One of the biggest pieces of attending one of our Shrine Mont Camps is being part of a cabin throughout the session. Though time at camp is not limited solely to time spent with your cabin, a portion of the day is spent in cabin groups and we have found that this time can be the most formative for your camper. This may lead you to wonder- “What exactly is cabin life like? What will my camper be doing with his or her cabin? And, while we’re on the topic, what do these cabins look like?!” We’re so glad you asked! This blog post is dedicated to exploring ‘cabin life’ at Shrine Mont Camps and all that it entails.
What Are the Basics?
Campers will share their cabin with up to nine other campers and one cabin counselor of the same gender. All cabins have electricity and are a short distance from the onsite latrines.
Cabins are grouped by gender at each of our campers (at Art Camp, cabins are also grouped by ages 8-12 and ages 13-15). Additionally, each cabin is connected by a small 'half-cabin' area to another cabin- both of these cabins will house campers and counselors of the same gender. Campers and their counselors will sleep on bunk beds in the larger cabin-area (except for St. Andrew's where they stay in a cottage!) while an additional counselor will sleep in the 'half-cabin' area between both cabins. This means that there will be a total of three counselors for every two cabins. Counselors will also be sure to let campers know that they can be woken at any time throughout the night if campers have to use the restroom, have had a nightmare or need their attention for any other reason. For a better idea of what our cabins look like, please see the photo below!
Cabin Activities Vs. Whole-Camp Activities
Certain blocks of time each day are set aside for cabins to spend together- these are known as 'cabin free-time'. During this time, campers will interact with their cabin mates and their counselor through activities which call for them to get to know each other, work together as a team, do a service or even play games with another cabin! Additionally, campers will primarily be with their cabins during meal times (and always during rest period!). Other times of day, such as evening games, scheduled activities, chaplains time and evening programs, allow campers to interact with the entire camp and friends from other cabins as well as those campers with whom they share a cabin.
Cabin Request Policy
While we understand that your camper may want to share his or her cabin with a friend from home or church, we are unable to accept requests for specific cabin assignments at Shrine Mont Camps. Our policy regarding cabin assignments is to create cabins which foster a loving and accepting community. We have found that it can be difficult for campers to make new friends if they are placed in cabins with friends from back home; for this reason, we do not honor cabin requests. However, as you can see from above, camp is not limited to time spent solely with your cabin and there will be no shortage of time for campers to interact with friends who are outside of their cabin group.
How do we Foster Relationships Among Campers?
At Shrine Mont Camps, we work really hard to build a strong cabin community and many of the activities your camper will participate in each day point to this. This is part of the reason that our cabin request policy exists, as we've found that it is not as helpful as one would imagine to be placed in a cabin with your best friend or sibling. If your child is coming to camp and only knows one or no other campers, please don't worry- the will not be the only camper in this situation and we deliberately work to create connections between and among campers within the first 24 hours of camp. Through activities such as cabin free-time and daily feeling-check before bedtime, trust, connection and care can grow throughout the session to the point where a cabin group can really feel like a family by the end of camp. Counselors will also intentionally set norms and expectations for their cabins at the beginning of a session so that conversation can continue throughout the session about behavior, community and conflict if it should arise.
We hope this gives you and your campers a better idea about what to expect in terms of cabin life throughout the summer, but if you have any camp-specific questions or concerns that were not addressed here, please don't hesitate to be in touch!
Whether your camper is with us at Shrine Mont Camps for 5 days or 12 days, we understand that you may want to communicate with him or her at some point throughout the session. Oftentimes, campers also want to reach out to their parents during their time at camp because they are missing home or want to share their camp experiences with family. Additionally, we want y’all to know that Shrine Mont Camps is accessible and excited to speak with camper families throughout the summer- whether you have a camper in session or not. So, what we’re saying is- it’s all about communication, y’all! Below we outline our communication options and limitations while your camper is in session with us at camp. At the heart of all of our communication decisions lies the strong belief that at camp we can cultivate an environment in which each and every camper is beloved, valued and able to push him/herself to experience new things without distraction from the world ‘down the mountain’; we hope you’ll support us in these policies throughout the summer and the rest of the year.
How Can Campers Reach Out to Their Families?
How Can Families Reach OUt to Shrine Mont Camps (and vice versa)?
How Can Families Reach Out to Their Campers?
Your family is an essential piece of the Shrine Mont Camps puzzle and we want to be sure that you are included in as much of the summer as is necessary and possible. If you have concerns about our communication policies, please do not hesitate to reach out to us before your camper arrives at camp. Otherwise, we’ll catch you via carrier pigeon (just kidding)!
We know how overwhelming it can be to a select a new camp for your family. There are a huge number of great programs out there and we like to think that Shrine Mont Camps speaks for itself, but the reality is that there are so many questions to be answered before a family is ready to commit to a new camping program. Besides the obvious questions like ‘where will my camper sleep?’ and ‘do I need to send snacks along’ (in cabins and NO, respectively), one of the biggest concerns for parents can often be…what happens if my camper starts to miss home? How will your camp handle a delicate situation such as this? We can assure you that Shrine Mont Camps is well-versed in tending to the needs of those campers who miss home throughout their time at camp, but read on to find out more!
It is important for parents and campers to understand ahead of time that missing home is a completely normal feeling, especially if it’s a camper’s first time away from home. We hope that you will speak to your camper about worries that he or she may have while at camp. If you know of any particular personal or family related issues that may be on your camper’s mind during camp, please do not keep it to yourself. Specific concerns can be noted on the health form or related to us by email. In all cases the information will be kept confidential and shared only with the appropriate parties, but it is extremely helpful for us to be aware of potential stressors or anxieties campers may be bringing to camp so that we can prepare accordingly.
With that being said, there are a few things you should know related to missing home:
Our intention at Shrine Mont Camps is to make your camper feel as safe, loved and happy as possible while he/she is away from home and sometimes addressing feelings of missing home is a part of this process. We hope you take this opportunity to speak with your camper about how brave it is to try a new, big and seemingly-scary thing…and also how trying a new thing (like camp!) can lead to so much FUN and many new friendships. We may be a bit biased here, but if missing home is a piece of the CAMP puzzle then we’ll take it; besides, we’ve all missed home before so we’re familiar with the feeling. We're certain that with the right amount of love and encouragement from your child's counselor, homesickness will be a distant memory by the time you arrive for closing worship!
We know that preparing your camper’s suitcase/duffel bag/trunk/whatever receptacle of belongings you so desire to send your camper to camp with may be a little stress-inducing. On the one hand, you want to ensure that your camper has everything that he or she will need to make it through their time at camp unscathed (…or at least with as few bug bites as possible), but on the other hand, you don’t want your camper to have too many extraneous items (because, if we’re honest, the likelihood of those items staying at camp forever instead of coming home where they belong is pretty high). It’s a delicate balance to say the least. Thankfully we’ve compiled all of the “must-haves” as well as some of the “it-might-be-helpful-to-haves” for you in the following packing list! Additionally, we have included a list of items that should always be left at home (i.e., what NOT to bring to camp). Finally, we’ve included our policy on ‘appropriate’ camp clothing at the bottom. Please take a gander and let us know if you believe that we left off a necessity. While camp may still be weeks away, it’s never too soon to start thinking about what your camper will need while he or she is on the mountain!
What to Bring
We recommend the following items to give your camper everything that he or she will need while away at camp. Of course, certain items (such as clothing) will vary depending on the length of your child’s session and we leave that up to your discretion- campers will not be able to do laundry during the session except in the case of an emergency. Please label everything with camper’s first and last names. We suggest using a suitcase, duffel bag, plastic under-bed box or a trunk. Please keep in mind that luggage is kept under bunk beds.
Additional Items for Specific Camps
What NOT to Bring
In addition to ensuring that your camper has everything that he or she needs while at camp, please help us guarantee that the following items are NOT brought to camp by reviewing what has made its way into your camper’s bag. Please understand that if any of these items are found at camp, they will be confiscated immediately and your child may be sent home.
Clothing and Dress Code
Shrine Mont Camps are located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, surrounded by mountains. We find that our weather patterns include days in the 80-85 degree Fahrenheit range and nights in the 65-70 degree range. Of course, there are days/nights that fall outside of these averages, but this is a general rule of thumb. Most campers wear t-shirts and shorts while at camp. It is important for campers to bring clothes that are comfortable, can get dirty and have already been washed a few times.
Philosophically, we understand that clothes are an important statement for young people about who they are and how they want to be seen. Our reality, though, is that we operate an Episcopalian camp in the outdoors with children of many different ages, backgrounds and lifestyles. Clothing can be torn, lost, stained or undergo other mishaps.
Please make sure that whatever you send errs on the side of modesty: clothing must cover all private body parts and undergarments; tankini or one-piece bathing suits are required for females, board shorts or loose-fitting swim trunks are required for males. We will ask campers to change clothes if we feel they are inappropriate and we cannot be responsible for damaged or missing items.
Questions or concerns about our dress code? Don't see something that should be included on our 'What NOT to Bring' list? Have questions about an item that is included on the 'What to Bring' list? Send them our way via Meg Schwarz- talking about what campers should bring to camp reminds her of how exciting it was to get ready for camp when she was a camper many moons ago!
It’s easy to imagine that Shrine Mont Camps pops up at the beginning of each summer, ready to jump into another two months of campers, parents, staff and programming as if it had been latent for the past 10 months, just waiting for the right moment to come to life again. In fact, from a distance Shrine Mont Camps may appear to exist within its own bubble of a world; a community of humans- young, old, tiny, tall and everywhere in between- that is impervious to the forces of the world just outside its barrier. One who takes a moment to consider the reality of camp, however, knows that this could not be further from the truth.
Not only does camp require 12 months of preparation, revision, dreaming and executing, but during those summer months when camp appears to be a well-oiled machine (which it, more often than not, is), a great amount of input from off of the mountain continues to drive the summer forward. At the top of this list of participators from ‘the valley of the world’ sits a group of persons without whom camp would be impossible- the parents and families of campers. While a great deal of the interactions of camper families happens before we even kick off our summer, these families shape the life of camp throughout the entire year (and while camp is in full swing!). To put it simply, without camper families there would be no one to register for camp, prepare for camp, collect the various forms necessary for camp, travel to and from camp…in fact, there would be no campers whatsoever. Thank God for those silent soldiers who make camp a reality for their campers and who love those campers when camp is not in session; thank God for camper families.
As one small token of our appreciation for all that camper families do (during the summer and beyond), we put together a Shrine Mont Camps Parent Handbook. In this handbook you can find the answer to just about any question that you may have about camp. Want to know what to pack? Flip on over to page 14. Curious about what your camper will be doing at camp? No problem. Need to find the mailing address so that you can shower your camper with love via the USPS? We’ve got you covered. This handbook is your go-to guide for all things related to Shrine Mont Camps. And while we’re sure that you’ve already spent hours carefully reading every word printed on these pages, we thought we would help you out with the more important bits from the handbook. In an effort to pass along as much information as possible, we will be publishing blog posts to highlight those details which are most helpful for camper families as they prepare for a summer of camp. Each week leading up to camp, we will publish a new blog post that shines light on a section of this handbook. We hope that you will find these blog posts helpful as we draw nearer to the beginning of another wonderful summer at Shrine Mont Camps! Check back in with us at the end of this week where we’ll kick off this blog series with everyone’s favorite question- what on earth should I pack for my camper?!
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.