to increased levels of childhood allergies and asthma. Exposure to dirt and germs works to prime a child’s immune system to prevent allergies. Yes, it’s actually healthy for kids to get muddy!

Recent research has shown that dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium Vaccae which stimulates the immune system and increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, an endorphin that soothes, calms, and helps us to relax. Scientists say regular exposure to the bacteria may help reduce a child’s vulnerability to depression. In short, playing in mud makes you happier!

Participants can expect to spend time learning about the importance of composting as we work together to revamp Camp Hochelaga's onsite compost system and set up our garden full of fruits and veggies to be ready for a summer full of healthy foods. We will also spend time using tools and teamwork to build an outdoor hand-washing station for the farm & garden area!

You won't want to miss out on all the MUDDY FUN!


Tier C: $100     Tier B: $75      Tier A: $50

Tiered Pricing: Just like our camp programs, Leaders on the Lake is offered with a voluntary tiered pricing system. This helps us offset the program operating costs and provides us with more opportunities to extend scholarship funds to youth who would not be able to attend otherwise. The tier you choose will have no impact on your child's experience during Leaders on the Lake.

Registration: Click the registration at the top of the page to follow our online registration system in CampBrain. If you are a camp family you will use the same account login as camp registration. Leaders on the Lake is listed as a session option below the summer sessions. Please call us at the office (802) 862-7520 if you have any questions regarding registration for Leaders on the Lake.

About YWCA Vermont's Leaders on the Lake Program

In 2015, with support from the JM Kaplan Foundation, Leaders on the Lake: Getting Down and Dirty with the Environment constructed raised garden beds at YWCA Camp Hochelaga. This led to gardening classes and great fresh food for our meals. Since then our spring Leaders on the Lake program has focused on inspiring girls and non-binary youth to feel empowered to pursue their interests and develop their STEAM skills and step into leadership roles with confidence through team building challenges as a group. Leaders on the Lake participants have planted camp's garden, built bat houses, built a chicken coop, learned about our camp bees, cooked dinner over the campfire, taken on team challenges, played full camp games, and spent nights in cozy camp cabins!

Leaders on the Lake programming is developed annually in partnership with Lake Champlain Basin Program and other community partners associated with providing environmental education opportunities for youth. YWCA Vermont will often choose a specific theme relevant to the current challenges of our local environment to create meaningful projects for young leaders to take part in.

Leaders on the Lake 2019

It was a gray and chilly weekend in May 2019 but that did not stop our young leaders from having a BEE-utiful time out at Camp Hochelaga learning all about our local bees! We are so proud to have our own hive here at camp and our young leaders had the chance to learn all about how our bee friends work and what we can do to best support them including planting a robust garden full of pollinator plants. Young leaders also practiced their handiwork to build camp's on-site composting bin, and put their STEAM and leadership skills to the test through fun camp games and challenges.

Leaders on the Lake 2018

This spring Leaders on the Lake had opportunities to build connections with one another by working together to paint and fix up camp's new chicken coop, expand the garden, build camp's new worm composting bin, and put their STEAM and leadership skills to the test through fun camp games and challenges. Leaders on the Lake collaborated to prepare their meals with local food systems and healthy eating habits in mind. They built new skills creating and cooking dinner over the open camp fire!

Partnership with Lake Champlain Basin Program

Camp Hochelaga is excited to announce our partnership with the Lake Champlain
Basin Program for Leaders on the Lake! During Leaders on the Lake 2018, educators from the Basin Program came out to camp to offer opportunities for hands-on learning about camp's watershed and the power and importance of wetlands.