by Emily Wheeler - August 7, 2012

Click to read the Summer 2012 Woolman Witness:

by John Palmer, Volunteer - August 6, 2012


Twenty-five excited, enthusiastic youngsters are living, learning and playing at the Woolman School for two weeks at a time, led by an equally enthusiastic group of counselors.  I sat down with Brian Loo and Gavin Edgarton, two of the nine counselors, to get a sense of what the program was like.  Once they got started, they couldn’t say enough about it. The kids live in the cabins on campus and get an early start on the day after being awakened by the counselors serenading them with songs like “Good Morning  Sunshine”, which they admitted was quite a bit off key.  Every day is full of activities, from hiking to swimming, to working to playing. 

They went hiking and camping at the Sierra Buttes near Downieville for three days and two nights.  They had a “Theme Day” where the theme was “Time Travel”, and everyone had to stay in character all day, either as a cave man or a samurai.  They went swimming in the pond and then covered themselves with mud like elephants for the walk back to campus.  They went to the “Independence Trail” on the Yuba River (the first wheel-chair accessible trail in the United States) and hacked away at the brush that was encroaching on the trail. 

I sat with Woolman campers Gabe, Nina and Didi at lunch and asked them what they liked about camp.  Their replies:  “The food is Awesome.”  “I love the counselors.”  “We learned how to swing dance.”  “We got to see tadpoles in the pond in every stage of development.”  “I’ve made six new, wonderful friends.” Mark Runyan, another counselor, who came to Woolman with his parents to a work camp at the ripe old age of two, was a camper for two summers, and a semester student in 2009, told me being a camp counselor wasn’t really a job, it was more like playing. 

All in all camp has been a rousing success and a lot of fun for both campers and counselors.   All of them have acquired memories that will be with them for a lifetime.

by Annelise Hildebrandt, Student - November 23, 2011

Dear Woolman friends and family,

For my sustainability project, I am constructing a creative print-media journal about the power of place at Woolman, focusing on the sustainability of storytelling. I will implement a “Letters to the Land” living history program for Woolman. Through this program, I am asking students, semester alumni, John Woolman School alumni, interns, faculty, community members and more-- to write a letter documenting their experiences at Woolman, specifically focusing on preserving their memories for the future. I am hoping for these letters to be a biannual tradition that will document the rich and diverse culture of this place.

In your letter, please reflect on the time that you have spent here and what it has meant to you. I encourage you to do this by recalling a specific experience, conversation, or revelation that occured during your time at Woolman. Through this experience, further discuss your current and developing relationships with this place. It is important to be authentic in your responses, as the purpose of this project is to record both the struggles and triumphs that inevitably take place at Woolman- honesty will make this project more powerful!

You may either print your letter (using Arial font, Size 12) or write out your letter in a thoughtful and readable manner (for instance, writing your letter on stationary would be awesome- but not on a crumpled piece of paper!) Letters should be about two paragraphs to one page in length (although longer is totally fine). Please begin your letter “Dear Woolman.” After that, you have complete artistic control! If writing a letter does not see like the right format for you, other options include providing a picture, collage, poem, drawing, or any other artistic format your heart desires. If you have any questions, please email Emily (Global Issues and Peace Studies teacher) at

Other things you might want to think about while writing:

  • Your relationship and connection to the land and people at Woolman
  • What you imagine for Woolman's future- hopes and fears etc.
  • What you would like future semesters to know about Woolman and/or experience during the semester.


Thanks SO much!


Annelise Hildebrandt



by Casey, Sierra Friends Camp Co-Director - March 24, 2010

There are not many people who get to dress up like a super hero, lay on a sun-warmed river rock, hike through beautiful dappled sunlight and run around on a field trying to steal milk jugs from another team as part of their regular work week. I feel truly blessed to be one of the directors of Sierra Friends Camp, where surprises and shenanigans are part of the routine. If you know someone between the ages of 9 and 14 who could use a dose of campy fun this summer, please pass along this idea: Sierra Friends Camp.

by Dorothy Henderson, Head of School - August 26, 2009

Friday night, August 21s, the 12th Woolman semester began as we gathered around a fire circle (with no fire as this is the season of high fire danger) to tell our stories of arriving at Woolman. Although staff and interns had been preparing for weeks, and students had begun arriving from the East and Midwest the day before on Thursday, the real beginning of the Semester seemed to take place that night. We sat on log benches in the woods, with the frogs competing for air time, telling their stories. We told each other our journey to this place and our hopes for this time together. The heat of the day gradually gave way to the cool mountain air of the foothills, the sky produced one, then two, then a million stars and the pines around us and overhead gave a serenity and strength to our beginning.

This land we inhabit at Sierra Friends Center holds us as we embark on a new adventure at Woolman. There have been many changes over the summer. We have three new teachers: Emily Zionts is our World Issues teacher, Jasmine Smith will teach Environmental Science, and Angelina Conti will teach Peace Studies as well as Humanities and Ethics. They have each arrived with a wealth of talents, experience and enthusiasm for creating a sustainable, peaceful world in community. We feel blessed to have them.

Similarly, our new Woolman Community Intern program has begun with a resounding success: Kiira, Bridget, Ravahn, Emily and Lavinia (with Anna soon to arrive) have each brought a spirit of generosity and a can-do attitude that is already making a difference in how it feels around here. Apple picking, cooking an awesome lunch, packing for the Wilderness trip, organizing a game of Jugs on the soccer field, teaching yoga under a tree, offering to help in a myriad of ways…we are blessed once again with these new ones.

Our Admissions office has grown as well this fall: Samantha Summers and Hannah Jeffrey have joined Kathy, thus expanding our outreach possibilities. They are both already contributing to the sense of new possibilities that feels so present on the campus as we begin.

On a different note, we have lost our office manager, Susan McGuire, who has been with the John Woolman School and then the Woolman Semester for the past 20 years. Susan was an essential part of the transition for the high school to the semester program and has been a stable presence through it all. We still see Susan on Tuesdays as she comes in to play Scrabble with Lynne on Tuesdays, and to help us out as we adjust to life without her.

With what may be our biggest change, Jenny Gray has become our kitchen coordinator, replacing our kitchen manager of the past three years, Benjamin Rose. Our kitchen has now become a bustling center of community activity. Students, staff, volunteer staff, faculty and interns are all taking turns helping to prepare scrumptious meals. Jenny, who has had many years of experience in the food service business, is providing coordination and oversight. This change took place just at the time that Benjamin and the Center were honored with the Golden Carrot award (from Washington DC based Physicians for Responsible Medicine) for excellence in vegetarian cooking. We are committed to carrying on the high standards and ethical food practices that Benjamin helped put into place in our kitchen and excited to be able to share that with the wider community of residents and students.

Finally, but of course, most importantly, 18 awesome students arrived on our campus and seem quite ready to lead us on a most meaningful adventure this fall. We have grown to using cabins on both sides of the campus, and to needing two sections for classes, to ensure that the classroom size stays seminar-small. And yet, the larger numbers do not seem to have altered the sense of close community and care that was already evident as they headed out for a week in the Wilderness. Helping Azure get her backpack on right, making sure that Eugene’s shoes would stay on, finding that extra water bottle in the free store (“Woolmart”), it is hard to believe that most of them did not know each other before last week.

Rooted in the solid foundation of the Quaker elders who founded this school and held in the wisdom of the land that sustains us, we begin anew.

by Your Friendly Camp Counselors - February 17, 2009

Who better to ask than those fearless, faithful, fanciful, fun and fantastic folks who have done it before! Here are a few thoughts from some of our fabulous former counselors:

“Being a counselor at SFC, I’ve found that it’s a place where I can feel good about giving to other campers what I had been given as a child when I attended Shiloh Quaker Camp for 5 years. It is a place to come to and let go of whatever turmoil exists in your life, and give the best of yourself to deserving campers who greatly take in all the beauty of being there with you.” ~ Carolina McCandles (2005, 2006)

“For me being a counselor was a great opportunity to explore myself as a role model and a friend. It helped me to develop key skills for the real world both socially and in the working world. It was wonderful to create for others what has been so important to me as I have grown up. I met amazing people and my experiences and growth from my summer as a SFC counselor will be with me always.” ~ Emily Schwartz (2006)

“Working at Sierra Friends Camp really inspired me, and changed me in ways I never expected it to. Learning about Quaker camps after I was too old to attend made me feel deprived of a wonderful summer, so being a counselor gave me the opportunity to experience the love, gifts and community that come along with Quaker camp. I found being a counselor to be rewarding and spiritually fulfilling, and it gave me the strength I needed to explore and express myself in the world outside of Sierra Friends Center. Not to mention we had SO MUCH fun being outside and seeing the world!” ~ John Stitzer (2008)

“I’m not great with the written word, but I’d like to say that I learned so much during my time at Sierra Friends Camp. It was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had. You learn a ton of leadership skills and I will always remember my time at Sierra Friends Camp, and it will be an experience that I will treasure forever. I learned a lot not only from my fellow counselors and staff but also from the kids. I think it is important to be ready to give 100% and enjoy the experience and take as much away from it as you possibly can. It is by far the most valuable experience I have ever had in my life and is definitely the best learning experience I have ever had in my life. I think that it will be something that is extremely valuable for anyone who decides to be a counselor.” ~ Ben Kewman (2007)

“Being a counselor at Sierra Friends Camp was incredible; it was unlike any experience I have ever had. I loved the creativity, the beautiful environment, and above all, the strong sense of community at SFC. I will never forget leading campers on a backpacking trip through the woods, being the ‘Morning Fairy’ and waking up campers with a silly song, doing art projects, singing, and participating in meditative meetings for worship. If you work at Sierra Friends camp, you will come away with not only wonderful memories, but make lasting connections with SFC community.” ~ Maddy Anderson (2007)

If you would like to be a Sierra Friends Camp counselor, visit our web site and download an application. The priority deadline for applications is March 15.