Why Traditional Summer Camp and Why Coppercreek? -Becky Hogland, Coppercreek Owner/Director

Group singing together at Vespers
Group singing together at Vespers

by Becky Hogland, Coppercreek Owner and Director

I have been spending my summers at camp since 1992 and have 2 wonderful daughters, age 12 and nearly 5 who now join my husband Craig and I every summer.  As a Mom, I know how much pressure we as parents are under to do the “right” thing for our children.  We can spend our days filled with anxiety.  Is this the “right” preschool?  The “right” elementary school?  Does my child need academic enrichment in the summer?  Should I put them on the traveling club volleyball team?  And on and on it goes.  We quite simply want to give our kids every opportunity we can and are so bombarded with different ways to provide these opportunities, it is difficult to know which way to turn.  My Uncle always described it as “collecting keys” to open a door which we may come upon during our adult life, and  we are under increasing pressure to make sure our kids not only have keys, but have the “right” keys.  So, where does a Traditional Summer Camp and more specifically Coppercreek fit in to the world our kids live in now?   So many families see the camp experience as simply a time of fun and friends.  In actuality, the social and emotional growth of children is REALLY what camp is about, and the activities and fun are just the vehicle we use.


The Coppercreek Camp experience offers some very real, very necessary benefits our kids can’t get elsewhere.  Among these important benefits are independence, the confidence which comes from being part of a supportive, inclusive, multi-generational community, and the life at the pace of nature that our busy, technology soaked kids need.

Learning to halter and bridle a horse.
Learning to halter and bridle a horse.

As Michael Thompson, Ph.D, child psychologist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Raising Cain and Homesick and Happy says in his article Sending Kids to Summer Camp (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-thompson-phd/sending-kids-to-summer-camp_b_1539726.html) “Does an overnight camp experience still make sense in this competitive, resume-building world? From this psychologist’s point of view, the answer is a resounding YES. I believe that children develop in profound ways when they leave their parents’ house and join a camp community.  Learning to sleep away from home is, of course, a critical step on the way to independence.”  Helping our kids gain independence is a critical part of childhood and one of our most important and most elusive tasks as parents.  Our kids can only develop independence by being away from us and making decisions on their own.

Trek  teamwork in Catacomb Cave
Trek teamwork in Catacomb Cave

Coppercreek offers a warm, supportive environment to start children down the road.  As Michael Thompson notes, “Children don’t develop because they are pushed and prodded and pressured to develop. Children don’t develop because of town teams or because their parents prepare them to go to a “good” college. Growing up is what kids do, because development is their biological and psychological imperative. It is the job of adults to create environments where they have the time and freedom and safety to grow up at their own pace.”  Coppercreek is exactly that environment.

Kayak instruction
Kayak instruction

Some of the things we hear most from our campers is “I could really be myself at Coppercreek Camp” and “I felt confident to try new things.”  Why is Coppercreek a place where campers feel confident to be themselves and try new things?  One of critical reasons  is that Coppercreek is essentially a non-competitive environment.  Our campers are encouraged to try their best and we celebrate their accomplishments.  We never compare one camper’s accomplishments to another.  Each child is growing and developing and learning at their pace.  In The Case Against Competition (http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/tcac.htm) in Working Mother Magazine, author and lecturer Alfie Kohn notes,  “One study demonstrated conclusively that competitive children were less empathetic than others; another study showed that competitive children were less generous.

Total fun
Letting go and having fun

Cooperation, on the other hand, is marvelously successful at helping children to communicate effectively, to trust in others and to accept those who are different from themselves.”  Coppercreek Camp provides an environment where campers must work together and cooperate for the cabin and the community to thrive.  From this spirit of living and working together and cooperating comes acceptance and trust of ALL of the members of the Coppercreek community and a chance for campers to feel confident “being themselves” and “trying new things”.


Last, but not least, Coppercreek provides campers the opportunity to slow down the pace of life, live, work and play in a multi-generational community and experience the wonder of the natural world.  Michael Thompson notes in Home Away From Home (http://www.campparents.org/homeaway ) of summer camp that he “re-discovered a fantastic lost world of family traditions. A world where people sit down and eat three meals together every day, serving their food from platters and talking with one another throughout the meal. A world where ten-year-olds set the table for dinner and take all the dishes back to the kitchen when the meal is finished, without complaint. A world where thirteen-year-old boys don’t play video games every night, nor do they watch TV or sit in front of computers. Instead, they lie on their beds and read comic books and novels. In this world, I saw eleven-year-old girls walking together and holding hands as they walked back to their cabins. Right out in the open. No girls there send mean instant messages to one another; they don’t I.M. at all. Instead, they sing. When they are making their beds (yes, they make their beds every morning) and sweeping out their rooms, they sing together. First one starts to sing a song, and then the others join in, spontaneously. There is no adult leading them.

Family meal
Family meal

I saw a world where nineteen and twenty-year-old young men spend hours of time swimming and diving and kayaking with eleven-year-old boys, and they all seem to enjoy it equally. When the swimming is over, the boys hang out with the young men and ask them questions. They also walked to dinner together, sometimes with the smaller boys hugging and hanging on the bigger boys, who don’t tease them or act annoyed. Even more amazing, at the end of each evening, the young men, the twenty-year-olds, sit with older men in their fifties and sixties and listen to them tell stories about their lives. The young ones aren’t sarcastic or dismissive the way that television sitcoms suggest they are supposed to be. They seem eager to learn from their elders, night after night. And at the end of the night, they all sing, boys and young men and old men, all together around a campfire.  When I visited a camp for a week, some forty years since I had last attended one myself, I was struck hard by how rarely I see children engage in these activities anywhere else: not in schools, not in neighborhoods, not in families. It made me wonder if summer camps are one of the last places that kids can learn the so-called “family values” that hard-pressed families no longer have the time to teach.  I was struck by the fact that a summer camp seems to provide something that is in short supply in our fast-paced worlds: respect for ritual, time for the generations to get to know one another, and of course, the opportunity to take a nap or read a comic book after lunch every day.”

A little alone time
A little alone time

I believe wholeheartedly in Coppercreek and the value of a traditional summer camp experience.  My Middle School daughter’s homeroom teacher mentioned today that she is a joy in class because she has a confidence and self-assurance that is increasingly rare in a Middle School kid.   I had to give credit where it is due; Coppercreek Camp is doing a great job raising our kids.  Craig and I are very grateful.  Now we just need to decide about the club volleyball team…..

Trek at Lava Beds
Trek at Lava Beds

Throwback Thursday- 1979 Cabin Group and All Camp Pictures

Please help us fill in first and last names on these photos. Just comment below and I will add them to the photos. So much great history to remember.


Big Boys Tent: Jordon, Willie, Martin, Tim, Eric Grothe,  Robert.


All camp photo- 1979. Names that pop into my head are as follows: TOP ROW– Andy Rothman, Kate Harrington, Martin Horowitz, Eric Grothe, Jean Ann Smith, Ashok, Lornie Lindskog, Ellen Galperson, Tim, Kristi Mulligan, John Lindskog, Robert,

MIDDLE ROW– Willie, Kathy Kaiser, Neil Rector, Cynthia Nomikos, Jeff Weit, Dan Weit.

BOTTOM ROW– Nancy Smith, Steven Grothe, Julie Rector, Emily Elders, Laura Nomikos,

JeffWeitCabinGroupMartin Horowitz, Jeff Weit, Chris Mosely, Steven Grothe, Bill, Frank

How I bravely became a Coppercreeker- Jess (2012)

Jess (2013)

I first arrived at Coppercreek well after dark on a long day of travel. After my new friend and fellow counselor, Kathy, gave me her best possible camp tour in complete darkness, we headed to the girls’ shower house to wash our faces and brush our teeth before bed. As a novice Coppercreeker, I forgot to bring my flashlight to the shower house with me. While groping around in the dark, in an effort to find my way back to F.B.I.,  something terrifying happened. While walking down the hill, a large and terrifying beast ran past. In my haste to reach the relative safety of my bunk, I stubbed my toes no less than three times and then nearly fell flat on my face when I forgot  the F.B.I. deck was raised a few inches off the ground. At this point, I am sure Kathy, who was already waiting in the cabin, was giggling at my antics. Let’s be honest, I was a disaster. It wasn’t until I was safely tucked in my bunk, I realized the terrifying beast I ran from was not a ginormous mountain lion, or, the more fantastical theory in my head, Fluffy, the three headed dog from Harry Potter; it was in fact a deer, likely the same one that would continue to lounge in the meadow for the rest of the summer.

This story seems silly, but in many ways, it really sums up my first summer at Coppercreek. My first several days in camp, I was nervous, I was confused, and I was simply out of my element. I mean not only were we climbing up unreasonably high trees, but there were two different kinds of TAPS (Thin Air Patrol and the song we sing at the end of campfire), and people commonly sang (or in the case of Eric Barger I, screamed) songs before meals. If any experience truly showed me I was in for something new, it was my first shower at camp. Halfway through shampooing, I realized I was not alone; about eye level, directly in front of me, was a frog. I may have freaked out a little and after he fell in my shower caddy, due in large part to my failed attempt to scoot him out of the shower with my flip flop, I wondered what other creatures I would meet during the course of the summer. And, I certainly did meet many a furry creature, and several that lacked fur, in my time in The Galaxy.

During the third session, I had another run in with a water loving amphibian. While walking past the shower house, I heard the loud screeching tones of teenage girls in panic mode. When I went in to check on them, I saw that a frog in the shower was the source of the commotion. It was this moment that first made me look back on my time at camp. I simply scooped up the little guy and took him outside; no harm no foul. I think this is a visible example of the change camp can make in the lives of all the campers and staff. If we really throw ourselves into the Coppercreek experience, we are bound to be changed by the scenery, activities, and people. By the end of the summer, I was not only catching frogs, but I was singing along with everyone during dinner. I cannot wait to return for my second summer. I know, not only will I have an incredible time, camp will create a change in me that will certainly be for the better. And this summer, I will definitely remember my flashlight!


NEW- Stand Up Paddle Boards!

SUP at Lake Almanor
SUP at Lake Almanor- Gabby, Ansley, Emma, Maddy, and Phoebe

Today a group of campers got to go to Lake Almanor to try out Coppercreek Camp’s new stand up paddleboards! The campers all successfully stood up on the paddleboards and paddled around in a calm cove of the lake.


We spent a relaxing afternoon taking in the scenery of Lake Almanor and Mount Lassen and learning a new skill. A picnic lunch was enjoyed by the campers on the beach before going out into the lake.


Some of the campers explored the nature of the beach and discovered new bugs and plants. Coppercreek hopes that this new activity becomes something that campers can look forward to attending during the warm afternoons!


Meet Jonathan!



Hello, my name is Jonathan Cizmar. I am a camp counselor, Trek leader, and this is my second year at Coppercreek Camp. I am 26 years old, married, and adventure is what I do best, including outdoor travel on land, water, and snow. I love being at camp and being an outdoor guide to show others what the world has to offer. Plumas County, CA is currently my playground and I have spent the last few years exploring, climbing and descending all over the beautiful mountains around us.


Besides living in Plumas County, many other places, experiences, and people in my life have helped shaped my character. I am originally from the surrounding Los Angeles area in southern California and surfing was and still is my favorite activity there.


Since then, I have spent many years in Colorado, Oregon, and northern California traveling where snowboarding and winter backcountry travel has been a fun and favorite activity, a form of surfing where my feet are strapped in and I can go bigger and do more turns.


Since then, another world of gravity sports I have enjoyed is whitewater kayaking and rafting on rivers. It has brought me to some of the most beautiful scenery and shared so many experiences with others, like no other. I recently took my whole family down the East Branch of the Feather River on rafts to share, and they loved it and can’t wait to come back to do it again. I hope to take people down rivers more often to share the beauty of the best country of the world, USA!


I have learned so much in my 26 years of life and I have been to many different schools. I graduated high school in 2004 at Valencia High, CA. I have two AA degrees, one in Automotive Technology from DADC and the other in Outdoor Recreation Leadership from Feather River College. I will continue my education at Humboldt State University this year to obtain a BA in Recreation Administration. I enjoy studying about outdoor recreation and it has helped me find a meaning and purpose in our crazy consuming society. I enjoy and excel in taking others outdoors to teach about land conservation, backcountry ethics, geology, ecosystems, survival, and safety. It has helped build a solid structure about the environment we live in, how to use its resources, be sustainable, but most of all having fun and enjoy our lives.


What I love most about Coppercreek Camp is the sense of community. Campers and people alike come together to spend quality time in the outdoors. We truly live in one of the most beautiful places of northern California in the colliding mountain ranges of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades. I am very happy to live here and to show others cool spots and activities.



Being at Coppercreek Camp makes us better people by going out and having experiences that we would not have anywhere else. The friendships and relationships we have with one another at camp will be remembered always for the rest of our lives. We can be who we are and do what we represent. Be good people, follow your heart, and do what is right. I’ll see you this summer 2013 at Coppercreek Camp.