Finding Out How Your Child is Doing at Camp
It’s natural for parents to feel anxious about how their child is faring at camp. When parents phone us to ask about their children, we are not instantly available to come to the phone, because we are outside with the children. We commit to returning your call within half a day, and to giving you honest, up-to-date info about your child.
How We'll Keep You Informed
EVERY custodial household gets a telephone report or email update from their child's Section Head or Head Counsellor in the last week of their stay at camp.
For NEW campers, we also call you in the first three days of camp, to let you know how your new camper is adjusting. WHEN MAKING THESE UPDATE CALLS, IF WE CAN’T REACH YOU, WE LEAVE THE UPDATE AS A VOICEMAIL MESSAGE.
For parents who live far away and who get this communication by email, we make sure that the emails go from a Camp Arowhon address so they will not be mistaken as spam.
We require Section Heads and Head Counsellors to log every contact with parents, so that we can check that the contact has been made, and not forgotten.
We post news about camp (but not pictures - find out why HERE) throughout the summer on our blog.
We ask that you trust us not only to take good care of your child, but also to contact you promptly if your child is not doing well at camp, either emotionally or physically. No news is good news! We will call you if your child is having any significant difficulty (e.g. if they are very homesick), but we ask that parents limit their calls to us when possible (so that our staff can spend their time taking care of your children) except under special circumstances of difficulty.
Family Contact Info
If you will be traveling while your child is at camp, fax or e-mail us the dates, alternate emergency contacts, and/or away-from-home phone number(s). We cannot accept this information over the phone.
Getting in Touch with Camp
The camp office phone number is (705) 633-5651. The camp office is open 8:30 am until 8:00 pm daily, except when it closes for lunch from approximately 1:00–2:00 pm and for dinner from approximately 6:00–7:30 pm.
Because camp is in the wilderness, we have intermittent internet access, which means that it could take us up to 24 hours to respond to an email from you.
Notification Call Service
We know how important it is that we keep you informed how your child is doing at camp; and you know how important it is that we spend our time with your child while she/he is at camp. In a determined effort to meet both of those needs, we use a phone message service called One Call Now that allows us to record one voice message and have it instantly sent to all families at once (within Canada and USA only) by telephone. The first night of each session we use One Call Now to inform families that their camper(s) arrived safely. (Families from outside Canada and the USA are emailed.)
Your phone will ring and when you answer you’ll hear our voice recorded introduction (i.e. This is Camp Arowhon calling.) followed by our message. Busy signals or unanswered calls are re-tried twice until the call is answered in person or by voicemail. After that those two tries the automated call service gives up. Because this is an automated call, all calls go to the home number, so you may wish to check your home voicemail if traveling that day.
The third day of each session, all campers send home a cabin photo postcard to the custodial household. This postcard indicates their cabin number. If you are sending mail to camp, write your child's cabin number on the bottom left corner of the envelope (once you have it), along with your child's full name. This facilitates mail sorting at camp.
Despite our best efforts to get campers to write home, some of them are very creative about avoiding it. Once a week we keep the kids in the Main Lodge after lunch and give each camper a pre-addressed postcard to write home. Before they leave the Main Lodge, we collect them. For campers out on canoe trip during that week’s “letter-writing lock-down,” they write the postcards when they return to camp.
We do this because we know it matters to you. As well, please tell your children before camp that it's important for you to receive letters from them, and that writing home is their responsibility. Sending them to camp with stamped, pre-addressed envelopes also helps.
Children love getting letters at camp! Your letters to them will take as long to arrive at camp as theirs from camp take to get home, so begin mailing letters a week before they go to camp if you intend for them to get mail the first or second day. Don't worry about including their cabin number before you know it. If you live outside Canada and thus don’t have Canadian stamps, our office will add stamps to your child’s letters.
The package rule flows from what camp is about: Camp is a vacation for children from the materialism of the city. Camp is their haven from malls, computers, having to own/wear/buy the right (new) stuff in order to belong. We also want to avoid pressuring parents to “produce” and to avoid dividing cabin groups into package “haves” and “have-nots.” Please help us keep camp special for children by supporting the package policy.
We often receive packages from grandparents and other family members who might not know our package policy. In order to avoid having to return these items please inform those who might send something so we don’t have to send them back.
ABSOLUTELY NO BOXES! Use regular envelopes only.
ALL BOXES AND ENVELOPE PACKAGES WILL BE RETURNED TO THE SENDER AT THE SENDER’S EXPENSE..
If your child needs an essential item (such as warmer clothing or replacement eyeglasses), call Jessi (our Administrative Director) to arrange to send us these items.
If an envelope with a pre-arranged essential item comes to the office and we find unapproved “stuff” in it, we will give your camper the essential item and dispose of the “stuff.”
If your child is having a birthday at camp, they can receive a birthday package containing anything except items on the No-Go List (including no food!). Please ensure that birthday packages are no larger than 14” (or 36 cm) square. We recommend sending your child's birthday package up to camp with them and we will store it in the camp office until their birthday. If you are sending via mail or courier, ensure "BIRTHDAY PACKAGE" is written on the outside.
When couriers deliver envelopes from outside Canada, there are often customs broker’s charges, which you are responsible for paying. When completing the waybill, you need to indicate to bill the SHIPPER for duty and taxes. We don’t pay these charges, and if such charges are due, we will not accept the courier envelope. Do not use UPS, as their packages are held up at the border and generate brokers’ charges. Use Fed Ex or Purolator.
Phone Call, Fax and E-mail Policy
While separated from home and family, children have the opportunity to develop important independence and communication skills. Camp is an immersion experience! Please explain to your camper that they won’t be talking to you on the phone (and why), and that there are lots of caring adults to talk to who have lots of experience helping campers overcome challenges – counsellors, Section Heads, directors… please encourage your campers to talk to someone at camp when they’re in difficulty so we can help them. This is a wonderful developmental opportunity, for both children and parents.
It can be very disruptive for a child who is working hard to make the adjustment to camp and developing new independence skills to hear a parent’s voice. All the hard work of separating at the camp bus is undone; the child feels renewed separation anxiety and vulnerability. A child who is prone to homesickness can be terribly “undone” by hearing a beloved voice. We find frequent (upbeat) letters to be a less provocative way of reminding your camper how much you love them.
Campers may not make or receive phone calls, except on their birthdays. Directors work in collaboration with parents to decide if an exception should be made in the case of an emergency at home or at camp.
We commit to letting parents know if their campers are experiencing any challenges so we can problem-solve together.
We (and you!) struggle with slow mail service to/ from camp. We use Bunk Notes/Replies to replace or complement postal mail for families that wish to subscribe to that service.
Details on how to use Bunk Notes/Replies are sent to you in the spring.
In the spring we mail you a Bunk1 flyer with our Camp Arowhon registration code on it. (You will need to mark down this code as you will be unable to send Bunk Notes to your camper without it.)
You go to the Bunk1 Login Screen and buy Bunk Note credits directly from Bunk1. That allows you to email Bunk1 your letter. They then forward your email letter(s) to camp. We print them, and give them to campers at mail call (every weekday).
If you want to receive letters via this service, you must buy Bunk Reply Stationary from the Bunk1 Login Screen. (Campers can not reply to Bunk Notes without Bunk Reply Stationary.)
You give these sheets of paper to your camper, who uses them to write you. You can send them to camp with your camper or email them along with your Bunk Notes.
Campers put their Bunk Replies in the outgoing mailbox at the office and we fax all Bunk Reply letters to Bunk1 TWICE A WEEK. Bunk1 scans those letters and emails them to parents.
We do NOT do this daily because our goal is not to REPLACE letters with instant communication, but rather to EXPEDITE letters so that parents’ reasonable expectations to hear from their kids at camp each week can be met. Also, getting a sad Bunk Reply is like getting a sad letter.
Please remember that even though the process has been sped up, it is likely that note was written three days previously, and the storm has blown over.
We started this in summer ’07, and have had mixed response. Parents love knowing that their Bunk Notes get to their campers quickly, but are still frustrated not to hear back from their campers by Bunk Reply the next day.
Detective work has resulted in these discoveries: Johnny lost his Bunk Reply Notes... Susie was having too much fun and she never wrote a Bunk Reply... Sam was on a canoe trip and then an all-day sailing cookout, so for a week he didn’t write a Bunk Reply... Sandy wrote her Bunk Reply with pale pink coloured pencil, which the fax machine couldn’t read... Alex’s Bunk Reply is still in their pocket...
Please know that we are facilitating this communication the best way we can, with methodical sending/receiving of Bunk Notes and Bunk Replies from our camp office.
Our dedicated Head Counsellors and Section Heads cannot monitor/organize/check on Bunk Notes/ Replies because their undivided attention is on their campers all day, every day!