The Circle Program was founded in 1993 by the trustees and camp director of Camp Onaway, a camp for girls on Newfound Lake in Hebron, New Hampshire. The Onaway trustees wanted to create a summer camp program for disadvantaged New Hampshire girls, but recognized the fact that just a few weeks at camp might not be enough to make a sustainable difference in the lives of the girls. They modeled the Circle Program after the Mayhew Program for boys and combined residential summer camp with year-round, one-on-one mentoring.
Initially, Circle began as a "pilot program" with twenty-two girls. Currently, over eighty girls and teens are enrolled and they come from thirty-two towns throughout the Lakes Region. The Circle Program is the only program of its kind serving girls in New Hampshire. It is also one of the only programs in the country that combines camp and mentoring and serves rural girls.
In the early years, the Circle Program borrowed camp space from Onaway and other local camps when they were not in session. Initially, the Circle Program offered girls (ages 9-11) a two-year Core Program of residential summer camp and year-round mentoring. As Circle began to grow in depth of service and retain more girls who were enjoying the relationships they had formed, Circle evolved from the original two-year program into a program that supports girls until they graduate from high school. Potentially, each girl we enroll may participate for up to eight years including the two-year Core Program, the Teen Program, and TAP (high school Teen Adventure Program).