May Letter 2017
As I write this, we are in the middle of what some people call ‘Spring Fever’. Oh, not a ‘real’ fever per se, but a siren call of nature to get outdoors, with all your senses, and to take part in the upsurge of life: the growing, the blossoming, the scents, the warm breezes, the joy of being alive!
There is another kind of fever, which has similar characteristics. It’s called ‘Camp Fever’. For some, it began on the last day of camp last summer. Others start to feel it as we celebrate the Winter Solstice. For some, Groundhog Day might be the trigger. For many, the first day of spring – the Vernal Equinox – raises our camp fever by more than a few degrees. By mid-May, this anticipation for camp to start is at fever pitch.
And now, here is our May letter. There’s no turning back – and we wouldn’t want to. We are all in the full speed ahead mode. Fasten your seat belts. The antidote for Camp Fever – CAMP – will be here before you know it. We are so excited for you to arrive and experience all of it with us!
1. DATES & TIMES
Camp starts on Monday, July 3rd, and continues every weekday until Friday, August 11th.
We will be closed for Independence Day on Tuesday, July 4, 2016.
The official camp hours are 9 am to 4 pm.
Farm and Garden Days begins on Monday, August 14th, and continues for two weeks until Friday, August 25th. The official hours for Farm and Garden Days are 9 am to 4 pm.
Phone: (845) 356.1234
Fax: (845) 356.9676
Nurse: (845) 356.0233
For those coming to camp by car, morning drop off and afternoon pickup procedures will be described in our June letter.
If you live in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Westchester, or have chosen to use daily bus transportation from Bergen County, we’ll send you an email mid-June with your bus stop and pickup/drop off times. Unless otherwise stated, we will be using buses to transport campers on any trips away from camp (day hikes, camping trips, etc.). All buses, unless otherwise noted, are contracted school buses and all are equipped with seat belts.
Please share the following Bus Safety Rules with your child(ren):
BUS SAFETY RULES
To keep our trips safe and fun, please follow these rules when riding the bus.
1. Observe the same conduct on the bus as in camp.
2. Be courteous and use appropriate language.
3. Keep the bus clean.
4. Cooperate with the bus driver.
5. Do not throw anything.
6. Respect other campers’ belongings and the inside of the bus.
7. Stay in your seat.
8. Keep your head, hands and feet inside the bus.
9. Remember that the bus counselor is authorized to assign seats.
10. Always wear your seat belt.
Thanks for your cooperation!
Permission to Dismiss
If your child is to be picked up at camp or from his or her bus stop by a person other than you, the parent or guardian, you must fill out our ‘Permission to Dismiss’ form. This is an online form, available in your camp account under Forms and Documents.
At The Nature Place, we are committed to living on our planet gently and sustainably, and we are constantly striving to do this better, and to share our ideas for doing so.
Each summer, we challenge ourselves to be the greenest we have ever been. This spring, we began the process of becoming a Certified Green Camp, by the Green Camps Initiative. GCI is an organization that provides resources and recognition for camps who are working to reduce their environmental impact, regenerate natural systems, and be models of environmental stewardship for campers and their surrounding communities. All summer long, our campers and counselors will be engaged in exploring our systems and habits, and determining how we can all become even greener, both in camp and at home. We are excited to continue to do this important work and to help your camper realize that he or she can make a difference each day.
This brings us to one of the most basic, yet impactful ways that we can each make conscious choices to reduce our impact on the planet:
When we hear people – and we do it, too – say they are going to throw something ‘away’, we know that this isn’t actually possible. There is no such place as ‘away’ to throw to! When something is thrown ‘away’, that thing is really just somewhere else now – on, under, or above the earth – albeit often in a different form.
This becomes especially relevant when we talk about food waste from our lunches at camp! At The Nature Place, we try our best to compost all of our food scraps, so that they can then be turned into usable, nutritious soil. Instead of packaging that gets thrown ‘away’ into a landfill, we encourage the use of reusable containers. Here are some more ways you can help your camper create a minimal-waste lunch:
* bring a reusable lunch box, clearly labeled with your child’s name
* include a cool pack within
* a refillable thermos or bottle for drinks
* buying in bulk and using refillable containers to save on packaging
* keep a reusable knife, fork and spoon and a cloth napkin in the lunch box
* at home, properly dispose of, recycle, reduce, reuse or compost everything in the lunch box
Other notes about lunch:
* Plan an ample, nutritious lunch
* include a drink – water is the best!
* everything from your child’s lunch will go back home with him/her, so that you can see what (if anything) is not being eaten
* encourage your camper to assist you to empty the box at home each day
Below are some resources that might prove helpful in making your camper’s lunch more eco-friendly, including lunch bags and accessories, containers, thermoses, and other helpful, reusable lunch gear:
Products, tips, info on plastic pollution: www.lifewithoutplastic.com
Food Storage: http://www.organizeit.com/food-storage.asp
Waste-free lunch tips and tricks: http://wastefreelunches.org
Waste-free lunch products: http://www.reuseit.com/lunch-essentials.htm
Thank you to Green Meadow Waldorf School for sharing green lunch ideas and resources.
Daily snacks are provided both at camp and away from camp on day hikes and overnight camping trips. We provide water, fresh fruits and vegetables, popcorn, frozen fruit bars, trail mix, granola bars, pretzels, salsa with chips, hummus with carrots, and more. Our camp is not peanut-free but we are peanut-aware.
Each camper will receive a Nature Place Day Camp T-shirt.
We have available Nature Place flashlights, whistles, water bottles, hats, sweatshirts, fleeces, special edition T-shirts, Ed’s book What Color is the Wind?, and more!
Our gear items are fun to wear and use in and out of camp, and can help make it easier for parents to get many of the items on our overnight packing lists.
Check out our gear.
8. OUTDOOR CONSIDERATIONS
Welcome to the great outdoors! Because most activities at The Nature Place take place outside, including numerous hikes and overnight camping trips, we are especially aware of and attentive to ticks, sun, mosquitoes and more. One of our major topics during our Staff Orientation is training our staff on our safety management plans for all areas and potential risks at camp.
We acknowledge that there are certain risks and safety concerns inherent in the operation of a summer day camp. We continue to address these areas in a proactive, clear, and efficient way through education (of staff, campers and parents) and implementation of risk management procedures.
Rabies – While outdoors, we avoid potential rabies-carrying wild animals (dead or alive) at camp or when away from camp.
Mosquitoes – We will apply an appropriate mosquito repellent to campers if we believe the conditions warrant it. Please tell us if you do not want us to use mosquito repellent on your child or children. Our June letter contains the repellents we use as well as their ingredients.
Sun – We ask that parents apply a liberal amount of sun-block (SPF 15 or higher) to their camper’s exposed skin areas before camp each day and/or make sure your camper is dressed for sun protection, i.e. hat with brim. The camp also has a supply of sun block to use when needed. Please let the nurse know if your child is especially sensitive to the sun.
Ticks – At camp, we are extremely vigilant about ticks. This summer, we should all be especially aware and proactive, as it’s predicted to be a good summer—if you’re a tick. We educate all staff and campers about ticks and tick bites, what to look for, etc. We minimize off-trail hiking, require appropriate clothing for hiking and overnight trips (i.e. long pants tucked into long socks, and a shirt tucked into pants, to deter ticks), and perform ‘tick checks’ throughout the day during hikes and camping trips. Parents may want to spray their camper’s clothing with an appropriate tick spray before leaving for camp in the morning, especially on the day of a hike or camping trip. Check with your doctor before doing this. The camp will apply an appropriate tick spray on a camper’s pants and footwear if we believe the conditions warrant it, especially on day hikes and overnight camping trips. Our June Letter will contain information on the tick repellent we have chosen based on research from the CDC and EPA. Please let us know via email or phone if you do not want us to spray.
Most campers attend The Nature Place in shorts, T-shirt and sneakers. Appropriate footwear is necessary for campers to fully participate in our variety of activities at camp. Closed-toe shoes are recommended (no flip-flops!).
Sneakers are fine for general camp footwear, day hikes and most camping trips. Some backpacking trips, especially for those ages 12 and up, may require hiking boots. We recommend that campers of this age buy and wear lightweight hiking boots now, well before camp starts, so that the boots are comfortable and broken-in before the first extended trip.
10. BRING TO CAMP
On the first day of camp please bring:
* A complete change of clothes in a clearly labeled bag, including an old pair of sneakers. These items remain at camp. Some of our activities can get messy and/or wet!
* Any medication (including epi pen or inhaler) your child will need while at camp.
For every day of camp please bring:
* A swimsuit and towel (packing this in a separate, reusable plastic bag can be helpful)
* A full water bottle
* Rain gear (raincoat or poncho) is necessary for rainy days.
For day hikes and most camping trips, please bring/send your child wearing:
* Sturdy sneakers
* Light-weight, light-colored long pants, tucked into socks
* Light-weight, light-colored long-sleeved shirt tucked into pants
* A hat with brim
* An ample lunch, ample water (multiple bottles frozen the night before are excellent)
We may modify the recommended hike or camping trip garb if the weather is such that wearing tick/mosquito preventative clothing may bring about heat-related distress or illness.
11. OVERNIGHT CAMPING TRIPS
A packing list will be given to each camper prior to their group’s overnight trip. Upon receiving your child’s group letter and trip calendar mid-June, you can also view the packing lists that correspond to your child’s scheduled trips online. If you know your child is old enough to be going on overnights this summer and you would like to get a head start on ensuring you have the appropriate gear (including sleeping bags and sleeping pads), those packing lists are available on our website now.
12. BEFORE/AFTER CAMP CARE
We provide organized Before Camp (7:30 – 9 am) and After Camp (4 – 5:30 pm) programs with snacks, games, outdoor/indoor activities and quiet times. If you will need Before or After Camp care, please let us know by sending us an email. Before and After Camp care can also be used on an as-needed basis by calling us the day before you need to drop off early, or during the day you need your camper to stay later. Before camp is $10 per day and after camp is $12 per day. We will bill you at the end of the camp season.
13. MEDICAL and OTHER FORMS
All forms are available under the Forms and Documents icon in your online camp account.
a) The Camper Health History Form is to be filled out online by you, the parent. This is the only form that we must have in order for your child to attend camp.
b) The Physician’s OTC & Prescription Medication Form can be downloaded, printed, and is to be filled out by your child’s physician and returned to us. This form is necessary only if you are giving us permission to dispense over-the-counter medications (Benadryl, Ibuprofen, Tylenol) via the camper 6 health history form, or if your camper will be taking prescription medication while at camp (including the potential usage of a prescribed epi pen or inhaler).
c) The Supporting Camper Information Form is to be filled out online, and can provide us with helpful information about your child which we can use to support him or her in having the best possible summer at camp.
d) The Tell Us About Yourself Form gives your camper a chance to do just that – tell us about him or herself! This form should be printed for your child to fill out (perhaps with your help), and either scanned and emailed back to us, or sent to us by snail mail at 285 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977.
e) The Permission to Dismiss Form should be filled out online if your camper will be picked up at camp or from the bus stop by anyone other than you, the parent/guardian.
14. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The State of New York puts out a helpful document detailing your rights as camp parents and our responsibilities as camp operators. You can view that document here: Children’s Camps in New York State.
15. WEEKLY THEMES
Our weekly themes are a means to weave together, in fun and educational ways, many of the diverse activities at The Nature Place.
Week One: Taking Care Week – This week sets the tone for camp. We learn how to take care of: ourselves indoors and out in nature, our friends and the other campers in our group, our neighbors (human, plant, mineral, animal or other), our room or tipi, our campus and it’s beautiful natural resources, nature wherever we find it, and our mother earth.
Week Two: The Turtle’s Back Week – There is an Iroquois creation story that envisions our earth as being held up on the back of a turtle. Why a turtle? Why not a squirrel or an ant? We’ll learn the full story of the Turtle’s Back this week, and, during our outdoor exploring – in camp and up in Harriman Park – we hope to find some ‘wild’ turtles and learn about and from them. Other stories and myths from various cultures will also be a part of this week.
Week Three: Bee a Little Boulder Week – We have honeybee hives in the garden. And our camp is located in ROCKland County. So what could be more natural than rocks, stones, pebbles, boulders and bees? Rock climbing on and off-site, eating local honey, learning about our invaluable pollinators, Zen rock balancing, and challenging ourselves to push beyond our limits—these are just some of the things to look forward to during our third week. We shouldn’t take this week for ‘granite!”
Week Four: Call Robbie and Call Lee Flower Week – If you do call them, they’ll probably be in the garden…Maybe singing “Kale, kale the gang’s all here.” This week is shaping up to be one full of fruits, vegetables and discovering things we can do with them, in addition to eating and working with them in the garden. But lettuce not jump to conclusions; the true meaning of this week romaines a mystery for now!
Week Five: To Baa or not Tuba Week — Mutton music? Tunes played sheepishly? A surprise visit from the Bard himself? If all the world’s a stage, then perhaps we’ll see Romeo and Juliet in the garden; Julius Caesar in the kitchen during salad making; A Mid-summer Night’s Dream in the forest. Get ready for a week of sometimes-absurd poetry, wool crafts, music making, fluffy animals, and more.
Week Six: What We’re Made of Week – Whether you’re looking into the deep blue ocean, or up at the glittering night sky—you’re seeing what you’re made of. That’s right – our bodies and our planet Earth’s surface are both made up of about 70% water. And you might be surprised to discover that part of what makes you, you, is dust from exploding stars far, far away. When we’re out in nature we can look around us and feel connected, part of the whole, because we have ‘the stuff of stars’, and the life-sustaining force that is water, within us.
With profound excitement,
Ed, Scott, Ayla, Emily, and Daniel
P.S. All enrolled camp families are eligible to become members of the Threefold Pond (our camp swimming facility)! If you would like to be part of a swim community where there are no radios, no smoking, and no crowds on weekends, but where you’ll find plenty of kids, shade and sun, more nature than concrete, and like-minded families, then contact Chela Crane, Pond Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“And it was summer – Warm, beautiful summer.”
-Hans Christian Andersen