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Get Ready

Prepare for Camp

large_1b55fa8885Summer camp at House In The Wood is an amazing experience for all kinds of different campers. A hugely important part of making this the case is ensuring that campers are prepared for their time here. Campers who are unprepared might struggle a little bit, so please take the time to review the information provided here, and share it with the campers you're sending to us.

Please pay close attention to the PACKING LIST!

Parents and campers should read together the Letter to Campers.

Parents should read through the Tips for Parents.

Preparation checklist

Please use this checklist to make sure you and your campers are ready for their session.

  1. Attend a registration appointment.
  2. Turn in all registration materials.
  3. Pay all fees.
  4. Attend family open house (optional but recommended).
  5. Call or email camp to confirm attendance (two weeks before session).
  6. Review parent handbook.
  7. Pack according to the packing list (below).
  8. Review the letter to campers and tips for parents (below).
  9. Arrange for camper to be dropped off and picked up on time.
  10. Contact us with any questions you have.

What to Pack

Don't pack nice things!

Camp is not a beauty contest or a fashion show. Campers spend a lot of time outside. Don't send anything that can't get muddy or grass-stained.

Missing something?

If you realize there's something on the list that you're missing, don't panic! Most of the items can be found at a low cost at thrift stores. If you can't come up with something or think your camper can go without it, contact us, and we may be able to help.

How to Pack

All clothing and equipment should be clearly labeled with the name of your child in permanent marker or with name tapes. The camp will not be responsible for lost articles. All toilet articles must be in plastic, not glass containers.Pack all of your child's clothing and personal belongings in only one suitcase or duffle bag. Please label the piece of luggage with your child's name.

Do NOT Pack

  • MEDICATION - All medication must be turned in to the nurse at check-in. Do not pack it in the camper's luggage.
  • BEDDING - Sheets, blankets and pillows are provided.
  • irons
  • TV or computers
  • cell phones, tablets or media players
  • Musical instruments
  • cigarettes
  • radios or CD players
  • hair dryers
  • electric curlers
  • pocket knives
  • firecrackers
  • matches
  • soda, snacks or gum
  • valuable or irreplaceable items that could be damaged or lost
  • money - There is no need or use for money at camp.

Packing List

  • 2 beach towels
  • 2 bath towels
  • 2 wash cloths
  • 1 laundry bag
  • 1 "nice" outfit for the formal dinner
  • 1 jacket
  • 2 long sleeved sweatshirts or sweaters
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 8 pairs of shorts
  • 12 pairs of underwear
  • 12 pairs of socks
  • 12 shirts
  • 4 pairs of pajamas
  • 2 bathing suits/swimming trunks
  • 1 pair of beach sandals or flip flops
  • 1 rain coat or poncho
  • 1 pair of athletic shoes
  • 1 pair of boots (or extra pair of shoes)

  • soap (with a container) or body wash
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • comb/hairbrush
  • sun block (no spray cans/bottles)
  • insect repellent (no spray cans/bottles)
  • flashlight & batteries
  • envelopes, stationary & stamps
  • extra pair of eye glasses (if camper wears glasses and has extra pair)

Letter to Campers

from our Executive Director, Val Wright

Dear Campers and Parents:

Please read and discuss this page together.  We want you to feel comfortable when you come to camp for the first time.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

Where will I live and sleep?
You will live in a wood cabin.  The cabin has a large main room with beds and cupboards for your clothes, a bathroom with toilets and sinks, and a counselor’s room.  The youngest campers at camp will have showers in the cabin too. Older cabin groups use the shower house located a few steps away from their cabin. You will get to sleep in a bunk bed. Extra clothes can be kept under the bed or hung on a hook above your bed.  Wet clothes are hung outside on the clothesline to dry.  There is also space in the center of the cabin to sit and play board games.

Your counselor also has a room in the cabin.  Sometimes you may have four counselors in your cabin.  You may also have LIT’s in your cabin.  LIT’s are our special teen campers.  They will help you while you are at camp.

At night, when you go to bed, your counselor will tuck you in your cozy bed, turn off the lights and then read you a story.  After the story, your counselor will leave the cabin.  Then a special counselor called a nighthawk will make sure you are all right until your counselor returns for the night.  Sometimes, it is scary at night.  It is darker at camp than it is in Chicago.  And sometimes, the animals, like raccoons, frogs and bugs make strange scary noises.  The nighthawk will be there to make sure you are safe.  We always keep a light on at night in the bathroom so that you can see.

What will I eat?
You will eat three meals and two snacks a day.  We have many good cooks in our kitchen. Meals are different each day.  Some meals for lunch and dinner are: hamburgers, hotdogs, barbecue chicken, pizza, ham, meatballs, submarine sandwiches, soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, turkey and fixings, and tacos.  At lunch and dinner we always have a salad bar or other veggies.  Our breakfast may have: juices, fruit, pancakes and sausage, french toast, scrambled eggs, toast, muffins, or hot cereal.  We always have cold cereal as well.
Snacks in the afternoon are usually sweet.  Snacks in the evening are always fresh fruit and water.

Before the meal, we always sing a short song.  After the meal, cabin groups clean up their own tables.  They take the dishes to the kitchen, wipe off the tables and benches and sweep underneath their tables.  At breakfast and lunch, cabin groups sit together.  At dinner, you “sit-where-you-want” in the dining hall.

Who will take care of me?
You will have at least two counselors.  If you are in our youngest cabin you may have three counselors.  Your counselors will live in the cabin with you.  Your counselor will help you get to know your cabin mates, show you where everything is, tell you what you will be doing and Help you be happy at camp.  If you hurt yourself or you feel sick, you will visit the health house where the health counselor will help you.  If you get in trouble at camp, you will visit Ms. Tami.  There are other counselors at camp to help you do other things as well.  You will never be left alone.  A counselor will always be nearby to help you if wanted.

Who will be my friends?
You will be in your cabin with ten other boys or girls your age.  You may already know some of the boys or girls from the Settlement or your neighborhood.  Other boys and girls will be new to you.  The very first day, your counselor will play games with you so that you will get to know your cabin mates.  Some of the boys or girls you meet may become your best friends while at camp.  Your cabin counselor will make sure that all cabin mates work to get along in their cabin group.  If you have a friend or family at camp that isn’t living in your cabin, you will see him or her many times a day at free times and all-camp activities.  Remember, everyone in your cabin was once a new camper just like you.

What will I do?
You will have a fun-filled day from the minute you get up at 7:00 in the morning until you go to bed.  Our youngest cabins go to bed at 9:00 and our older cabins go to bed at 10:00. During the day, you will have many activities with your cabin group.  You will go to swim lessons in our big lake to learn how to swim better.  You will learn how to use our boats.  We have rowboats and paddleboats for our youngest campers.  We have canoes, kayaks, and sailboats for our older campers.  You will attend a nature activity and explore our marsh. You will also go on walks to look at birds with binoculars, find animals, look at the plants and explore the lake.  You will go to a crafts activity.  Your cabin will learn new crafts.  All cabin groups also get to cookout one meal over a real fire and sleep overnight in a tent that they just learn to put up themselves.  When you tent out, you will also roast marshmallows over a fire and go on a nightwalk with your flashlights.  The stars at camp are very beautiful and on a clear night you can see the Big Dipper in the sky.  Each cabin group also gets to decide what they want to do together.  Sometimes the cabin decides to swing on the tire swing, go for a walk, have a picnic, play basketball, volleyball or soccer or just hang out in the their cabin.

You will do other activities as well.  Every day you have free swim, where you can decide what you want to do in the water.  Morning games are fun.  Everyone plays a huge game together using the entire camp.  You will have a hobbytime period where you choose what you want to do from five different choices like arts and crafts, basketball, soccer, running, cooking, or drama.  You will also have free time every day when you get to decide what you want to do.  In the evening, you will do an activity with everyone at camp.  Activities include things like: campfires with singing and laughter, drama like performing a fractured fairy tales, movies with popcorn and soda, art fairs, and Christmas in Summer.

Sometimes we have special days.  Sunday, you get to sleep an extra hour and you have free time almost all day!  You will also be in our variety show on Sunday.  You and your cabin mates entertain us with your best act in singing, dancing, comedy or drama.  On our last day we have a special theme and you will get to do special activities.  In the evening, you will have a social hour and a formal dinner where everyone dresses up and puts their best manners on.

Of course, it’s not all playing at camp.  You and your cabin mates will be responsible for keeping your cabin clean.  Not only will you make your own bed and straighten your belongings, but you will clean your cabin as well.  Your cabin counselor will teach you how to clean the bathroom and sweep and mop the floors.  Everyone will have a chance to do all of the different jobs in the cabin.  Your cabin group will also be responsible for cleaning an area of camp that everyone uses like shower house, the dining hall, the recreation hall, or the pavilion, where we meet for singing and picnics.

You will also take daily showers and brush your teeth.  Every day you will have a rest period in your cabin.  This will give you some quiet time to talk to your cabin mates, write letters, read, or nap.

Suppose I miss my family?
Everybody misses his or her family and friends.  You may also miss your pets, toys, house and favorite food.  Sometimes when the missing is very bad, you may feel like crying.  It helps to remember that your family wanted you to come to camp to play, meet new friends, and have fun in a safe place.  You can take your mind off “missing” by having a good time at camp with your new friends.  You may still miss people or things but it won’t feel so bad.  I hope you have a good time at camp.

Take care, Ms. Val

Tips for Parents

tip_parentsRead the Letter to Campers with your child and discuss it together.  If you can find other books about going to camp, read those together as well.  Ask the librarian at the public library.  Maybe the librarian can find Off to Camp (Pravada, Weiland, 1990) or Pink and Rex Go To Camp (Howe, 1992).  These are very realistic books about going to resident camp.

Talk with other parents or campers about going to camp.  The person who referred you may have campers who attended camp. You can meet other camp families at the Open House in June.

It may help if your child gets to help pick out his/her own clothes; help with the packing; and learn to make the bed, set the table and use a broom.

Try to problem-solve with your child about problems that may come up.  Ask them “What if you lose your swim towel?  What will you do if you don’t feel well?”  Discuss the options and help your child decide which one would work best.

You may be able to practice with your child how to respond to camp situations by role playing as the counselor or other camper.

Many parents hear about “homesickness”.  Homesickness is a very normal process of adjusting to being away from family and friends.  It may help your child if they discuss their feelings when they left home to go to school, spent the night at a friend’s house, or were left alone at home for the first time.  The feelings your child had were natural, normal and didn’t last too long.  This is usually the same experience they will have at camp.

Parents should encourage their child to write home if they feel sad.  Remember too that the letter you get 3 to 4 days later may not still be true.  Please do not tell your child that they will be allowed to call home.  We do not usually allow campers to phone home.  If your child is having a particularly difficult time adjusting to camp, we will call you from camp to talk with you about it.

You may also need to prepare yourself for the separation when your child leaves for camp.  You may find yourself experiencing mixed feelings of pleasure and sadness. Many parents have told me that they sometimes think that they had more trouble adjusting to their child’s absence than the child.  Be assured that House In The Wood is a well-run camp where your child will be closely supervised and will participate in a wide variety of fun activities suitable for their age and ability.

And lastly, remember that if you have concerns about your child, you can call camp.  They will be able to check with the counselor concerning your child (262) 728-2752.