Summer Camp FAQs

How are your programs operating during the COVID-19 pandemic?

For information about our COVID-19 policies and updates, click here.

What is your refund policy?

If you choose to cancel a program for any reason you are entitled to a full refund, minus the 25% deposit and 3% Cancellation fee, if you cancel 15 or more days prior to the course starting date. If you cancel 14 days or less to the program start date, we are unable to offer any refunds or credits, no exceptions. Tuition is transferable for the same participant within the same fiscal year only and is non-transferable between participants. If 14 days or less prior to the course starting date, regular cancellation and refund charges will apply.  To cancel a camp, please download the Amilia App in the Apple Store or Google Play, or contact our registrar at [email protected].

What if my child is almost old enough?

Your child must turn the minimum age for the camp within 30 days of the start of the program. No exceptions.

My camper has additional needs – are your camps appropriate for them?

We believe that the outdoors is for everyone, and we strive to accommodate camper needs as best we are able. We also acknowledge that sometimes we are not able to do so. 

Many of our staff are passionate about supporting mental health, neurodivergence, and accessibility for our campers, however most are not specifically trained or licensed to provide additional care beyond the scope of CPR and Wilderness First Aid. Our instructors are in charge of the safety, well-being, and instruction of 9-10 campers at a time, and situations may arise in which spending a disproportionate amount of time tending to one camper’s needs may have a significant impact on the instructor’s ability to keep the rest of their clan safe and engaged. In these situations, our staff will work with you and your camper to determine what adjustments we can make and whether our camp is an appropriate fit for your camper.

One thing you can do to increase your child’s chances of success at camp is to ensure that their medical information is complete when you register. This gives each camp’s director a chance to speak with you ahead of time about what you can expect, and how they may best support your camper. Please be as detailed as possible so we can prepare as best that we can.

In particular, children attending overnight camps may find themselves without some of the resources and routines that are vital to their well-being. We believe in cultivating independence, healthy risk-assessment skills, and social and emotional skills, and we believe that camp is a great place to practice these things. However, we admit that these challenges may not be appropriate for every camper. Please consult with your child and use your best judgment about signing up for a day or overnight camp.

What does a typical day at a Day Camp look like?

As everyone is arriving, we have active group games available on the field, as well as quieter options of hands-on inquiry into curious nature objects such as feathers, track casts, and more with field guides.

Shortly after 9 a.m., the entire camp gathers for morning circle which includes an animated and engaging thematic story told each day by a different staff member, and potentially songs or animal forms where campers learn to use their bodies creatively and understand how animals live.

By 10 a.m. campers join their “clans” (groups) which are sorted by age and experience for a morning and early afternoon of adventure, games, and nature skills. Groups usually eat a snack at about 10:30 a.m. and lunch around noon.

At 2:30 p.m., the clans are back at their initial location. They have their final circles in which they are able to tell their favorite stories of the day, maybe get in a final game, and are ready to leave by 3:00 p.m.

How are your camp staff members selected, and what are their qualifications?

Our staff are a mix of salaried, seasoned, year-round field instructors with years of experience with youth and adults, as well as seasonal staff who have completed intensive training in our curriculum and our philosophy of education. Many instructors have completed our rigorous one-year Immersion program, and/or a second year of our Nature Instructor Training apprenticeship as a youth instructor.

When choosing the staff members to take part in a camp experience for children, we look for people who have a deep respect and love of children, experience in the outdoors, and a deep knowledge of the natural world and a passion to pass on their wonder and enthusiasm to others.

All staff are required to be Wilderness First Aid and CPR certified. Personal reference checks and background checks are done for all employees and volunteers.

Are campers divided into age groups?

Yes. Each of our Day Camp sessions has a maximum enrollment of 60 kids, ages 6-12. The campers are then divided by age into up to six groups of up to 10 campers. So for example, if you were to enroll a 6 year-old child, they would probably be in a group with other 6 and 7 year-olds (the exact breakdown of age groups depends on how many children of what age enroll for that camp session). Each group of 10 has one lead instructor and a volunteer assistant instructor. All the campers and staff meet together for a story or other community activity once in a while, but most of the experience is within a smaller same-age group of kids, with instructors who really get to know each camper individually.

Can my child request to be grouped with their friends?

Yes. At the time of registration, you can request your child be grouped with a friend, provided they are enrolling in the same camp session. However, while we will do our best to accommodate these requests, we can not guarantee that this will occur. You have the ability to log into your account to update this information at any time, making any changes at least two weeks prior to your child’s camp start date. Note: campers are divided into age groups (see previous answer), so only friends of very similar ages are likely to be grouped together.

What happens in case of an animal sighting?

Most of the animals we encounter are not threatening in any way. Part of each week is an introduction for all students in Cougar and Bear Awareness, and proper response to encounters. Most animal sightings are very rare and generally not hazardous. Seeing animals is fun!

What food will students eat while at Overnight Camps or Expeditions?

The meals we offer are designed to be healthy, nutritious, and delicious. For example, we provide mostly organic food at our Overnight Camps and Expeditions. Since tastes and preferences vary, we have a variety of nutritious food available at each meal including a vegetarian option. For special requirements, please contact us prior to your camp session.

What emergency procedures does Wilderness Awareness School have in case of an accident or illness at camp?

The staff at Wilderness Awareness School’s camps are all trained in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. Expedition directors are certified at the higher level of Wilderness First Responder. We follow an established medical policy and emergency procedure guide. Instructors carry first aid kits at all times and a full first aid kit is on site for more serious injuries. If further medical assistance is required we will call the parent as soon as possible. If necessary, we can take the student to the nearest clinic or hospital from the camp. Our on site camp directors always have the ability to call 911 or the school office for additional support or assistance.

How will my child get his or her medications at camp?

Our registration includes a medical history with list of medications that is shared with all instructors. If your child has an epi pen for allergic reactions or inhaler for asthma, we ask that the child carry it in his or her pack and let the instructor know where it is in case of emergency.

At day camps, we do not generally supervise medications. At overnight camps, the camp director will hold medications for your child in a secure location and help remind them when it is time to take the next medication. We ask parents to bring medications in the original container in a sturdy zip lock bag with the child’s name on it and clear instructions for the medications so we can assist them. Discussion with the camp director at check in is required.

Is scholarship funding available?

Yes! As a not-for-profit organization, Wilderness Awareness School is thankful to our donors who allow us to grant scholarships to families in need of assistance. For more information, click here. Our youth scholarship application can be found here.

Can my child attend camp if they have a serious anaphylactic allergy (Nut, Gluten, bees etc)?

Yes, and anaphylactic allergies are a very serious risk factor. Our staff take this risk very seriously and are trained in industry best practices. It is important that your child understand their allergy and be able to take an appropriate level of responsibility for protecting themselves. This includes:

1.) Maintaining awareness of the risk and not assuming everything is safe. We are not a nut, gluten or bee free place. We will take extra precautions on weeks when we have campers who have a serious allergy to minimize the risks of exposure and we need campers to pay attention.

2.) Carry their own Epipen and benadryl (diphenhydramine) at all times and show the staff where they keep it. We recommend parents give an extra Epipen to the Camp Director at overnight camps. Our staff carry benadryl but we can not carry Epipens since they are prescription medication.

3.) Communicate with staff and be willing to ask the cook if they are uncertain about food ingredients at overnight camps.

What happens if the weather conditions are unpleasant or hazardous?

As an outdoor school we enjoy spending camp summer days outside, rain and shine. At many of our parks, we have limited or no indoor space and with the increased threat of summer wildfire smoke in Western Washington, it is necessary to have a plan in place to ensure the safety of our campers and staff.

If there is potential for hazardous air quality, we will monitor conditions and will consult the Washington Department of Ecology website for updates on local air quality. If threat levels at the nearest monitoring sites to our camps are deemed unsafe for staff and campers by the Program Director we will cancel camp.

Please see the condition levels from the WAQA Publication which we will use to guide our decision.

If conditions are “moderate” or “unhealthy for sensitive groups” we will limit running games and strenuous activities at our camps.

If conditions are “unhealthy for everyone” we may cancel camp for the day. We will reach out to all families via email by 8:00am to cancel camp for the day.

If your child has additional health concerns or sensitivities and must be withheld from camp at a lower level of risk, please let us know so we are aware they are taking the day off. We are not able to offer a refund in this case per our usual registration policies.

If two or more camp days in a week are cancelled by WAS due to smoke, fire, or air-quality concerns, you may request a 50% refund per day for the total number of cancelled days. To request a refund, please email the registrar. [email protected]  These conditions pose a huge threat to outdoor education organizations, and we are grateful for your support and understanding.

If my child can’t attend, can I give their registration to a friend or sibling?

No. Registrations are specific for individual campers. They are NOT transferrable to a friend or sibling. Our programs are in high demand and we want to do our best to offer equal access to openings to all campers. We offer any openings to the official wait list based on our Registration Policy. Deposits/tuition are still non-refundable as per our cancellation/refund policy, even if the space is filled from our wait list.

Do kids ever repeat the same camp within the same summer or over multiple years?

Yes! Our camps are never the same experience twice. We work with what nature provides, which is always changing, and each week brings together a unique group of campers and instructors who bring their own passions to the experience. Your child will go on different adventures, learn new things, as well as hone skills introduced in the first camp experience.

Do you provide bus or shuttle service to your camps?

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer transportation to or from any of our day camps or Duvall-area overnight camps. Teen and Adult expeditions are typically the only exception, as they will include transportation from an agreed-upon meeting place. There is an airport shuttle pickup and drop off option for these programs. There is no public transportation to our camp locations.

Do you offer before or after care?

No. We are unable to offer before or after care for your child as we have our staff preparing before and after camp. It is important that your child is dropped off during camp sign-in hours and picked up when camp ends.

Does my child need to be potty-trained to attend camp?

Yes. All campers must be familiar with and able to use a porta-potty or park restroom facility without help from an adult. 

Do you have a Lost and Found?

Yes. Items lost and found at camp will remain with Camp Directors until the end of the week, at which point they will be returned to the WAS main office in Duvall. We will hold lost camp items for two week after your child’s week of camp. If you believe your child has lost something at camp after your camp week has concluded, please contact [email protected] with the dates and location of the camp your child attended, and a description of the item in question. Unfortunately, our office is small, and we have very limited space for holding lost and found items, so all unclaimed items still with us two weeks after the end of your child’s camp week will be donated.

What kind of restrooms/shelter facilities are available at camp locations?

Each camp location is slightly different. Parks tend to have a mix of permanent restroom facilities (often gendered) and portable restrooms. Our shelters are usually limited to picnic shelters, with no true indoor spaces.

  • Cougar Mountain is a very large park, and our home base is Harvey Manning trailhead on the top of the mountain. There are two open-air picnic shelters. This trailhead has one small permanent restroom facility with nonpotable water and several portable toilets. Campers often spend much of the day adventuring far from the trailhead, and will probably be more comfortable if they also know how to “nature pee.” 
  • At Seward Park, we utilize Shelter 3 near the swingset as our home base. There are several permanent restroom locations throughout the park, including one near our shelter. Sometimes there are additional portable restrooms. Due to the high amount of public traffic at Seward, the option to “nature pee” is limited.
  • At St. Edward State Park, our home base is the large field directly across the street from the Lodge. While there are several buildings at this location, they are not available to us, except in an emergency. St. Edward has several permanent restroom locations throughout the park, including one near our shelter. “Nature peeing” is permitted at this park, but is not necessary.
  • At Tolt-MacDonald Park, our home base is the large red barn structure near the parking lot. There are portable toilets near this structure, and pit toilets across the river near the yurt camping area and shelter. Campers might spend the day adventuring far from these facilities, and may be more comfortable if they also know how to “nature pee.” While there are yurts available for park guests, they are not accessible to us.
  • At our rugged Carnation Farms location, our pickup and dropoff point is located about halfway between the Chinook Bend Natural Area parking lot, and the Carnation Farms farmstand, with no permanent shelter or potable water. During camp weeks at this location, there will be portable toilets available at this location. Campers often spend much of the day away from this location, and are advised to know how to “nature pee.”
  • At Linne Doran and Coho Ridge, our main campus in Duvall, we are also mostly outside. We are sometimes able to use Cedar Lodge and our yurt for indoor activities and emergencies, but we are often gathered at one of our many tarp shelter fire pits. The Cedar Lodge bathroom is usually reserved for elders and people “on their moon.” Otherwise we have several portable toilets, and campers are free to “nature pee.”

Wilderness Awareness School