The following are frequently asked questions. We encourage you to contact us with any additional questions you may have about Camp Sequoia.
Wouldn't my child be better off attending a traditional overnight camp where they can learn appropriate social skills from their peers?
Children who struggle with social cognition (how to think in a social context and apply socially related skills) are not able to improve their social skills by simply being around peers with better social skills. Improving social cognition in the camp setting involves a teaching process and requires a multi-faceted approach which requires an understanding of how to:
Engage campers so they will have fun and are receptive to the social learning experience.
Teach campers to develop their social cognition skills through utilizing the best available research-based educational methods.
Focus on the foundational skills that are lacking in children with social learning needs.
Create a space where campers know they are emotionally and physically safe and in a non-punitive, accepting environment amongst staff who understand them.
I'm concerned that 3 weeks is too long for my child, he's never been away from home for more than a night or two.
While there is an adjustment period to camp (as with any new situation) we find that campers adjust and time away becomes an abstract concept to our campers after about a week. Younger campers (ages 8-11) typically become acclimated to camp life within a few days. Campers ages 12-17 can take up to a week to become acclimated. Each summer we find that an increasing amount of campers stay at camp for our full season (6 weeks) as this provides the most tangible improvements in social cognition skill development as well as self-confidence and maturity. Most importantly, campers who are with us for our full season have the best opportunity to develop meaningful friendships. During our 2019 camp season around 65% of our campers stayed for our full season while the other 35% will stayed for one of our three week sessions.
My son's (therapist, teacher, etc.) thinks that this might be too long of a period away, can they just try camp for a week to see if they like it?
With all due respect to these professionals who want the best for your child, it is difficult to understand the value of an overnight camp experience if one did not experience overnight camp as a camper or staff member. We do not offer shorter sessions at Camp Sequoia for the following reasons:
To see tangible improvements in frustration tolerance and social cognition skill development one week of camp is not a sufficient amount of time considering it can take some campers up to a week to become acclimated to camp life.
It takes longer than one week for children with social learning needs to develop friendships.
Campers need to have a full immersion in our program for a minimum of three weeks in order to get into a routine and understand the language and concepts we utilize at camp. Furthermore our Social Groups, Guy’s Group, Frustration tolerance and Independent Skills curricula cannot be completed in a week.
What is the right age to start overnight camp for my child?
While campers can successfully start overnight camp at any age most camp professionals will tell you that the younger a camper is when they begin overnight camp the easier transition they will have to camp life and the less likely they will be homesick. We definitely find this to be the case with our camper population as well. We have many campers who are 8,9,10 years old that stay for our full 6 week program. While it’s normal to miss your child terribly while they are at camp you might be surprised to learn that they are too busy having fun and enjoying their new friendships to be worried about what’s happening at home.
How will my child get to camp?
Our camp buses depart from several locations at the beginning of our camp season (Philadelphia suburbs, Northern New Jersey and Washington D.C. suburbs.) and return campers to these locations at the end of 2nd session. Some campers arrive by plane to Philadelphia International Airport where one of our staff members will be waiting to greet them at their arrival gate. New campers who are not arriving by plane are required to take one of our camp buses which gives campers a chance to become acquainted with each other and ease the transition to camp.
Can I talk to my child while he is at camp?
After your child has had several days (6 days or more) to adjust to camp, a phone call can be scheduled through our camp office. We provide campers with a familiar staff member during their phone call, as some campers may experience a brief period of homesickness after their phone call. Campers are required to write home at least two times a week, and campers may receive letters, emails and packages that do not contain food. Campers do not email or use cell phones while at Camp Sequoia.
What kind of contact can I expect to have with the staff?
We want to provide you with as much information as possible to let you know that your child is happy and safe. We are available to speak with you if you have any questions or concerns, and you will see updated pictures every day on our website. Additionally, our office is staffed 7 days a week during the summer. We send home a nightly e-newsletter to update families and friends on the Camp Sequoia experience.
Can I visit camp while my child is there?
At the end of the camp session, you are invited to come to camp to pick up your child, at which time you can meet our staff and your child may give you a tour of camp. We have one visiting day during the camp season for our full-season camp families.
What happens if my child is homesick?
What is often perceived as homesickness is actually anxiety about being in a new situation. Our lifetime of camp experience has provided our staff with the most effective ways of working through homesickness. The vast majority of campers work through their homesickness within a few days. We will provide you with strategies in our parent handbook to support you and your camper during their transition to camp life.
What are the living arrangements for campers?
Campers live in a modern dormitory in a spacious room with one or two roommates. There are built-in closets and dressers in each room as well as desks. Each dormitory floor has a either semi-private bathrooms or a common bathroom all have a shared living area. All campers on a floor are approximately the same age. Staff working with each age group live on the same floor as our young men.
How do you decide which campers will live in a room together?
After gathering information from you and your child, we will match your child based on qualities which we believe will help them to form a connection with their roommate(s). Your child’s Counselors are there to support your child and help him work through any potential issues that may arise between your child and their roommate(s).
Who does laundry?
A professional camp laundry service will pick up, wash, and return camper laundry each week. We ensure that clothes are washed in allergen friendly, dye free detergent. Campers only need to have enough clothes for about 7 to 10 days. Please see the parent handbook for additional details.
What's the food like?
Ask any of our campers about the food and you will get the same response-they love it! The Perkiomen School dining staff provides our campers with a wide array of healthy food choices. The dining staff is accustomed to providing for a wide array of dietary needs, and is very accommodating to our campers. We do not provide campers with soda at camp. Please note that Camp Sequoia cannot accommodate campers on severely restricted diets as we do not permit campers to bring their own food to camp without documented medical need and prior arrangement with the director.
Who will provide my child with their daily medications and medical care?
Our licensed RNs are on campus at all times to provide our campers with their daily medications and medical attention. Our nurses dispense all medications which come in pre-package doses that are packaged by a pharmacy. You will learn how to register for our medication system after your child has been accepted to camp. A pediatrician, dentist, orthodontist, etc. are all nearby if a camper needs to be seen.
How do I know my child will be safe at camp?
The Perkiomen School and Camp Sequoia utilize a key card system to maintain a closed community in dorms and indoor program areas. We are supported by a security staff from the Perkiomen school that adds another level of safety. We run, per ACA (American Camping Association) guidelines, emergency drills to ensure that our response is appropriate for a variety of eventualities. Camp Sequoia further (through licensed instructor on staff) certifies staff members in Crisis Prevention (CPI). With a 2:5 staffing ratio (exclusive of support staff) there are staff readily available to support campers with whatever needs they may have whenever they may have them.
What is the level of functioning of your campers?
The majority of our campers who carry a formal diagnosis are diagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Our camper population also includes boys who present with social anxiety, learning differences which effect social skills development or may not have a formal diagnosis yet present with social learning needs. All campers present with average to above average cognitive ability and full use of language. The majority of our campers attend public schools where they are in mainstream education for all or a portion of the school day. Some campers attend private schools, Jewish day schools or parochial schools.
Camp Sequoia is filling an unmet need in the overnight camp market for children and teenagers who do not need the level of support offered at special needs overnight camps yet need more than a traditional overnight camp can offer.
Can campers bring electronics (video games, cell phones, computers) to camp?
Research continues to support that many children who have difficulty with same-age peer relationships use electronics as a replacement for social interaction. Video games, cell phones and computers are not permitted at camp. Campers may bring an iPod/MP3 player that contains music/audio books only. Campers do not have access to the internet at camp. Campers do not use computers at Camp Sequoia unless it is being used in a specific activity (Movie Making or Audio Production). Your family is welcome to email your camper, we print out your emails each day and give them to the campers at mail time. You will receive letters from your children the old fashioned way-postal mail! Counselors assist campers who have difficulty with handwriting to compose letters.
Do you do any type of background checks on your staff?
As mandated by federal and state laws as well as the American Camp Association guidelines all of our staff must submit clearances that meet these requirements. Additionally, all staff go through a two-stage interview process including multiple reference checks.
How do we apply?
Boys ages 7-17 are eligible to apply to Camp Sequoia. Click here for more information regarding our eligibility requirements, or start an application!