The Buford Foundation has been around for 40 years helping the future of our community! Omaha actor John Beasley has been a great friend and supporter of the Buford Foundation. John traveled out to our camps several years ago and recorded this video for us. The core of our program has never changed: we exist to make a difference in the lives of youth. Through Camp Confidence programs, youth develop confidence and self-reliance, learn mutual respect, and deepen intuition and natural curiosity. We week to help youth strive toward their full potential!
As John Beasley says, “Camp Confidence helps kids overcome the obstacles that they will face in life.”
Founded in 1975 by a Jesuit priest and teacher 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 guidance counselors at schools across Omaha to identify students that could use a little extra self-esteem and confidence in 8th or 9th grade. A student struggling with being bullied, a shy student that could simply use that extra self-esteem experience, or a student that could benefit from seeing beyond their current situation, we create camps that reflect all of Omaha.
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.
Why do we take our students to Wyoming for the camps? The answer – 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 can’t find in Nebraska. Our students have never seen mountains let alone hiked one and summited 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. Every year a zoologist from the Toledo Zoo or US Fish and Wildlife comes and gives a presentation to our camp about being the career field and their projects on our property. Then students 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. 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!