Is it common for ME to be nervous about the prospect of camp?
Absolutely! Parents of ‘our kids’ have had to be that much more involved with their child – obtaining appropriate accommodations at school, finding a good doctor and the right medications, knowledgeable tutors, effective therapists, appropriate extracurricular or community opportunities to interact with peers, and so on. Whatever the bond between parents and child, the bond between our parents and their children is 2, 3, or ‘X’ times as strong. Our parents are often more aware of what their child can do – and what they have trouble with.
As parents, all of us want our kids to “be happy”. What we really mean by “be happy” is we want our kids to have the knowledge and abilities to be successful and make themselves happy. Camp Buckskin can help parents help their child, but simple as it sounds, the child has to get to camp to become a camper. And they might not become a camper if the parent layers their own apprehensions on top of their child’s concerns, be they actual or perceived. The best course of action is to call us with any concerns you or your child have and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.
Is it common for my child to be nervous about the prospect of camp?
Yes. After all, we are talking about a group of young people who generally have difficulties adapting to and managing change. So when they think more about leaving home and all its familiar comforts – parents, TV, video games, computers, pets, bikes, skateboards etc – they may initially appear hesitant, anxious, or even a bit reluctant.
For the great majority of our campers, Camp Buckskin is their first true away from home experience. While the ability to better adapt to change is indeed a significant achievement, it is but one of the positive outcomes that the experience can produce. Our video could help address any uncertainties by showing what camp is like. For many of our campers – and some parents, too – seeing something makes it more concrete and more understandable.
How do I communicate with my child at camp?
While camp is located in a very scenic Northwoods location, we do get mail delivered six days a week. Admittedly this isn’t as fast as the ubiquitous cell phone or email communication that most people are used to, but it still does work. Letters or cards are tangible pieces that can be read and re-read. They also promote and develop reading and writing skills, which is a positive fringe benefit. For a variety of reasons, we don’t allow campers to use cell phones or email while at camp.
What about care packages?
We highly encourage you to write your child as it does mean a lot to them. As for sending care packages, this is a bit of a different story. We would rather you not send care packages filled with all kinds of candy, toys, or other goodies. Even if your camper writes and requests these items please don’t send them! We don’t want to keep food items or goodies in the cabins to tempt chipmunks or other woodland creatures. Each day campers have canteen where they will get a piece of candy, fruit, or snack. As for sending money to camp in the mail, this too is not necessary. Any spending money needed for field trips will be taken care of on check in day.
How common is homesickness?
As we know, these young people are not real keen about change. And we are for most their first ‘true’ away from home experience (not counting weekends at the grandparents). So, while leaving home is a significant change, it is just one of many which will occur throughout their lives. From our perspective, homesickness is really two issues with one name. There is the ‘missing’ part and the ‘adjusting’ part.
The missing part involves the child missing home and all that includes: parents, siblings, pets, their room, and their things. We have found it beneficial for parents to maintain an ongoing dialogue as they prepare for camp and let their child know they’re not being ‘sent away’ but are being given quite an opportunity. They get to go to camp because their parents love them and want what’s best for them. They will be at camp learning and having fun and then on the appointed day they’ll return home.
The adjusting part begins once they get to camp. Who are these other kids I’ll be living with? Who are these counselor people who will be taking care of me? Where is the dining hall? What is the food like? By keeping the day very structured and full, we make it easier to adjust. Full days also provide more chances to learn and have fun, which early on leaves less time to ‘miss home’. Our returning campers acclimate to camp more easily as it is a readjustment for them, which also helps the ‘new’ campers to see that camp is ‘alright’.
We’ve never had to have a child leave early because they couldn’t make the adjustment, as our staff is trained in and knowledgeable about how to help the kids through the process. After a few days the campers get into their routine. The end of camp often comes too soon, as they want ‘just one more day’ to reach a level in an activity or spend time with their new friends.
Who are your staff members?
Our mission is to provide as much support and guidance as possible to best meet the needs of each camper. Accordingly, Camp Buckskin seeks quality individuals so the campers will have a successful experience and make those positive changes. Staff are carefully selected and must not only meet the standards of the American Camp Association but our own requirements as well. We have a very extensive written application, we check references, and this is followed by an in-depth interview. Most of our staff have related work or volunteer experiences with young people many of whom have social or academic needs. They all are very aware of our programs purpose and have a genuine interest in helping our campers learn and grow.
Our staff that work directly with the campers are counselors, teachers, and program supervisors. Many of these people have an academic background in one of the helping fields (psychology, social work, special education, health care.) Their primary focus is on helping our campers grow, but they are also interested in their own personal and professional growth as well. The vast majority of our counselors are undergraduate or graduate students. They have the knowledge, interest, and energy to best help the campers learn and succeed. Our reading program is taught by licensed teachers who as professionals are current in their field. Our program supervisors have multiple years of experience at Camp Buckskin. They work with the campers and also provide on going support and guidance to the entire staff.
How is your staff trained?
Camp Buckskin has a very extensive 12 day pre-camp training for all new staff. This training includes both conceptual knowledge and a great deal of practical skills, as both are necessary to best help each individual camper. This training time also allows the many individuals on staff to become familiar with each other. They need to communicate effectively and work well together to provide the necessary structure and consistency for the campers. Some of the topics covered are: active listening, counseling techniques, behavior management, and conflict resolution. The initial training also includes a seminar with a Board Certified Child and Adolescent psychiatrist. This component seeks to further educate the staff about the needs of the children we serve and to help them better understand the medications our campers benefit from.
We have a two-day formal in-service between sessions to review and enhance the initial training. During the course of the session we have weekly staff meetings for all our program staff to communicate specific points of interests. The communication at these meetings enables us to be consistent in our team approach and improve the program’s overall quality. Our program supervisors are available to their assigned staff to address any questions and provide the necessary answers.
What if my child needs medical attention at camp?
All health care needs will be tended to by the nursing staff at camp. The bug bites and sore throats are all things that our experienced RNs can address. Any issues of significance would be addressed by personnel at the clinic or hospital in Ely. Both the clinic and hospital are affiliated with the St. Mary’s Duluth Clinic and are well staffed and equipped.
What about medications?
The majority of our campers take one or more medications on a daily basis. After your child is accepted, you are provided with a medication authorization form. This form which is signed by you and your child’s doctor, identifies the child’s current medication regime.
On check-in day, you and your child will meet with our health care staff to go over the medication form and any health needs. At this time, you will also provide the nursing staff with all the medication(s) the child will need for the session. Due to the amount of medication taken on a daily basis we require that medications be blister packed. Our nursing staff dispense medications at meal times (8:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 5:30 pm) and before bed (9:00 pm). We recommend that your child continue taking their medications at camp, if they benefit from them at school.
How do I get my child’s medication blister packed?
Blister packing medications has become more prevalent in a number of settings. We have identified a number of local pharmacies that are able to blister pack medications. We have found that the pharmacies able to do this tend to be smaller and/or family-owned. Some of the pharmacies we have found in the Twin Cities Metro area able to provide blister packing of medications include the following: St. Paul Corner Drug, Rexall, CVS, Walgreens, Cub Foods, Shop-Ko, Pamida, and Lunds/Byerlys Prairie Stone Pharmacy. There is also an online pharmacy we work with called Valley Pharmacy and they can be contacted at (973) 512 – 2949 or you can visit their website http://www.camperspharmacy.com. If your child’s medications are not blister packed this will result in delayed check in of your camper and fees. If you have any questions please give us a call well before the start of the session.
Do you allow electronic devices?
No. We know that we live in an era where some lives are becoming more and more consumed by electronics (MP3 players, video games, cell phone.) Most of our campers are very interested in ‘screen time’ and are quite comfortable in front of the TV, video game console, or computer. At Camp Buckskin we want to provide each camper with a “real” camp experience … including opportunities that the campers might not get a chance to do at home. By providing new activities to experience, our campers spend more time outdoors and are more active. By also spending time interacting with other campers and staff, our campers will indeed gain useful knowledge and skills as well as develop new interests.
How do you share information about the child’s stay at camp?
Since we believe our role is to help parents to help their child, we share pertinent information about the child’s stay at camp. This information should allow parents to help their child continue and build upon the progress they make at camp throughout the following year.
Through the guidance of counselors and teachers, our campers work each day to meet both personal growth and academic goals. The camper’s progress is recorded and evaluated by these staff. This information forms the basis of our post camp report.
This report contains a summary of the camper’s achievements in various activities including any special awards he or she earned. The reading evaluation outlines the progress made on the specific goals provided by his or her parents and/or teachers. We also address specific teaching strategies or approaches utilized while working with the child. The Goal Attainment Summary reports the progress the child made on the social skill goals identified by the child’s parents. This summary describes how the child’s needs presented at camp, what techniques or approaches staff utilized, and the results of those efforts.
Are there any possible funding resources that might help pay for camp?
While we are unable to offer scholarships, there are several options for financial assistance that parents can explore. Firstly, school districts can provide funding if the child in question has an Individual Education Plan and requires extended school year services. Churches and Synagogues have provided partial scholarships. Some parents have received help from civic organizations such as the Lions Club, Rotary, Elks, and Knights of Columbus. A list of civic organizations near you can be obtained from your local Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, local businesses might be willing to provide donations toward a camper scholarship. Adoptive parents have received significant help from state adoption subsidies. Some insurance companies might offer some assistance depending your upon provider and coverage. Finally, County agencies have occasionally provided assistance.