Enrolled Families FAQs
A Note About COVID-19 and Tawonga’s 2021 Season
In order to prioritize the health and safety of our campers, staff, and entire Tawonga community, we have made some changes to our 2021 programs and Camp practices. You can read about these changes to our 2021 season here in our FAQs. In addition, see below for more frequently asked questions and answers about our summer programs.
I signed my child up for Camp. Now what?
Congratulations on taking this important step in building your child’s healthy independence! We are thrilled to welcome your child to Tawonga this summer! For now, you’ve done the hard part. Now you can enjoy building excitement and anticipation for an unforgettable summer. You can expect to hear from us about completing your camper information forms (in March) and attending an upcoming new family orientation (in April/May), and you will receive a roster, packing tips, transportation information and more prior to your child’s session.
My child is feeling overly nervous about going to Tawonga this summer. What should I do?
Feeling nervous about Camp is normal, and it’s important that your child know that you understand how they’re feeling. Remind your child that our brain processes nervousness and excitement in the same way and that everyone feels nervous at first, even if they don’t show it. Often children have a hard time pinpointing what is causing their nerves, so we find it helpful to contextualize the most common concerns. For example, make a calendar with prominent dates in their regular schedule (like the time from one soccer game to another or from the day a school assignment is given to the day it’s due) to help your child understand the timing of a session. Or, have “Camp night” at home and sleep in sleeping bags on the living room floor and use flashlights to get around to help nudge your child out of their comfort zone.
I want to speak with my child’s counselor. Is that possible?
Not exactly. In the spring, we ask you to complete comprehensive information forms about your child, including their likes, dislikes, personality traits, preferences in how they play, relationships with peers, swimming ability, dietary needs, and much more. This is the best way to communicate your child’s needs directly to the staff working with your child. Their counselors will read the forms front to back, and the medical staff, kitchen manager, unit heads and directors will read summaries related to their area of oversight. If there are items you’d like to discuss in more depth, please call our office at 415.543.2267 so we can get the information to the right people.
How are cabin assignments made?
Our professional team takes great care and pays meticulous attention to the cabin assignments each session. Children are separated within a two-grade-spread (meaning we put campers in 4th and 5th grades or 5th and 6th grades together, but very rarely 4th, 5th and 6th grades), and by their identified gender. Each camper has the opportunity to make bunkmate requests in the camper information forms, and we do our best to ensure each child is granted at least one of those requests, as long as we receive them more than two weeks in advance of their session. We understand your child may have a family member or friend attending Camp who does not fall into the parameters listed above, in which case we are likely unable to grant the request.
We just found out that a child with whom my child has a difficult relationship is attending the same session. Can I request for them to be separated at Camp?
We understand that you may be concerned about your child being bunked with a child with whom there is some history of difficulty and feel tempted to make a “negative” bunkmate request. We do not accept these requests for a few reasons:
We know that sometimes children in a school or religious school environment can behave differently than they might in a Camp setting and have found that often children with clashes in these other environments do well together at Camp. We want to assume positive intent in campers, and provide children with an opportunity to have a clean slate at Camp, absent of issues from home.
Because we do everything we can to honor at least one of every child’s requests of those with whom they’d like to bunk, we cannot take away the request of another camper in order to appease a “negative” request. We understand that this can pose a challenge and encourage you to call us if you anticipate an issue.
We encourage you to resolve these situations prior to the start of Camp. If this is not possible, give us a call and we can talk it through with you. We cannot guarantee that the children will be placed in separate bunks, but we will work with you and your child to ensure a fun and happy time at Camp.
My child wets the bed. How is that handled at Camp?
Each child develops at their own pace, and we know that for some campers bed wetting can be a challenge. We handle bedwetting sensitively and confidentially, with an individualized proactive plan that allows campers to feel comfortable while at Camp. Typically, we implement a plan that includes having an extra sleeping bag in a cabin for sporadic bedwetting, and a pull-up plan for campers who wet the bed nightly. If your child needs a bed wetting plan to be put into place, please call our office at 415.543.2267 and speak with a director.
My child is extremely picky and won’t eat certain things. What kind of alternative options are available at meals?
Our skilled kitchen staff makes three well-rounded meals each day in our state-of-the-art kitchen that are balanced, nutritious and kid-friendly. In addition to the main meal, we offer numerous alternatives at each meal, including hot and cold cereal at breakfast and a sandwich and salad bar at lunch and dinner. Click here to learn more about Food and Nutrition at Tawonga.
My child’s birthday occurs while they are at Camp. How is it celebrated?
Birthdays at Camp are very special. Our counselors will spend the day giving the camper opportunities to be celebrated, culminating with a community-wide birthday “schtick” and singing of Happy Birthday. Please note that we are only able to celebrate birthdays that occur during the session your child is attending.
What kind of luggage should I pack for my child? How much space is under the bunk bed?
We recommend you pack two mid-sized duffel bags, one that contains the camper’s clothing items and one that contains bedding, towels, etc. to make the unpacking process easier. Space inside the cabins is tight, and we do not recommend hard-sided trunks. Each camper has two small shelves in cabin cubby storage systems, as well as space underneath the twin-sized bunk beds (roughly 16” x 75”, shared by two children).
What kind of bedding should my child bring?
Each cabin contains twin-sized bunk beds with thin mattresses. We recommend your child bring a fitted twin-sized sheet, top sheet, and sleeping bag to camp (rated at 20 degrees or below), as well as a pillow and pillow case. Some campers choose to bring a heavy blanket to use in the cabin and save their sleeping bag for the overnight backpacking trip (for sessions that are two or more weeks).
What is the Camp address to send mail? What can I send?
We will email registered families specific instructions for addressing snail mail letters to Camp, including the physical address. Children love receiving letters from home while at Tawonga, and it is essential that your child receive letters from you. Please write as soon as your child leaves for their session (or in the few days leading up to their departure) and continue writing one to three times each week. Please do not send mail in the last three days of any program, since it will not arrive in time for your child to receive it. We encourage campers to write regularly — though, not hearing from a camper often means that they are too busy having fun to write!
Tawonga does not allow care packages. Believe it or not, an old-fashioned letter is often the most treasured gift received by children in the Camp setting. We encourage you to write letters to your child frequently, taking into account that it can take three to five days for mail to arrive in a bunk’s mailbox (from the Bay Area).
How does the blog work? How often will I see my child?
Camp Tawonga’s blog, The Pipeline, is updated daily during the summer with happenings at Camp, photos of campers and insights into life at Tawonga. Every day that Camp is in session, new posts share a broad summary of activities from the day, as well as pictures from particular activities. Our blog is designed to give families a general sense of what’s going on at Camp and to represent a diversity of the campers and activities on any given day. Our intention is to capture authentic Tawonga moments while still providing an unplugged, immersive experience for campers, informed by our Screen-Free Policy.
As the Tawonga community is comprised of over 300 campers, our summer blogger and photographer is limited with regards to how often every camper appears on the blog. Accordingly, we are only able to post a photo of every camper twice per week, usually in a group bunk photo or bunk activity. However, we hope that providing a glimpse into life at Camp provides a sense of comfort for you. It should also help to better your understanding of how your child is spending their session.
My child is having cold feet, and we are thinking about canceling. How should we handle this?
Before making the decision to cancel your child’s registration, please call us! We see our role as a partnership with you and want to ensure we provide you the support you need to navigate feelings of nervousness. It is normal for children to feel mildly anxious or apprehensive about Camp, especially if they’re going away for the first time (though we know that even seasoned campers have these feelings from time to time). We’d love to make a plan with you to avoid your child missing out on a transformative camping experience, if possible!