Directors and Staff
The Best Camp Staff in New England
When you drop off your child at Songadeewin, you’re leaving them in capable hands. Songadeewin staff are mature, caring, talented, and fun-loving, dedicated to providing the best possible summer for our campers. Many of our staff are former campers who have worked at camp for several summers. Many hail from the Northeast, but others come from all over the country and from abroad. More than anything, our staff are exceptional role models for young people! At Songa, each of the four Groves has a Grove Director, all of whom are all educators who work with school aged children during the year.
The Camp Director is Lauren McDowell. She joins Songadeewin and the Keewaydin community after twenty years in southern Vermont and a career dedicated to experiential education across cultures for middle and high schoolers. First as a trip leader and later as a programmer and director, Lauren designed and ran educational programs with the potential to impact the personal growth and perspectives of young people.
Lauren joined the Keewaydin Foundation in the spring of 2022 to work alongside Songadeewin’s longtime Director, Ellen Flight. In June, Lauren attended Songa’ wilderness trip school and staff training before spending the summer season immersed in the life, rhythms, and songs of camp, alongside Ellen and the entire Songa staff. Lauren is thrilled to be leading Songadeewin into a new chapter and is inspired daily as she continues the important work of cultivating a space where girls learn to be independent, build essential skills in teamwork and interdependence, challenge their bodies, live simply in nature, and speak their authentic voices.
Lauren’s family is active in the Songa and Keewaydin camp communities. Her husband, Drew, is a lifelong educator who lives on campus and participates in life at Songa during the summer. Their sons, Callan and Holden, attend Keewaydin Dunmore, while Anders, age 5, awaits the time when he will join the Annwi crew.
With a staff-to-camper ratio of 1:3, your child will be surrounded by trained adults whose role is to ensure they have a happy, well-rounded summer. This preparation starts well before the opening day with a week-long orientation focused on the needs of our upcoming class of campers. Staff training for new staff lasts for two weeks and includes a full week learning how to lead Songadeewin trips and a two-day Wilderness First Aid course. The entire staff attends one week of staff training, which includes leadership training sessions, waterfront safety drills, CPR training, camp policies and procedures, as well as plenty of time spent reviewing information forms submitted by parents about their children. During this time, outside experts in the fields of psychology andeducation work alongside our Leadership Team and experienced staff to ensure that every counselor starts every season with the highest possible level of expertise.
Health & Safety
Keeping Our Campers Safe
The well-being and safety of campers is our highest priority. Songadeewin has mature, responsible, and well-trained staff. Our staff hold current Wilderness First Aid, CPR and Small Craft Safety certifications; we also have over 15 lifeguards on staff. Each year we invite an expert on camping and children, often a psychologist, to conduct sessions with our staff.
Campers’ health is monitored and maintained by a consulting physician and resident camp nurses. We have two nurses in residence all summer and our consulting physician’s office is 15 minutes from camp. All campers are checked in at the Health Center on the first day of camp. Our Health Center is fully equipped for basic first aid and is a quiet, comfortable space for campers who need to spend a day or night there. Camper medication, whether prescribed from home or by the camp physician, is kept in the Health Center and is administered by the nurses. Porter Hospital is 15 minutes away in Middlebury for emergency visits.
Staff supervise campers’ personal hygiene, including basic hand-washing before meals, teeth-brushing, and showers several times a week. Parents will also be glad to know we have hot showers, modern plumbing, and state-tested water from our private well!
While we pride ourselves on gently pushing each camper outside her own individual comfort zone, this is always a thoughtful process in which possible risks are carefully controlled and managed by staff members who have been thoroughly trained to understand them.