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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
- One of the best ways to prepare your child for camp is to pack for camp with him/her. Packing together provides an excellent opportunity to speak with your camper about what they can expect at camp and any fears or concerns they might have. As you pack specific items, you can also ask them what they’re excited about doing and accomplishing at camp and get them excited for their time away from home.
- It is often helpful to share your own positive experiences at summer camp and what you hope they will get to experience during their stay at Cedarkirk. Don’t be afraid to talk about anxieties you may have had from a similar experience when you were their age, but make sure to highlight all of the positive things that came from your adventure.
- It is important to let your child know that even though you will miss them, you are interested in what will be happening at camp and will be excited to hear about what he/she learns and experiences while they are away.
- Discuss things your child might miss from home (pets, bedtime routines, etc.). Acknowledge and respect the comforts they enjoy at home, but emphasize the new friendships they will make, the exciting adventures they will undertake, and all the things they will learn.
- Talk about the length of their stay at camp in perspective to other positive overnight experiences they’ve had (i.e. spending a few nights at the house of a friend or grandparent; a vacation far from home; etc.).
- Pray with – and for – your camper in the days and weeks leading up to their time at camp. Guide them as they talk to God about the fun they’ll have at camp and ask to be opened to the spiritual, social, and physical growth that will take place.
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:
- Include your child in preparing, packing, and planning for camp.
- Use a wall calendar to chart how many days until camp starts and note how many days your child will be at camp.
- Talk frankly about homesickness with your child.
- Discuss the things from home your child may miss while away at camp, but emphasize the new friends they will make and all the fun activities they will have an opportunity to experience.
- Talk about the length of camp in perspective to other positive overnight experiences your child has had, such as staying at the house of a relative or friend.
- Set up a time to practice staying away from home overnight.
- Try to avoid planning stressful events just before or during the camper’s stay at camp (such as moving, a divorce or separation, or the departure of a family member for military service).
- During the camp, send mail or email to your child highlighting how proud of them you are and how you are excited to hear about what they’ve been doing. Avoid writing excessively sentimental notes to your child or listing activities they’ve missed out on while away – these notions can cause even the hardiest camper to feel homesick! (It is a good idea to mail letters the weekend before your child’s camp starts so that they arrive on the first or second day of camp. You may also bring letters with you to Check-In and give them to a staff member for distribution throughout the week.)
- Try to avoid making deals or promises with your child. Do not suggest that your child can call home if he/she gets homesick. It is our policy that campers are not allowed to use the phone while at camp. Campers are also not permitted to bring mobile phones to camp. If your child is badly homesick or if there is a medical problem, a Cedarkirk staff member will contact you immediately.
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.
Camp is an active place! We ask that all swimsuits, shorts, shirts, and shoes be functional, comfortable, and able to withstand the rigors of this environment. We do not allow saggy pants, strapless tops, or innuendo clothing. Two-piece bathing suits are acceptable as long as they fasten securely for athletic activities like swimming, canoeing, etc.
[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) is 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.
Camper 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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), 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 the email address/fax number you provide. 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 (9:30a-2:30p). Outside of those hours, please call 813.681.1354 to reach an on-duty director. All messages will be delivered to your camper as quickly as possible.
Visit the Cedarkirk website (www.cedarkirk.org) and click on the “Summer Camp” tab. From there you can click the “Register” button to see descriptions and up-to-date availabilities in all of our summer programs, register your child for camp, pay your registration deposit with a credit or debit card, and fill out required paperwork.
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 through our registration software (can be done at the time of registration, or afterwards) 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 guaranteed. 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! Cedarkirk 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. Many churches also 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, too.
Certainly, but please note campers may not stay at Cedarkirk over the weekend if registered for back-to-back sessions. We do offer a multi-session discount (10% off subsequent camps), which is applied to your camper’s account automatically when they are enrolled in multiple sessions over a summer.
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; sun butter and jelly sandwiches and salad at lunch and 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 and gluten-free, and we are peanut free during the summer. Please make sure any requests or restrictions are noted on your child’s Medical Form (completed during the registration process). 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. During 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. Each small group creates a covenant at the beginning of the week, which lays out expectations for life in this community and is agreed upon by the campers and counselors 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 and/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 themselves 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 Medical Form (completed during registration). Please also submit the Get To Know Me information form so that your child’s counselors can begin to learn about your camper before he or she arrives. Your child’s counselors read all of the information on these 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 needs they may have. 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 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. When you register online, a $75 non-refundable deposit is due at that time – either by credit or debit card. The deposit will guarantee your child’s place in a registered camp. The remainder of your balance is due two weeks prior to the start of your child’s program. (Failure to pay the balance by the due date may result in the camper’s removal from their program to make room for campers on the waitlist.)
COVID-19 Update: At this point, we are hopeful we will run some form of residential camp this summer! Should you wish to remove your camper from their program now, we will happily apply your registration fee to next summer’s camp programs. This policy may be amended as we continue to receive recommendations from the local Department of Health and monitor CDC guidelines.
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 issues or chooses to leave for any reason, your camp fee will not be refunded. Requests for refunds due to illness or family emergency will be considered on a case-by-case basis.