Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF CAMP?
A thorough answer to this question would take hours of discussion and years of observation, but simply put camping experiences have the power to be a momentous catalyst of positive life change for young people. While we offer skills training in many areas like swimming, canoeing, and sports, what we really hope to teach our campers is the bigger life skills that they will carry with them throughout their life.
Every experience at camp is an opportunity to practice patience or determination, to discover previously untapped talents, to improve social skills and to learn about hard work and perseverance. A child sent to camp may come home knowing the j-stroke or how to start a fire in the rain, but they will also come back with more confidence and a deeper understanding of their capabilities and strengths.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO THE SLC STAFF HAVE?
Staff is personally interviewed and selected to ensure we hire staff who are child-centerd, caring, responsible and nurturing individuals. Each staff member is required to have a current Standard First Aid and Level C-CPR. They are also required to provide a Police Reference Check. All of our lifeguards have their National Lifeguard (NLS) and Instructor qualifications. Any staff working on the waterfront must have a minimum Bronze Cross. All of our Program Resource Coordinators participate in a week long training before the rest of the staff arrive for a one-week staff training camp. Staff are training on health and safety, supervision, working with different ages and stages of development, leading songs, games and activities and of course get to play and sing too!
WHAT'S THE STAFF TO CAMPER RATIO?
In our cabins, our ratio is 1 staff member to 5 or 6 campers. In sessions, depending on the activity, it can be as low as 1 : 4 but is usually in the area of 1 : 6 . At bedtimes, Counsellors are assisted by cabin mascots so the ratio drops to 1 : 3 or 4. For Pee Wee camp the ratio of staff to campers is on average 1 : 4. The Counsellors In Training, although cannot be left alone with campers, are in the cabins to help supervise and engage children in activities.
WHAT SAFETY MEASURES ARE TAKEN AT THE WATERFRONT?
All of waterfront areas (swimming, canoeing, kayaking and sailing) are staffed by lifeguards with at least their National Lifeguard (NLS) and Standard First Aid certifications. All campers and staff must wear Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) when out in a sailboat, canoe or kayak.
On the first day of camp all campers are assigned a waterfront number that they use to sign in and out of every waterfront area. This provides us with a double check upon sign in and sign out above and beyond the constant headcounts performed by lifeguards.
Our swimming area is roped off on land and in the water to restrict access to only the entrance by the sign in board. The water area is divided into three sections; shallow, deep shallow, and deep. On the first day all campers perform a swim test to determine their swimming ability. Coloured rope bracelets are given to each camper and indicate to our lifeguarding staff which area of the swim area they can swim in.
Also, all staff are trained to participate in our emergency waterfront search procedure which is practiced on the first full day of every camp session.
CAN I MAKE CABIN MATE REQUESTS?
Cabin mate requests are definitely accepted with a few stipulations. We do not consider requests unless two campers have requested each other and are no more than one year apart in age. Cabin-mate requests are not guaranteed as many factors are considered in the selection process. Cabin-mate requests can be indicated on the last page of the Camper Health and Information form.
HOW DOES SPARROW LAKE CAMP PROMOTE CHRISTIAN BELIEFS?
At Sparrow Lake Camp, we are occasionally asked about what role the camp plays in the Christian education of our campers. We recognize that this can mean different things to different people. We respect the fact that not all of our campers come from a Christian background. This means that our approach tends to be more ecumenical as it is very important to us that every camper feels valued and included for who they are and what they bring to the camp. The camp is part of the United Church of Canada, and as a result, uses the United Church’s statement of beliefs as the foundation for our programs and philosophy. The camp, like the United Church of Canada, strives to be inclusive of all people.
For a more detailed response, please consult the following document which uses the New Creed of the United Church as a lens through which we view our ministry.
UnitedChurchCreed.pdf (1.69 MB)
WHAT DO CAMPERS EAT?
Our menu is based on the Canadian Food Guide and we provide nutritious, balanced meals. All the campers eat together family style in the dining hall and we also have two cook-out nights per regular camp session where the food is prepared over a fire. Here are some sample menus from the camp. Special diets can be accommodated. The menu below is just a sample we do not guarantee that exactly these meals will be served.
Cold cereal, muffins, fruit salad, orange juice, milk Roast beef, corn, herbed roast potatoes, gravy, rolls, jello Juice & Water Chicken Soup with rice, tuna & cheese sandwiches/pita, veggies and dip, apple pie Milk & WaterJuice, teddy grahams
Oatmeal, croissants, oranges, apple juice, milk Chicken Parmesan, Fettuccini & tomato sauce, yellow/green beans, bread, choc. mousse, Juice & Water Beef tacos/wraps, tossed salad, banana cake
Milk & WaterJuice, cereal bars
Cheese omlette, English muffins, melon, orange juice milk Ham, scalloped potatoes, fresh veg. médley, bread, peaches with whipped cream Milk & Water Hot dog cook-out, carrots & celery, apple, cookies Juice & WaterJuice, apples
We have a designated special diets cook who prepares all special diet meals (vegetarian, vegan, food allergy) in a separate section of the kitchen using completely different cooking pans and implements than the rest of camp to avoid food contamination.
WHAT IS YOUR NUT POLICY?
While we love to be able to provide a completely nut free environment, it is impossible for us the guarantee that the site is completely nut free. We make conscious decisions to not bring nuts onsite and to not buy products containing nuts, however it is becoming more and more difficult to not have products that "may contain traces of nuts". With so many campers coming and going and not always following our food guidelines there are just too many variables for us to make a guarantee.
Our decision about not having a "nut-free" designation was made in consultation with the Anaphylaxsis Canada, which also acknowledges the unfortunate impossibility of true "nut-free" designations. (http://www.safe4kids.ca/content/schools/safeschools.pdf) All our staff are trained in responding to anaphylaxis and we have many epi-pens located all over camp. Campers with life threatening allergies are also encouraged to carry their epi-pens with them at all times.
DO YOU HAVE A TUCK SHOP?
No, we do not have a tuck shop. Campers have 3 meals a day and a snack each evening. There is always fresh fruit available should a camper be hungry between meals. Please do not send snacks to camp as they will attract unwanted visitors.
CAN I CALL MY CHILD WHILE THEY ARE AT CAMP?
One of the great advantages of sending a child to camp is that having an experience away from home for an extended period of time can enable them with the skills and coping strategies that are critical to successful independence.
At Sparrow Lake we acknowledge that sending your child to camp can cause anxiety to both you and your child and that parents are eager to check up on how a child is adjusting to camp. Phone calls home, however, often have the effect of inducing or intensifying feelings of missing home which can make it much harder for campers to adjust to camp life. Rather than using the telephone to communicate, we encourage campers to write letters home and encourage parents to either use e-mail or post mail.
CAN I SEND A PHONE WITH MY CHILD TO CAMP?
When packing the kids off to summer camp an increasingly common issue has become whether or not to include a cell phone along with the sunscreen, toothpaste and insect repellent. Cell phone use among children is becoming widespread and the marketing trend is toward increasingly younger age groups. Cell phones have a real purpose in our fast paced lives. That purpose has much to do with security, the communication of ever changing schedules and the “comfort” to children and their parents or guardians of instant contact anytime anywhere. Kid’s cell phones make good sense for reasons of contact and security. But is it good sense to send a cell phone into camp with your child?
The answer is no. Leave the cell phone at home. These issues of daily adult life are not part of the everyday life at summer camp. Cell phones only impede the camp experience for a child. Campers with cell phones are less likely to turn to their Counsellors or cabin mates for assistance, support or even just someone to talk to. Often it’s easier to just call or text mom or dad or the friends back home. Cell phone campers tend to become isolated from camp life rather than joining in and developing the combination of independence and interdependence that the camp experience provides. Should your child experience homesickness, cell phones will only prolong it.
Cell phones at camp today have also introduced new issues around security and privacy. Most cells phones have cameras attached to them. These cameras combined with texting allow campers to post sometimes inappropriate pictures on to their Facebook or Myspace sites instantly while still at camp.
Sparrow Lake Camp is not liable for any misplaced or broken cell phones or electronics.
WHAT IS THE CAMP'S POLICY ON VISITORS?
At Sparrow Lake Camp we strive to create a healthy and supportive community that is altogether different from what our campers experience in their home lives. One of the best reasons for sending a child to camp is to equip them with the life skills and coping mechanisms to be away from home and their usual environment for an extended period of time. As long as the camper is engaged in the camp routines and activities children think less about their home life and feelings of missing home are diminished. As such, we discourage visits from parents and friends while the child is staying at camp.
Any visits that absolutely must be made need to be arranged through the camp directors as early as possible. Drop in visits are highly discouraged and we cannot guarantee that your child will be available as they may be in the middle of an important program or even off site on a trip. Sparrow Lake Camp does not have a visitor’s day during the camp session, but we do have an Open House day before the camp season begins to give parents and campers an opportunity to explore camp together.
WHAT DOES THE CAMP DO IF MY CHILD IS MISSING HOME?
Everyone misses home; we just all have different coping strategies that we use to deal with those feelings. Missing home tends to manifest itself in a more obvious way for our younger campers who have less well developed coping strategies.
Our job is to help campers discover the ways that work best for them to deal with their very natural feelings of missing home and adjusting to a new environment. Our Counsellors receive extensive training in strategies for supporting campers in this process. If this is not enough, campers gain further support from our directing team who help them practice ways of dealing with those feelings. Feelings of missing home tend to be strongest at the beginning of camp, particularly during down times in the day like rest hour and bedtime. As such we make an effort to keep the day quite structured to keep our campers busy.
WHAT IF MY CHILD GETS SICK AT CAMP?
Camp has a full-time Registered Nurse who lives on site and manages the camper wellness centre. If a camper is feeling ill during their stay at camp, they visit the camp nurse who will provide initial treatment and will refer the camper to a doctor in town if they deem it necessary.
Campers who are or will be sick for longer periods of time will be sent home to recuperate as we truly believe that camper health improves much more at home than at camp. When a camper can return to camp is determined through consultation between the health team, the directing team and any involved physicians.
ARE THERE WASHROOMS IN THE CABINS?
All the camper cabins have bunk beds for 10 campers, their Counsellors and their CIT. All the washrooms and showers are located in the central wash house facility. Port0potties are also on site for program areas located furthest away from the wash house.
WHAT IS THE CAMP'S POLICY FOR DEALING WITH LICE?
We ask all parents to check their child’s hair at least a week before coming to camp so that there is time for them to treat it if necessary. All campers have their hair checked upon arrival at camp. We will consult with parents and the camp nurse but depending on the severity of the case we may provide initial treatment or we may have to send the camper home for treatment.
IS THERE A LAUNDRY FACILITY AT CAMP?
All campers are asked to bring enough clothing to last them for their one or two session. If accidents happen, which they sometime do with younger children, sleeping bags and soiled clothing will be discretely washed at camp. Campers in the one-month leadership program may have access to the laundry facility for emergencies only.
WHICH TAXES ARE CHARGED ON CAMPER FEES?
We charge 13% HST on our camp fees. Each year in January we send out tax receipts for the amount of the camp fee.
WHAT IS YOUR CAMP FEE POLICY? DO YOU GIVE REFUNDS?
A non-refundable registration fee of $200.00 is required to register your child. If a post- dated cheque is received for the deposit, your child will not be registered for the camp until the date listed on the cheque. A post-dated cheque for the balance of the total camp fees dated May 1 is also requested at the time of registration. Please note that registrations after May 1 must be accompanied by a full payment. Payment of camp fees can be made by personal cheque (before June 1 only), certified cheque or money order, to Sparrow Lake United Church Camp. Payments may also be made by Visa and Mastercard. Credit card payments will not be taken if it less than 2 days prior to the session starting.
If a written cancellation request is received at the registration office 14 days or more prior to your child’s departure for camp, the camper fee less registration fee will be refunded in full.
If a written cancellation is received less than 14 days prior to your child’s departure for camp, a partial refund may be given at the discretion of the Sparrow Lake Camp Board of Directors. Further documentation may be required and a refund (if applicable) may not be issued until the fall.
If a camper is sent home for camp for displaying inappropriate behaviour, or has not complied with the rules of camp, or is found to have a pre-existing communicable disease/condition, no refund will be offered.
Any N.S.F Cheques received will incur an additional charge of $25.00, and may affect your child’s chances of attending the camp period of his/her choice.