First Time Parent Guide to Shwayder Camp
First Time Parent Guide to Shwayder Camp
We at Shwayder Camp are so excited you are going to spend your first summer with us. We have put together a list of commonly asked questions and answers for you to refer to when getting ready to join us at 10,200 feet. If you still have questions after reading this page, please feel free to contact the Shwayder Camp office at 303-388-4013. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Who is going to take care of my child at camp?
We have an amazing staff at Shwayder camp. We have over 60 staff from all around the world. Each cabin group is divided by age group, so there will be between 13-15 kids per cabin group. Each cabin of campers has at least three cabin counselors and two additional staff members assigned to help out. Campers are never left alone or unattended. Each staff member has had extensive training on dealing with a wide variety of issues ranging from conflict resolution to homesickness. In addition to cabin counselors and support staff, each age group has a Unit Head, an older more experienced person to seek advice from. Each Unit Head has gone to specialized training and has served as a counselor before. In addition to specialty staff, counselors, and Unit Heads, Jodie and Zahava are there and are an amazing resource for all campers and staff. With all of the knowledgeable people at camp with a wealth of experience we can assure you your child will be well cared for.
What if my child gets sick at camp or needs medication?
We have a camp nurse, Sarah Bell who has been at camp for many years. She is a registered nurse with the state of Colorado, she served in the military for a number of years and works as the head nurse for the school system in Rifle, Colorado. If your camper gets sick at camp, we will call to let you know and make arrangements as necessary. All staff at camp has been trained in CPR and First Aid. Also, our Outdoor Specialist has a Wilderness First Aid Responder certificate. Your campers are in good hands at Shwayder.
If your child takes medication, please make sure you note it on your medical form. All medication should be brought to the camp nurse at drop-off on the first day. There will be a table at drop-off for you to check in your child’s medication. The medication must be in the original prescription bottle or original packaging. If your child takes over the counter medication or vitamins those must also be signed in a camp drop-off and be in their original packaging.
What if my child gets homesick, can I come and pick them up?
The most important thing we can tell you about your child being homesick is PLEASE do not tell your child if they are homesick you will come and pick them up. It does not set your child up for success. We promise, if your child is still homesick by the third day of the session, someone will call and let you know. Over the years we have noticed very few kids are chronically homesick. It is normal to have moments of missing home, especially in the first few days. We have highly qualified staff who have a number of strategies to deal with homesickness. If you want to check on your child you can always call Shwayder Camp and someone will get back to you as soon as possible, or you can log into your CampMinder account and pictures of the campers are posted daily. This is a closed site and you need an account and a password to log in, so it is safe.
My child is a picky eater, what will they do at camp?
Our kitchen at camp is very experienced in dealing with all types of eaters. All of the food at Shwayder Camp is served from a buffet line. For example we might have meat, veggies, pasta, and sauce at a meal and all are in different trays so campers can decide what items and sauces they might want. We have a salad bar and/or vegetables at every lunch and dinner. Campers also have access to sunflower butter and jelly at every meal in case they do not like what is being served. There is a hot breakfast in the mornings as well as cold cereal. We also have snacks available during the day, so if your child gets hungry all they have to do is tell a counselor. If your child has a food allergy or other food issues, make sure you write it down on your campers medical forms so their needs can be met.
Can I talk to my camper while at camp?
Campers do not have access to phones or email. The best way to communicate with your camper is through Camp Stamps, which you can find on the CampMinder site, and snail mail. CampStamps are emails you can send your child and they are printed off and delivered daily. You can also send your camper packages (no food) through the mail, or drop them off at Temple Emanuel and someone will bring them up to camp. Please know it does take a few days for your letters and packages to reach our post office box in Idaho Springs. A good idea, is to send a few letters before your child’s session starts that way the letters/packages will be waiting for them when they arrive. If you want to check on your camper, make sure you check your CampMinder account. Pictures of campers are posted daily and you can check your your own camper having a great time. CampMinder is a closed website and you must have an account to view pictures. While you are not able to speak with your camper, you should pack pre-stamped and addressed envelopes so your camper can write home and tell you how everything is going at 10,200 ft.
I am really nervous my camper won’t know anyone or make friends right away.
Everyone was once new at camp, so please know that we understand how you and your camper are feeling. At camp drop-off your camper’s counselor will be there and ready to lead some “get to know you” games before we even leave the parking lot. At camp, the first day is spent getting to know your camper and getting the campers to know each other. The first dinner at camp is “Paco Taco Night”, where campers have to make up rhymes to get food items passed to them and to get to know everyone’s name. Throughout the first few days, the counselors are really going out of their way to create connections with campers to make sure everyone is getting along and having fun. One suggestion we have is to pack a deck of cards or another interactive game. This allows your child to have something fun to share with the other campers and they can bond while playing.
What happens at camp drop-off and pick-up?
Camper drop-off takes place in the Grape Street parking lot at 1 pm. When you bring your camper to the buses for drop off you will bring all of their luggage and any medicine. There will be a luggage truck for the luggage, and then you will check your camper in by their age group. At least one of their counselors will be there and they will get their names written on their forehead as the first of many Shwayder traditions. Next, you will check in any medications or vitamins in with the camp nurse. Finally, there will be a mental health specialist there in case you need a consultation. Once the logistics are taken car of, your camper will go with their counselor and start playing some games. PLEASE make sure your camper eats before drop-off. The first meal at camp is not until dinner.
At camper pick up will take place in the Forest Street parking lot at 11am. The luggage truck will come down first and all luggage will be placed on the grass. Once the luggage it off the truck, you can go and find your camper’s duffel bags, etc. If you sent your camper with any medication or vitamins, those will be at a designated table by the luggage and you can collect them from a medical staff member. When the buses with campers pull up you will gather on the grass along 1st Street in groups based on camper age and then are free to greet your camper, sign out with their counselor, get any other luggage and head home.
Will it rain or snow at camp?
We have no way of predicting the weather, but we do know with proper clothing your child can stay warm and dry in any situation. Please make sure you pack fleece, clothing with wicking material, and a raincoat. These items are really important. We have created a web page dedicated to packing questions, please check it out at the Insider’s Guide to Packing for Shwayder Camp:
Will my child be able to swim at camp?
While we do not have a pool at Shwayder Camp, we do take the campers to swim at least one time during the session. We travel by bus to the Idaho Springs recreation center and the campers are free to swim and hangout at the pool. Pool night is a lot of fun and there are extra lifeguards on duty and a number of counselors to make sure everyone is well cared for.
Will my child be able to use electronics at camp?
We have a “no electronics” policy at camp. Cell phones and other electronics are collected the first day of camp and kept in the Director’s Cabin until the end of camp. We really encourage Shwayder campers to be fully present in one of the most beautiful places on earth and to enjoy their time interacting with those around them.
Are there services at Shwayder Camp?
At Shwayder Camp we come together as a community to reflect on the day and pray together every afternoon. This is a great opportunity for the campers to share what they find meaningful at camp and to give thanks. Each cabin group will have the opportunity to lead services once during their session. While we do not require the campers to pray, we do ask that everyone attend services. We also have services on Friday night and Saturday morning to celebrate Shabbat.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a parent?
The best piece of advice we can offer is to teach your child to tell people around them what they need. It is OK for your child to tell an adult they are hungry or homesick or tired or angry. We need your child to be open to telling us their thoughts and feelings so we can make sure their needs are met. When your child is their own advocate, they are better equipped to deal with any adverse situation. So get ready for a summer to build your life on.