Frequently Asked Questions – Summer Nature Camps

Have a question? See if you can find your answer here. If your question is not here please feel free to contact us.

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Where do your camps take place?
All of our summer nature camps take place in and around Eugene, OR. We have several locations that we use depending on what is most appropriate for that camp. See each camp page for the location of the program. Here is a list of our current sites. Click the site name for more details.
Lane Community College (LCC)
Hendricks Park
Mount Pisgah Arboretum
Alton Baker Eastgate Woodlands
Big Bear Camp
Eel Creek Campground

Do you provide lunch?
We ask kids to bring their own lunch to day camps. With all of the variety of dietary needs and allergies that exist it is impractical to provide lunch for all of the kids at daycamp in a safe and appropriate way. Also, we often eat lunch while out on a hike and it is best for each kid to carry their own food. Of course, food is provided at overnight camps. Please let us know about any dietary restrictions that your child may have in advance of camp so that we may plan ahead.

Do you offer aftercare at summer camps?
YES! Due to popular demand, we now have an option for after-camp care at our summer nature programs. Please go here to read more.

Do you have scholarships for summer camps?
Yes, we have a limited amount of scholarship funds available. Our scholarships are need based. See our scholarships page for more details.

How long have you been running summer camps?
Whole Earth Nature School’s Summer Nature Camps have their origin in nature camps that were offered by Dancing Sol beginning in 2007. In 2009 Whole Earth Nature School was founded to expand the opportunities for kids in nature in Eugene. We continue to expand our offerings, creating hundreds of additional summer camp availability every year. We also run programs throughout the school year at Coyote Kids after-school programs, Acorn Homeschool, Winter and Spring Break camps.

The camp I want is full. Do you have a waiting list?
Yes, please visit the Summer Nature Camp page to sign up for the waiting list for your favorite summer camp. Click the Register Now button, select the camp, and register for the waitlist. You will not be charged a fee just to be on the waitlist. Should a space open up, we will call you…BUT, we have no way of knowing when a space will open. Please do not call regarding your child’s waitlist space if we have not contacted you yet. We can not determine ahead of time if, or when, a space will open.

Are your instructors first-aid trained?
Yes, all of our instructors are required to have current first-aid and CPR Training. Some staff additionally maintain a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. We also have a state-approved training for our staff on the proper procedure for dealing with anaphylaxis and severe allergic reactions. Additionally, every summer camp instructor goes through a rigorous multi-day training. And every Monday of any of our programs our instructors meet early to discuss any potential dangers and hazards for the area, and review any concerns that you have listed on your child’s application, as a part of our comprehensive Safety Meeting.

Do you background check your staff?
Yes, we feel this is a necessary precaution to keep kids in our programs safe. We run a full criminal history background check for every member of our staff, as well as our volunteers. The safety of your child is critically important to us.

What does my child need to bring?
Upon registration you will receive a detailed confirmation email that has a complete list of things to bring. Basically, we ask kids to come prepared to be outside all day and stay comfortable. Typically that means a healthy lunch, water in a refillable container, appropriate clothing, and a backpack to carry it all. More details are available on our preparing for camp page.

Will my child get dirty?
We hope so. We know that getting dirty is often a sign of how much fun was had that day. Also, getting dirty is an expected side effect of getting close to nature and exploring outside. Occasionally we even intentionally help kids get dirty to camouflage themselves into the forest. Please send your kids dressed appropriately. While many activities are optional, if you are not comfortable with your child getting at least a little bit dirty this is probably not an appropriate program for your family.

How do you deal with food allergies?
We work closely with families that have concerns about food allergies to come up with the most appropriate plan for their child’s safety. All day-camps are 100% peanut free. And as a general precaution, kids do not share any food at camp. If other precautions are necessary we will take those based on conversations with your family. Additionally, all of our Lead Instructors are trained, certified, and authorized to carry epinephrine autoinjectors. Should there be a medical emergency related to anaphylaxis, our staff are trained to handle it appropriately.

What is your discipline policy?
We work with kids to help them get along at camp in the safest and most healthy way possible. For a detailed description please read our full guidance and discipline policy.

Can I pay online?
Of course. It is as easy as clicking the “Register Now” button anywhere on our site. In addition to our standard online registration, we offer a paper registration form for those who need it.

Do your camps end at the same time everyday?
Summer day camps end at 1pm each day for 3-6 year olds and at 3:30pm each day for 6-17 year olds. Please see here for after-camp care details.

What if I am late picking up my child?
We understand that sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances which could cause you to be late. We allow 15 minutes after the end of the camp for you to pick up your child without any additional fee. From 16-25 minutes late, we charge a flat fee of $5.00. For every additional minute after this (from 26 minutes late onward), we charge $1 per minute. We do this in order to make every effort to support and compensate our instructors for the time they invest. We need our team leaders to be able to go home and be with their own families, rest and return refreshed to care for children the next day.

Will my kids get to eat wild plants?
In many of our summer nature camps kids are given the opportunity to taste wild edible plants or use wild medicinal plants. We make certain that kids are aware that there are specific plants which can be harmful. Our agreement with all campers is that they have to “ask twice” before picking any plant for food or medicine. First they must ask a knowledgeable adult (an instructor while at camp) to confirm the identity and use of the plant in question. Second, they must “ask the plant.” When they ask the plant they are looking for important details that can tell them whether the plant should be used or not. Questions like: Does the plant look healthy? Is it growing near a source of pollution? If I pick this plant will there be more left over to reproduce? In this way kids also learn about safe and sustainable harvesting techniques.

What is your instructor/student ratio?
We have an instructor/student ratio of 1/6 or better. Our day programs have a maximum group size of 8-12 kids. Each group is supervised and mentored by two trained instructors. Our youngest programs serving children aged 3-6 have a instructor/student ratio of 1/4 or better. Overnight programs have a ratio of approximately 1/4. Having so many highly trained instructors working with your children costs more, but it assures that they will be safe, and that they will be able to be involved in a program which has the ability to be involved in each child’s individual needs and desires.

What are your instructor qualifications?
We hire only the most qualified and competent staff. Most have years of experience working outdoors with kids. Also, all of our staff and volunteers must pass a thorough background check process before they are allowed to work with kids. Feel free to check out our staff bios page for details about our current staff.

Do your camps have a religious message?
Whole Earth Nature School believes that people of all faiths can appreciate the natural world equally. Our camps have no religious message and are not affiliated with any religion. We do ask that campers interact with nature and each other with gratitude and respect.

I don’t see my question here. How can I learn more?
We would be happy to answer any of your questions. Please fill out our contact form or just give us a call at 541-937-KIDS(5437).

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