Nature Summer Camp 2021

summer camp banner_600

The best place to experience summer is outside and this year the Hitchcock Center will run a completely outdoor camp. We will learn all about our natural world by immersing ourselves in it for a full camp day.


Camp Overview

What will be the same and what will be different?

While some things will be different about camp this year, we will provide you with
the same quality experience that our community has come to depend on us for.
With the recent changes in the safety requirements for COVID, we are hoping to
have camp feel as normal as possible.

  • We will hold a full six-hour camp day.
  • There will be four separate groups determined by grade.
  • Our days will be packed with games, forest exploration, meaningful discussion about
    nature, laughing, and fun.
  • The size of our camp group will be 12-15 campers.
  • Safety is our priority.

This past year has been a lesson in flexibility and creativity. In order to provide
the best quality camp experience while remaining safe and mindful, we are
changing a few things for this summer.

  • We will wear masks indoors. We will wear masks outdoors if we are doing a
    stationary activity that does not allow for social distancing or if we are doing an all
    camp activity.
  • Daily health screenings will be required as part of drop off at camp (no temperature
    screenings).
  • To support our all-outdoor camp, all groups will have their own “outdoor classroom”
    space.
  • We will only go inside in cases of extreme weather – thunderstorms, heat wave,
    etc…
  • We are providing two differently themed sessions (a one-week and a two-week) that
    will repeat throughout the summer. You can find descriptions of them below.
  • We will have an 15 minute window for drop off 8:45am to 9am and a ten minute
    window for pick up 2:55pm to 3:05pm.

Age Groups 

Young Naturalists: Entering grades 1-2
Eco-investigators: Entering grades 3-4
Nature Explorers: Entering grades 5-6
Leaders in Training: Entering grades 7-9

Session Titles and Dates

Session 1: Nature’s Superheroes
June 28 – 2 (one week)

Session 2: Biologists in Training
July 5 – 16 (two weeks)

Session 2: Leadership Training Camp
July 5 – 16 (two weeks)

Session 3: Nature’s Superheroes
July 19 – 23 (one week)

Session 4: Biologists in Training
July 26 – August 6 (two weeks)

Session 4: Leadership Training Camp
July 26 – August 6 (two weeks)

Session 5: Nature’s Superheroes
August 9 – 13 (one week)

If you are interested in registering for two sessions we recommend a one week and a two week session so as not to repeat activities. Please only sign up for a maximum of two sessions. For Leaders in Training camp, please only sign up for one session.

Session Descriptions

Nature’s Superheroes
Young Naturalists: Entering grades 1-2
Eco-investigators: Entering grades 3-4
Nature Explorers: Entering grades 5-6

Mondays-Fridays, 9am-3pm
Session 1: June 28 – July 2 (one week)
Session 3: July 19 – 23 (one week)
Session 5: August 9 – 13 (one week)
Tier A: $480 Tier B: $385 Tier C: $290 Tier D: $195

This session we’re exploring the superpowers of the natural world! We’ll investigate animals’ tricks for hiding from predators and finding food, and learn about awesome adaptations their bodies have to help them leap, fly and swim. We will discover the special powers of plants including toxins, prickly spikes and pollination. Through outdoor activities, games, observation, nature hikes and art projects, we will encounter ordinary superheroes with extraordinary adaptations.

Biologists in Training
Young Naturalists: Entering grades 1-2
Eco-investigators: Entering grades 3-4
Nature Explorers: Entering grades 5-6

Mondays-Fridays, 9am-3pm
Session 2: July 5 – 16 (two weeks)
Session 4: July 26 – August 6 (two weeks)
Tier A: $900 Tier B: $725 Tier C: $545 Tier D: $365

In order to hone our biologist skills we will spend our time immersed in nature, become science detectives, and learn more about life all around us. We will explore life in all sorts of ways – venturing into different habitats and encountering creatures of different shapes and sizes. We will discover what is underfoot, in the water, or growing right before our eyes. With games, experiments, hikes and special visitors we will have close encounters with different types of living creatures and learn how they survive and thrive.

Leadership Training Camp
Entering grades 7-9, only

Mondays-Fridays, 9am-3pm
Session 2: July 5 – 16 (two weeks)
Session 4: July 26 – August 6 (two weeks)
Tier A: $995 Tier B: $795 Tier C: $600 Tier D: $400

Leadership Training Camp (LTC) will be back again for summer 2021! Over the years, LTC has evolved to meet the growing needs of older and returning campers, and this summer we will evolve to meet the changing needs of a camp during a pandemic. While fewer leaders in training will be attending a session, this summer we are offering two 2-week Leadership Training Camps!

LTC is where new leaders can develop their skills as naturalists, activity leaders, outdoors people, and community members, and returning leaders can strengthen the skills they’ve been developing. This is done through our “spiral” system, with spirals representing your experience in LTC (spiral 1 for first year campers, spiral 2 for second year campers, etc.) and each spiral holding different expectations and skills. While camp will, by necessity, look different this year, we plan to continue with the same spirit of fun, trust, learning, and skill building that are the hallmarks of LTC. We’ll find ways to adapt favorite games, challenges, and activities from years past, and to develop new ones.

Please note that the drop-off and pick-up times for LTC will be different than the schedule for the other Hitchcock Camps. Under current regulations, field trips are not permitted for summer camps. If this guidance changes, we are hoping, this summer, for LTC to visit different locations around Amherst and the surrounding towns. Please note that drop-off and pick-up times for LTC may change on some days depending on our schedule for that day. We are planning for a late night, instead of our traditional overnight as part of our program this summer.

LTC is an active camp, but time is also spent listening and learning from each other by sharing knowledge and talking about our experiences and how they help us become better leaders. It is designed for all Hitchcock campers entering 7th, 8th, and 9th grades looking to learn what it takes to lead others in the outdoors. It is designed for those who may want to be a Counselor-in-Training or Junior Counselor at Hitchcock or other camps, who want a chance to develop leadership skills that can apply to other parts of their life, or who just want to learn new skills and have some fun!

Counselors in Training and Junior Counselors

The Hitchcock Center Nature Summer Camp has great opportunities for teens in 2021! Our “Counselor-in-Training (CIT)” program, is for teens entering 7-9th grade, who love nature and working with children. Our “Junior Counselor (JC)” program for 10-12th graders ready for more of a leadership role. Applicants for both programs should earnestly wish to build their leadership skills and contribute to a fun, safe camp environment by being mature and appropriate role models for the kids. Learn more…

Frequently Asked Question About Nature Summer Camp

Registration Information

Nature Summer Camp 2021 details will be emailed to the Hitchcock Center email list in January 2021, and can be found on this web page. Not sure if you’re on our mailing list? Please call or email us at (413) 256-6006 or info@hitchcockcenter.org and we will be happy to add you.

Registration begins online: Monday, February 15 at 9:00pm. For the summer of 2021, due to the hardships of COVID-19, we are removing the requirement of membership for early registration. That said, membership to Hitchcock Center is still available, and we appreciate the support that our members provide to help us to offer quality programming. Final camp payments and all camp paperwork are due on June 18.

Due to the increased costs associated with running a COVID-safe and compliant camp, we have raised our program fees. We will continue to offer the tiered-scale fee structure that we have adopted during the pandemic. This tiered system will, for this year, be taking the place of our financial aid applications. This tiered system aims to provide greater flexibility in allowing you to choose a price that is right for you and your family. When registering for camp you will be asked to select one of four tiered-fee options. 

  • Tier A: The fee is set 25% higher than what it costs to run the program and helps to support those who cannot afford the full cost of the program.
  • Tier B: The fee is set to cover 100% of the program costs.
  • Tier C: The fee is set at 25% less than what it costs to run the program.
  • Tier D: This fee is set at 50% less than what it costs to run the program. This option is available for EBT, WIC, and Connector Care Card to Culture participants: households receiving benefits through the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance and the Massachusetts Health Connector.

Registration will begin on February 15 at 9:00pm, but we are not requiring a camp fee deposit until April 30. We hope this will allow families to plan for their summer while retaining some flexibility in case there is a change in state or local regulations due to COVID-19.  Final payment for summer camp will be due on June 18th (along with final paperwork). 

Looking to register for camp, but don’t have internet access? No problem, call our office during our open hours, and we will assist you. At this point in time, the Hitchcock Center is closed to the public, so if we do not have a staff person on site, please leave a message and we will call you back.  

**Due to increasing demand for our camp, we ask that you limit your registration to two sessions per child.** 

Financial Aid

Due to the hardships of COVID-19, the Hitchcock Center for the summer of 2021, is moving to a tiered pricing system. See registration tab, above. 

Hitchcock also provides full scholarships for children for whom camp isn’t possible due to severe financial hardship. Full scholarships are awarded based on nominations from teachers and guidance counselors at local schools. If you feel you’re eligible for a full scholarship, please contact the camp director at jeff@hitchcockcenter.org. Please note: the deadline for receiving these nominations is February 12, 2021.

COVID-19 

Our programs are designed to be fun and engaging and above all safe. The COVID-19 program guidelines are designed to help protect everyone as we meet the strict health and safety requirements of the CDC and our state. Please take the time to read the information thoroughly. If you feel that you or your child(ren) cannot follow these guidelines, we ask that you wait until these restrictions have been lifted to join one of our programs or events. We may change our guidelines to reflect new guidance from CDC and Massachusetts.

Health Care Policy

  1. The Hitchcock Center will have the following information on site for all campers and staff: medical concerns, allergy information, current immunization record, emergency phone numbers, physician signature and/or parent signature pertaining to the camper’s ability to participate in camp. No camper will be admitted to camp without a completed health form, current physical and certificate of immunizations.
  2. All emergency phone numbers will be posted next to the phone of each camp. Those phone numbers include the number of the Camp Health Care Consultant, Police, Ambulance, Fire Department and MA Poison Info. Center.
  3. All staff working with children are professionally trained and certified in Community CPR and Standard First Aid, or their equivalents and shall complete the Heads Up online head injury safety training program.
  4. The Hitchcock Center has measurers in place to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. We follow exclusion policies for serious illnesses, contagious diseases and reportable diseases. No camper may attend camp if they are sick. All communicable diseases must be reported to the Camp Director. All campers with fevers over 100°F and/or vomiting must leave the property as soon as possible and not return for 24 hours of being symptom free. In the event of a serious contagious or reportable disease, the Camp Director will notify all parents, in accordance with the Department of Public Health recommendation.
  5. No medication will be administered without a written consent form from BOTH the parent/guardian AND the Camp Health Care Consultant. We will have two Health Care Supervisors on site at all times.  Health Care Supervisors shall be trained or instructed by the Health Care Consultant to administer oral or topical medications. All prescription medication must be provided in the original prescription container with the pharmacy labels. For prescribed medicine, camp staff will not vary from the prescribed dose, appearing on the original label of the medication, without prior approval from the prescribing physician. All over the counter medications must be kept in the original containers, which shall include direction for use.
  6. All medication will be kept out of reach of the children in a locked container. In the case of anaphylactic allergies, be sure that any necessary treatments are left at the Hitchcock Center and any EpiPens are left with the Counselors or Camp Director. Campers shall self-administer and carry their EpiPens if the camper is capable of self-administration and the Health Care Consultant and the campers parent/guardian have provided written approval. The Health Care Supervisors and Counselors will be trained in the administration of EPI Pens under the direction of the Health Care Consultant. Medications that require refrigeration or to be frozen will be kept in a locked container in the refrigerator or freezer. All medications, with the exception of EPI Pens which are time critical, shall be administered by the health supervisor under the supervision of the health care consultant or a licensed health care professional. When no longer needed, medications shall be returned to a parent or guardian whenever possible. Outdated or unused medication will be properly disposed of. A medical disposal log shall be maintained for at least three years, documenting any medication that could not be returned to the parent or guardian. Needles and Syringes will be disposed of in accordance with 105CMR480.000. (CMR430.160)
  7. A Medical Log is kept for all medications given and disposed of and for the documentation of all first aid administered by camp staff and reported injuries. Staff will not perform first aid beyond the certified knowledge (CMR 430.155).
  8. The camp office has a fully stocked First Aid kit on hand.  In addition, the Counselors will carry First Aid packs wherever they go. The first aid kits shall meet the American National Standards Institute Z308.1-2015 requirements, including at minimum one Class B Kit and one or more Class A kits as necessary.(CMR 430.161)
  9. In the event of a major accident, injury or death during a Hitchcock program or trip, the following steps should be followed:
    • Call 911 for medical/police assistance. The Amherst Fire Department Ambulance Service will dispatch an ambulance if needed.
    • Attend to all serious/life threatening injuries immediately and administer First Aid/CPR as needed. Under no circumstances will the victim or other children be left unsupervised.
    • When help arrives, call the Hitchcock Center for further assistance.  Whether you reach a staff person or our voice mail system it is imperative that you leave a complete message with your name, the victim’s name and injury, your location, cell phone number, and the nature of the accident.
    • The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.
    • A Camper Injury Report Form will be completed by day’s end and sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Board of Health no later than seven calendar days from the date of injury (CMR430.154).
  10. When off site, at least one of the Counselors will carry a cellular phone for emergency use only.
  11. Copies of the health forms for each camper are kept in the van for emergency uses.
  12. Tick checks will be done when returning from being on the trails prior to entering the building. The Counselors will teach campers how to do tick checks. We encourage parents to perform thorough tick checks on their child at the end of each day.
  13. The Hitchcock Center requests that if Campers need insect repellent it is applied prior to the beginning of the camp day. Campers are requested to bring their own insect repellent. If given permission, Counselors can apply the insect repellent provided. All applications of insect repellent must be done outside.
  14. All camp staff shall complete a Covid-19 Self Screening Certification prior to starting work each day.

In the event of a mild injury i.e. sprained ankle or wrist:

  1. The child will be given ice and a place to rest to keep the area elevated. 
  2. If the child is unable to return to the camp activities the parent will be notified. 
  3. The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.

In the case of a mild sickness i.e. upset stomach: 

  1. The child will be given a place to rest. 
  2. The parent will be notified. 
  3. The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.
  4. If the sickness warrants, the parents will be requested to pick up the child.

In the case of a head injury or suspected concussion:

  1.   The child will be given a place to rest.
  2.   The parent will be notified.
  3.   The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.
  4.   The parents will be provided a Heads Up – Concussion Fact Sheet for Parents, and will require a note from a healthcare professional to ensure that a camper can return to camp, if any symptoms of a concussion were observed.

Life Threatening Allergy Guidelines 

The Hitchcock Center for the Environment (HCE) provides a safe and healthy environment for our campers and staff to the extent reasonably possible. Campers identified with life-threatening allergies will be provided for as medically necessary. The HCE guidelines will help reduce exposure to allergens to the best of our ability, knowing that we can be allergen-aware, not allergen free, and to follow established procedures to treat allergic reactions. The HCE is a public building and we can not control if allergens are brought into the building.

A camper identified as having a life-threatening allergy must have a written statement clearly documenting the allergy from his/her health care provider/allergy specialist along with a written medication order, parent/guardian consent for required interventions and medication. HCE will provide training to educate Counselors in the management of life threatening allergies. 

If there is a camper with a peanut or tree nut allergy, or other life-threatening allergy in a session, families and campers for that group and session are respectfully asked to refrain from bringing nuts or foods processed with nuts in lunches and snacks (or the relevant allergen). At the end of each snack and lunch and at the end of the day, tables are cleaned and students will be asked to wash their hands before and after eating.

Camp’s Responsibility 

  • The Health Care Supervisor will be available for campers who have a life-threatening allergy. A back-up plan will be in place when the Health Care Supervisor is not available on-site.
  • Counselors will have cell phones to maintain contact with the Health Care Supervisor and/or other camp staff in case of a medical emergency. 
  • The camp’s emergency response plan will include a written plan that outlines the management of life threatening emergencies. 
  • In the event of an allergen exposure, policies and procedures will be reviewed. 
  • Camp personnel will receive appropriate training in allergic response recognition and response as needed. 
  • After reviewing the health records provided by the parent/guardian, the camp Health Care Supervisor in conjunction with the Health Care Consultant will develop an individual health care plan. 
  • If the camper is carrying their epinephrine auto-injector, the counselor will check in with the camper to ensure that they have the epinephrine auto-injector at the beginning of the camp session.

Recommendations for Campers 

Based on the camper’s age and developmental level, campers are encouraged to be proactive in the care and management of their allergies and reactions. All guidelines below are considered recommendations but it will not be assumed that any child can take full responsibility for their own allergy management. 

  • Wash hands with soap and water before and after eating (hand sanitizer is not effective). 
  • Learn to recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction. 
  • Promptly inform an adult as soon as possible exposure occurs or symptoms appear. 
  • Do not trade or share food. 
  • Do not eat anything with unknown ingredients or known to contain any allergen. 
  • Develop a relationship with the camp Health Care Supervisor and other adults in the camp to help identify issues related to managing the allergy in camp. 
  • Notify an adult immediately if feeling threatened or bullied as it relates to their life threatening allergy. 
  • Camper may carry epinephrine auto-injector on self if camp Health Care Supervisor, parent or guardian and licensed prescriber are in agreement. 

Health Care Consultant: Dr. Peter Everett, 413-584-8700

Health Care Supervisors: Jeffrey Mazur and Aemelia Thompson, 845 West Street, Amherst MA, 413-256-6006

Required Immunizations

Written documentation of immunizations in accordance with the most current Department of Health immunization are required for all camp and camp staff. (CMR 430.152). Staff will follow the recommendations for college or post-secondary students.

 The following is a link to the MA Deptartment of Health required immunizations which are the same as are required for attending public school:

https://www.mass.gov/doc/immunization-requirements-for-school-entry-0/download

If you have any questions about vaccines, immunization recommendations, or suspect or confirmed cases of disease, please contact the MDPH Immunization Program at 888-658-2850 or 617-983-6800. 

Meningococcal Disease and Camp Attendees: Commonly Asked Questions

 Cancellation Policy

  •     If you cancel prior to 30 days before the first day of your session, you will receive a full refund minus $50 of your deposit.
  •     If you cancel 15-30 days before the first day of your session, you will receive a full refund minus the $150 deposit.
  •     If you cancel fewer than 14 days before the first day of your session, you will not receive a refund, unless the program is full and we are able to fill your spot, then you may receive a 50% refund.
  •     Refunds will not be given for absent or sick days.
  •     Exceptions granted only in the case of a health emergency, evidenced by a written physician’s statement, restricting the child from attending camp for the entire session.

Parental Responsibilities 

A parent, guardian or designated representative for the child shall not send the child to the program if they are ill or have a temperature. All contagious illnesses must be reported to the Camp Director.

If it is determined during the day that the child is ill, is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or has a temperature, the parent/guardian will be notified. It is their responsibility to have the child picked up from camp as soon as possible. 

Due to COVID-19 we require that families follow the current guidelines from the state of MA, regarding traveling and exposure to large groups. Please do not bring your child to camp if you have traveled to an area designated as high risk, or any gatherings that are not in compliance with the guidance provided by the State.

The parent or guardian shall notify the Camp Director if a child will be absent on a regularly enrolled day.

Parents or guardians shall notify the campers Counselor or the Camp Director when someone other than those named on the child’s Emergency Information will be picking up the child.

Parents or guardians will assist staff in handling any behavior problems or other concerns by being open to discussions and conferences in order to best service their child.

Parents and guardians can request copies of our background check, health care and discipline policies by contacting the Camp Director.

Parents must provide documentation from the camper’s health care providers regarding the camper’s allergy prior to the beginning of camp or as soon as possible after diagnosis. The health care provider should be the allergist or similar specialist to the extent that the camper has such a provider. In the case of a food allergy, provide a list of foods/ingredients the camper child must avoid.

 In addition: if your child has a severe allergy, parents are responsible to:

  • Provide the camp with up-to-date medication (epinephrine auto-injector), medication orders from a licensed health care provider and parent/guardian consent forms for medication administration. 
  • Provide the camp with a way to reach you at all times or an available local emergency contact. 
  • Provide the Health Care Supervisor with any changes in your camper’s allergy status as soon as they occur. 
  • Educate your child about her/his allergy: importance of avoiding allergens, symptoms of a reaction and how to communicate to an adult if they think a reaction is starting. 

Parents’ and guardians’ questions, suggestions, and concerns are important to the success of Hitchcock Centers Summer Nature Camp. If a staff member is not free to speak with you immediately, please leave your name and phone number, and someone will call you as soon as possible. You can also email the Camp Director. We encourage you to inform the staff if your child is having difficulty at camp. Let them know if changes are occurring at home that are affecting your child’s mood or behavior. Also, if your camper enjoyed a particular event or activity and you appreciate something special at Camp, please tell the staff. 

Camper Requirements

Due to the outdoor and exploratory nature of our camp program, campers must be able to move about on uneven terrain. Campers are expected to meaningfully participate in age-appropriate activities, including nature study. If your camper has special conditions, needs, or limitations, you must speak with the Camp Director annually prior to registering to determine whether your camper can be accommodated at camp. 

In addition, your child must be able to wear a mask for the duration of the program, and be capable of being able to thoroughly wash their hands, and maintain social distancing requirements. 

Non-disclosure may result in dismissal without refund.

Safety and Behavior Policy

One of our primary goals at the Hitchcock Center is to provide a safe and positive environment for all of the children who participate in our programs, all of the time. At day camp, it is not possible for us to work one-on-one with children with behavioral difficulties. We have designed a general policy to be used with all camp children. There can be no exceptions to this policy. We will handle disruptive and aggressive behavior (hitting, bad language, disrespect to other children or to staff, etc.) as follows:

  1. If there is one incident, the parent will be informed.
  2. If there are two incidents, we will have a parent, child, and camp director meeting.
  3. If the behavior continues and cannot be controlled, the child will be disenrolled. The Executive Director, acting with the advice of the Camp Director or Counselor, will make this decision. 

Parents should judge beforehand whether their child is capable of handling a camp setting, as the Hitchcock Center will not refund camp fees for these reasons. This policy represents our best effort to protect children with behavioral problems, their families, other children and our staff.

While the Hitchcock Center is a public building, staff and counselors will keep campers separate from any persons who are not a part of camp. Any adults that are unrecognized persons (ie. Non-campers, staff, volunteers, contractors, parents or guardians) will be asked not to interact with campers.

 Safety and Behavior Agreements

  •   We promote a culture of using our words to solve problems and to alert staff if a camper is hurt by another camper or otherwise needs help. Staff are trained to facilitate conflict resolution among campers. 
  •   We foster a culture of respect and care for ourselves, each other, Counselors, and the environment. When disrespect is shown, staff facilitate conflict resolution. 
  •   Children eat their own food brought from home or snacks given by Counselors only. 
  •   Children will never be left unsupervised or left alone with a Counselor in Training (CIT).
  •   Shoes must be worn at all times while outside.
  •   The Hitchcock Center encourages the use of sun protection for all, including wearing wide brim hats, long sleeves and pants, and sunscreen with an SPF greater than 25. We request that sunscreen and insect repellent be applied before camp. If necessary, and if permission is given, Counselors can reapply both sunscreen and insect repellent during the camp day.
  •   All children wash their hands before meals, snack and after going to the rest room. If snack or lunch is happening in a location where hand washing is not available, then hand sanitizer will be used. 
  •   No child shall be denied food, water or shelter as a form of punishment; subjected to cruel or severe punishment, humiliation, verbal abuse, or corporal punishment, including spanking; or be punished for soiling, wetting or not using the toilet.

 Staff Recruitment

The following is our standard procedure to ensure that our employees and volunteers have a background free of conduct that has an adverse effect on his/ her ability to provide for the safety and well being of the campers. The following are minimum requirements for each new prospective employee who may have unsupervised contact with a camper:  

    1. Prior Work History (address, phone number) 
    2. Three positive reference checks from individuals not related to the staff person including, but not limited to previous employers or school administration. 
    3. Inquiry by agency into the individual’s prior criminal history (CORI check and SORI). All staff who live outside of MA are to provide documentation from their local chief of police indicating their prior criminal history. 
    4. Based on the required information we will then determine if the potential employees history should disqualify them from any type of contact or presence at the camp. 

Nature Summer Camp must comply with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and be licensed by the local Board of Health.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment