In today’s society we hear from many families who have concerns about letting their children spend time away from home. As a family-owned camp with a number of parents on our year-round staff, we understand your anxiety when the time comes to make a decision about your child going away to camp. We have always aimed to educate our parents about the value of organized camp experiences, and would like to address some of the questions and fears parents raise today. We hope that the information on this page will help to calm some of those anxieties you might be experiencing in regards to your children going to camp. Please feel free to contact us if you have any specific questions or concerns.
Why send my child to camp?
11 million children and parents can’t be wrong! Children who attend summer camps often show an increase in self-confidence and independence. They learn positive values from positive role models and gain leadership and communication skills outside of the school and home setting. Children have a chance to develop as individuals and are given the freedom to be themselves.
Why Camp Friendship?
See what our Campers and Parents have to say about us! Established in 1966, Camp Friendship has been an ACA accredited camp for many years. This means that all the areas and aspects of camp have met strict safety requirements set by the Camping industry. This is why we have an incredible safety record when it comes to such high-risk activities as horseback riding, high ropes, archery etc.
Camp Friendship offers over 35 different activities for boys and girls, so no matter what your camper is interested in, we probably have it! Unlike other camps, we allow campers to choose their own activities for the week, and even allow them to change these activities to try something new!
Not only that, but Camp Friendship offers a unique opportunity to bring the world closer to our campers through our internationally diverse program. Over 93 different countries have been represented at Camp Friendship through campers and staff, and this has always allowed campers to learn firsthand about foreign cultures and traditions.
If you would like to arrange a private tour of camp, please contact us and we would be happy to show you around! Also check our Upcoming Events page for details of our Open House and other events.
What is ACA Accreditation?
American Camp Association Accreditation means that your child’s camp cares enough to undergo a thorough review of its operation – over 300 standards need to be adhered to in areas such as staff qualifications and training and emergency management. Some of the ACA standards that camps rely on include following appropriate staff to camper ratios for different age groups, having emergency transportation available at all times as well as first-aid facilities and staff screening systems which include criminal background checks.
What if my child isn’t ready?
We recognize that every child is different but we encourage you to start the conversation. If your child isn’t ready that’s fine. We would still love to meet them and they should come check out the camps they might one day be ready to attend. This can be a great bonding process for your family and we are happy to help through it all.
We would also encourage you smaller programs or stays as a possibility for your camper to start warming up to the idea of camp. Try our Spring or Fall programs that offer the chance to try us out for a weekend! They’re a great, cost-effective way to get first-time campers used to the idea of sleeping away from home and excited about the camp experience. These programs offer smaller groups the chance to sample some of our most popular summer activities for a weekend or a week during Spring Break, as well as meet our great staff and see our facilities. Alternatively, if you want to share in the fun and embrace your inner child, try our popular Family Camp!
Is my child going to be safe?
This is one question that most parents want to ask but never do. According to the data presented by the American Camp Association, organized camp experiences are a much safer experience for children than some other activities children are engaged in during the summer. Qualified and trained counselors and staff, well-organized and structured activities, proper supervision and health care ensure a safe and quality experience for all campers and staff under the care of summer camps.
What about medical attention?
Camp Friendship provides quality health care 24/7 from our fully-equipped Health Center that is centrally-located on camp for quick access. Certified and experienced health personnel are selected by Camp Directors each summer and reside on camp property. A physician is also on call and the local Rescue Squad is only 1 mile away. Should a child need further attention, two hospitals are just thirty miles away in Charlottesville.
Camp assists families with designing individual plans for children with allergies, diabetes, asthma and other chronic health conditions. Families must bring their campers medication in the original packaging or blister packed by your local pharmacy and they will be stored and secured at the Health Center.
Who will remind my child to apply sunscreen and bug spray?
Any Camp Friendship staff member will tell you that one of the most common phrases during the summer is “sunscreen, water bottles and bug spray!”
Sunscreen is always available at the lake and the pool and campers are given time to apply this before entering the water. Campers are constantly reminded to apply bug spray before leaving their cabins for the day, as well as before evening activities and camp fires.
What about drinking water and staying hydrated?
Campers are encouraged to carry water bottles with them and refill them at meal times. Water coolers are also available in each activity area should campers forget or run out. Water bottles are also available for purchase from the Camp Store, where campers go each day for Snack Bar time.
How does Camp Friendship select camp counselors?
Our Camp Directors conduct thorough searches for the very best counselors, program staff and support staff to meet our needs. Most of our Junior Staff, ages 16-17, are former campers with great potential to be our junior staff members. Our Senior Counselors and Program Supervisors are college students and graduates with previous experience working with children in camps, schools or day care programs. Each candidate goes through at least one very detailed interview and needs to submit a minimum of three references for evaluation. International Staff go through a rigorous selection process in their home countries where they are evaluated by established organizations like Camp Counselors USA, Camp Leaders, Camp America and others. Absolutely all candidates go through Federal Background Checks for any criminal history. At Camp Friendship we are proud of having a high percentage of returning staff year after year.
What is the staff to camper ratio?
Our staff to camper ratios are 1 to 4 in Junior Villages and the Equestrian Village, and 1 to 6 in Senior Villages.
What if my child is homesick?
While we can’t guarantee that your child will not be a little homesick for part of their time at camp, we can promise to do our best in helping them adjust to camp life as quickly as possible. After over 50 years of running a successful summer camp we have developed numerous techniques and strategies to help campers cope with homesickness and settle into their new routine of activities, friendships and fun. We view homesickness as a natural emotional state for anyone experiencing separation from home, but we also know that 97% of campers get over this feeling on their first or second day at camp – there’s just too much fun going on to spend time feeling sad! Camp Friendship staff are trained to recognize and respond to homesickness and know that some campers may require more attention than others.
Can I contact my child?
Parents are able to contact their campers via regular mail or through our online Camp Stamps email service. Emails are delivered twice a day during meal times. Phone calls are not permitted. If you have any concerns about your camper, you may call their Village Supervisor and/or the Camp Nurse for medical concerns and they will be happy to address these as well as answer your pertinent health-related queries.
Can my child contact me?
Campers may not make or receive phone calls, but are able to write letters via regular mail. Campers can also send handwritten emails to their parents through our Camp Stamps/E-Letter service.
Can I send a Care Package to my child?
Although campers may receive letters and flat magazine-sized envelopes, they may not receive care packages. Not only does this reduce the amount of critters looking for a tasty treat in cabins, but it also reduces the probability of campers with allergies having reactions to certain items received in care packages. It is also intended to relieve parents of the additional expense. Campers easily learn to enjoy the camp experience with limited distractions from the “outside world”.
What if my child has a birthday while at camp?
Camp Friendship provides a birthday cake for any child having a birthday while attending camp. The cake is presented to your child, with a song celebration, at either the lunch or dinner meal in the dining hall, and is large enough to serve all of the campers at your child’s table as dessert for that meal. Balloons, flowers and gifts sent by parents will be delivered to the camper. If you choose to send snack items as a gift, please be sure to include enough for your camper to share with their cabin. Please let us know in advance if you are sending a “Birthday Package”.
Where do campers live?
Campers are housed by age and gender in our Junior, Senior or Equestrian Villages. All Villages are equipped with bunk beds and electricity and include bathrooms either in the cabins/lodges, or are located in a central bathhouse. Please read our Village information under Programs for further explanation.
Can friends bunk together?
Yes! Campers may request to bunk with their friends at the time of registration. The ages of friends and program selected should be the same. We can’t guarantee placements with friends or siblings but we will do our best to match at least one friend or sibling request.
Will there be other first-time campers?
Some campers choose to come to camp with a friend, but there are plenty of campers who take the plunge alone – and love it! Camp Friendship staff are all about making every camper feel comfortable, no matter their age and if they are first-time campers or returners. From the moment your camper arrives they will be welcomed into our Friendship Family and are instantly given the opportunity to bond with their cabin mates through fun get-to-know-you games facilitated by their cabin counselors.
What’s the food like?
Camp Friendship takes pride on a “whole foods” approach to the camp diet, with plenty of fresh produce and foods low in additives and preservatives. Meals are “kid-friendly” in addition to being nutritionally balanced, and there will always be something available for even the fussiest of eaters. All meals are served family-style with fruit, salad at dinner and sandwich buffets available at lunch, as well as a vegetarian option available at all mealtimes.
What about food allergies and preferences?
Camp Friendship goes to great lengths to assist campers with food allergies and ensure that there are always food options available no matter the type of allergy. Every effort is made to ensure that all ingredients are nut-free and products such as peanut butter are kept in individual prepackaged containers that campers are encouraged to use away from their tables. Campers are not allowed to bring snacks into their cabins to avoid any reactions from those with severe food allergies.
For campers with specific dietary needs such as gluten free or vegan, please contact a Camp Director to establish a dietary plan for your child.
What activities are available at Camp Friendship?
With over 35 different activities, Camp Friendship hopes to have something for everyone! Please see our Activities page for available activities and learn more about these with our Activity Description available on your Camp in Touch Account in March.
What if my child cannot swim?
All campers are required to go through a simple Swim Check upon arrival at camp. This is standard procedure at many camps and is done purely for the safety of your child. Swim Checks are done by cabin and will always be supervised by qualified lifeguards as well as the Aquatics Supervisors. Campers are discreetly assigned a colored Buddy Tag that will allow lifeguards to determine whether they need to wear a life jacket/PFD when swimming in the different areas of the lake. No camper is ever discriminated against at Camp Friendship, no matter their capabilities, and every effort is made to encourage all swimmers to use flotation aids/toys to ensure their safety.
Can my child bring their cellphone, iPod, tablet or Kindle to camp?
In an effort to protect your child’s possessions, we strongly encourage you to keep valuable possessions such as electronics at home rather than allowing your child to bring them to camp. We cannot be responsible for these items, nor can our staff. Personal electronics with WiFi capability are not allowed as they create distractions as well as interfere with the development of communication skills. Older iPods and MP3 music players will be permitted for campers to listen to music, but must be kept within the village and not carried to activities. Any items that break our electronics policies or interfere with the campers camp experience will be confiscated and returned to the camper upon their departure from camp.
What should a camper bring to camp?
Upon registering at Camp Friendship, each family receives a Parent Handbook with a detailed description of all the items necessary for camp. The book also helps parents find answers to many other questions they might have.
Does the camp offer transportation?
We offer transportation for campers flying in or out. Airport pickups and drop offs can be arranged to/from the Washington DC (Dulles - IAD), Richmond (RIC) or Charlottesville Airports (CHO). There is no additional fee for this service.
Do you provide laundry service?
Weekly laundry services are available for campers staying multiple weeks. There is no additional fee for this service. Specific days are allocated for each village and campers will receive their clean laundry the next day.
What do campers do on the weekends?
Stay-over Saturdays are a great addition to the camp experience as they offer some much needed “chill-time” for campers to prepare for another full week of fun. Campers staying for the following session will take part in our scheduled activities on the weekends.