Outpost is a minimum two-week commitment of time and summer funds. We take our responsibility for your child seriously, and we’ve listed frequently asked questions and their answers below. If you don’t find the answer to something you’re interested in below, it may be located in another section of the website, and you’re always welcome to contact us directly!
OSC is located at a community park next to a wilderness preserve, and we are outdoors all day. We spend much of our day hiking, eating under trees, and swimming at the pool. We have many shaded areas at camp, and groups are typically in the shade for stationary activities (e.g., lunch, crafts, sitting games). We provide sunscreen and plenty of water, and our campers and staff are happy that we don’t have any buildings because it’s hard to make a fort in the wilderness inside a room! We also plan for especially hot days prior to the summer with activities designed to be low-exertion, high fun. We vary the pace and energy level of camp based on the temperature and the ages and needs of our campers.
Our Senior Outpost program for 6th-9th graders is based primarily off-site at locations throughout the County. We do not take field trips with our younger campers. Our philosophy is that trips to Sea World, Legoland, etc. are destinations for parents and children together as families, not for third-party providers like camps. We offer adventures that you can only have at Outpost Summer Camps! Our Day Camp and Senior Outpost campers do swim off-site, typically every day.
All campers are placed in groups of 12 for the 2-week session with 2-3 consistent counselors. Please see below for program-specific ways in which campers are grouped.
Day Camp (entering K to 5th grade): Campers are grouped by gender* and by age/grade, e.g., a group of 12 girls entering 3rd grade OR a group of 12 boys entering 5th grade. *We invite our parents of non-binary and transgender campers to select whichever program would fit them best – Day Camp Girls or Day Camp Boys. Please contact us to discuss if you’d like.
Senior Outpost (entering 6th to 9th grade): Campers are grouped by age/grade, e.g., a group of 12 campers entering 6th grade.
Then maybe it’s time to look for another camp! 🙂 We believe in giving campers opportunities to experience the outdoors fully and that often means wearing a bit of camp home, like shoes that have walked in water or shirts that have been painted with mud! Just about all our campers who may be initially hesitant end up joining in the fun. It is a good idea to prepare your car for this – trash bags, blankets, or other barriers to separate your child’s mess from your vehicle is a summer must!
At OSC, one of our “inside jokes” is that many of our games end in a “confusing tie!” Beginning with the games we play and the staff we hire and train, we place much more emphasis on the fun of playing together rather than the win/loss outcome. The reason many children don’t enjoy playing sports and games is because of the lack of fun when the focus of everyone involved is on who will win and lose and who is the best. We also play many cooperative games where the fun level is HIGH and there is no winner or loser. And as a “group-centered” camp, we spend our days together, so that no one is ever on their own.
All campers in Day Camp and Senior Outpost are assessed for their swimming ability on their first day of camp. Based on that assessment, they are assigned to an area of the pool with an appropriate level of supervision and guidance. Our groups range from “non-independent swimmer” to “independent in shallow end” to “deep end swimmer,” and special areas of the pool and dedicated staff are set up for each group. For Day Camp groups, Lower Camp (usually grades K-1) is always in the shallow end or on the steps – separated from the deep end. Middle Camp (usually grades 2-3) and Upper Camp campers (usually grades 4-5) may be in the shallow or deep end with their group depending on their swimming level, and all campers must pass a second swim test provided by the pool’s lifeguards if they would like to swim in the deep end. All Senior Outpost campers (grades 6-9) must past the deep end test facilitated by lifeguards on the first day of the session in order to participate in Senior Outpost’s off-site water activities.
Outpost Summer Camps is built on five principles that differentiate us from other summer programs.
1) Low counselor to camper ratio: 2-3 counselors per group of 12 campers
2) Unique, high-quality outdoor adventure program: 100% outdoors at all times in the park, wilderness preserve, and off-site water activities
3) Group-centered philosophy and structure: Campers are with their same small group all day each day of the session
4) Child-centered philosophy implemented by highly trained staff
5) Large, experienced leadership team: Our leadership team is as large as our Senior Counselor team and filled with credentialed teachers, child developmental professionals, and a child psychologist. Our small group structure extends to our leadership team which helps every leader at camp feel supported and provide a fun and safe experience for each camper.
Health & Safety
Our camp works closely with the SD Department of Environmental Health to implement a safe operating plan each summer. We follow guidance from the CA Department of Public Health, and our directors attend two professional conferences each year to stay apprised of best practices, new laws, and up-to-date research related to physical and emotional health. To read more about our health practices, click here.
Outpost provides high-quality sunscreen for all campers from Rocky Mountain Sunscreen. Our counselors are trained to make sure each of their campers has an active layer of sunscreen on throughout the day. We also spend much of our day in the shade and make sure that all of our campers and staff are properly hydrated at all times. If you prefer for your child to use a special sunscreen that you send with them from home, please let us know.
Outpost follows strict guidelines with camper medication. At Open House (or on the first day if needed), we collect all medication and store it in a locked area. During the camp day, medicine is administered by our on-site director following written instructions and consent provided from the parent via this form. We are happy to speak with parents about medications and medical needs.
A camp director is on-site at all times. Each of our Outpost Directors, Coordinators, and all of our Senior Counselors are certified and current in First Aid and CPR, and emergency medical services are minutes away and are fully aware of our program following our ACA-Accredited policies.
For our Day Camp program, children who are the same age, grade, and in the same program (e.g., Day Camp Girls or Day Camp Boys) may be grouped together if space is available in the group.
For our Senior Outpost program, the groups are all-gender, so children who are the same age/grade can be grouped together if space is available in the group.
We can typically (but not always) accommodate requests if children are within one grade (e.g., a 1st and 2nd grader). We cannot accommodate requests for campers who are two grades apart. We do not accommodate requests that are not in the best interests of all the children in the group. We only accept 1-2 group requests per child and aim to minimize the percentage of kids in each group who already know each other. In other words, we’ll break up larger groups of friends among several camp groups if needed.
Our program is designed as a two-week experience, five days per week Monday through Friday. Simply stated, it is easier for campers to truly make friends, learn games and songs, and feel connected to a camp group if they are there as a group every day. For this reason, and to keep our groups together with the same campers for each full session, we do not offer shorter or prorated sessions.
Our employees participate in two lengthy and thorough interviews, two formal background checks, and a multiple reference check process prior to working for Outpost Summer Camps. We call their previous employment and personal references to assess fit and ensure tangible evidence of responsibility taking. In many cases, our staff are directly referred to us from our camp parents!
Campers have four options for changing into and out of their swimsuit.
- Many campers come to camp in their clothes and bring their swimsuit. In this case, they would change into their swimsuit during their group’s assigned time prior to pool. Then, after pool, they would change back into their clothes.
- Many campers come to camp in their swimsuit and bring their clothes. In this case, the camper would only change one time – after pool when they change into their clothes.
- Some campers choose to come to camp in their clothes and change into their swimsuit at their group’s assigned time prior to pool. Then, they leave their swimsuit on for the remainder of the day. In this case, the camper would also only change one time.
- Some campers choose to avoid changing altogether by arriving at camp in their swimsuit and remaining in their swimsuit after pool.
If your child needs extra support regarding changing procedures, please let us know. We want your child to feel comfortable, and we have several systems in place to assist with this.
Of course! Each summer we evaluate our programs by requesting that our camp parents complete end-of-summer feedback forms. On this form, we ask parents if they’d be willing to serve as a parent reference. From this we have a terrific number of volunteers from all neighborhoods with all ages of kids. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to connect you with a veteran Outpost parent. Also, please watch these video testimonials from two of our camp parents – one 9-year veteran and one in her first summer with camp.
Naturally, children (and adults!) are often hesitant to try something new. They wonder what it will be like – is my counselor nice? Do they have good snacks? Where is the bathroom? A new program is often a wonderful opportunity for children to find answers to questions and build confidence. When a child wonders about whether they will make friends, be good at an activity, learn to do something new, and be a part of a group, the answers they find at OSC are positive and wonderful!
One thing that helps children who are nervous and/or slower to warm up is our small group structure. At the beginning of the first day, campers are welcomed into their 12-person camp group by their counselors. Within that small, consistent group, they are able to become comfortable more quickly, start to get to know other campers, and settle in for a fun session.
For all camps: Outpost provides water refills, high quality sunscreen, and an afternoon snack.
For Day Camp (grades K-5, full day 9:00 to 3:15): Please send your camper with a backpack with a peanut-free lunch, water bottle, swimsuit (goggles and rash guards are optional), and closed-toe shoes. Towels are also optional to bring (Outpost does not provide towels). Hats are recommended.
For Senior Outpost (grades 6-9, full day 9:00 to 3:15): Please send your camper with a backpack with a peanut-free lunch, water bottle, swimsuit and towel on designated days (you will receive a group-specific schedule two days prior to the session), and wearing closed-toe shoes. Senior Outpost campers may also bring different things such as boogie boards depending on the day’s activity.
Cell phones and other electronics of all kinds are strictly prohibited in all programs. Contact us for more information.