Preparing Your Child and Yourself for Camp

Going away to camp for the first (or second or third) time can be both thrilling and terrifying for both children and parents. Camp gives children the opportunity to learn and practice vital life skills of independence, resiliency, relationship building, courage, and self-efficiency.

Camp will provide many opportunities for fun and magic, and also may be challenging at times. We will support your children as they face challenges, and we will help them develop the tools and confidence that they need to successfully care for and support themselves on their path to adulthood.

Talk to your child about what it will be like to be at camp and about any fears that they may have. Let them know that, although you will not be there to help them when they are away, their counselor will provide wonderful support and care for them.

If you are feeling nervous yourself, please contact us. We know how difficult it can be to pass on the care of your children to someone else. Please trust that Eagle’s Nest is prepared to nurture and care for your child while they are with us at camp.



There’s a good chance that your child will miss home at some point, just as you will probably miss your child. Homesickness stems from a break with familiar, loving connections—to home, family, pets, routine, etc. Our best way to handle homesickness is to start building strong new connections with campers right away, so that they feel secure and know that they are not alone. We do this in many ways through the many communities that exist at camp. We are also very in-tune with spotting and caring for homesickness in a kind and nurturing way. If the homesickness is acute and continues for more than a day or two, we will contact you to let you know what is happening and enlist your help with a plan. Generally, we will not allow the camper to talk with you as that isn’t helpful to the camper or the parent/guardian. If the camper does talk with you, please support them being at camp and do not tell them that you’ll come and get them.

Please trust that we are caring for and nurturing your child through their homesickness. Please also know that your child will face similar discomforts in life, and that this experience will help them learn to be successful and resilient as they meet other challenging situations.

You can also help by preparing your child to understand what the time period of one to three weeks really means. Make a sample session calendar laid out on big paper and “live” that time period before camp. Let your child know that you are proud of them for going away. Remind them that it’s okay to feel homesick at times, and that their counselor will help them when they miss home. Do not tell your child that they may come home if they don’t like camp. If you do, it will be very difficult for us to counsel and support them when they are homesick.


Eagle’s Nest is a Community of Belonging

Cognizant of societal inequities, ENF is committed to welcoming and serving people of diverse cultures, ethnicities, faiths, identities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our community ethos fosters belonging, self-awareness, respect, honesty, empathy, anti-racism, belonging, and equity. We strive to honor the perspectives and traditions of all members of our community.

Eagle’s Nest’s philosophy is built on respect and being responsive to all.  We are an independent, non-profit foundation. We believe that it’s important to create a space that is available and safe for all. A diverse community includes support, acceptance, respect, and compassion. We also believe that to be equitable we need to honor all camper’s values, perspectives, and identities to create an inclusive community.

Eagle’s Nest also believes in supporting participants with financial need. We award over $100,000 in financial aid each year and also have a Gear Lending Library that provides essential camp gear like raincoats to any camper who needs it. For information on the Gear Lending Library please contact Ed Haubenreiser, our Assistant Camp Director, at ed@enf.org.

Additionally, we provide education and training on anti-racism, gender support, neurodiversity and supporting the needs of children to full-time and seasonal staff. Also, Eagle’s Nest has a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee that oversees a number of sub-committees working on specific projects related to DEI work in the organization. These projects include supporting individuals with disabilities, hosting monthly DEI discussion groups, and writing blog posts and Eagle bi-annual newsletter articles to share updates with our readers on DEI Committee projects and proposals. Learn more about DEI work being done at Eagle’s Nest.

Learn more about ENF’s Gear Lending Library


Gender Inclusion

We teach and foster empathy and respect throughout our community. Our goal is to ensure all people feel safe and supported.  Campers and staff, who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, or gender expansive are housed in the cabin of their self-identified gender. We work with all campers and staff to help find the most comfortable housing assignment. We will address participants by the name and pronoun indicated by the camper or participant. For more on gender inclusion at camp, see our Camp FAQ page on our website.

Personal information, including transgender status, about individual campers or participants is private and will not be disclosed by camp staff. If, while at camp, a participant discloses that they identify as a gender different from their sex assigned at birth, the Camp Director will work with the individual participant to create a plan for how they will be supported at camp. Following guidance from the ACA and other child protection organizations, Eagle’s Nest will not disclose information that a camper has shared with us about their gender status or sexuality with parents unless the child has given us permission to do so. Eagle’s Nest administrative staff will encourage the participant to seek support from their parent(s) or guardian(s) and assist the participant in this process.




We ask that our parents not tip the staff. The work we do is out of respect for children and the gratification of such work. Donations to the camp scholarship fund in honor of our staff members are welcome and appreciated.


Age and Cabin Grouping

Campers are accepted from Kindergarten graduates through 11th grade graduates. Participants are grouped according to grade level to ensure homogeneous maturity.

Those who have completed 10th and 11th grade may serve as Junior Counselors (JCs).

Grades K-6 comprise the ranks of Junior Program Assistants (JPAs) and Program Assistants (PAs). Grades 7-9 comprise the Counselors in Training (CITs).

These camper ranks are designed to establish categories for participation in community life.


Watch part of our Parent/Guardian Video series on cabins:


Cabin Assignments

We ask that you support us on our cabin assignments. We read each application when placing campers in their cabins. Grades in cabins may change each year. Some cabins have mixed grades.

When making cabin assignments we read requests that families have made, but we cannot guarantee that all buddies will be together.

We will support campers in building friendships in their assigned cabins. We encourage new friendships and expanded horizons. Thanks for under- standing and supporting us.


Picking Classes

Campers will have the opportunity to self-select activities.

They will also be participating in some activities with their cabin, and will have a “free choice” activity time in the evenings. The full-time camp staff will work with campers to help schedule their classes. We guide campers to create a schedule that is well rounded by encouraging each camper to take an outdoor class, an athletic class, and an art class. Also, they are encouraged to try new classes and take a higher level of a class than they have already taken.

Some classes are very popular and may not be open for all campers. We do our best to help to help all campers get into at least two of their top choice classes.



We serve natural, healthy foods. Our diet at camp consists of simple, made-from- scratch cooking. We use lots of healthy fresh ingredients like whole grains, local produce, and white meats. Protein-balanced vegetarian options are served at every meal for those who desire it. We use sugar moderately and serve desserts occasionally. We also have a garden which produces some of the produce that we use in our meals. Please do not send your child to camp with food. We can honor most special dietary needs upon arrangement. Although we are not a nut-free campus, we will not serve nuts in the Dining Hall or at snack during any session that includes a participant who is at risk for an anaphylaxis to nuts. Thank you for helping us get healthy, natural foods on our tables and promoting healthy eating habits.


Eating Habits and Disordered Eating

Unfortunately, we do see children with disordered eating. Eagle’s Nest is not equipped to counsel those with serious eating disorders. Campers eat in small family grouped tables of six to eight campers and two counselors. Counselors monitor and encourage healthy eating habits.



At Eagle’s Nest we test campers to assess their swimming abilities. Knowing each camper’s swimming abilities helps us plan for the many water-oriented activities in which they will participate at camp. The swimming test includes swimming on the front and back, jumping into deep water and treading water for 2 minutes.

Campers who are unable to swim are encouraged to take swim classes at camp either every day or every other day. Our swim program helps us meet our mission by teaching a valuable life skill that campers need in order to participate in many of our activities. Swimming can also be a fun outdoor activity that helps kids step out of their comfort zones and face some of their fears about lakes and other natural bodies of water.

Please help prepare your child for swimming at camp. If your child is a novice swimmer, enroll them in a class at a local organization that teaches swimming. Let your child know that they will be taking a swim test in the camp lake. Let us know if your child has fears about taking the swim test, about taking swimming at camp, or if there is another reason for them not to take the swim test. We also train our staff on how to help nurture and prepare campers for the swim test. If there is a reason why you would like for your child to be exempt from taking swimming at Eagle’s Nest, or if you have concerns, please contact the Camp Director, Paige Lester-Niles, paige@enf.org, to discuss.


Children Going Off Campus

We do not allow your child to leave camp with other families for any reason without specific written permission from you. This permission must include the name of the person, over the age of 18, with whom the child may leave camp.




Expectations for Behavior

Eagle’s Nest promotes a safe and nurturing community in which children and teenagers may mature at an appropriate pace. We are very clear with our campers about our rules and boundaries, and about our expectations for their behavior. We also teach them to understand the connection between their behavior (good or undesirable) and the resulting consequences (natural and imposed). We teach our counselors to talk with participants to understand their needs so that they do not practice undesirable behaviors in order to have their needs met. For example, if a child has a high need for freedom, counselor will work to meet those needs by giving the camper multiple choices and also unstructured time and space. We help campers understand their needs and ask for help when they need it. When they struggle, we are not punitive, instead we operate through a sense of caring for our campers. There are; however, some behaviors that create an unsafe environment at camp and will lead to dismissal. Please refer to Important Policies and Practices 2024 document in CampDoc.


Sexual Activity

We recognize that sexuality is a vital aspect of growth in young people. We feel that schools and organizations such as ours, which are interested in the total growth of young people, must address this fact. We have found that the camp setting becomes, for some campers, an environment where the camper becomes comfortable enough to ask questions concerning sex and/or their sexuality. Our staff has been trained during orientation to field questions or discussions among campers, in an age-appropriate, healthy, and sensitive manner. The Eagle’s Nest plan for our community is to provide, first and foremost, a well-communicated structure that our campers and Junior Counselors can understand and live up to. Campers and participants may not participate in sexual activities while at Eagle’s Nest.


Cabin Rules

At the beginning the session counselors will guide each cabin group as they create a set of rules that everyone can agree to. They will also review other important cabin rules to keep campers physically and emotionally safe. Campers are never one- on-one with each other or with a counselor. Counselors help facilitate cabin bounding and healthy relationships and also monitor for undesirable relationships, bullying and exclusion.


Bedtime Rules/After Lights-Out Hours

In the evening, cabins are supervised by the cabin counselors. Camp leaders “ramble” camp to make sure things are quiet and settled after lights out. We also close the gates at both entrances in the evenings. At Eagle’s Nest, cabins are safe spaces and cabin raids are not tolerated at any time.



Each cabin will go on an overnight camping trip during the session (during Session 4 not all cabins will have time to campout) and many outdoor classes will also have campouts. On overnight camping expeditions, campers sleep in single- gendered tarps and tents. Counselors monitor tent groups.


Camper Cleanliness

As part of maintaining good health while at camp, campers shower and change clothes daily. If your child is not used to taking a shower please teach them this skill before camp. Counselors are also instructed to be watchful for skin infections, poison ivy outbreaks, and general health of each of their campers.


Loss and Theft

Theft is extremely rare at camp but can occur. Since campers can lose track of precious items that they bring to camp please do not bring/send costly and valuable objects like jewelry, expensive or new clothing, expensive watches, etc. to camp. We understand your desire to purchase valuable outdoor equipment such as sleeping bags, boots, etc. for camp; however, most expensive gear is not necessary. We do everything we can to help the camper use good care habits. The camper will be given help with this through guidance from their counselor. At the end of the session, campers are given supervised cabin time for packing and other final cabin activities. Still, many campers struggle to keep up with their personal things and often go home missing a few items with which they arrived. Prior to camp, please have a discussion with your child about how to care for (and recognize) their possessions. It will help if they are involved with packing for camp. We also ask that you label all of your child’s clothing and gear (including toiletries) . A Sharpie works well for doing this. We cannot guarantee total protection, and we cannot replace stolen or lost items. A camper will have to assume responsibility for their own possessions. All Lost and Found left at the end of the session will go to a local shelter.


Daily Schedule

7:30     Rising Bell

7:45     Table Setters report to Dining Hall

8:00     Flag Raising! Come to the Quad by 8:00

8:15     Breakfast

9:00     Cabin Cleanup

9:30-10:35      Class Period 1

10:40-11:45    Class Period 2

11:45   Cabin time to get ready for lunch 12:15

12:15    Lunch

1:15     Rest Period

2:15-3:20       Class Period 3

3:25-4:30       Class Period 4

4:30     Cabin time to get ready for dinner

5:00-6:00       Dinner

6:15-7:15      Twilight-Free Choice Time

7:30     Goodnight Circle

7:40      Snack

8:00      Evening Activity

8:30       JPAs lights out 9:15

9:00       PAs lights out 9:45

9:30       CITs lights out 10:15


Reasons for Expulsion

1. Drugs and Alcohol: If a camper brings or uses illegal substances, drug paraphernalia, or alcohol at camp, on camp trips, or at any Eagle’s Nest Foundation program, or offers illegal substances or alcohol to others, they will be sent home on the first offense and will not be able to participate in another Eagle’s Nest Foundation-sponsored program for at least one year. Counselors are carefully screened and will receive the same consequences if they violate this policy.

2. Smoking: The use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes or similar vaping devices, is not permitted at Eagle’s Nest Camp. A violation of this rule is grounds for expulsion from the program.

3. Sexual Activity: Physically intimate activity, of any sort, at camp or on Hante Adventures by participants, including JCs, is not acceptable and is grounds for dismissal. Campers learn to have inclusive, not exclusive, relationships and leave camp with good friends and a love for themselves and who they are.

4. Disregard of ENF Regulations: Any camper or participant who disregards ENF regulations is liable for expulsion. This includes harassment or bullying.

If Eagle’s Nest is unable to effectively counsel a child, and if their actions break Eagle’s Nest policy, the child will be sent home without a refund and will not be able to participate in any Eagle’s Nest Foundation-sponsored program for at least one year.