Staff teaching campers archery

The Benefits of Small Group Instruction at Summer Camp

Camp Sequoia


When looking for a camp for your child, many different factors come into play. What kind of activities are available? What are the dining options? How long is the program? Where will they sleep? What ages attend this particular camp? There are many questions to ask in order to find the best summer program for your child, but one factor that often gets overlooked is the number of attendees. Although some camps aim to enroll as many campers as possible, Camp Sequoia takes a different approach to maximize our camper’s take away from our program. From 2:5 staffing ratio to capped enrollment, Camp Sequoia constructs an intentional community built upon the advantages of small group learning and instruction. Through these benefits, our campers can thrive in our community to become the best social versions of themselves.  

Individualized Learning 

Part of what sets Oxford and Cambridge Universities apart from other collegiate institutions- aside from their longevity and prestige- it is their tutorial system, which emphasizes students meeting with their professor in a one-on-one context at least once a week. This gives students a chance to pursue their interests and fully comprehend material in a way that cannot be achieved in a large lecture hall. Similarly, Camp Sequoia has built a 2:5 staffing ratio to ensure that every child has the support they need to grow socially and emotionally in a scaffolded environment.

Our staff can focus on individualized growth plans for each camper in order to help them become the best version of themselves. Beyond just the number of “adults in the room”, taking the time to understand child, parent and community goals is important. Pre-camp in-home conversations, parent and professional surveys, and solid communication help to provide an environment where meaningful social-emotional learning can happen. We create a specialized growth plan for every camper so that we can specifically address their social goals during our program, and we ask for professional and parent input to help craft these plans. Looking at a strength-based approach can build upon what a child is good at, enjoys or is high interest as a means to coordinate and expand their horizons.  

Small-Group Instruction Encourages Inclusivity, Collaboration, and Teamwork 

Research shows that there are many benefits to a small-group focus. In a neurotypical-centric world, our campers often express that they feel alienated. However, because we are the first research-based social skills camp in America, we’ve learned a thing or two about helping young men grow both as individuals and collaboratively.

Our boys get to experience a bond with others who share similar strengths and benefit from developing empathy with those who are working on similar things as well. Our camp members feel like they are a part of a group who understands them and are more open to sharing their experiences and working together with others towards their shared goals because they are specifically in this type of social-emotional learning environment.  

Aids in Proper Confidence Building 

Most of us can recall an occasion during our schooling where the teacher would ask a question, but we were hesitant to answer because we were afraid of voicing an incorrect answer in front of a large group of peers. Social anxiety is a natural fear, but a small group setting can help to alleviate those anxieties and build confidence without the risk of being lost as a face in a crowd, or marginalized by hanging around the periphery of a social situation. Through structured discussion-based teachings and hands-on activities, every camper is given a voice. 

Our staff encourages participation and use positive reinforcement to help our campers develop their self-efficacy and confidence in their abilities. From first of its kind programs like the Camper Council to staff that has been through US school systems and can speak to the social mores of what it is like to deal with peer relationships in 21st century America, there are a wide range of little things that serve to set campers up for success.  

Allows Opportunity for Constructive Feedback 

Inside the classroom, it can be very difficult for teachers (even awardwinning ones like members of our leadership team) to set aside enough time to address every student individually on a regular basis. Even in parent-teacher conferences, it can be difficult to address both the good and the bad, and as a result, important feedback can get missed in larger groups. However, at camp we put an emphasis on positive reinforcement and constructive feedback by addressing social growth opportunities in the moment.

Through our small-group setup, our staff are able to address the good and the bad- to nurture our campers and help them grow. Having a dedicated staff team whose sole roles at camp are to build, foster and empower social-emotional success, our SST team (scaffolding success team) provides individual and small group in vivio feedback. Additionally, stakeholder feedback for parents, teachers, professionals, and caregivers ensures that camper gains throughout the summer serve as a springboard for success throughout the subsequent school year. 

Small-Group Instruction is Our Bread and Butter at Camp Sequoia 

At Camp Sequoia, we believe in helping our campers reap the benefits of small group instruction, and our staff are specifically trained to help our campers get the most out of our supportive community. It is more than the teachers, social workers, counselors and Camp Psychologist who develop the staff training curriculum. It is more than the podcasts and distance learning that staff participate in before they arrive on site. It is more than the two-weeks of face to face training on the neurobiology and research on our population or the 10-page exam that ALL staff must pass before working with someone else’s children.

It is the synergy of intentionality both in form and process that allows Camp Sequoia to proudly craft a team and a community environment specifically designed to maximize a sense of belonging, and social success. We strive to be a place where young men can truly leave with increased confidence, friendship and character at the conclusion of their time with us. We create a specialized growth plan for every camper so that we can specifically address their social goals during our program, and we ask for professional and parent input to help craft these plans.