Parent FAQ2023-11-09T10:58:57-05:00


While your child is the one attending camp, it is completely normal for you to have questions or concerns about your child’s camp experience. As a parent or guardian, you play a very important role in preparing your camper to come to Cedarkirk – and to set them up for success in a new living environment.

Answers to the following questions should be helpful as you prepare yourself and your child for their camp program. If your question has not been addressed here or if you would like additional information, please reach out to one of the directors in our program department [Mark Orendorf; Mandy Goff; 813.685.4224 x4]. 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?2023-11-01T11:57:16-04:00

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 make friends and develop social skills in an environment that makes it feel easy and safe to do so.
  • 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 ever-present, positive adult role models.

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.

What can my child expect during his/her camp experience?2022-01-12T13:40:31-05:00

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.

For detailed information about “The Cedarkirk Experience,” follow this link.

What kind of training has the staff received?2023-11-01T11:55:50-04:00

We believe that a quality, well-trained staff is critical to a successful and safe camping experience. All of the transformation, all of the fun, all of the community-building that happens during a week of camp is due to the thoughtful intention these folks put into everything they do. Our training equips our staff with skills that enable them to create a physically and emotionally safe environment for all campers.

More detailed information about our summer staff, the training they receive, and their background screenings can be found on our Parents’ Page.

What are some of the best ways to prepare my child for camp this summer?2023-11-01T11:54:05-04:00
  • 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, the crazy campfire songs and stories they’ll sing, 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.
How can I help with homesickness?2023-11-01T11:52:13-04:00

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. Feel free to pack a favorite pillow, blanket, or stuffed animal so your child has a bit of home at camp with them.
  • 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.

What should my child pack for camp?2023-11-01T11:50:30-04:00

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.]

How can I communicate with my child when they are at camp?2023-11-01T11:49:35-04:00

Whether it is a piece of mail or an email, campers love to receive word from home! All mail  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! Emails 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] (Group information will be given to you at Check-In)
1920 Streetman Drive
Lithia, FL  33547

You can also email messages to Please include the camper’s first and last name in the subject line, along with their Group, and limit all emails to one page in length. We do not print attached files. Please read the “How can my child communicate with me?” FAQ 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.

How can my child communicate with me?2023-11-01T11:47:34-04:00

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). Please remind them that they have letter-writing materials and to actually write! Campers will hand any mail to their counselors to be sent back home.

Summer campers can also send emails home to their families. You will receive an email sheet template attached to one of the emails you’ll get prior to your camper’s program starting. You may print a few of these, write in your email address, and send them to camp with your camper. Campers will hand any completed email sheets to their counselors to be sent out.

Many campers get busy and forget to write home – so please encourage your camper to use down time (like rest time or before bed) to dash off a quick note to you. Counselors will also remind them they can use that time to write a note home.

How can I contact my camper in the case of an outside emergency?2022-01-12T13:29:07-05:00

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 813.681.1354 any time of day or night to reach an on-duty staff member. All messages will be delivered to your camper as quickly as possible.

How do I register my child for camp?2023-11-01T11:26:40-04:00

Click the orange “Register Online” button located on the main summer camp page (also located at the bottom of every camp description page). You will be able to create an account or login, register your child for camp, pay your registration deposit with a credit or debit card, and fill out required paperwork.

What time is Check-In for my child’s camp program?2023-11-01T11:25:13-04:00

Check-In for SHL (Senior High Leadership) programs is from 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm.

Check-In for Explorer and Junior programs is from 4:00 pm – 4:30 pm.

Check-In for Middle and High School programs is from 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm.

*If you have children in different age groups, you may plan to arrive any time between 4:00 and 5:00 pm.

When you arrive at Cedarkirk, signs and staff will be posted to direct you to the location of Check-In. You will also receive several confirmation emails reiterating Check-In procedures prior to the start of your camper’s program.

What is the Closing Program, and do I need to be there?2023-11-01T11:11:40-04:00

The Closing Program is a short time of wrap-up for the summer camp week. We introduce our staff, talk a little about the themes covered in worship and Bible study for the week, and highlight any special programs. We encourage all parents to attend as this is an important time of closure for our campers and many are experiencing lots of big feelings as they get ready to head home. It’s our way of handing your campers back to you and we want you to be a part of it!

P.S. You can also grab one of Jackie’s famous chocolate cookies to fuel you for the drive home!

Can my camper come with a friend?2023-11-01T11:11:51-04:00

Yes. But please note you must indicate your camper’s roommate request through our registration software (this can be done at the time of registration, or afterwards). Both campers must request each 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. The majority of Cedarkirk’s campers do not come to camp with a roommate, and we invite all campers to come with an openness to new experiences and relationships.

Please note: It is our policy to place siblings in separate groups when possible, unless we are advised otherwise.

My child is attending camp with many friends. Why can’t they all be in the same group?2022-01-12T13:20:55-05:00

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 stunted 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.

Are there scholarships available?2023-11-01T11:07:33-04:00

Yes! We believe that any child who wants to come to camp should be able to have a camp experience, regardless of their financial means. Please print a scholarship request form from our website and email it to Cedarkirk to see how we might help you with a scholarship. All scholarships are based on financial need and are entirely confidential. Scholarship money is awarded for one camp session per camper each summer and typically covers between 30-50% of the cost of a week at camp.

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 some scholarship assistance, too.

Can my child attend more than one week of camp?2023-11-01T11:06:35-04:00

Certainly, but please note campers may not stay at Cedarkirk over the weekend if registered for back-to-back sessions. You must pick them up at the conclusion of the first session and return to camp for check-in at the next session.

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?2023-11-01T11:06:04-04:00

At Cedarkirk, we register campers by the grade in school 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.

Please note: Explorer and Junior programs each accommodate campers who have completed 3rd grade; Junior and Middle School programs each accommodate campers who have completed 6th grade. In these cases, we leave it to parents to decide whether their child would be better suited, developmentally, to be part of a younger group or an older group.

Should my child bring food or snacks to camp?2022-01-12T13:16:09-05:00

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.

What kind of food do you serve at camp?2023-11-01T11:03:39-04:00

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). Fruit, like apples, oranges, and bananas are available at meals and a snack is provided each evening. We accommodate a variety of special diets, including vegetarian and gluten-free, as well as a variety of common food allergens (e.g. peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy, etc.). Please make sure any requests or restrictions are noted on your child’s Health 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.

Is there a camp store? Should my child bring money for the store?2022-01-12T13:13:05-05:00

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.

What happens during severe weather like a bad thunderstorm or hurricane?2022-01-12T13:12:50-05:00

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 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 in 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.

What is Cedarkirk’s discipline policy?2022-01-12T13:11:36-05:00

We work hard to maintain an environment of safety, inclusion, and fun. We want every camper to feel at home with us – like camp is a place where they can be their most genuine self. When a camper’s behavior threatens the environment we have created, staff work with the camper to evaluate their decisions and coach them toward better decisions in the future. Our hope is to resolve each issue or conflict in a healthy, positive way.

More detailed information about Cedarkirk’s Discipline Policy can be found on our Parents’ Page.

Can you accommodate campers with special needs?2023-11-01T10:59:53-04:00

We are not equipped to care for campers with certain special needs. 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.

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 Health Form (completed during registration). Please also submit the Get To Know Me information 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! We also encourage you to speak with a director prior to the start of your child’s program to talk about any concerns you have.

Do you have medical staff available?2023-11-01T10:59:06-04:00

Yes. We have a healthcare manager on site each week to assist your child with any medical needs they may have. We also certify all of our summer staff 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.

More detailed information about health and safety can be found on our Parents’ Page.

How do you handle medication disbursement?2023-11-01T10:58:30-04:00

All medications are kept under lock by the healthcare 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.

Prescription medications are dispensed to campers according to the dosing instructions provided. A record of disbursement is kept for each medication (date and time dispensed, etc.). Over-the-counter medications are distributed to campers as needed and diagnosed by the healthcare manager (these disbursal histories are also recorded).

Cedarkirk has a health care center stocked with many over-the-counter medicines: you do not need to bring your own.

More detailed information about health and safety can be found on our Parents’ Page.

May I visit my child while they are at camp?2023-11-01T10:40:37-04:00

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 your child and others). For the security of our campers and staff, we only allow people on site who have undergone our background screening or who are approved and continually supervised by a director. If you need to come to camp to drop something off for your camper, please notify us prior to your arrival.

If you would like a tour of our site, please contact our office (813.685.4224 x1) and we will be happy to arrange one prior to the start of summer camp.

When is my deposit or balance due?2023-11-01T10:37:00-04:00

The deposit for summer camp is due at the time of registration. When you register online, a $100 non-refundable deposit is due then – either by credit or debit card. The deposit will guarantee your child’s place in a registered camp. If you do not pay a deposit at that time your child remains in an “enrolled” status (other campers could register and take the available spot) until the payment is made and the child is officially “registered.”

The remainder of your balance is due on or before June 1. (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.)

What is your withdrawal/cancellation policy?2023-11-09T11:01:07-05:00

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 $100 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 $100 deposit). No refund will be given for cancellations made fewer than 14 days from the start of the program unless we are able to fill your child’s spot with another camper. 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 and we encourage you to reach out to our program staff to inquire about a full refund.

Contact Info

1920 Streetman Drive, Lithia, FL 33547

Phone: 813.685.4224

Fax: 813.689.9170

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