Here are answers to some of the more common questions weâ€™ve been asked:
1. What is the environment like and what activities do children participate in; what is a week at camp like?
Camp is situated on a beautiful, rural 30 acres with a wide variety of mature native hardwoods, and fruit and nut trees. The property is surrounded by an inviting pristine spring-fed creek that is usually the main attraction during the day. There is a paved bicycle path to ride bicycles, scooters or pogo sticks, or walk on foot. There are pavillions and picnic tables for activities or meals, and around the path there are trees for climbing, building forts and playing games. On one hilltop there is a shady bird sanctuary where kids can play music or games, read a book or have a snack. We have a large garden for growing things (fruit, veggies, flowers, herbs), and a barn area that houses our two alpacas. On another hill we have an area for archery and rock climbing on a 24 foot wall. Camp activities take place anywhere outside, under the pavilions, in the creek, in the Nature Center (a sun room overlooking the creek), in the Workshop (a stand-alone craft/pottery room), at the play structure/swing set, or up on top of the bluff (for those adventurous enough to hike to the top!).
We offer about 3-5 activities during each of two daily time-slots and most activities are suited for multiple age groups. We offer flexibility, so that kids who arenâ€™t enjoying one activity can switch to another activity in most cases. Throughout each week we encourage campers to get close to nature, to learn to respect wildlife, and learn more about native plants and animals. We teach them principles through play and crafts including REIâ€™s PEAK program (promoting environmental awareness in kids). After mealtimes we focus on composting and/or recycling our waste. No matter what, kids are treated as individuals and encouraged to come up with their own ideas, solutions and fun projects.
2. Do the activities vary each week? (I am interested in sending my child for more than one week)
The focus of our camp is on nature, nature-related crafts and having the campers enjoy unstructured play in a truly natural setting. Each week we do offer many of the same activities so that the children have frequent opportunities to enjoy their favorites. However, in order to offer variety, we try to incorporate different theme-oriented activities each week based on the types of guest we have visiting or events taking place around the world. For example in past years we focused on the International Zoological Year of the Frog by having a week dedicated to amphibians and reptiles. Other themes have included Geology, Insects, Plants, Native American and Frontier Life, Astronomy/Space and Ecology/Environment. Each week of the summer will have a different theme focus. Visitors in previous summers included a geologist, an organic farmer, a blacksmith, a fiber spinner, a herpetologist, representatives from the Department of Forestry, speakers from Traveler's Rest, and a bird expert from Warner Park Nature Center. We've had guest teachers in music, art and yoga throughout the summer. There is something different happening each week!
3. How do you keep cool outside when itâ€™s really hot?
We allow children unlimited access to cold drinking water at all times, and frequently remind them to drink water. Also, we have three air-conditioned locations at camp (the Nature Center, the Workshop and the Infirmary) where kids can go to cool off if they are excessively hot. There are several areas of shade under which to keep cool. Last but not least, the best way to cool off is by playing in the creek or to take a plunge into one of the many swimming holes; the creeks on our property total about 1/2 mile of cold spring-fed water with several open swimming holes which are always full, even in the heat of an August drought.
4. What time does the bus pick up and drop off and where are the locations?
The bus arrives at the first pick up location at 7:45am (near Edwin Warner Park in Nashville) and departs at 8am and arrives at the second location (near Grassland Middle School in Franklin) by 8:15am. We have an optional third pick up in Leipers Fork, which usually picks up by 8:40am. Not all bus locations are used each week â€“ this will depend on the bus preferences of the campers and will vary. The bus departs camp at 4pm and arrives at the last bus location at between 5:15 and 5:30pm. A detailed bus route information sheet with location maps and times is available to download from the online registration site for parents who intend to enroll their children for camp.
5. What does my child need to bring to camp?
Each camper family will receive the Camper-Parent handbook when they register for camp - this is downloaded from the enrollment site online at the time of registration. This handbook will give you instructions about what to bring to camp. We generally suggest to bring as little as possible to camp, but the essential items include water shoes (i.e. aqua socks or amphibious shoes that can be submerged into water and not fall off feet), swimsuit (usually we recommend this be worn to camp), sunscreen (also first applied before getting on the bus), packed lunch and beverage, and a water bottle. Optional items include a towel, hat and change of clothing/socks/shoes and a bag to carry it all in.
6. What types of snacks do you provide?
We believe that kids are what they eat, so one of our camp principles is providing wholesome food at snack time. We provide food to campers that contain ingredients we would serve our own family. It is important to us to avoid artificial fats (i.e. trans fats or partially hydrogenated oil), artificial colors, and artificial flavors, as well as high fructose corn syrup and preservatives in the snacks we provide. If we can offer organic options we do so. Often our first choice is a â€œwhole foodâ€? such as a summer fruit (for example peaches, strawberries, watermelon) or vegetable (for example cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes) combined with other items like whole grain crackers, nuts, pretzels, pita chips, popcorn, raisins, cheese, peanut or nut butter, and hummus. Although we do not serve candy or sugary sweets as a general rule, on special occasions (a birthday or during cherry harvest) we may bake a pie or make homemade ice cream. Whatever we serve, we ensure that campers have a substantial snack, enough to fill their tummies for the ride home. We love suggestions for new snacks that your children enjoy, so feel free to email us with recipes or ideas!
7. What happens during the Stargazer Sleepovers?
The sleepover begins soon after camp ends. Once the bus leaves, we set up the tents and cots, and get the food ready. As parents arrive to join the campers who are staying overnight, we allow them to have free unstructured play while we prepare dinner. If campers and/or parents are interested we may offer an organized hike, rappelling or tree climbing. After dinner we may have some entertainment, singing, and a camp fire where we can make roasted banana boats, popcorn or marshmallows and Sâ€™mores. Soon after it gets dark, and if the sky is clear, we will have stargazing. We invite a local astronomer to bring their telescope out and give us a short talk and demonstration, after which we usually get to observe a variety of celestial objects in the telescope. Sleep comes soon afterward (we provide tent and cot and you just bring your sleeping bag and pillow). In the morning, we provide breakfast and you can play until noon, when the camp out ends.
8. Can we visit the camp prior to making a decision or prior to our childâ€™s session?
We encourage families to visit camp, and are usually available for visits. Please email or call us at least 48 hours in advance to make an appointment prior to your visit. We may hold an open house in April or May and if youâ€™re interested in finding out when this will take place, sign up for our newsletter!