Camp Programs

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There’s no better place to discover the wonders of the outdoors! At Hitchcock’s Winter Vacation, Spring Vacation, and Nature Summer camps, children enjoy, play and learn in the natural world. Each day is designed with outdoor adventures, along with cooperative games, art projects, singing, and science experiments.

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Did you know that your EBT, WIC, or ConnectorCare card can be used to access membership and programs at the Hitchcock Center? Learn more about the ConnectorCare Card to Culture Program.


For the past 58 summers, children have been coming to the Hitchcock Center to have fun, deepen their connection with nature, and make new friends. We know how important the Hitchcock Nature Summer Camp experience is for you, and that for many children it is the highlight of their summer. Over the past two months the Hitchcock Center staff has worked diligently to look at different scenarios that would allow us to continue this tradition in compliance with CDC guidelines, the recent guidance from Governor Baker, and our state and local health officials. Throughout the process, our number one priority has been the safety of our campers, their families, and our staff. Sadly, it is with deep regret and heavy hearts that we write to inform you that we have decided we must cancel Hitchcock Nature Summer Camp for 2020.

We are offering full refunds on all Nature Summer Camp payments. Please contact Shelly Kahan by June 8 at or (413) 256-6006* to confirm that you have received this email so that we can begin to process your refund. Unfortunately, the cancellation of camp, which is one of our largest sources of annual program revenue, presents a significant financial loss for us. If you are able, you can help by letting Shelly know if you would like to contribute a portion of your refund as a tax-deductible donation to the Hitchcock Center. Thank you for considering this.

To check your balance and camp payments through Active, our camp registration system, please sign in to your Active account. If you have any questions about signing into your Active account or about the refund process, please contact Shelly Kahan at or (413) 256-6006. Please note that staff hours are limited, so a response may take a few days, and processing refunds could take up to four weeks. We appreciate your patience.

We hope that we will be able to run a number of alternative nature programs for families this summer. These would be smaller groups that meet for shorter durations and maintain strict safety protocols. We will be sure to let you know of these new program opportunities as soon as they become available.

Thank you for being a part of the Hitchcock Center. We hope you and your family are healthy and able to enjoy nature close to your home.

Frequently Asked Question About Nature Summer Camp


Nature Summer Camp 2020 postcards are mailed out to members of the Hitchcock Center in January 2020. Not sure if you’re on our mailing list? To request a postcard, please call or email at (413) 256-6006 or

Registration begins online: February 4 for members & February 18 for nonmembers. All camp paperwork is due on June 19.

Looking to register for camp, but you don’t have Internet access? No problem. Stop by or call our office during our open hours, Tuesday-Thursday, 9:00am-5:30pm, Friday, 9am-5pm.

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

Financial Aid

The Hitchcock Center is able to provide a limited amount of financial aid for families who need assistance with camp tuition. To apply for partial financial aid, please download, complete and return our application to Jeff Mazur, Camp Director, at Hitchcock Center for the Environment, 845 West Street, Amherst MA 01002 or Applications are due by February 7th.

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. Please note: the deadline for receiving these nominations is January 29, 2020.

Program Policies

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 less 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 health emergency, evidenced by a written physician’s statement, restricting the child from attending camp for the entire session.

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.

4.  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.

5. No medication will be administered without written consent form from BOTH the parent/guardian AND the Camp Health Care Consultant.  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.

All medication will be kept out of reach of the children in a locked cabinet. In the case of anaphylactic allergies, be sure that any necessary treatments are left at the Hitchcock Center and any EPI Pens are left with the Counselors or Camp Director. Counselors that have campers with anaphylactic allergic reactions will be trained in the administering of EPI Pens. 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.

6. A Medical Log is kept for all medications given and disposed of and reported injuries.

7. The camp office has a fully stocked First Aid kit on hand.  In addition, the Counselors will carry First Aid packs wherever they go.

8.  In the event of a major accident, injury or death during a Hitchcock program or trip, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Call 911 for medical/police assistance. The Amherst Fire Department Ambulance Service will dispatch an ambulance if needed.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.
  5. A Camper Injury Report Form will be completed by day’s end and sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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.

9.  When off site, at least one of the Counselors will carry a cellular phone for emergency use only.

10. Copies of the health forms for each camper are kept in the van for emergency uses.

Health Care Consultant: John Snyder, 31 Hall Drive, Amherst MA, 413-253-3773
Health Care Supervisors: Jeffrey Mazur, 845 West Street, Amherst MA, 413-256-6006; Katie Koerten, 845 West Street, Amherst MA, 413-256-6006

Required Immunizations

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

Click here for a link to the MA Deptartment of Health required immunizations.

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

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 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.

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 guardian 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 the 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. 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 or Junior Counselor.
  • 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.
  • 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.
A Typical Camp Day

8:30 – Arrival, Mystery Corner, Outside Game

9:00 – Morning Circle: Name Games, Songs, Group Challenge, Theme of the Day

10:00 – Snack

10:15 – Outdoor Adventure or Field Trip

12:00 – Lunch

12:30 – Quiet Time

1:00 – Outside Play

1:30 – Craft/Science Time

2:45 – Closing Circle

3:00 – Pick-Up Time

Each day consists of outdoor play, guided hikes and field investigations, songs, crafts and team building games. Campers spend each day doing activities related to the daily theme, such as Hunter/Hunted or The Nutrient Cycle. Snack time, lunch, quiet time, and unstructured play time are also parts of each day. The Eco-Investigators (Grades 3-4) travel by van to field trip sites, such as local conservation areas and museums, once per week. The Nature Explorers (Grades 5-6) travel by van to the field trip sites two times per week. On the last Friday of the two-week sessions, we hold Camp Share at 2:30. Campers gather to share presentations with each other about what they have learned at camp. Families are welcome to arrive at 2:30pm that day to attend this event.

What to Bring to Camp
  • Hearty snack and lunch that do not require heating or refrigeration
  • Proper footwear. We recommend bringing one pair that can get wet/muddy (ie: Keens or Crocs) and one sturdy closed-toe pair for hiking and running. No flip flops, please.
  • Change of clothes: shirt, bottoms, underwear and socks. This can stay in camper’s cubby throughout the session.
  • Rain gear
  • Water bottle (screw top or canteen style, no straws please)
  • Back pack that fits and is comfortable to wear
  • Hat with brim for sun protection
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent (please apply before camp each day)
  • Swim suit and towel for water games
  • No toys or candy, please
Counselor in Training and Junior Counselor Programs

The Hitchcock Center Nature Summer Camp has great opportunities for teens in 2020! Our Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program, is for teens entering 8-9th grade, who love nature and working with children. Our  Junior Counselor (JC) program is for 10-12th graders (minimum age is 15 at the time of the camp session) 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. Orientation for both CITs and JCs is Thursday June 25, 2020. Learn more…

Financial aid available. Vouchers accepted. 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