Welcome to our camp FAQ section.
Please browse or search the questions below to find answers to our most commonly asked questions.
Briar Hill handles pricing differently from many other camps. We offer the same low price no matter when you enroll. We prefer to think that “early bird pricing” is our only price. We do offer an Early Pay Discount for families that enroll and pay in full by February 14th, 2020 with cash or check only. We also offer a sibling discount and a discount for nursery school children. It is important to note that Briar Hill generally fills up and closes enrollment before the summer. In recent years, we have had some enrollment options close out as early as February. A deposit is required to hold an opening and the remaining balance is due in 2 equal payments on April 1st and June 1st.
The published enrollment options are generally the only enrollment options we support. We offer far more flexibility with our available days and weeks than most camps, but to accomplish this, we really need parents to choose from the supported options. We occasionally get requests for enrollments for non-standard days or mixed enrollment requests (for instance, going 3 days/wk part of the summer and 5 days/wk for the rest). These custom enrollments often block other campers from enrolling. We will generally only entertain such requests after June 1st on a space-available basis. Rates for custom enrollments are higher than our advertised rates. Contact the office for more information.
New for 2020: we offer an All-Star Division for campers that are entering 7th or 8th grade. This program is for returning campers and is by invitation. If you are interested in more information or would like your camper to be considered, please contact the office.
Preparing for the Camp Day
Please click here for directions and a map to Camp Briar Hill.
We have two swim times, so we suggest that you send a second swim suit in the provided camp bag as well as a change of clothes. Please pack one or two towels and any sunscreen that you would like used. Swim goggles are optional, but many campers use them. Everything should be labeled. We provide snacks as well as lunch 5 days per week. You may still pack a lunch if your child does not like the menu option, and it will be refrigerated until lunch time. We strongly discourage bringing toys or video games to camp. For the privacy of other campers, cell phones and cameras are prohibited.
We suggest that your camper wear a bathing suit to camp with a T-shirt and shorts over the swim suit. Sneakers are a better choice than sandals or flip-flops, which don’t work well for sports and some special events.
Rookie Campers (Pre-K and K) have an orientation on the Saturday before camp starts. For summer 2020, this is June 27th. Times are published at the beginning of June. Junior, Senior, and Varsity Campers (1st-6th grade) have an after-camp barbecue during the summer. The schedule is published on the camp calendar. All-Star Campers (7th and 8th grade) have a special Bonfire Blast event on a weekday evening later in the summer.
Camp Arrival and Dismissal
At this time, Briar Hill does not offer transportation. If you are interested in transportation, please contact the office. If there is sufficient interest in a similar geographic area, we may arrange a transportation solution.
We use two different dismissal times to reduce congestion. Rookie and Junior Campers (Pre-K through 2nd grade) have their dismissal from 3:30 to 3:50pm. Senior, Varsity, and All-Star Campers (3rd-8th grade) have dismissal from 4:00 to 4:30pm. If you have campers in both age ranges, your dismissal will be the later time. If you come before your scheduled dismissal time, your campers will still be in activities. In this case, you will be asked to park until your dismissal time begins. During dismissal, staff will greet you in the driveway. There are two dismissal lines, and you may enter either line, but do not switch lines. The line determines which loading area your camper(s) are brought to. You must have your provided dismissal placard displayed on your dashboard. If you do not have a dismissal placard, you will be asked to park and present photo id in the office. Otherwise, your placard will be scanned which notifies our staff that you have arrived. While you wait in our brief dismissal line, a counselor will collect your camper(s) and bring them to our loading area. Then, another staff member will assist by loading and buckling your camper(s). For safety, we prefer to load only on the passenger side of the car and ask parents to stay in their cars at all times.
We have a two stage dismissal. Some younger campers stay later to go home with older campers from their family or in a carpool. While waiting, these campers play in their home base with other campers while being supervised by counselors from their group.
Pool, Sports and Facilities
This may be the number one question we get asked each summer. Camp Briar Hill is well known for its swim program. In our swim lessons we focus on a complete set of skills for each camper. So we do not graduate a camper to the next swim level until they have become proficient in all the skills in the current category. This increases their confidence in the water and makes them much better swimmers. Some of our campers can jump off the board at home, but they may need some help with their strokes. We place those campers in swim levels where they can get instruction in their weak areas, instead of putting them in the group that reflects their strongest skill. Because of this, campers who learn to swim at Camp Briar Hill become all around excellent swimmers.
Hot day schedules generally call for reduced outdoor activity – especially in the afternoon. All of our buildings are air conditioned so campers will often spend extra time either inside or in water activities. The most common change is that afternoon sports are switched to indoor games. We have several special water events that we save for hot days. We always have drinking water available throughout the grounds, but we make a special point of having campers take extra water breaks throughout the day.
If it is only a light sprinkle or drizzle, we often run our normal schedule. If the grass is wet, we may cancel some field sports to prevent injuries, but we only close the pools if it is raining consistently or there is thunder. Our pools are heated, so even on a chilly day, it is very pleasant to be in the water. Before summer begins, we pre-plan several rainy days full of indoor activities. Often, our scheduled special events can still run on a porch or under a tent. We also have extra events in case of a rainy day that we can schedule last minute. While we don’t hope for rainy days, they are often a welcome change of pace, and campers look forward to the unique rainy day activities that we have planned.
We have a storm detector which reports the range for any electrical activity. If activity is reported closer than 8 miles and is confirmed by the radar map on weather.com, we close the pools. We do this even if it isn’t raining. You can have a lightening strike without rain, and it is even possible for lightening to strike miles away from a thunderstorm. We take thunderstorms seriously, and if one starts during the camp day, we keep the campers inside the buildings. This isn’t a terrible situation for us since all our groups meet in permanent buildings and we don’t use any temporary shelters for camper home bases.
Our pools are heated, so they are delightful even on chilly days. We try to maintain our pools at 85 to 86 degrees. On very rare occasion, we close the pools when it is too chilly for the campers when they get out. Otherwise, we only close the pools for rain or thunderstorms.
Every summer the camp is sprayed for ticks by a licensed pesticide applicator. We share the concern of many parents about the use of pesticides and are very diligent to follow all safety measures, but the dangers of lyme disease are too significant to risk exposure to ticks. Having said this, we always spray the grounds before the camp season begins to minimize any contact with people. In addition, once camp starts, children always remain in mowed areas of the grounds. The combination of treating the grounds and keeping children in mowed areas makes the camp safer for ticks than most people’s yards.
Camp Tuition and Tipping
Stop by most any week day between 10:00 and 3:00 and ask for a camp tour. If you are new to Briar Hill, call our office to get your name on our mailing list. We generally open next summer’s enrollment during October each year. We send out postcards to our mailing list first, then accept enrollments from the general public.
It is customary to tip camp counselors. At the request of our parents, Briar Hill provides a Tipping Guide for each camper. The guide is based on the number of days that your camper is enrolled. These guides are sent home during the summer – usually the week before a camper’s enrollment ends. Guides include the names of each group counselor assigned to your child. They also includes a suggested amount for the specialty team. This team consists of all the other counselors that serve your child from the pool, crafts, sports, and activities areas.
Jobs at Camp Briar Hill
Please download an application from our website (when available). We schedule interviews starting in January and try to finalize most of our job offers by May. Most of our counselors are promoted from within our own staff as they become qualified. As necessary, we interview for well qualified people to fill openings for group leaders and specialty spots from outside our staff. Some of our group leaders first started as campers, and many of our staff have been with us for more than 5 years. Our counselors look forward to returning each year, making Camp Briar Hill feel like one big, happy family.
Our CIT (Counselor in Training) program is a great starting point for young people to gain work experience while having fun. At Briar Hill, CIT’s are required to have working papers. Therefore, they must be 14 before the summer begins. CIT’s do not receive a paycheck (most camps charge parents to send their teenagers as CIT’s), but CIT’s generally receive tips from camper parents.