History of Camp DREAM
The Camp DREAM Adventure Base is located on the shores of Metcalf Pond in Northern Vermont, the traditional territory of the Abenaki people of the Wabanaki (Dawnland) Confederacy. To read our full Land Acknowledgement and to access additional learning materials please see here.
The Camp DREAM Adventure Base was purchased in 2003 through the support of the Vermont Land Trust and many small donors from across DREAM’s programming. Our goal was to create a space in the outdoors for DREAMers of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds to learn, explore, and grow as leaders in the wilderness.
Since the fateful day when Jesse Foote signed the deed and became our first Camp director, Camp DREAM has been a home to our Homestead and Garden and a home-away-from-home for participants and friends alike year round! Thanks to the generosity of groups like Ben and Jerry’s, IBM, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, and the AmeriCorps NCCC, big and small projects have empowered the imaginations of all who have stepped onto the property.
In the beginning, Camp DREAM was not much more than a campsite in the trees. We set up canvas tents in the summer (and winter!) so we could explore the forest and shores of Metcalf Pond and have a campfire to cook around at night! But over the years, as DREAM grew from Vermont into Boston and beyond to Philadelphia, we realized we needed more space!
Early on, we gardened in the Homestead footprint on the property, using the old foundation of an early settler’s barn as the protective rock walls around our vegetable beds. As we, and our vegetable needs grew, we constructed the picnic shelter near the Homestead and garden where we eat most of our meals. Thanks to American Flatbread, we added an outdoor pizza oven so that we could take freshly harvested tomatoes and cut them up for the top of a homemade pizza in under a minute.
The first few DREAM sleeping structures on the property are still used today! We have three-sided shelters, and the (extremely magical treehouse) where our campers can stay cozied up in sleeping bags and still watch the fireflies glow. They’re a bit sturdier than the canvas tents of old, but still on the simple living side of things without running water or electricity!
As DREAM continued to grow though, we realized we needed better transportation to get to Camp! The old Camp DREAM bus was outfitted to partially run on vegetable oil in order to minimize our carbon footprint; and the inside of the bus was tricked-out with murals and poetry magnets to make the ride to Camp even more fun!
Many fun summers transitioned into fall and each winter DREAMers gathered at Camp to sleep in canvas tents surrounded by snow and occasionally survival-shelters made out of branches and packed snow! After a day of playing broomball on a frozen Metcalf Pond, and sledding down the hill, we would crowd into our canvas tents to sing and drink warm hot chocolate made right in front of us on the woodfired stove.
The Camp DREAM bus, unfortunately, got really old very fast and although she had put in her miles, we weren’t done with her yet. For some time, the old bus lived at DREAM as our Camp kitchen! With the addition of a small porch and the super cool new outfitting of our loving old bus, we used the space to serve our meals assembly-line-style with folks adding the ingredients they wanted to their burrito bowl or taco.
Then, in 2017, after over a decade of fundraising in small amounts among DREAM’s incredible donor base, we were able to build the DREAM Lodge! Sure, this meant our DREAM Bus could finally fully retire, but we wished her well and thanked her for her service. The Lodge addition has us covered if we need to cook in a professional kitchen or take extra shelter from the elements. (Plus it’s partially solar powered!) Completed in 2018, the Lodge has a performance stage, plenty of room to play games, gear storage, and a professional kitchen along with A/C! We still like to eat our meals outside near the garden though. Our picnic shelter and pizza oven (donated by American Flatbread back in the day!) still gets most of the action and hosts a super fun spot to make fresh pizzas or bagels as an afternoon camp activity.
Recent projects at Camp have included the expansion of our tree orchard, hobbit holes, a bathhouse, and the construction of a weatherized cabin for extra support in the winter months. In the near future we hope to expand our offerings on the shore of Metcalf Pond with the addition of more canoes, life jackets, and a proper little boathouse. If you would like to help us get more DREAMers safely out on the water please consider donating or reaching out if you have any leads on boats/gear that could join our fleet!
The DREAM Program INC. is a 501(c)(3) service organization established in the winter of 1998 and developed as a nonprofit in 2001. Its goal is to bring high quality mentoring and activity programing to at-promise youth through summer enrichment, academic support, village mentoring, and unlimited adventures.
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