OAAARS at Onas

A pilot program at Onas that engages middle school campers in conversations about social justice, identity, and our values.

We are thrilled to share that this summer, Simone Gamble, founder of OAAARS and faculty member at the Summer Camp Society will join us at Camp Onas for a part of the 2023 summer! 

While here, Simone will deliver a new program at Onas, designed to engage middle school campers in conversations about social justice, identity, and our values. This program, developed by educators for delivery within the summer camp setting, will leverage activities and play to help equip participants with the knowledge and skills that help them become advocates for themselves and others. As Simone likes to say: “The kids are ready!”

We could not agree more: Exploring identity, values, and gaining confidence in who we are has always been a fundamental part of Onas. Simone’s facilitation this summer will be an opportunity to expand on this, and amplify those feelings among our campers. Simone will join us during Second Session, and while Simone is facilitating these sessions, members of our seasonal and year-round team will learn to facilitate the program in future sessions and/or summers. 

During the summer, we will be collecting data to both help Simone improve this program for other camps and for us to determine whether these activities are something we will continue doing in future years. This is a pilot project and, while we know there will be some kinks to work out this summer, we are looking forward to growing with it into the future. 

Below you will find some FAQs about the program, but if you have any questions you do not see answered please reach out to us at [email protected] and Dex, our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Coordinator, will get back to you as soon as he can.  



Can you tell me a little more about Simone?

Of course we can! We think Simone will be a great addition to our program leadership. You can read more about Simone via their bio on the Summer Camp Society’s website, but the short version is that Simone is an educator and social worker who brings a ton of experience working at and with summer camps to advance issues of equity, inclusion, and justice. 

What will participation look like?

The Onas program is built on camper choice, with campers choosing what activities they would like to do every day. And, among the free choice, there are life-skills that we require all campers to try to learn, like swimming in the pool or meeting new people at their table for meals. With that in mind, our goal is for all middle school-age campers to participate in this program, but we will not force anyone to participate if they do not want to. 

How often will campers be doing an activity in this program?

Presently, we expect campers to spend one activity period with Simone every other day of the week, excluding Theme Weekend and Graduates’ Day. This means that campers will likely have 4 activity periods with Simone in Second Session — that works out to about one out of every 14 activity periods during the session. 

What kind of activities/ what will they be? 

The theme of Simone’s activities are generally a shared challenge for the group followed by a debrief to discuss the experience in a process similar to, but less physical than, our Challenge Course elements. Activities might include a whisper-down-the-lane style art project, or a puzzle challenge in which only one person knows the answer, or collaboratively designing an “ideal” community.

How will the Camp Onas staff be involved?

Simone will deliver a session with our staff during Orientation, building on IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) trainings delivered by our Leadership Team and IDEA ministaff counselors. While at Camp, Simone will be in close contact with our Leadership Team, providing updates, asking for help if needed, and helping some of us to develop a strategy to carry the work forward after Second Session.