Communication

Camper Mail

Please address all mail as follows:
    Camper Name
    Cabin Number * (which we’ll send to you)
    Camp Akeela
    One Thoreau Way
    Thetford Center, VT 05075

Campers eagerly await incoming mail at camp. A few days without a card or letter can be upsetting, especially for younger campers. We strongly advise parents to send one letter several days before the start of the camp session. Please avoid writing letters that dwell on events at home. Write positively about your child’s camp experiences.

Mail Home – We do not force our campers to write letters home. We will encourage them to do so. However, for many of our campers, the process of writing can be stressful. As a parent, you can call or email us anytime and we are happy to provide you with an update. When your camper does send you a letter, please remember that mail often takes around 5 days to get to you as our local post office is a bit slower than others. Because of this delay, a sad letter home may be quite old and the issues addressed in that letter may no longer be relevant! Please call to confirm this with us and trust that we will give you an honest and UP TO DATE report!

Email – Through our summer website, parents can send email to their child at camp. Emails will be printed once each day and delivered with the campers’ regular mail. As you might imagine, we are not equipped at camp to receive an enormous amount of email. Therefore, we request that incoming email be limited to parents only and that parents write no more than once per day. Log in details and instructions will be sent to you before camp starts.

Regular Website Updates – To keep you as current as possible with all that’s going on at camp, we will regularly update our website. Updates will include news from camp, announcements of special events & trips, and pictures. News, photos and videos from camp can be accessed through the Family Log In link.

NOTE: We do our best to post news and photos daily. However, camp is in rural Vermont and we do not have access to the best internet service. This makes uploading large numbers of photos virtually impossible. Please bear with us!

Package Policy

In an effort to reduce unnecessary competition among campers and constant pressure on parents to send packages, Camp Akeela has a NO PACKAGE POLICY.

Campers may receive flat envelopes only, up to 11×14 inches in size. Larger packages will not be delivered; this includes Priority, FedEx and Express Mail boxes. They will instead be stored in our office for you to give to your child at the end of camp.

Food of any kind (including drink mixes, candy, gum, etc.) may not be sent and will be discarded. Please share this information with relatives and friends.

If you need to send appropriate camp items (clothing, replacement items, etc.) please call our camp office to let us know a package is coming.

Birthday Packages – Birthdays are very special at camp. birthday packages can be sent to camp, addressed to “[Your Child’s Name], Attention: Office Manager.” Label the package “Birthday Present” and call in advance to let us know its coming. Our office staff will decide with your child’s head counselor and cabin counselors the best time to give the presents — when they wake up, at their cabin birthday party, etc.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation with these policies. They have been made solely in the interest of our campers, the cabin group and the camp community as a whole. Please inform all family members of our package policy.

Camper Phone Calls

Parents may elect to schedule one (1) phone call with their child during the camp session. (If your child has a birthday at camp, you will be able to schedule an additional phone call on that day.) In families where parents are living separately, each parent will have an opportunity to schedule a phone call.

We know from experience that phone calls can often be difficult for both campers and parents — happy campers can “fall apart” on hearing a parent’s voice and then go off to resume having fun with their friends, leaving parents worried and concerned. Please don’t feel obligated to schedule a call. As in other areas of camp, we believe in doing what’s best for each camper. In some cases, that may include NOT speaking to their parents while at camp.

Timing of Calls – Campers and parents must wait until the fifth day of the camp session before talking with each other. This will allow campers to better acclimate to camp life.

Scheduling Calls – Phone calls can be scheduled through our summer website. You will be able to see the dates and times that your child is available and then schedule a mutually convenient time to talk. Your child will call you from our office at the scheduled time. Once the camp session begins, phone call scheduling will be accessible through the Family Log In link.

Last minute scheduling changes due to weather or special events occasionally result in missed camper phone appointments. We appreciate your understanding and will do our very best to reschedule another call as soon as possible.

Time Limit – All calls are limited to ten minutes. We trust we will have your understanding when an office staff member reminds your child that another camper is waiting to talk with his or her parents.

A Note About Camper Phone Calls
As parents, we know that you may feel anxious and concerned about your child’s well-being and happiness at camp. It’s natural to want to help your child and to want to be certain that he/she is happy. With that in mind, some parents unintentionally start to “interview for the negative”. That is, they ask questions in a way that suggests an assumption that things are not going well. We find that it is far more helpful to keep your conversation positive. It’s important to act as a cheerleader for your child’s successes. He/she will follow your lead and proudly share all of his/her accomplishments. If there is something bothering him/ her, he/she will tell you as long as you let him/her know that you’re curious about how things are going. You might want to ask open-ended questions. Instead of asking, “Is anyone being mean to you?” try, “How are others treating you?” Instead of, “Do you like any of the activities?” try, “What’s your favorite activity?”

Please remember that children often worry about their parents when they are away, just like you worry about your children! It’s helpful to reassure them that your family is happy and safe. Instead of saying, “We’re so lonely without you here,” try, “We think of you all the time and imagine you having so much fun at camp!”

We commit to keeping you informed about any and all concerns we have about your child’s successes and struggles at camp. We understand that the children who attend Akeela often have trouble expressing themselves; we will let you know and ask for your help if we are at all worried about that with your child. We believe in being partners with you. Please know that it is always our intention to be open and honest with you about our experience with your child. If you have a call scheduled with your camper, please don’t hesitate to check in with us ahead of time to see how he/she is doing and what you might expect to hear on the call.

Lastly, please note that your child’s cabin counselors are not available to speak with you directly. Instead, you’ll be communicating with his/her head counselor, or with a camp director, as described below.

Parent Communications

First Day Calls (New Campers)
If this is your child’s first summer at Akeela, you will receive a call from a senior staff member within the first 24 hours of camp. We’ll let you know how your child is adjusting to camp and help make sure that you are at ease. Be aware that we have many calls to make on four phone lines. We may not reach you until late in the evening.
Calling Camp
We believe strongly in partnership and open lines of communication with parents. We regularly call parents to share information and ask for advice. You can expect to hear from your camper’s head counselor at least a couple of times during the camp session. You can also call the camp office any time to leave us a message about your child. Please be aware that we are with campers and staff during the day and will typically return phone calls in the evenings. Also, while Debbie and Eric are always available to you, most camper-related calls will be returned by one of our excellent head counselors. (As a reminder, head counselors are not your child’s in-bunk cabin counselors; they are more experienced senior staff members who oversee several bunks at Akeela.)
Special Situations
If an emergency or special situation necessitates immediate contact during the office hours of 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, please call and speak with our office staff. During the evening hours of 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, please call the main camp number and leave a message. The camp answering machine is checked regularly during that time period. After 11:00 pm, the camp directors can be reached for emergency purposes using an emergency extension available to you when you call the main camp number: 866-680-4744. Please do not use that extension unless there is a true emergency.
Communication After Camp
Part of the reason for our commitment to partnering with parents is that it contributes to the ways in which campers can continue to grow and learn, even after the summer ends. Using our Communications Preferences Form, you can elect to receive a written report after camp. If you do so, we will provide a written summary of your in-season conversations with your child’s head counselor. In addition, please know that we are always happy to speak to or provide written communication with any professionals or organizations/schools who might want to learn more about how your child did at Akeela.

Our goal for all of our campers is that they develop lasting friendships at camp. To facilitate those relationships, we will distribute a contact list for each camp session, so that your child can keep in touch with friends. The list contains mailing addresses and parent emails. (If you prefer to have your child use a personal email address, please feel free to pass that information along to his or her friends after camp. Likewise, if you do not want to have your family’s information shared with the other children in our community, please let us know before the end of your child’s camp session.)

Communication With Counselors
Campers often ask us for their counselors’ contact information. We ask that our staff members not share their personal email accounts with campers. We also ask that they do not “friend” a camper on Facebook or other social media. We do this in an effort to protect their privacy and because we believe that, as a parent, it is your right to monitor communication between your child and any adults in his/her life. If your child would like to write a letter to his/her counselor, we’re confident that our staff would be happy to give you their mailing addresses. You can also send emails to us and we will forward them to a counselor for you. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about this policy.


Family Handbook Table of Contents

  1. About Akeela & About CampGroup
  2. Camper Travel and Visiting Day
  3. Packing List & Baggage Shipping Information
  4. Purchasing Camp Clothing, Prohibited Items & Laundry
  5. Communication: Mail, Phone Calls & Parent Communication
  6. Health Care: Medications, Health Communication, Medical Charges, Other Health Concerns
  7. Food, Health and Wellness
  8. Electronics Policy
  9. Homesickness Prevention
  10. Success at Akeela
  11. Camper Code of Conduct
  12. Additional Activities and Trips
  13. “Open House” Orientation Day
  14. Driving Directions

Important Note for 2021

One of the reasons we have made this Handbook available on our website, rather than sending it by snail mail, is that we anticipate making changes well into the spring, as we learn more about how COVID-19 will affect our plans for this summer. To be clear, camp is definitely opening and we’re ready to keep our campers healthy and safe in any scenario. However, current conditions, as well as guidance from health professionals and the State of Vermont, might affect some of our programs, schedules, policies, etc.