Longacre Leadership is an overnight summer camp for teenagers ages 12-18. CampRatingz.com ranks Longacre in the Top 10 in the U.S., in the Top 5 in the Northeast, and #1 overall in Pennsylvania. Founded in 1975, the camp is based on a 200-acre farm in Pennsylvania.

Longacre Leadership is a camp where teenagers are treated like young adults: given both freedom and responsibility. Teenagers who come to Longacre understand this agreement. They accept the responsibility in exchange for the freedom to design their own summer.

Freedom at Longacre comes in a few ways. First, campers sleep in tents without staff. Staff sleep in separate tents, between the boys and the girls. Second, teenagers choose what to do for both activity periods, morning and afternoon, right before they begin. Three, there is no system for privilege or punishment. All teenagers are on the same level playing field and any conflict is addressed on an individual basis.

The responsibility comes in the form of daily chores. All chores are done on behalf of the community. There are no cooks or maintenance people at Longacre, so students and staff do the work on a rotating chores schedule. Different chores are done at different times of the day, but usually they happen before or after meals. Chores take from 15 minutes to 1½ hours per day, depending.

Since the beginning, Longacre has focused on building a community through freedom, responsibility, and developing the interpersonal skills of its teenagers. (Interpersonal skills are also known as non-cognitive skills, social skills and emotional intelligence.)

As noted above, there is no system for privilege or punishment. Instead, the staff at Longacre teach direct communication and conflict resolution.

The activities run the gamut. Longacre is a farm, so there are tractors to drive, farm animals to take care of, and a vegetable garden to tend to. There is a horsemanship program where students learn to ride horses in a natural way, without force or fight. Every farm has a stream of work projects, and this one is no different: building a fence, welding a trailer tongue, or patching a wagon tire.

Because of all the responsibility the teenagers take on, there is time carved out for them to relax. For some that means swimming in the pool, for others it's playing music, or learning yoga poses, or opening a book.  

Perry County is a rural area, and the teenagers are regularly driven into town, either to do community service, or to play basketball at the high school, or to do their laundry at the laundromat. They also leave the farm for outdoor expeditions, like rock climbing, and to go to the movies, and to take trips, like to Hershey Park.

Each summer enrollment at Longacre is capped at 72 campers. For more information, please call 717-567-3349, visit http://www.longacre.com/, or email connect@longacre.com.

-Matthew Smith, Director