FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
While your child is the one attending camp, parents often have many questions and concerns about their child’s camp experience. As a parent, you play an important role in preparing your camper to come to Cedarkirk. The following are some frequently asked questions by parents that may help enhance your child’s camping experience and assuage some of your concerns. If your question has not been addressed here or you would like additional information, please contact Matt Shick, Program Director, at 813.685.4224 x3 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We strive to provide the best possible environment for your child. If there is any information that would help us care for your camper better, please let us know prior to their arrival.
Why should I send my child to camp?
What can my child expect during his/her camp experience?
What kind of training has the staff received?
What are some of the best ways to prepare my child for camp this summer?
How can I help with homesickness?
What should my child pack for camp?
How can I communicate with my child when they are at camp?
How can my child communicate with me?
How can I contact my camper in the case of an outside emergency?
How do I register my child for camp?
What time is Check-In for my child’s camp program?
What time is the Closing Program?
Can my camper come with a friend?
My child is attending camp with many friends. Why can’t they all be in the same group?
Are there scholarships available?
Can my child attend more than one week of camp?
Can I register my child for a camp they are not old enough for? What if my child is older in age, but has not finished a certain grade yet?
Can my child bring food or snacks to camp?
What kind of food do you serve at camp?
Is there a camp store? Should my child bring money for the store?
What happens during severe weather like a bad thunderstorm or hurricane?
What is Cedarkirk’s discipline policy?
Can you accommodate campers with special needs?
Do you have medical staff available?
How do you handle medication disbursement?
May I visit my child while they are at camp?
When is my deposit due?
What is your withdrawal/cancellation policy?
Why should I send my child to camp?
This is an excellent question, and one that many parents often don’t consider before signing their child up for camp. The answers to this question are many and varied, so the most commonly cited benefits of camp are listed here. Camps offer opportunities for fun – both in unstructured recreation and structured activities and games. Camp provides an environment for children that frees them from technological distractions and asserts the importance of interpersonal relationships and cooperation. Camps are excellent places for children and youth to improve athletic, artistic, and intellectual skills in a supportive and non-competitive setting. The community-oriented nature of residential camp allows campers to more easily make friends and develop social skills. Camp can further self-esteem and self-confidence by providing experiences in which campers challenge themselves to the extent they feel comfortable – as individuals and as part of a group. Group-building initiatives and games are instructive in illustrating that failure is useful as a learning experience and can be turned into success through critical thinking and trust within a group. Small-group camping also emphasizes the development of skills and traits gained from having an ever-present, positive adult role model. For an excellent treatment of the psychological benefits of summer camp, please read Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow, by Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
While at Cedarkirk, your child will be part of a “family group”, typically comprised of a group of boys (with a male counselor) and a group of girls (with a female counselor). It is with this family unit that the camper will experience most of Cedarkirk’s activities. In the evenings, these small groups come together for worship, snacks, and an evening activity (such as a campfire, night swim, field games, or line dancing). We believe this small group camping model provides a nurturing and safe environment and fosters meaningful relationships among campers and between campers and counselors. Camp days are filled with a variety of activities including Bible study, the climbing wall, archery, the high-ropes challenge course, swimming in the pool, canoeing, the low ropes initiatives course, arts and crafts, singing, the zip lines, a variety of games, and other activities.
Cedarkirk believes that a quality, well-trained staff is crucial to a successful and safe camping experience. All of our staff members are enthusiastic and dedicated Christians who have been interviewed, carefully selected, and trained extensively to ensure an exciting and meaningful camp experience for every camper. All summer staff members are at least 18 years of age, certified in CPR and first aid, and undergo three background checks (including a fingerprint analysis through the Department of Children and Families and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement). The entire staff receives twelve days of intensive training at the beginning of the summer, with ongoing instruction and skill checks throughout the camp season. Training covers a diverse and exhaustive range of topics, including outdoor living skills, effective management of a small group and how to relate to the needs of individuals within that group, facilitation of all of our activities, positive discipline techniques, recognizing and responding to homesickness, and bullying prevention. Our training equips our staff with skills that enable them to create a physically and emotionally safe environment for all campers.
Homesickness is the distress caused by actual or anticipated separation from home or beloved objects. During their time at camp, nearly all campers will experience some kind of feelings related to this separation; even our staff experience these feelings to some degree. The good news is that most campers have a wonderful time at summer camp and Cedarkirk counselors are well-trained to respond to homesick campers.
There are a number of ways parents can help prevent homesickness:
If a child chooses to leave camp due to homesickness, please help your child understand that homesickness is a perfectly normal part of the growing process and never something for which a camper or parent should be ashamed. The camper will already be dealing with guilt and embarrassment about leaving camp. Let them know you are proud of them for giving camp a try and discuss the positive aspects of the experience so they will be willing to try an overnight camp or trip when they are ready.
Work together with your child in selecting clothes and packing the items on the “What-To-Bring” list. The staff at Cedarkirk have compiled this list for you… PLEASE READ IT; far too many children arrive at camp unprepared. Many parents remember their own summer camp experiences as sunny afternoons by the pool or lake and have forgotten the chill of overnight camping (yes, chill… even in Florida sometimes!) or the occasional rains. By packing together, your child will be aware of what they have brought for use throughout the week. Packing together also provides an excellent opportunity to speak with your camper about what they can expect at camp and any fears or concerns they might have.
[Do remember that the camp environment can be rough on clothes: it is not necessary to spend money on new clothes for camp. Older shirts, shorts, pants, and shoes that your child will not mind getting dirty, muddy, or wet are excellent to pack for camp. Other suggestions for packing include labeling the camper’s belongings with his/her name and including a bag to hold dirty clothes.]
Whether it is a piece of mail, an email, or a fax, campers love to receive word from home! All mail (faxes and emails included) are distributed to campers after lunch, typically at the beginning of rest time. The first full day of camp is an excellent time for mail because many campers are just starting to get comfortable and settled within their groups – and camp itself – and it’s nice to hear encouraging words from home. Letters may need to be mailed the week prior or discreetly passed to a staff member during Check-In if you would like to ensure your camper receives it during the first few days of camp! Fax and email are quick ways to send messages to your child. If you plan to send your child a “care package”, send puzzles, comic books, stuffed animals, etc.; please do not send snacks or other food items. Cedarkirk provides all of the snacks your child will need and extra goodies tend to attract bugs and critters into the cabins and lodges. We encourage you to write to your child and let them know that you are thinking of them and that you are proud of them.
Mail may be sent to the following address:
[Camper Name and Group or Village] (Group/Village information will be given to you at Check-In)
1920 Streetman Drive
Lithia, FL 33547
You can also fax letters to (813) 689-9170 or email messages to email@example.com. Please include the camper’s first and last name in the subject line, along with their Group or Village, and limit all email and faxes to one page in length. We are unable to process attached files. Please read “How can my child communicate with me?” below if you want to receive a reply back from your camper by fax or email. In order to maintain a community-focused program, we do not allow campers to use the phone, but we will make sure they receive any emergency phone messages.
Parents always like to hear from their camper and are often disappointed if they do not receive a letter. Your child can send home letters or postcards if you send them with stamped, pre-addressed postcards or envelopes (Cedarkirk does not sell stamps). Summer campers can also send faxes or emails home to their loved ones. At Check-In, email/fax sheets will be sold (a packet of three for $1.00), which campers can use to write messages. If you purchase email/fax sheets for your camper, please encourage them to write to you during rest time or before bed (many campers get busy and forget to write home)! Completed pages are then faxed or emailed to friends and family. As mentioned above, in order to keep Cedarkirk “a place apart”, it is our policy that phone use (including cell phones) is not available to campers.
While we do not allow campers to use phones while they are at camp, we certainly understand that parents occasionally need to contact their camper regarding an emergency outside of camp. Should you need to get a message to your camper, you may call the camp office at 813.685.4224, x1 during normal business hours. Outside of those hours, please call 813.681.1354 to reach an on-duty staff member. All messages will be delivered to your camper immediately.
The easiest and fastest way is to visit the Cedarkirk website (www.cedarkirk.org) and click on the “Summer Camp” tab. You will be able to see descriptions and up-to-date availabilities in all of our summer programs, register your child for camp, and pay your registration deposit with a credit or debit card. You may also download a Registration Form from our website and mail it, along with a $75 deposit, to the following address: Cedarkirk, 1920 Streetman Drive, Lithia, FL, 33547.
Check-In for all camps except SHL and CLIP is from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm. SHL and CLIP Check-In takes place from 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm. When you arrive at Cedarkirk, signs and staff will be posted to direct you to the location of your child’s Check-In. You will receive a confirmation email or letter reiterating Check-In procedures a week or two prior to the start of your child’s program.
The Closing Program for all camps is held at 3:00 pm on the last day of your child’s camp session. We feel it is important for parents to be present during this time of closure and strongly recommend attending in support of your child if you are able. Signs and staff will be posted to direct you to the location of the Closing Program.
Yes; however, you must indicate your camper’s roommate request on their registration application and both campers must request one another for this request to be honored. Our policy is that each camper can request only ONE roommate. Requests for more than one roommate are not guranteed. Most Cedarkirk campers do not come to camp with a roommate and we invite all campers to come with an openness to new experiences and relationships.
One of the greatest values of the camp experience is the community and camaraderie that develops within a group as the week progresses. We recognize that a week of camp could further strengthen the bonds of friendship and trust your child already has with his or her friends. However, when many campers in a group already know each other, the group-building process is hindered and the campers that aren’t associated with the group of friends often feel marginalized. To ensure that all campers have the best possible experience, we spread out groups of friends across several camp groups.
Yes! Many churches offer scholarships to families with financial need and love to send kids to summer camp, so check with your Pastor or church office to see if they will offer scholarship assistance. Cedarkirk also offers scholarship assistance – we believe that any child who wants to come to camp should be able to attend, regardless of their financial means. Please print a scholarship request form from our website and mail, fax, or email it to Cedarkirk to see if we can help you with a scholarship. All scholarships are based on financial need and are entirely confidential.
Certainly, but please note campers may not stay at Cedarkirk over the weekend if registered for back-to-back sessions.
At Cedarkirk, we register campers by the grade in school that they have most recently completed. If a camp is designated as being for campers in 6th – 8th grade, participants must have finished 6th, 7th, or 8th grade by the start of the summer. Breaking registration up by grade level helps us most appropriately place campers with others that are on the same developmental level to ensure a better experience for all campers.
No. During their week at camp, all meals and snacks will be provided to your camper (three meals a day with multiple options and an evening snack). If your child does arrive with food, they will be given a choice to share it with the group, or have it held in the office and returned at the end of the week. Having food in our cabins and lodges tends to attract bugs and critters into our buildings.
Meals during summer camp are nutritionally-balanced and prepared by certified, experienced staff. In addition to the primary meal served, campers are offered additional options at each meal (e.g. cereal or yogurt at breakfast; peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at lunch; salad and sandwiches at dinner). Fresh fruit is available at meals and throughout the day and a snack is provided each evening. We accommodate a variety of special diets, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, so please make sure any requests or restrictions are noted on your child’s Camper Health & Information Form (which is required for attendance at camp). Every group will participate in a few cookouts each week and campers will have a role in helping prepare the meal for their group.
Our camp store is open only during Check-In and Closing Program each week and sells t-shirts, water bottles, and other items. The camp store is not open while camp is in session and does not sell food or drinks, so there is no reason for campers to bring money with them for their week of camp.
We try to provide the opportunity for all campers to participate in every activity available for their age group, but inclement weather may preclude your child’s group from completing all of their scheduled activities. Counselors are trained in teaching and leading alternative indoor activities during periods of bad weather and in spite of rainy days, campers have fun playing and laughing inside Cedarkirk’s facilities. During a typical Florida thunderstorm – a common occurrence in the summer months – campers on site move to buildings like the Pavilion or a Lodge to do small or large group activities while they wait for the storm to pass. In staff training, we instruct our staff on seeking the best shelter options during inclement weather no matter where their group is located. Throughout the summer months, we stay tuned to weather forecasts to help us know the latest storm information and plan accordingly. In case of a tornado warning, campers gather at Cedar Lodge, the lowest shelter point at camp. If an approaching hurricane threatens the surrounding area, parents of each camper are called and campers are picked up prior to the storm’s arrival.
Throughout your child’s stay at Cedarkirk, staff work hard to ensure the emotional and physical safety of your child. All campers are required to sign a Camper Agreement before coming to camp, which promises their acceptance of the rules that govern life in the camp community. Each group also creates a covenant at the beginning of the week, which lays out expectations agreed upon by the campers within each group. When a camper’s behavior damages the dynamics of their small group, staff will work with the camper and attempt to resolve the conflict in a healthy, positive way. Counselors are trained in speaking with campers about what is bothering them and what might have prompted a behavior. If this does not resolve the issue or encourage a change of behavior, the camper will be asked to meet with a unit coordinator or director. If the camper is non-compliant with the safe environment we have created, they may be sent home. It is our hope that we can intercede and work to resolve conflict in healthy ways before this drastic step must be taken. Violent behavior is never tolerated at Cedarkirk: campers acting violently towards self or others are removed from their group and sent home immediately.
We strive to provide the best possible environment for every child. If there is any information that would help us care for your camper better, please indicate it on the Camper Health & Information Form. Your child’s counselors read all of the information on those forms; the more information you can provide us with, the better we will be able to respond to the needs of your camper! You may also speak with a director prior to the start of your child’s program to talk about any concerns you have.
If you are not sure whether Cedarkirk can accommodate the specific needs of your camper, please feel free to contact a director. We love talking to parents and will be happy to speak with you about what we can and cannot provide for your child at camp so that, together, we can make the best decision for your child.
Yes. We have a health care manager on site each week to assist your child with any medical emergency. We also require all of our staff to be certified in first aid, CPR, and the use of an AED. Emergency response personnel are located minutes from the camp gate and a regional hospital is just over 10 miles away.
All medications are kept under lock by the health care manager. Prescription medications are disbursed to campers by the health care manager at the appropriate time and recorded. Over-the-counter medications are distributed to campers as needed and diagnosed by the health care manager.
You must turn in all medications for your child at Check-In. These will be recorded along with specific dosing instructions, and stored under lock for the duration of your child’s stay with us. Medications must be kept in their pharmacy bottles with your camper’s name and instructions for administration. Cedarkirk has a health care center stocked with many over-the-counter medicines: you do not need to bring your own.
We generally do not allow visits to camp by parents and friends. Your child is at camp for only a short time and most visits tend to disrupt the dynamics of your child’s group and bring on feelings of homesickness. For the security of all campers, we do not allow anyone on site who has not been background checked or approved and directly supervised by a director. If you would like a tour of our site, please contact our office and we will be happy to arrange one prior to the start of summer camp.
The deposit for summer camp is due at the time the application is submitted. If you register online, a $75 non-refundable deposit is due at the time you register – either by credit or debit card. If you submit a paper application, a $75 non-refundable check (or cash) must accompany the application in order for it to be processed. The deposit will guarantee your child’s place in a registered camp. The remainder of your balance is due at least 14 days prior to the start of your child’s program. (Failure to pay the balance two weeks before your child’s program may result in their removal from the program to make room for campers on the waitlist.)
We understand that complications arise and that you may have to withdraw your child from their registered program prior to the start of camp. The initial $75 deposit is non-refundable and will not be returned to you. Cancellations made more than 14 days before the start of your child’s program will receive a full refund (less the $75 deposit). No refund will be given for cancellations made fewer than 14 days from the start of the program. If your child is asked to leave camp because of behavioral issue or chooses to leave for any reason, your camp fee will not be refunded. Requests for refunds due to illness will be considered on a case-by-case basis.