Campers huggin and smiling

Values & Philosophy

In 1967, founder Stan Oken drew upon his experiences as a teacher and a coach to create an environment where children could strengthen their self-confidence, independence, and develop much-needed social skills necessary for future success.

With only 30 campers enrolled in its first summer, River Way Ranch Camp now welcomes over 1,400 campers and 200 staff from all over the world every year.

For many families, River Way has become a family tradition passed on to their children and grandchildren, taking pride in our longtime community.

Our mission at River Way is to provide each child and staff member with a positive experience that offers the opportunity to grow, thrive, and feel more confident in their abilities than when they first arrived at camp. Parents often share the positive changes and increased self-esteem they notice in their children when they return home from camp.

Every child is recognized as an individual with unique goals and interests. An integral part of our training is to teach our diverse staff to identify each child’s interests and assist them in developing the skills to achieve their goals. A large array of fun activities are used as tools to effortlessly create teamwork, teach responsibility, build a community of support, develop skills, establish friendships, and achieve their personal best, resulting in a sense of accomplishment.

Campers sitting on a bench overlooking a lake with their arms around each other.
A group of campers laughing and smiling.

Unplugged Environment

In an unplugged environment free of cell phones, televisions, and electronic devices, campers often say they feel that, at camp, they can truly be themselves. Campers describe River Way as a place where they are celebrated for their positive character traits, kindness, and being a good friend to others.

For years, our camp families have credited River Way Ranch Camp with supplementing the efforts of the parent/guardian, by providing love, praise, nurturing, and encouragement to every one of our campers. River Way helps to establish behavioral guidelines, positive attitudes, and values demonstrated by our role models.

River Way has been such an amazing place for my son, where he has met children and staff who make him feel welcomed, at home, and free to be himself. As a child who has been bullied at school, this is something every parent dreams of; a place where their child can be themselves in a safe, caring, nurturing environment. River Way has given us that, and I am eternally grateful.Parent of a 5-year River Way Camper

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