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Parents F.A.Q.'s (Frequently asked Questions)
Look at our "What to bring lists" (click here)", and also read on for more information.
Sending your child to camp: Parents’ frequently asked questions
Owner/camp director Cheryl Spencer of Raspberry Ridge Farms lists of some major concerns of parents: (A portion of this article was published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper February 22, 2002).
How old does my child have to be to come to camp?
Coming to camp is a big adventure, and different children are ready at different times. Most children will be ready for overnight camp by age eight or nine, but we accept children as young as six for overnight camp. Many of these younger children come with a sibling or friend to make the week even more fun. Some camps, including ours, accept children as young as five for the day program.
How do I know if my child is ready for overnight camp?
Does your child have an interest in the theme of the camp ie. tennis, sailing, or in our case loves horses, riding and animals, and readily stays at friends' homes for "sleepovers"? Then, he or she will probably enjoy meeting new friends at a residential camp. If your child is timid and not accustomed to being away but still wishes to come to camp, make sure that there are several "sleepovers" to build up their confidence before camp. Younger children may enjoy a day camp this year and try an overnight program next year.
What should campers bring to camp?
Look carefully at your camp’s "What to bring lists". There is a reason for each item based on the experience of the camp director.. Too many times we see kids without gloves or hats for an outdoor winter camp, or without a sun hat for summer camp. Above all do not let your kids pack for themselves. The average 10-year-old has no idea what to bring. Even teens often do not read the list and pack make-up instead of socks! You could also send a book for reading at bedtime.
What items shouldn’t a child bring to camp?
Most of these you would expect to be common sense, but lets review them anyway:
Candy: Although the parents often wish the child to share with others as they make new friends, it often causes hurt feelings. Also, children tend to eat it all at once and then not eat their meals. Gum. Your child may choke on it while participating in a sports activity. Radios, walkmans, cell phones portable t.v.’s: These items will cause disruptions and distract from camp activities, keep other campers awake, could be lost or broken. Any pocketknife, matches, lighters, unless specifically requested. Absolutely no cigarettes. For obvious reasons. It is standard practice at any reputable camp to confiscate any contraband items until the end of the camp session for the safety and well-being of all campers.
My child is a little "heavyset". How does this effect their ability to ride?There are two issues which help us to decide feasibility. One is having a certain degree of muscle tone and balance. The other is weight, which heavily impacts balance. If the student is much above average in the body mass index, we find that combined with low muscle tone that this can pose a danger to the student who is extremely prone to falling as well as to the animal. (We had three horses injured one summer from being ridden by clinically obese children, because their weight is not balanced but akin to having 180+ lbs of Jello on their back. Two of these animals are permanently compromised.)
While a horse can carry 20% of their bodyweight, the lack of balance of the rider can lower that percentage significantly. Better that the overweight potential rider develop some fitness (at least 1/2 hour of exercise strenuous enough to raise their heart rate, 3-4 times per weeks) for several months prior to attempting to begin riding.
If you are not sure of the difference between a few pounds overweight and obese, measure your child's height and weight and check out one of the Body Mass Index sites such as: http://www.myoptumhealth.com/portal/ManageMyHealth/BMI+Calculator
Can my child come home if he/she becomes homesick? Can he/ she phone home?
No. Most reputable camps do not allow telephone calls. Parents may, however phone the camp director. We have found that those rare campers who experience homesickness discover a strength and feeling of accomplishment when they stay to complete the week. Every child goes through this healthy maturing process. Phoning home tends to disrupt all of the other children and the camper.
Children who have come to our camp, and have left other camps early, suffer from feelings of failure. In most cases, the parent has "created" the homesickness, by telling the child that he/she will be homesick, and writing to tell the child that they expect them to feel homesickness, the dog misses them etc. The child feels guilty for enjoying camp.
Our camp has a very friendly and homey environment, and the vast majority of children enjoy the camp and come back, often for many years. By all means, check the references of any camp that you send your child to, then allow your child to have that time to grow.
Can I write to my child and can she/ he write home?(I don't want my child to feel cut off from the family).
Camps encourage mail, especially postcards and cheery note cards which always bring a smile. Tell your child about something fun you'll do when he/she gets home. Send some pre-stamped envelopes /postcards for the camper to send home. Many campers bring a small notebook or journal to chronicle their days, paste in wildflowers, and to bring home addresses of new friends. We print off incoming e-mail every couple of days but campers are not allowed to use the office computer to send e-mail.
What special equipment does my child need to come to camp?
By law, your child will need hard soled shoes or boots with little or no tread and a low (1 1/2 to 3 cm) heel, and a proper riding helmet with a secure chin-strap. The helmet can often be borrowed from a friend, obtained second-hand if you are careful about getting one in good condition, or purchased at a "tack shop" listed under riding apparel and equipment in your phone book. In the Kingston area, these can be purchased/ordered from Harrowsmith Horse Country 613-372-5085 www.HarrowsmithHorseCountry.com which we have found a reliable and reasonably-priced source. Check around in other cities as prices vary a great deal. Some stores only carry the high-end show helmets which are not necessary for a beginner. Your child does not need a lot of fancy riding clothing to come to camp. We do not promote "keeping up" with the latest attire. Most new riders ride in leggings, track pants or tear-away pants. Many experienced riders have breeches or riding leggings.
Why can't I / my child ride in running shoes?
RRF cannot allow anyone to ride in running shoes or any type of foot apparel with big lugs or treads for safety (it's the law) and insurance reasons. Large treads may get caught in the stirrup in the event that the rider becomes unseated, creating a potential danger. Old winter boots, girls rain boots, second hand rubber riding boots, duck boots, and some smoother hiking boots are suitable. The old fashioned black and red "wellies" are not ideal due to a wide, sloppy fit.
As a final note: No matter what type of camp you choose, make sure that you and your child understand what the camp is all about, and what your camp expects before your child arrives. Make sure that you know the proper arrival/departure times. Talk to your camp director for specifics about your camp. Happy camping!
©Raspberry Ridge Farms
01/14/1999 Revised 01/02
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