Summer Camp Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Registration

What do I do if I need to change my child to a different week of camp?

Please contact us as soon as you know of a conflict, either by email (registrar@campbarakel.org) or by phone. We will make the change if there are openings. If there are no openings in the new week that you have requested, we will refund your deposit (if you request the change at least 2 weeks prior to the registered week).

May I come and get my camper for a brief time during her week at camp to go to an event or an appointment?

You may come and pick up your child for an event or an appointment. Please call the office ahead of time and let us know your plans. We will direct you to the Medicine Teepee to sign your child out and back in.

May my child attend more than one week of summer camp?

No, campers may only come for one week each summer.

What is your refund policy?

We will refund your deposit if we are notified 14 days prior to the start of the week registered.

How does the waiting list work?

Additions to the waiting list are taken on a first-come basis upon receipt, via mail, of a completed registration form and a check for the associated deposit. Please note: we are unable to accept waiting list requests via email, phone or fax. We’ll contact you right away if space becomes available. We will deposit your check only if space becomes available and you confirm that your child will attend. If you do not get in, we will shred your check and you won’t owe us anything.

Do you have camper discounts or scholarships available?

We work hard to keep our costs down, and the registration fee covers only 60% of the cost of a week of camp. The rest is met through donations. There are no additional discounts.

We also desire to be a partner with local churches in giving kids the experience of camp. There are many churches that offer scholarships through their youth programs.  However, we do not offer scholarships.

How do you determine what “Tribe” my child is in?

When the campers arrive on Tuesday afternoon, we divide them into cabin groups (called tribes). To do this we have them separate into three categories – those who came with one other “buddy”, those who came with two other “buddies” and those who came by themselves. We work hard to put them into equal-sized tribes and avoid putting any “single” in a tribe without other “singles”. Each tribe is assigned a counselor and a cabin.

How do I make sure my child is with her friend or relative?

We allow up to three friends to be together in a tribe. No notice is needed ahead of time. They just need to line up together when they arrive. If there are more than three friends together, we will ask them to divide themselves into smaller groups.

Health and Safety

What will my child’s lodging look like?

On the West Side campers will be housed in one of our four Lodges. These modern buildings have 4 carpeted units that each house 7-8 campers and a counselor. In each unit is a bathroom with two showers.

East side campers are housed in cabins, which also are carpeted and have indoor plumbing. Each unit houses 8-9 campers and a counselor and has a bathroom with a shower.

All Junior campers (grades 3-6) will be housed on the West Side.

All Jr. High (grades 7-9) and High School (grades 10-12) campers will be housed on the East Side.

Is there medical care at camp?

Health personnel are available 24 hours a day to help meet medical needs of staff and campers.  There is a Medicine Teepee located on both West Side and East Side camps. Medical personnel are available from these locations from 7a-11p during the summer camp sessions.  They are also on call at night by phone if needed for emergencies.

What do I do if my child has special needs?

We want to meet the needs of every camper. Please use the health form as a communication tool to provide us with information on your child’s special needs. Health forms are due no less than two weeks prior to your camper’s scheduled week begins, but it’s a big help if you fill them out sooner than this.

What about special diets for food allergies?

Please let us know on the health form if your child has a special diet because of a food allergy. Our kitchen staff is experienced in special diets and looks forward to helping your child eat well and have a safe and healthy experience at camp. We may contact you to work out the specific meals and restrictions. When your child arrives at camp, the cooks will find him prior to the first meal and make sure that he has a way to discreetly receive any specially-made meals. Our facility is filled with allergens including peanuts and tree nuts. We are NOT an allergen-free facility.

What do I do if my camper has medications?

Our health personnel will ensure that your child receives the medication needed. Many children coming to camp take medications. All medications, (prescription, vitamins, and over-the-counter) being brought to camp must be in original containers with the child’s name on the bottle, box, or package.  Clear directions for giving each medication are also necessary and should be on the bottle/package or written on a paper that accompanies the medication.   It is very helpful if the medications and instructions are all placed in a Ziploc bag with the child’s name on the bag.  The bag of medications may be sent with the child in her luggage.  Upon arrival and assignment to a counselor, the child’s medications will be taken to the Medicine Teepee for storage in a locked area.  The health personnel will dispense the medications at the appropriate time indicated on or with the medication.  At the end of the camping session, any unused medication will be returned to the camper’s luggage to take home.

What medications, if any, are stocked in the Medicine Teepee?

Camp keeps a stock supply of the analgesics, Ibuprofen 200mg and Tylenol 500mg. We also have some cough syrup, nasal decongestant, and the antihistamine Benadryl.  Any other medications needed by your child should be sent with them in the original containers. If you have questions about medications that you feel your child may need, please feel free to call and talk with the medical personnel at camp.

When does Camp Barakel contact parents with a health issue?

Medical personnel will call parents or guardians with any questions we might have about your child’s health or their medications. We will call if your child spends an overnight in the health center due to injury or illness.  We will also call if your child needs to go to a doctor’s office, urgent care center, or hospital emergency department.  We always try to obtain your insight and consent before obtaining medical care for your child at a facility away from camp.

Make sure to leave us with accurate and multiple ways of contacting you so that we can keep you up-to-date on any medical situations.

How do you manage sunscreen application and hydration?

Medical personnel encourage campers and staff to use sunscreen while at camp and to maintain good hydration.  We do not see every person on a daily basis so these two areas are left to the discretion of the individuals involved.  Our camp counselors are encouraged to remind the campers in their care to use sunscreen and to drink fluids often.

I think my child will be homesick. What should I do?

Homesickness is something that almost every camper experiences at some level. We desire for every camper to have a positive camp experience. Our counseling staff is trained to identify homesickness early. They will counsel the homesick camper and attempt to change the child's focus to the activities and community here at camp. If homesick symptoms last 24 hours we will contact the camper’s parents. We will work with you to find the best way to help your homesick camper.

If homesick symptoms continue we will ask you to pick up your camper as soon as possible.

Here are a few recommendations to prepare your child for possible homesickness at camp. Many of these come from this excellent article entitled Clinging to Home.

1. Talk about camp a lot before he goes. Tell him the schedule. Show him pictures and videos of camp. Count down the days.

2. Let him know that it is normal to be homesick.

3. Make a plan with him so he knows what to do when he starts to feel homesick (send a stuffed animal or picture to refer to during those down times).

4. Do not make a “pick-up” deal. If a camper knows that he can leave camp at any point, he will not make it past the preliminary bouts of homesickness.

5. Utilize our CamperMail email system. Write him simple messages regularly. Don’t focus on you or your family missing him. Tell him fun stories of the family and focus on what he is experiencing at camp.

6. Pray for him regularly. God’s comfort is what we all need when we are in unfamiliar places (and at all other times, too!).

Counselors

Who will be my child’s counselor?

Campers are not pre-assigned to specific counselors. However, we can tell you our counseling staff is typically made up of college students (at least one year out of High School). They volunteer to serve Christ for the summer. We spend two weeks of intense training before the summer where they learn the necessary skills to care for campers physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What is the screening process for summer staff?

All of our summer staff go through the following steps to join us for the summer season: 

1. Complete a four-page application

2. Write five essay answers

3. Have four character reference forms sent in on their behalf

4. Pass a State Police criminal record check

5. Pass Central Registry Clearance

6. Meet with our Barakel staff for a one- to two-hour interview

7. Agree to a contract with specific behavioral and personal requirements

How are the summer staff trained to work with children in the Barakel setting?

Camp Barakel offers trained college-age summer staff who care! These counselors receive intense training before the campers arrive. Our 2-week training program deals with topics such as Behavior Management, Aquatic Observing, Biblical Counseling, Team Building, First Aid and a host of other topics to help our summer staff lovingly work with children.

How are summer staff paid?

Our summer staff is made up of around 80 college-age volunteers. They do not serve as counselors and support staff so that they can get a paycheck. We do collect the profits from the Trading Post (camp store) and supply educational assistance to any who are attending college full-time in the Fall. You may supplement the Trading Post profits by donating directly to the Educational Assistance fund.

Activities

Why do you spend a night sleeping outside at Camp Barakel?

The Barakel campout has been a part of the Jr. High and Sr. High program for over 50 years! The Thursday night experience begins with a trek out to Huron National Forest for the boys and the Snow Valley area for the girls. Each tribe has a designated campsite where they cook their supper and breakfast over an open fire. The tribe spends the evening together playing games, picking wild blueberries and conversing around the fire eating s’mores. The boys and girls gather separately for a Chapel in the Woods. When it is time for sleep, the tribes gather under tarps or sleep out under the vast display of stars.

We believe that this night is an important part of the Camp Barakel experience. Year after year, our counseling staff gives the campout resounding praise as a key part of the week. The night builds tribe community, gives the counselor ample opportunities to engage with their campers, gives campers direct contact with creation and creates experiences that they will remember for a long time. God often uses this night to break down walls of spiritual resistance and draw campers to Himself as they sleep under the stars that He created with a word. Plus, the breakfast sandwiches in the morning are amazing!

Our Junior camps and our Middle School camps spend Thursday evenings in the woods for a cookout and then they return to camp. The Junior campers are back for evening Chapel and the Middle School campers return after Chapel in the Woods.

What are the Chapel sessions about?

Every day we will gather twice for chapel. Each session is approximately an hour long. It will include singing Christ-exalting camp choruses and a time of teaching. Our speakers are carefully chosen based on their love for Christ and their ability to communicate the truths of the Scriptures to kids or teens.

How does Trading Post (Camp Store) Money work?

The Trading Post is open daily, Wednesday through Saturday. Snacks, drinks, souvenirs, and books are available for campers to purchase. Typical spending is between $20-$30 for the week. Trading Post money is checked in when the counselors complete the registration process. Each camper is given a number on her wristband that corresponds with her account at the Trading Post & at Handcrafts. If there is any money left at the end of the week, we will return the cash to the camper. Campers will also have the opportunity to give to a missions project, if they would like.

By the way - all profits from the Trading Post are put toward our Summer Staff Educational Assistance fund.

Is there any special clothing my child should bring?

Because of our activities and setting, we ask that each child bring a pair of running/activity shoes. Swimwear should be modest (no bikinis or midriff-baring swimwear for girls, no Speedo-style suits for boys). Also, campers are asked to bring casual, nice clothes for evening chapel.

Can my child bring electronic devices for the bus ride?

Yes, our bus ride can be long for young kids and electronic devices do help pass the time. When the campers arrive at camp, we ask them to turn in all electronics (including cell phones) and we place them in a secure location. They will be returned Monday morning before departure. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide access to charging stations for electronic devices.

What does a typical day look like?

7:30

Rise

8:00

Tribe Talk (Devotions on the day’s memory verse)

8:25

Flag Raising

8:30

Breakfast

9:30

Free Time or Morning Club (Junior Camps)

11:00

Chapel

12:30

Lunch

1:25

Cabin Time

2:00

Free Time (with scheduled games)

5:30

Supper

6:15

Ambush! (All-Camp Activity)

8:00

Chapel
Tribe Talk
Lights Out

Contact Information

How may I contact my child at camp?

The best way to contact your child at camp is through our Camper Email system. Mail is delivered at the noon meal daily. Any email arriving after noon on Sunday will not reach your camper. We encourage campers to write letters/postcards home. They may purchase postcards and postage at the Trading Post. All campers will turn in their cell phones upon arrival, and campers do not have access to a phone during the week.

How do I contact camp in case of an emergency?

Emergency calls can be made to the camp office at 989-848-2279. For after-hours emergencies, our office answering machine will have a contact number.

What if my child leaves something at camp?

Please contact us at LostandFound@CampBarakel.org. Give us as much detail as you can. We’ll do our best!

If I have questions after my child returns home, who do I contact?

We love to hear feedback from parents and campers. Please feel welcome to contact us at info@campbarakel.org or by phone at 989-848-2279.

Visiting Camp

Do you offer tours in the summer?

Yes, we do offer tours of our camping facility. If you are interested in a visit, please email us at info@CampBarakel.org or call us at 989/848-2279 during normal business hours and make an appointment so that we can be sure that someone is available when you arrive. We recommend one-hour tours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 1:30 and 4:00 p.m.

Can we come look around without taking a tour?

No. The State of Michigan licenses us as a child-care facility, and they do not allow unescorted visitors. Please contact us to arrange a tour. Former campers or staff members may schedule an informal visit on Monday afternoons, when campers are not in our care.

Can we attend a Chapel in the summer?

Parents and grandparents and other family members of each week’s campers are welcome during our Sunday morning Chapel at 11:00. Please email or phone the office before Saturday to make arrangements.