For 40 years, the Buford Foundation has provided Camp Confidence programs to help students learn to face the challenges of our changing world. The Buford Foundation exists to make a difference in the lives of Omaha youth. Helping the future of our community by giving girls and boys the gift of confidence!
We are passionate about giving Omaha girls and boys the gift of confidence. We value the power of a transcendent camp experience. Our vision is to provide kids the key to unlocking their future. Our promise to the Omaha community is that when girls and boys go to our camp something special happens: They come home to Omaha with confidence and courage!
The Buford Foundation's primary goal is to help Omaha girls and boys who feel shy, excluded, bullied, or need self-esteem. Founded in 1975 by a Jesuit priest at Creighton Prep, “Buford” was the name of a puppet given to him by a young girl battling terminal cancer. This puppet gave her the courage to fight her cancer and we took that symbol to give courage and self-esteem to boys and girls across Omaha through our confidence camps.
We have over 400 acres of amazing picturesque land in central and northwestern Wyoming. We work with nonprofits and guidance counselors at schools across Omaha to identify students that could use a little extra self-esteem and confidence in 8th or 9th grade. We take 12-20 students to our one or two-week camps where they see mountains for the first time, hike the mountain, do service work, go horseback riding and whitewater rafting (all the while befriending each other from different parts of Omaha). These students come back to Omaha where that confidence takes root in their community and has a significant collective impact. They do better in school, their attitudes improve, and they are more engaged and connected with each other and their community.
Camp Confidence starts with pre-camp team-building exercises in Omaha. The first camp in summer one is a confidence camp in Centennial, Wyoming followed by continued skills building curriculum upon their return to Omaha. The second camp in summer two is a leadership camp in Alpine, Wyoming to connect all the skills building and confidence gained over the year. Both camps focus on positive youth development and service learning. Each camp completes service projects in Wyoming culminating is a service learning project back in Omaha. Our goal is to build self-esteem, maintain it over the year and create young leaders connected to nature and Omaha. This is a true experiential learning program focused on positive youth development and service learning!
Why do we take our students to Wyoming for the camps? The answer – Why not!?! And frankly, because we can! We have over 400 acres of land in Wyoming at two different locations near two different mountain ranges: the Snowy Range Mountains and the Grand Tetons. The Grand Tetons are arguably the most beautiful part of this amazing country and something you simply cannot find in Nebraska. Our students have never seen mountains let alone hiked one and summit the top of the Snowy Range National Forest.
We also have very unique opportunities at our locations. For example, two-thirds of our property in Centennial, Wyoming is jointly used by the Buford Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife. We work together to maintain the conservation of the Laramie basin. We also work with zoos and biologists across the country in an ongoing project for the past thirty years to bring back a federally endangered species: the Wyoming Toad. This affords us activities such as teaching our students about nature, conservation and species diversity. This year a zoologist from the Toledo Zoo came and gave a presentation to our girl’s camp about being a woman in a scientific career field and her projects on our property. Then they were able to immediately walk outside to the lake we jointly created for the purpose of protecting the Wyoming Toad and help the project. This is a perfect service learning project for our program.
Finally, we take students not just out of the city and into nature, but out of Nebraska, their comfort zone, and to a state many of them have never heard of let alone been to: Wyoming. Just crossing the state line and learning about Wyoming is a new and unique educational experience. We create a comfortable environment there to induce positive youth development. It’s not as easy for all Omaha youth to visit other states and have these educational experiences. Students want to participate in our camps to do and experience new things, mostly have fun whitewater rafting and rock climbing while we simultaneously teach them through unique service learning projects. We can take them to Wyoming and open their eyes to the beauty of nature in another part of the country that is inaccessible to them in both Omaha and Nebraska!
The impact of our camps in Wyoming occurs when students come home to Omaha and get involved in our community with their new-found confidence and leadership skills. Our programs have done a great job providing unique outdoors experiential learning camps to build self-esteem and confidence. We will take them to Wyoming to have the unique life-changing experience and then maintain the new-found confidence back home in Omaha.
The American Camp Association (ACA) states that "At camp, children learn to problem-solve, make social adjustments to new and different people, learn responsibility, and gain new skills to increase their self-esteem." Participants make healthy human connections, learn conflict management and relationship building. Furthermore, according to Psychology Today these camps make youth more resilient when then return home. Finally, an ACA report on Youth Development Outcomes of the Camp Experience lists self-esteem and confidence among five benefits young people receive from time at camp. The others include social skills and making friends, independence and leadership qualities, and willingness to try and adventurousness.
We create camps with participants from all areas of Omaha. Therefore, our camps consist of students that do not previously know each other. This allows us to create groups of students that reflect the entire city and give them opportunity to befriend and bond over the course of the camps –building relationships and exposing students to each other’s different life circumstances. Our goal is to create groups that reflect the entire city of Omaha with students that would not necessarily have the opportunity to meet and befriend each other. Both camps focus on positive youth development and service learning. Each camp completes service projects in Wyoming culminating is a service learning project back in Omaha. Our goal is to build self-esteem, maintain it over two summers and create young leaders connected to nature and Omaha.