Do you require vaccinations to attend Wolf Camp?
Full vaccinations are strongly encouraged – we follow the scientific consensus – with tetanus shot (usually given as part of the normal Tdap vaccine series) required since it’s considered the most unmitigated risk for outdoor education. Otherwise, we know that due to our 100% outdoor setting, combined with health screenings, contact tracing, supervised hand washing, bathroom ventilation, mask use when exposure has been reported in a group, and individual/family style tenting at overnight camps, the risk of disease transmission has been negligible at Wolf Camp, so other vaccination records are not required.
Please click here for full details on our health and safety protocols during the pandemic era, see the latest CDC summer camp guidelines, and the state’s pandemic era guidelines for day camps (2021-22 pdf will be updated if/when 2023 guidance is issued).
Can we visit you before signing up for camp?
Check out our website calendar to see upcoming events where you can experience single day programs prior to registering for week-long camps. You can also come by a booth to meet camp directors Kim & Chris Chisholm and summer staff prior to the camp season. And, we are always available by email or a phone call at 425-248-0253.
What is the instructor to camper ratio? (hint: it’s what differentiates us from everyone else)
Our hallmark 6-1 student-teacher ratio is what sets us ahead of other outdoor camps. This tight staffing ratio is critical for any outdoor program to run safe, profound and fun experiences in the field, as described in our blog article entitled Outdoor Risk Management. We sometimes allow higher ratios based on the type of program (such as adult and family camps) and the instructor’s experience, but during summer camps, we have found it most effective to form groups of 12 campers with one lead instructor and one assistant instructor.
On top of that, we also often have youth mentors and young adult apprentices assisting on-site camp directors, making our ratio even better than advertised in most cases. Finally, and most important to achieving safe and profound outdoor experiences, our professionally-trained instructors are skilled in the arts and science of teaching – not just the subject matter we love to share.
How is your camp staff trained and vetted?
Our highly-trained active camp staff and veteran faculty members undergo rigorous training and background checks, both official and personal. Co-owners Kim & Chris Chisholm both undergo periodic background checks whenever they are up for renewal in Search & Rescue or foster care work, whenever a new school hires them to teach, and in other situations as well.
Kim & Chris have known most of their staff and their families for many years, either as friends from the early development years of Wolf Camp, or as students who attended camps as children. Campers who return every year to become instructors are all connected with Kim & Chris by social media, and they also receive periodic background checks of varying intensities after becoming adults, especially after turning 21 years old. New adult trainees submit extensive applications and pass background checks as part of their training. To date, we have yet to hire staff we did not train ourselves, thus ensuring our top safety record. Please see our blog essays on risk management and our Microsoft Word or PDF liability release form more more information.
As mentioned below the previous question, our instructors are skilled in the arts and science of teaching – not just the subject matter they teach – with previous experience as well as annual trainings including our Backcountry Leadership – Wilderness Conservation, Navigation & Risk Management and Teaching Nature: Training for Environmental Educators & Nature Guides courses, wilderness first aid certifications, food worker cards, lifeguard trainings and more, depending on responsibility level.
Are your programs co-ed?
Yes, all of our regular classes, workshops, camps and expeditions are co-ed. We may set up separate sleeping areas, and either individual or separate bathroom facilities, for males, females, adults and families, and non-gender specific accommodations.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
Participants sleep in tents or under the stars depending upon factors such as location and weather. We have camp tents available for use, or campers may bring their own tent. In most situations, we assign tent partners to share the sleeping space. We set up separate areas for underage males and females with staff members camped in the middle and on the perimeter. We also have mixed young adult groups which set up camp near-by.
What kind of restroom and bathing facilities are available?
Facilities vary based upon location, ranging from “in the field” style, to outhouses, flush toilets and hot showers. Day campers are given many opportunities to use the facilities throughout the day, and staff will always bring them to a bathroom when needed. Similarly, overnight attendees will at least have an outhouse available to use while in base camp. However, many of our activities take us far away from base, so we help campers plan accordingly (either go prior to departure or bring needed items and plan to go in the woods). For those who have never had the opportunity/experience, we will teach everything you need to know. 🙂
Some of our locations have shower facilities available, whereas other, more natural locations do not. When this is the case, we teach everyone how to take a pot shower, or they may choose to swim if a location is conducive. We also have a few solar showers available.
Are cell phones allowed, and can we communicate during camp?
Yes if parents require it. Except for programs like the Wildlife Safari where photos and video are helpful to learning, we encourage parents to have campers leave phones at home so that everyone can experience the full feeling of summer camp without distraction. Campers can always borrow staff cell phones to call or send texts anytime of day or night. That said, smart phones are great for camp activity video and photos, and the older the camper, the less realistic this request to leave phones home becomes. If phones do come to camp, they should be left off and staff must be informed before campers call or text – home only please – or access the internet and social media for research purposes only – or to take appropriate photos and videos to share with us.
Do you offer transportation to/from day and overnight camps and expeditions? How does airport transportation work?
We offer very limited transportation to and from a few of our day camps and overnight camps/expeditions. To see if there is a transportation option available for your specific week, please select the camp you’re interested in attending. Transportation offerings, if available, will be noted on each location page. If you have any questions, please contact us via email, or call our cell phone at 425-248-0253.
Question: “We are considering sending our 13 year old daughter to you overnight Chefs and Herbal Medics camp this summer. We live in California and would be putting her on an airplane alone. We have never done this before and I would love if you could walk me through what it would look like for her when she exits the airplane. Who will meet her? Where? How she will get to camp and then back to the airport and on the correct airplane? Your camp looks wonderful and we are excited to hear more.” – Julie
Response: “Thanks for the email and questions. When you purchase your airline ticket and arrive at the airport, request the unaccompanied minor process for your daughter. They should give you a pass to go through security to the gate with her as well. Here at SeaTac, they should bring her to the unaccompanied minor waiting room where we would meet her and bring her to camp in our vehicle. For the return, we normally accompany 13 year olds to security and wait to see that they got through, or if a camper or parent requests that we get a pass to see them to their gate, we do that, and for younger campers waiting until they board the plane as well.” – Chris & Kim
Health, Safety and Nutrition
You mentioned wilderness bathing and swimming above. Is that safe?
Water activities are the second biggest risk (driving vehicles being the first) we have to manage as part of training people in wilderness skills, and as part of having a fun summer experience. Water is what keeps us healthy and hygienic, but like all our basic needs, it involves risk. We set up private and guarded bathing areas, and teach campers how to bathe without unduly exposing themselves to the elements, while also protecting the environment from harm caused by soaps and other toiletries. In fact, we are planning a blog article on this very subject and will add a link here when it’s completed.
We have a lengthy series of swimming and water safety policies and procedures designed to keep participants safe around the various kinds of water features where we camp: streams, rivers, lakes, seashores, and ocean fishing piers. We strive to ensure that at least one of our staff with current American Red Cross lifeguard certifications and open-water water safety experience are on duty whenever campers are near water. When campers enter water, it is only with clear limits and tests to prove a camper’s ability to keep self and others safe. The swim tests also double as swimming lessons so as to help campers learn to swim better, keep themselves and others around them safe in the water, and feel successful rather than unduly fearful around water.
Can you accommodate campers with special needs?
Yes, more often than not, but it depends upon our level of experience with the specific need(s). Please contact us to decide which of our camp themes would be most successful for your camper.
If my child needs to take medication during the camp week, can you accommodate him/her?
Yes, as long as we know in advance so we can plan for it, it doesn’t interfere with his or her ability to participate, and the child is willing and adept at taking the medication.
Can you accommodate specific dietary needs?
Yes, as long as we know in advance so we can plan for it. It’s also helpful if the participant brings along some items that they enjoy or prefer. We have served several options including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, egg free, legume free, and as close to Kosher as possible, for instance.
How do you address food allergies like nuts?
This is an important question, since there are life-threatening and sometimes deadly allergic reactions at camps around the country every summer. Here we work to accommodate allergies, and while we take care to separate nuts and cross-contamination, there may be visible nut products laid out in our food options (not cooked into anything, and put at the end of the buffet line to mitigate cross-contamination) for other campers (especially for vegetarians and at lunch) to eat, so you’ll have to make the decision as to how vigilant your camper can be about avoiding nuts in a buffet line, not sharing food with other campers, reading labels on snacks like power bars that might be made in factories with nuts, etc.
If you decide to have a conversation with us and want to investigate our protocol further, please let us know 1) how severe the allergies are to each of the foods you had your camper tested for, and 2) what kind/size of Epinephrine (EpiPen) they will be carrying. The choice of camp week is also important, since some weeks we are in the wilderness with spotty cell reception, while other weeks we are in quick 911 response areas and situated less than 10 minutes to the nearest ER.
What kind of food do you serve during overnight camps and expeditions where food is provided?
We do our best to provide meals that are real-food based with minimal processing. Many of our ingredients are organic/non-gmo and some are grown at Blue Skye Farm (our home in Puyallup). Depending on the camp theme and camper interest, we harvest, prepare and enjoy many of our region’s most nutritious wild edibles.
During overnight camp programs (with the exception of the 2021 & 2022 wilderness survival overnights – see that camp page for specialized food and gear information), we serve 3 meals a day including at least one meat and one vegetarian option and provide healthy snacks such as fruit, veggies and nuts in the interim. Depending on the camp theme and activity, we also provide other options such as granola bar style snacks and jerky and we usually have s’mores around the campfire one evening as well.
Day campers need to pack their own lunches, and all participants are encouraged to bring healthy snacks with them to camp (no sugary treats, please). For overnight camps, we collect the personal snacks on the first day and store them safely out of critter reach. Campers can access their snacks at any time.
What is your smoking, drug and alcohol policy?
Participants shall refrain from using non-prescription, not-over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco, etc., from midnight before the course starts, until after departure from the course location and associated participants. If a participant attending adult programs cannot achieve this agreement due to addiction, medical need, or other reason, they must disclose the reason on their registration form so that the Camp Director or their Lead Instructor can make arrangements, such as a designated smoking area under special circumstances.
What is your policy regarding treatment of individuals based on religion, political affiliations, sexual orientation, gender identity, race and ethnicity, etc.?
We honor, encourage, and train for staff and student diversity in all of our programs. This can seem complicated during overnight programs especially with diversity of issues surrounding views on religion and environmental politics, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We welcome all views that prioritize health and well-being, and we work to help participants understand and accommodate one another. Again, this may seem like a challenge in today’s polarized world, or complicated when it comes to supervising children in tents and bathroom situations, but in practice it is fairly simple in comparison to all the other issues we juggle. Email or call us at 425-248-0253 if you have any concerns, and we will set up a plan which can help you make a decision about whether or not to enroll.
How do you manage homesickness in campers?
One of the first things we do is introduce Lily, our homesickness specialist (a.k.a. Camp Dog). Works like a charm, while Lily is also the most experienced survival specialist on staff, having spent the first 4 years of her life neglected before we found her – with the perfect temperament for a camp dog. She’s also our top tracker 😉 For more information and on homesickness, be sure to click on camp director Chris Chisholm’s article Homesickness Protocol & Prevention.
Can I bring my pet? Camp and expedition participants are unable to have pets join them during their time with us. However, accompanying friends and family may bring pets when dropping off and/or picking up participants. Pets must be leashed or remain in the vehicle at all times and pet owners must be respectful of all others. Keep in mind that our Camp Dog, Lily, will be around and participating in camp closings. Please support her in her important role by not allowing your pet to distract her from doing her job well.
Is staff medically trained?
All adult staff members are current on First Aid and CPR. Lead instructors and camp directors have at a minimum Wilderness First Aid training and some have previous Wilderness First Responder and EMT training. Lead instructors have oversight from a director and are responsible for up to 12 campers with one assistant instructor-in-training accompanying them. However, we do not have on-site nurses or doctors.
What happens if my child gets sick or injured while at camp?
A staff member will contact you (the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian) if either illness or injury is suspected or has occurred. If a parent or guardian in unavailable, and if the issue cannot be treated using methods listed for specific ailments on the Health History portion of the participant’s Registration Form, staff will communicate with the Emergency Contact noted on the same form. If none of the above can be reached, staff will seek out the appropriate medical attention needed to address the issue.
For example, if a child has a stomach ache, we will check their health history form to see if the parent has noted this as a possible issue and listed a treatment. If the form says, give a Tums in the case of stomach ache, then we will give the child a Tums and monitor. If the child improves and has no other symptoms, then we will note what happened and inform the parent at the end of the day pick-up for Kids Day Camp or at the end of the week for Overnight Youth Camp. If the child does not improve, we will call the parent or guardian and create a plan of action together. If a child has a stomach ache and their Health History Form doesn’t mention it, we will contact the parent or guardian for guidance. If the child does not improve, it may be necessary for him/her to be picked up by the parent/guardian or another approved adult (listed on the Registration Form).
Minor cuts, bruises, skinned knees, blisters, stinging nettle stings, mosquito bites and bee stings are the most common injuries we face and we treat them in the field without contacting the parent/guardian unless there is a recurring issue or the minor injury does not improve.
How do you deal with ticks, mosquitoes and other biting or stinging insect-like critters?
We always teach bee and wasp safety and response. Participants who have bee allergies must come equipped with their own epi-pen (we recommend carrying two units just in case) and medication such as oral Benadryl. All are encouraged to carry a topical sting/itch relief product in their personal first aid kit. Staff also carry extra products.
As for smaller insects and arachnids, our Pacific Northwest coastal lowlands has nearly the lowest incidence of disease-borne illnesses caused by mosquitoes, ticks, etc. since we have fewer of them, there are still a few cases of those diseases reported by county health departments every year, so we are careful nonetheless and also want to train all participants how to be safe when they to into the wilderness east of the mountains, down south and overseas as well.
Participants will learn about respectfully utilizing insect repellent sprays and lotions (i.e. don’t spray in close or confined quarters) or wear protective and/or repellent clothing, etc. When in tick country, we teach tick safety and how to avoid obvious areas where ticks congregate, and how to perform tick checks immediately after being in those areas.
How do you deal with hazards such as wild animals, poisonous plants, getting lost, etc.?
Again, the Pacific Northwest coastal lowlands are just about the tamest location for animal hazards (no poisonous snakes this side of the mountains, only one spider that’s actually most commonly found under homes rather than out in nature, lower instances of tick and mosquito borne diseases, statistically negligable large animal attacks, etc) we always train our staff and all participants on these types of hazards.
Everyone learns what to do if one comes upon a wild animal, how to reduce the risk of diseases, how to make safe plant collecting/utilization decisions, and how to navigate for lostproofing. We plan our adventures and risk manage them, while also empowering participants to make informed decisions.
Activities, Learning & Locations
Where are your summer camps and expeditions located?
Camps and expeditions are located at a variety of beautiful sites in the Western and Central Washington alpine mountains, temperate rain forests, ocean beaches and unique parks. For details about your specific week’s location, please visit the corresponding web page: kid’s day camps, overnight youth camps and adult expeditions.
Do you offer a weight loss camp?
While we do not offer a specific weight loss camp. Instead, we offer nutritious meals, fresh air and an active curriculum which all contribute to a healthy and fun week together.
Is high school or college credit available for your courses?
Not at this time, but we are in the process of accreditation. In the meantime, you can arrange credit for attending our programs by contacting your school guidance counselor or college dean/professors about their independent study credit process, and we will work with you to.
Will I/my child get dirty during your courses?
Yes. We encourage everyone to allow themselves to fully experience all of our activities. This could involve anything from digging in the soil to gently remove plant roots for medicine-making, and crouching quietly on the forest floor as you stalk up on a deer to camouflaging parts of your skin and clothing with charcoal or mud, and walking blindfolded and barefoot down a path back to base camp. It all depends on the theme you choose and your comfort level.
There are some specific things I/my child would like to learn. Can you incorporate them into your curriculum?
We are happy to try to do so, time and experience willing. It would be wonderful to know in advance if you have specific interests so that we can prepare, but please don’t hesitate to ask when things come to mind and we’ll do our best to fit them in.
Materials and Equipment
May I bring my own knife to camp?
Yes, you may bring your personal knife from home to any Overnight Youth Camp or Adult Expedition. If you choose to bring a knife, you must let your Lead Instructor know at the start of camp that you have it with you. And, each instructor reserves the right to decide whether or not you’ll be allowed to use it for any given project. Parents of day campers wishing to bring a knife must first speak directly with their child’s Lead Camp Instructor for permission. If a request to bring or use a knife is denied and the knife is brought or used without permission, then the knife will be confiscated and returned at the end of the camp or expedition.
What kind of knife do you recommend?
We use and recommend the Mora of Sweden Companion in stainless steel (*not* serrated). It can be purchased inexpensively (usually between $14 – $18 on Amazon.com) and comes in several colors. We usually have extras for participants to borrow and use after going through and passing our knife safety training.
Can I bring electronic equipment such as a cell phone, iPod, Kindle, etc.?
We recommend that electronic equipment other than a cell phone or GPS remain at home. Electronic equipment use will only be allowed at the discretion of the camper’s Lead Instructor and/or the Camp Director.
We don’t have access to some of the items on the packing list. Do you have extra materials you can loan out for the week?
Yes, with the exception of some personal items such as shoes, underclothes and swimwear, we often have extras available for use. Please contact us in advance to make sure we have items available. If so, we’ll add them to our packing list for your event.
Where can I find my packing list?
Please click on the appropriate packing list title: Kid’s Day Camp Packing List, Youth Overnight Camp Packing List, Adult Overnight Expedition Packing List. Additionally, all of the camp and expedition packing lists (including the specialized food & gear spreadsheet for the 2022 Overnight Survival Camp) can be found near the end of each camp and expedition page.
Do we need to have/bring everything on the packing list?
Yes, please. Some items may not end up being used (i.e. rain gear is required but it might not be used if it doesn’t rain) but we have everything on the list for a reason. If you have any questions, concerns or other comments, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.
Paperwork and Money
Where can I find your registration form?
Links to our Microsoft Word or PDF or Google Doc registration form can be found near the end of all of our individual camp and expedition location pages.
Where can I find camp or expedition agreements?
Please click on the agreement page you wish to find: Kid’s Day Camp Agreements, Youth Overnight Camp Agreements, Adult Overnight Expedition Agreements. Additionally, all of the camp and expedition agreements can be found near the end of each camp and expedition page.
How much does it cost to attend summer programs? Are there discounts or scholarships available?
Kid’s Day Camps (depending upon location) are $295-$595 depending on your location and when you register with a deposit. Overnight Youth Camps and Adult Expeditions range from $675-$975 depending on the camp and when you register by making a deposit. Remember that the earlier you register, the lower the price and greater chance of space remaining available.
Max Davis Scholarships are granted by the the Conservation College which is a Washington State non-profit organization, independent from Wolf Camp, whose mission it is to support those wishing to attend programs of earth skills education. To apply, add to your camp Microsoft Word or PDF or Google Doc registration form answers to the 8 financial aid scholarship questions, or complete a merit scholarship project as described on that page.
Standard Discounts: You will receive cumulative discounts of $5 per additional week you attend this summer, $5 off per additional family member attending this summer, and $5 off for successfully referring other families who register campers this summer, and once you’ve attended a program.
How and when do I pay?
You will need to make minimum deposits of $100 to hold spaces in our Kid’s Day Camps, or $200 for spaces in Overnight Youth Camps and Adult Expeditions. Or you may deposit more than the minimum – up to the amount of your balance. You can make a deposit or payment using PayPal online, over the phone by calling our office with your credit card number , by mail using a check or in person with cash, check or credit card. Your balance is due by the first day of camp, although we appreciate advanced payment (significantly cuts down on administrative work during our busy camp week). We also prefer that you pay by check so we can avoid credit card fees.
What is your refund policy in case I have to cancel after making a deposit or paying in full?
Payments are not refundable unless we don’t accept your application. If you cancel in advance of the program start time for any reason, you may receive a full credit good through the following calendar year on appropriate and available programs listed on our schedule, although an additional deposit may be required to secure your spot in the future program. If a program you sign up for is canceled and not rescheduled at a time you can attend, you may receive a full refund except in case of natural (weather, geologic, etc) disasters, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it impossible for staff and/or attendees to reach or use program locations, in which case all payments made will be held by us without expiration date for your future use in appropriate/available programs of your choice. No refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave a program for inappropriateness as determined by our kids, youth and adult agreements for participation.
Do you have any activities/day camps for kids under 6? I have a 5 year old that is Interested.
Hi Stan. For our day camps, it’s fine if a camper is turning 6 by autumn and is ready for an all-day outdoor camp from 9:30-3:30, such as having benn in an all-day kindergarden or similar situation. We also have family camps and classes for parents who have time available, including classes June 22-26, 2020 in Puyallup, and camp June 29 – July 3, 2020 at Lake Sammamish. Feel free to us anytime at 425-248-0253 with questions or to register, thanks.
Related to this question: my child will be 5 and 1/2 in August. He’s been in full day preschool for the last 2 years, and is independent. Would it be appropriate to sign him up for day camp?
Hi Shan Shan. It’s best to wait until next year when your son is 6 and 1/2, as the skills we teach at Wolf Camp are designed for older children – often the same content as we introduce at adult programs! The age limit is especially important this year when we will be instituting COVID-19 distancing protocols that aren’t feasible for teaching children under 7 years old. Children younger than that really need a lot of hands-on instruction, and often cling onto one another, especially in outdoor settings. As a result of the situation this year, we may even have to increase the age limit to 7-8. I will add your email to our newsletter list, and hopefully we’ll see you in 2021!