Parents’ Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some questions we get most often:

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Staff and Supervision

All camp staff are fully background checked every year, and are secondary program supervisors to school faculty as primary supervisors. Constant communication between school personnel and Camp Director and Assistant Camp Director ensures a fluid, productive trip. One of the two is on active duty each evening. Parents can feel secure sending their children to our program: children are never left alone; campers are always in the presence of a staff member and/or school teacher; students needing to leave the larger group (for bathroom, water fountain, etc.) will always be accompanied by a fellow student.

There are eight full time and several seasonal employees who will come into contact with students and school personnel during the Outdoor School program.  School teachers/chaperones are the primary supervisors – and have all cabin, behavioral and medical responsibility for students on site.  Camp staff will lead the majority of the lessons and challenge activities but require assistance in monitoring student behavior.

The school staff will be working with the following camp staff members on a more frequent basis:

The Camp Director (Karyn Bonner) and Assistant Camp Director (Joshua Davis) both live on site lives on site and are responsible for the entire Outdoor School, College Settlement and Day Camp on-site operations.  The Camp directors work with schools to schedule the trip, plan activities, and set up pre-trip PowerPoint presentations for students and parents. The Camp Directors are on call and on-site 24 hours per day while programs are in session.  

Teacher Naturalists/Instructors

Our Teacher Naturalists’ (TNs) passion for outdoor education is what makes our programs so memorable and fun. Our TNs lead small instructional groups through environmental activities and group challenges. TNs are chosen for their qualifications and experience in science, education, or counseling as well as their ability to instruct students in an outdoor setting. Our TNs modify their teaching approach to include all students regardless of different learning styles. The teacher naturalists will lead most of the program activities with students and work closely with the teachers. School chaperones are the primary supervisors for students. The Outdoor Schools staff members are secondary supervisors.

Emergencies

Our staff are trained in our camp emergency protocols which are adapted from local school policies. We have full Emergency Action Plans that we share with visiting teachers which include weather, lockdown, medical, and missing person procedures. Our staff are First Aid/CRP trained, and we have AEDs on site.

Abington Jefferson Memorial is our local hospital, and is located less than 6 miles away.

If parents need to contact us, our office has an after-hours answering service that will contact a Camp Director on site. Our office phone number is 215-542 7974.

Cabins (for Overnight Programs)

We have six large cabins — three in our Boys Village by the play-courts, and three in our Girls Village located ¼ mile away up a small hill near our wildflower meadows. Each bunk can sleep between 18 to 28 people. The cabins each have two open dorm rooms, each sleeping eight to twelve students, one bathroom, a shower room, and a staff sleeping area. One Girls’ Village and one Boys’ Village cabin is wheelchair accessible. All six cabins are in operation March through November and have lights, electricity, hot and cold running water, heating systems, hard-wired smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms, and locking doors equipped with push “panic” bars.

Tween Creeks For very large groups that exceed our occupancy requirements for the Girls and Boys village cabins we can also use our Tween Creeks cabins.  These six cabins can sleep up to ten people each and are situated in a separate village on the campus.  The Tween Creeks cabins are all wheelchair accessible.

Safety and Security

We endeavor to make all activities at the Outdoor School safe, fun, and educational. However, as with all outdoor activities, there are inherent risks that are all part of spending time in the natural environment. All participants in our program will be oriented to our safety protocols to minimize the risk associated with these elements such as trails, natural bodies of water, rough ground underfoot, rapidly changing weather conditions, etc. Emergency procedures will be explained to students and teachers/chaperones when the program begins. Teachers will also be given an additional, more in-depth teacher/chaperone meeting on the day of arrival.

Evening Security

School staff will be given cabin keys to enable them to lock the cabins each evening.  All cabins doors have panic bars (fire escape doors) ensuring that the building can be exited through all doors even when locked to prevent access from the outside. The cabins are located in the heart of our campus, between several staff accommodations, and are fitted with external motion sensor spotlights. Each cabin supervisor is issued a two-way radio for communication with other cabins and full-time Outdoor School personnel. Radio communication is monitored 24 hours per day by a full-time staff member.

Restricted Access

The Outdoor School camp property has one entrance into the main driveway, and a barrier is placed across this driveway when students are on site. Participating schools are asked to coordinate all arrivals and departures of chaperones and their own school visitors while students are on site. Suspicious activity/unrecognized vehicles will be investigated by Outdoor School staff members. The Horsham Police Department makes regular inspections of the facility and assists in monitoring any suspicious activity. Students are supervised by school or Outdoor School staff at all times

CLASS: The Outdoor School is a participant in CLASS (Countywide Law-Enforcement Alerting Safety System). All Montgomery County schools are protected by this emergency response system. This is a one-button alert system for use in extreme emergency situations.

Medications

Outdoor School program staff members are trained in CPR and First Aid.  However we strongly advise all schools to bring a nurse with when possible. Medications will be administered by school staff, not Outdoor School staff members.

The Outdoor School provides lockable storage for medications, ice supply, a large First Aid station, Automatic External Defibrillator with pediatric pads and 2-way radios for school personnel responsible for student health care. Schools will ensure all participants under the age of 18 have a parent/legal guardian consent form and an accurate, current medical history sheet on site during their stay.

Special Considerations — Different Abilities

We endeavor to make our programs accessible to as many students and teachers as possible, and therefore can make modifications to schedules and activities enabling us to fit most participants’ needs. During the teacher/chaperone meetings, the Outdoor School staff will discuss any participant’s pertinent medical or behavioral contingencies that may need to be addressed. This information will be shared on a need-to-know basis only.  

We have an all-terrain wheelchair for student use, as well as a golf cart if needed.

Food and Menu

Day trips – typically students are asked to bring a bagged lunch.  Camp will provide water.

For overnight groups, any food-related accommodations will be handled by our Food Service Manager, Sharon Lemke. Sharon will work directly with teachers and/or parents regarding specialized dietary concerns that must be accommodated.  

See our standard menus: *2 day 1 night program – 2 day program menu   *3 day 2 night program – 3 day program menu

Weather

College Settlement rarely cancels a school booking, however we will do our best to reschedule a group if the weather conditions are dangerous, or less-than-ideal for outdoor activities! If the weather looks very difficult, the Camp Director will be in contact with school faculty to discuss the best option for the planned trip date.

We suggest that parents always check that their child comes to camp with appropriate clothing. There is no bad weather, just the wrong clothing. Chilly or damp weather is fine as long as the students are dressed appropriately!