Do Ducklings, Chipmunks, Bobcats, Owlets, Salamanders, Explorers, and Young Naturalists do the same thing each week or can I sign up for multiple sessions?
While each week follows the same basic schedule, topics, fieldtrips and natural discoveries vary greatly over the summer season. A large percentage of our campers attend multiple sessions.
What is your camper to staff ratio?
13 campers to 2 staff. For the Duckling camp it is 10 campers to 2 staff. These ratios do not include additional volunteer staff.
Who are the camp teachers?
Camp teachers and assistants come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are year round instructors at the Nature Center, others are school teachers, naturalists, and masters and bachelor degree students in environmental studies or education. At least one teacher in each group is 21 or older (even though sometimes they don’t look it!). Many instructors return to DPNC year after year.
Is your staff trained in CPR and First Aid?
Yes. Each group has at least one instructor trained in CPR and First Aid.
What about safety?
Our teachers are qualified and trained to be with children outdoors; however, nature is unpredictable. Injuries can occur at any time. Bee stings, falls off rocks and ledges, becoming lost, tripping over roots, snake or other animal bites and slipping in the water are all risks to which your child will be exposed. Our teachers are ever vigilant of danger; however, we count on the children to be active participants in their own safety - not wandering from the group, asking for clarification if they don’t understand instructions and responding immediately to instructions of freeze or run. If you feel your child cannot handle these situations, please think twice about sending them to nature camp.
Do campers go in the water?
Ducklings, Chipmunks, Bobcats and Owlets will be near ponds and streams. During pond dipping and walks, they might wade to ankle depth. Salamanders, Explorers, and themed Camps that travel go in the water up to their belly buttons. Young Naturalists can go up to their shoulders, Adventurers go in all the way.
Where does my child entering first grade belong?
Every child entering the first grade is unique. Chipmunk and Bobcat camps are half day. If your child has never done full day activities and is tired in the afternoon, these are the camps to try. If your child has the energy to go all day, but may not be up for field trips which include hiking, carrying backpacks and waterplay, Owlets are the way to go. Salamanders is the camp for campers entering first grade who have done full day kindergarten and love challenges and adventure and have no problem keeping up with the group.
Do Owlets nap?
While young owls sleep during the day, our Owlet campers do not! For children who need naps, the half day Chipmunk or Bobcat camps are appropriate.
If my child goes on a fieldtrip, how do they travel?
By school bus or by 15 passenger van. For the van, children 6 and under or who weigh less than 60lbs are required to have a booster seat. Van drivers have a public service license or a chauffeur’s license.
Where do they go and why?
Campers in traveling groups go to a variety of different parks, forests, beaches and natural areas. Examples include Bluff Point State Park, the Peace Sanctuary, Haley Farm, Hartman Park, High Ledges, Manatuck Preserve, Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Avolonia’s Avery Preserve or Teftweald at Birchenturn. Campers travel to experience different ecosystems other than those found at the Nature Center.
What if my child needs medication?
The policy of the Nature Center is to only give emergency, life-saving medications such as epi-pens or rescue inhalers. If your child has other medication needs, such as antibiotics, we ask you administer it before or after the camp day. DPNC staff is not permitted to administer daily medications. If you do need to bring an emergency medication to camp you are responsible for all paperwork, including medication forms signed by the doctor, and having medications in their original containers. If you do not bring in the properly signed paperwork according to CT state law the teachers can NOT accept it!
What if my child has a special need?
The Nature Center tries hard to accommodate all children; however each situation is unique. Please call to discuss your child’s needs.
What and how should I pack for lunch?
Non-perishable items are a must. Lunches are NOT and can NOT be refrigerated. For the environment’s sake and for your sanity, put as much as possible in containers that can be re-used and closed tightly. Make sure your child has a large water bottle, a separate drink for lunch and enough food for lunch and snacks.
Why is the lunch box such a mess at the end of the day?
Nature Camp strives to leave no trace on our fieldtrips and at the Nature Center. One of the ways we do this is by packing out all garbage we bring in (and more if we find it). This means that if you pack a juice box, sandwich, yogurt, apple and cookie in your child’s lunch, when you clean out the bag at the end of the day you will have a cup with a little yogurt left in it, the rest spread across the box, mixed in with smelly apple core, sticky juice, cookie crumbs, sandwich crusts and some dirt for good measure.
Why is my child (and her clothes) so dirty?
Our campers spend the ENTIRE day outside. Eating on rocks, in trees, on beaches, playing games in the woods, burying themselves in leaves or sand, or slogging up to their knees in mud trying to catch an elusive frog - your child will come home dirty! Not just a little dirty, but with mud and dirt between toes, under nails and ground into clothes. Please realize with no suitable changing areas children may keep their wet, damp and dirty bathing suits/clothes on all day! Please plan clothes and your after camp activities accordingly.
Can my child bring a cell phone or other stuff with them?
No. Cell phones, ipods, toys, trading cards and the like are disruptive distractions and not allowed at camp! This includes Adventurers’ overnights. The Nature Center takes no responsibility for lost items. Any items we do find (including lunch boxes, hiking boots, rain jackets, etc.) are put in lost and found until one week after the end of camp.
What are your bathroom policies?
All campers (including Ducklings) must be toilet trained. When campers are at the Nature Center or the Preschool building they use bathrooms or outhouses. Campers aged 5 and up, after checking with their instructor, are allowed to walk to the bathroom by themselves from the various meeting areas including the tree house and picnic tables. Teachers do not accompany campers into the bathroom. On fieldtrips, campers use public bathrooms or outhouses. Where no facilities are available, campers use the woods.
Drop off early, pick-up late?
We do not allow early drop offs or late pick-ups. For a small fee Pre and After camp are available on a weekly or daily basis.
Please arrive on time to pick up your camper(s)!