PARENT INFOInformation for the parents of campers
What’s it like to be a parent with a kid at camp?
Once you have registered your camper for one or more camp sessions, print out all of the supplemental forms.
These forms must be filled out completely and sent to our office no later than 21 days prior to the camp session.
All campers must have a completed physical form on file that has been completed within the past 12 months. The first 3 pages of the medical form must be updated annually by the parents.
The last page requires a physician’s signature. For campers attending Family Camp only, the Release, Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement is the only required form.
Send one-way email communication to your camper with Bunk Notes. This third party resource allows you to send emails to your camper.
Messages will be printed off and delivered daily during the summer camp session.
Frequently Asked QuestionsF.A.Q for parents of campers
Is my child too young to go to a sleep away camp?
It depends on your child’s personality and confidence level. Ask the child if they think they’re ready. Ask the child’s teacher. Note whether your child is comfortable having a sleepover away from you at a friend’s house or a grandparent’s home. You know your camper best. Another great test to see if your child is ready to go to camp is to bring them to an Open House at Chanco.
Come introduce your child to camp and take a tour of the grounds. Missed the open house dates? You can stay up to date with events at Chanco and see tons of photos of summer camp showing all our activities by visiting us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Chancoonthejames.
Please refer to chanco.org for more information or call 1-888-7CHANCO (888-724-2626) to make an individual appointment to visit the camp.
Can friends stay together in campsites or cabins?
Can I call my child while at camp?
Practically all overnight camps choose not to encourage direct contact between campers and their parents during the camp session. Summer camp is a time to learn to be self sufficient, independent, and self-reliant. Camp is a time to focus on having fun and making friends away from home.
Child psychologists recommend that parents need to step back, allow their child to develop self-reliance away from home, and trust the camp they have chosen to provide positive care and support. If there is any problem, the parents are called promptly. This would include any disciplinary issues or injuries in which off-site medical attention is required.
How can I help to prevent homesickness?
Involve your camper in the camp decisions such as what he/she is packing (i.e. shoes, favorite blanket, favorite stuffed animal etc.). Make it very clear to your camper when he/she is leaving and when he/she is coming home. Allow your child to spend a weekend away at a friend’s house or a grandparent’s house before camp. Make it as easy as possible for your camper to write you (i.e. self addressed, stamped postcards). Mail your camper a letter before he/she leaves for camp. He/she will have a letter waiting from you on the first day!
Campers also LOVE packages. Mail is a big deal at camp! Finally, bring your camper to a Camp Open House at Chanco in the spring (see first question for the details on this). The Open House is a great time to introduce your camper to some of the staff, the Executive Director, and to see where he/she will be sleeping, eating and having fun!
Is the food good?
Chanco has employed a private dining service to provide the meals for our campers. They follow the ACA guidelines on healthy menus. The meals vary and are prepared in our commercial kitchen, which is inspected by the Health Department regularly. Most meals are served in our air-conditioned dinning hall, however some days there are special theme meals like a Luau on the beach! Vegetarian options are available at every meal.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also available at lunch and dinner if a camper doesn’t care for that particular meal, as is our wonderful salad bar. After dinner most nights, the Canteen is open so kids can get a little something sweet to snack on in the evening if they wish.
What about my child’s medical needs and medication while at camp?
Chanco employs a full-time registered nurse to oversee all health concerns and allergies. Counseling staff is also trained in CPR and First Aid. The camp has a Risk Management Plan and a Board Certified MD approves the entire program. The Surry Rescue Squad EMTs and the Volunteer Fire Station both respond quickly when needed.
Again, Chanco’s medical program is approved by the American Camp Association and is required to adhere to national medical standards. After 40+ years of providing our summer camping program, Chanco knows that kids do have accidents, but we have developed the best system to keep our campers happy and healthy!
What certifications do the summer staff that will be interacting with my child have?
The majority of our counseling staff are college students who were campers themselves. Every counselor is first aid and CPR certified. Chanco is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) and follows the national standards set forth for residential camps, including a supervision ratio of one staff to six campers.
The counselors stay in their own chalet in the campsite just feet away from the campers’ chalets and all go through a thorough background check.
What contact can I have with my child while he/she is at camp?
There are many ways to stay in touch with your camper. We give postal mail out every day at lunch, including care packages. The old fashioned “snail mail” is a BIG deal at camp and campers look forward to your letters! At Chanco, we have a tradition that campers sing for their mail. This is really fun and no child sings alone! There are usually at least ten children up front singing for mail and having fun daily!
Additionally, Chanco uses an Internet-based company named BunkNotes which enables parents to send one way emails to their camper. Pictures of campers are posted regularly in the photo album section of our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/Chancoonthejames. Through these photos, parents can see their kids having fun and also see firsthand all the various activities their child is enjoying while at camp.
What do I do on the first day and last day of camp?
This will be included your registration information. Drop off is Sunday between 1 and 3 pm. The staff will meet you at the top of the driveway and direct you where to park and where registration is taking place. During registration you will need to turn in any remaining paperwork. Final payment for sessions should be made two weeks in advance of the session start date. You will be asked to identify who will be picking up your child at the end of the session to give us permission to release your child to their supervision (if different from yourself).
Medical information will be reviewed by our infirmary staff privately with you so he/she can fully understand any important information pertaining to your child. Also in the infirmary, a quick lice check is done privately on every camper. After moving through registration, you will meet your child’s counselor and unload your luggage. There will be counseling staff to help you take your child’s belongings out of the car and put it with the correct campsite at a clearly marked luggage drop off station. The last thing to do is visit the camp store, “the Canteen,” for a great T-shirt or other fun Chanco items such as water bottles, Frisbees, bags, sweatshirts etc.
Pick up is always on a Friday and occurs at 9:00am. Your campers will be waiting for you with their counselors, who will return any remaining balance on your child’s Canteen account. Visit the Canteen to get a last minute snack for the trip home. Campers will only be released to the person named by the family member dropping them off. If pick up arrangements change during the course of the session, please call the office to notify us of the change. If there is an emergency during the camp session and you need to contact your child, call our office and Chanco staff will be ready to assist you.
We look forward to seeing you at Chanco on the James, where kids come for summer fun!
What does my child need to pack to attend camp?
A detailed “what to bring” sheet is sent to parents after registration is received. Please keep in mind that camp can be messy (food, arts and crafts, river water etc.) and do not pack your child’s best outfits or bathing suits. Some families/campers find that packing in a trunk or a Rubbermaid container is easier and keeps things neater than packing in a suitcase or duffle bag. We most frequently hear campers say they wish they had extra bathing suits and extra towels. These get wet and don’t always dry as quickly as you’d like!
Also, it is highly recommended that you label ALL of your child’s belongings with their name and phone number. Campers may lose their belongings or, in a cabin of six campers, a camper’s belongings may mistakenly end up in another’s trunk. If you have the clothing labeled with the camper’s name and phone number, it is much easier to get clothing back where it belongs! You may use a sharpie marker to do this or there are easy iron-on labels available. One website that sells this type of label is www.irononmdlabels.com.
What is the “Camper Capital Fee” for and why was this initiated?
The capital improvement fee is an annual fee that will be deposited to a fund for camp renovations, maintenance, and improvements. For example, the dining hall needs to be enlarged and needs a new roof. The capital fee has helped to fund improvements such as re-painting and re-surfacing the bathhouses, repairing zip lines, adding high ropes course elements, and repairing our well.
Periodically, our boats on the riverfront need repair and/or replacement. These are just a few examples of the types of improvements this fund helps to subsidize.
What kind of religious experiences will my child have?
Chanco has its own brand of spirituality within a Christian community. There are fun songs of prayer before each meal and evening prayer during chalet meetings before bedtime. There are daily devotions by our camp chaplains. Our camp chaplains are clergy or Christian educators from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. On Sunday we have an outdoor Eucharist service on the bluff overlooking the James River celebrated by a clergy member. The camp chaplains facilitate a workshop involving small group discussion, crafts, and other hands-on activities about the meaning of God and spirituality. The campers rotate through this workshop as a campsite, just as they do the other camp activities.
Youth are encouraged to explore God’s presence in their own lives, ask questions, and share experiences in these small group discussions. Many kids are inspired by and see God’s presence in the natural beauty that surrounds them everywhere they look. A sunset on the James River, a night of stories by a glowing camp fire, or a glimpse of a deer in the woods can have a peaceful and profound impact on anyone who spends time here at Chanco. The Christian experience is age appropriate and understands that campers are from many different religious backgrounds and varied denominations. Every effort is made to make all campers feel welcome, safe, and valuable as members of their campsite and camp community.
Will Chanco accept campers who have food or other allergies?
Yes, every summer Chanco has several campers with various allergies including, but not limited to allergies to gluten, peanuts and peanut products, wheat germ, and lactose. These allergies are recorded on the medical form turned in with the camper registration and the campsite counselors, the kitchen staff, and the Camp Nurse are informed of the allergies. The kitchen staff will prepare food for these campers accordingly.