Caldera Crafts Powerful Change in Young People

Central Oregon at-risk youth with limited opportunities have greatly benefited from Caldera’s long-time mission to be a catalyst for the transformation of underserved youth. Founded in 1996 by Dan Wieden (co-founder of the Portland, Oregon-based international advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy) and his family, the innovative, year-round art and environmental camp continues to nurture creativity and by doing so it has transformed hundreds of young people who grew and prospered by developing their own self-expression and self-worth.

Caldera, not just a onetime program, works with the students for seven years, though high school and into early adulthood. Numerous inspiring stories can be told of at-risk youth who set out from Caldera to make a difference in their own lives while uplifting their families and communities. They have become change agents of positive influence.

Every year Caldera supports over 430 youth from Central Oregon and Portland, integrating over 100 professional youth workers, artists and environmental specialists as mentors and teachers. In 2015, Caldera received a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama, recognizing Caldera as one of the top youth arts programs in the nation.
Recently Caldera was awarded a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support its ongoing Geography of We project, a multi-year transmedia initiative that links Caldera’s arts and environmental programming. Focused on storytelling techniques that range from traditional forms to digital media, professional artists in film, animation, photography, writing, music, painting, sculpture and design give students the opportunity to explore their identity through the central theme of air.

Every summer, over 150 students and staff pack their bags and head out to the Caldera Arts Center on Blue Lake (about sixteen miles west of Sisters) for three eight- to ten-day camp sessions. They connect with their campmates and immerse themselves in various arts workshops, explore nature,  build community and dive into the depths of their unique creative voices.
The NEA grant supports the fifth phase of the Geography of We project that will be launched during the summer camp sessions beginning mid-July. And you may not be going to camp but this summer but you can see this project in action with a public tour of the Caldera Arts Center on July 22 or August 12.

Summer camp at Caldera has all the makings similar to your own youth camp experiences: campfires, camp songs, nature hikes, challenge courses and lake activities. Except this camp consists of professional teaching artists, naturalists and mentors who changes lives. Imagine the opportunities to delve, for the first time in a safe and welcoming environment, into music/audio production, visual arts, photography, dance, theatre, filmmaking, comics, drumming and creative writing.

Caldera will astonish you! It’s a creative place of enduring appeal, a healing environment, an uplifting space set in the middle of a beautiful forest near a dazzling lake. “I know when I go there, I feel like a better person,” said Tricia Snell, Caldera’s former executive director to “I feel like a more loving person, I slow down. I’m a little bit more mindful and I think everybody feels that way.”

You can make your reservation for your own camp empowerment by emailing

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