Mission, Philosophy, and Safety

Our Outpost Mission

Outpost Summer Camps provides group-centered, outdoor-based camp experiences for children and young adults designed to enrich and develop each participant’s social, emotional, and physical skills.

Our Philosophy

Outpost 2021 108While most programs for children place the focus on the activities, our model for success is built around the process. Our staff are trained to nurture campers and help them grow and develop during the summer season, guiding them through the process of learning and mastering new skills, creating and maintaining positive peer friendships, and enjoying themselves outdoors.

In fact, this is the secret behind our program and our success – how we provide camp is more important than what we do.

Our daily program schedule leaves opportunities for staff to create customized adventures throughout the day, using the group’s unique name and traditions that are made up by the kids and counselors themselves. In this type of program, the campers are the stars! Rather than coming home and responding to the standard “How was your day?” question with “Fine,” our campers excitedly describe their adventures in detail!

What children want most is to belong; to be accepted by a group of peers and the adults that lead their group. At Outpost Summer Camps, this is a central theme of all of our programming. We call this “group-centered camping,” and the focus is on creating an environment in which each camper feels like they belong to the group. This, in turn, fosters confidence, creativity, social skills, and a positive sense of self and of community.

Creating this special environment is the task of our directors and staff. It is a deliberate process that takes a great deal of both education and experience. Our directors are professionals with years of experience creating positive and safe experiences for children. We invite to you both read and WATCH what our camp parents have to say about Outpost Summer Camps.

As an accredited member camp in the American Camp Association (ACA) since 2002, and with directors actively involved in ACA, Outpost provides a true, powerful “camp” experience. Outpost’s owners/directors, Kelly and Stuart Jones, welcome families to our Outpost programs here. They are parents to five children, who enter 2024 with a collective 41 years of Outpost summers between them.

Our Commitment to Safety

At Outpost Summer Camps, we take our responsibility for your child very seriously. We design our program with safety as the foremost priority in three areas: physical safety, emotional safety, and group safety. 

Physical Safety

  • Outpost’s #1 organizational priority is to keep your camper safe from harm that may occur from camp activities or from other campers. We follow 300+ standards of safety as an American Camp Association accredited camp, we keep our group sizes small (10-12 campers per group), and we follow a strict rule of “3 or more” at all times ensuring that staff are never alone with campers and that campers are never alone without a staff member present.
  • Outpost operates as an Organized Camp regulated and permitted by the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health. This means we pass an annual inspection ensuring safe operation in a variety of health and safety-related categories. To read about our health practices: click here.
  • We review your child’s medical history, allergies, health concerns, behavioral notes, and any other applicable information immediately prior to each session. Your child’s Senior Counselor and Small Camp Director will each know this information and be able to meet your child’s needs throughout the session.
  • Our directors are trained in CPR for the Professional Rescuer, First Aid, and Lifeguarding.
  • We complete background investigations prior to hiring our staff including reference and formal background checking. We “hand-pick” each of our staff very carefully through multiple interviews and screenings.
  • Each of our group counselors is trained and certified in Pediatric and Adult First Aid, CPR, and AED.
  • Our staff training, held prior to camp, includes comprehensive sessions on emergency procedures, crisis management, positive discipline, and child development. Training is designed to prepare our staff as thoroughly as possible to provide the safest environment for each child in our care. In fact, Outpost’s training methods are often presented by our directors at state and national camp conferences.
  • Our counselor to camper ratio is at least 1:6 at all times with 2-3 counselors per group of 12 campers.
  • Our directors carry cell phones and two-way radios and are able to communicate with our office, and if necessary, parents, at all times.
  • Our staff training mantra is “sunscreen, shoes tied, water, count your kids!” We keep kids safe from the hazards of the sun, make sure they are safely dressed, hydrated, and closely supervised at all times all day.
  • We operate in partnership with the City and County of San Diego who have full-time, on-site administrative personnel to support our camp directors.

Emotional Safety

  • Outpost is an affirming, inclusive community. Our goal is to help every child (of every age, gender, and race) feel safe emotionally. We welcome any information from parents – in the enrollment process or anytime – that would help us better care for your child this summer.
  • At Outpost, we want each of our campers to be a valued part of a group. We make sure each child is “known” by at least 1-2 staff – that they are greeted by name each day and that our staff get to know that camper over the course of a two-week session.
  • Outpost is a group-centered camp. Groups create a unique group name, find a fort together in the preserve, and spend their days together all day. This creates a powerful opportunity for belonging, which is an outcome we value highly from the quality camp experience.
  • When any of our campers “have a hard time,” our counselors and directors are carefully trained to acknowledge first, challenge second. We do not give up on children, label them as “bad,” or focus on punishment. Our approach works, and campers typically “opt-in” to more successful behaviors during the course of camp.
  • We partner with parents and place a high priority on open, consistent communication. We invite two-way feedback at all times.
  • We’ve found that “bullying” is an area of intense focus by other youth-oriented organizations. Bullying has been defined by psychologists and educators as “repeated negative behavior involving a power imbalance.” It is rather difficult for actual bullying to occur at Outpost Summer Camps due to our structure, training, and environment. Behavior involving meanness or rudeness or resembling bullying is quickly and effectively addressed by our entire staff.
  • Although we are not designed as a “special needs” camp, we have the support of child psychologists during the summer. These additional resources allow us to design effective solutions for campers at all times.

Group Safety and Child Behavior

  • Because our camp is group-centered, we respond to challenges related to individual camper behavior (e.g., aggression, negative language, unwanted behaviors) by addressing both the camper’s needs and the needs of the other children in the group.
  • When a child demonstrates negative behavior, we work with the child to adjust their behavior. If the behavior is serious or repeated, a director will step in to provide additional support.
  • Parents will not receive phone calls about minor, typical, and easily resolved behaviors.
  • Parents will be contacted when a behavior is serious in nature, not easily resolved, repeated, or affecting the whole camp group.
  • Parents are welcome to call the office to discuss behaviors or situations mentioned by your child. We will provide clarification and context and make an appropriate plan if needed.
  • We ask parents to please approach your child’s stories with appropriate skepticism (based on their respective age) as children often leave out other perspectives and alternative viewpoints – which is developmentally typical. Children are also often unaware of what is already being done to resolve a behavior or situation as we attempt to address camper issues privately when possible.
  • Participation in Outpost is a privilege, and we believe that all children have a right to a physically and emotionally safe environment. If a child repeatedly demonstrates inappropriate behavior at Outpost, we will work to resolve the issue. If it becomes a larger issue, Outpost reserves the right to remove the child from the program.

It is necessary, for physical and emotional safety, to maintain our aforementioned staff to camper ratios. The policies below help us do that.

  • If one child’s behavior consistently requires one on one attention thus changing the ratios and quality of the program, and the behavior is not improving with reasonable effort from staff and directors, the child will be asked to leave camp.
  • If a child’s behavior consistently negatively impacts their group and is not improving with reasonable effort from staff and directors, the child will be asked to leave camp.
  • If a child demonstrates a serious negative behavior that is not likely to improve and is detrimental to the group and camp culture, the child will be asked to leave camp immediately.
  • If your camper is asked to leave camp due to negative behavior that has not improved after camp support, a refund will not be offered.

If you have any questions about safety at Outpost, please contact any of our camp directors before, during, or after your camp experience. Prior to the summer, if you’d like to discuss whether Outpost would be a good fit for your child behavior-wise, please call our camp office.