Why are this year’s sessions shorter than usual?
Nature Camp’s facilities, in which most campers reside in one or two large bunkhouses, don’t lend themselves to a “pod” model in which small groups of campers are housed together as a family unit. Allowing for sufficient physical distancing between campers in the bunkhouses necessitates reducing capacity in each session; rearranging our schedule to have a larger number of shorter sessions will allow us to accommodate more campers during the summer than we could with a typical schedule of four, two-week sessions.

Why are grade ranges for sessions out of the usual sequence (i.e., why are 12th graders in Session 2)?
Several school systems in Virginia have high school graduation ceremonies scheduled for June 17, 18, or 19, and we do not want current high school seniors to have to choose between attending one last session of camp and attending their graduation. The only feasible way to schedule six 10-day sessions was for the first session to begin on Thursday, June 17.

Will my camper be able to get their first choice of a session?
We recognize that with more limited capacity in each session and overlapping grade ranges for most sessions, it may be more difficult for campers to decide on the appropriate session or to arrange to be in the same session as their friends. We strive to maximize the number of campers who can be enrolled this summer, and we encourage all applicants to list their first and second choices for a session and to submit an application as soon as possible after registration opens. We will try to place as many as possible into their first choice, and we will maintain a waiting list for those campers who must be placed, at least initially, into their second choice.

Why are there two different registration dates?
When Nature Camp decided to suspend on-site sessions last year, we pledged that campers who were enrolled for 2020 would have priority for registration in 2021. Registration for these campers will begin on February 1; applications from other campers may be submitted beginning on February 8. Please note, however, that campers who were registered for 2020 are not automatically registered for 2021; timely submission of a 2021 application form is still required.

What if my camper has a credit for 2021?
Many families (and some sponsoring organizations) elected to take some or all of the tuition they had paid for camp in 2020 as a credit for 2021. If you have a credit in any amount, you do not need to include a deposit payment with your application, and the credit will be reflected in the balance due by June 1. If your credit exceeds this year’s tuition of $690, you may request a refund of the difference, reallocate the remaining amount as an unrestricted donation to Nature Camp, or claim an additional credit for 2022.

How will classes, Sunday hikes, and other activities work?
We won’t be able to fit all of the activities of a 14-day session into 10 days, but we aim to provide campers with an experience that is just as meaningful, fulfilling, and memorable. There are many details to work out, but rest assured that we will still offer classes, take Sunday hikes (though they may be held on another day of the week), and end each session with our traditional Closing Ceremony.

Will campers and staff be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend or work at Nature Camp this summer?
*NEW* We anticipate and hope that all staff will be able to be vaccinated before the summer, this will not be a requirement for employment. With access to vaccines continuing to expand, we hope that many older campers will be able to receive a vaccine before their session begins, but vaccination will not be a requirement for campers 16 and older. Regardless of vaccination status, the same safeguards will apply to all participants: non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as frequent hand washing, use of face masks, and physical distancing) continue to represent the best defense against further spread of coronavirus.

Will campers and staff be required to be tested for coronavirus before arriving at camp?
*NEW* Reopening guidelines and restrictions issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia require that all camp participants either submit a negative molecular (PCR) test no more than seven days before arriving at camp or undergo daily symptom screening for all members of the participant’s household for 14 days prior to a session. Nature Camp has elected to require the former (PCR test), although symptom screening and isolation from those outside a camper’s household are strongly recommended for the week leading up to camp. In addition, Nature Camp may implement rapid antigen testing of all campers upon arrival on the first day of each session. Nature Camp will take care of the logistics of setting up testing and will communicate essential information to families of registered campers well in advance.

What happens if a camper or staff member contracts, presents symptoms of, or tests positive for coronavirus?
Nature Camp seeks to take all appropriate precautions to try to ensure that coronavirus is not introduced into the camp population, including screenings of all campers and staff upon their arrival at camp and daily wellness checks to identify any symptoms suggestive of or consistent with coronavirus. Anyone presenting with such symptoms will be isolated from the rest of the camp population, contact tracing will be initiated to identify other individuals who may have been exposed, and parents/guardians will be notified to discuss the proper course of action.

What if it turns out that camp cannot be held this year?
While we are hopeful that we can reopen our doors this summer, we recognize the reality of the ongoing pandemic and acknowledge the possibility that on-site sessions may not take place again this year. In the event that Nature Camp is not permitted to operate this year by regulatory authority or if the board of directors determines that it is impractical or imprudent to do so, those who have paid tuition for summer sessions will be given the option of a full refund, reallocation of tuition as a charitable donation, or a credit for tuition in 2022.

Here we’re taught not only to appreciate things as they naturally are, but also to see the opportunity in what we do, and let the world slow down at the same time. This, I believe, is our constant, and the most powerful one of all: the ability to approach the world with refreshed positivism.

Will D., Gloucester, VA
Will D.Gloucester, VA

At a place with such a variety of people, much of what you learn is through conversation and not necessarily what you set out to absorb. I come back each year for an experience impossible to comprehend if not here. I come back to learn how to pursue the commitment we have to better lives for ourselves, our planet, and generations to come. I come back to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world. I come back because I don’t know what my life would be like without Camp.

Maggie J., Fredericksburg, VA
Maggie J.Fredericksburg, VA

Going to Nature Camp is no longer just a want. It is a necessity, an essential part of my summer. It holds a very special place in my heart, and it always will. I always leave with a sense of balance and well-being, having totally soaked in all the wonders and virtues and lessons and friends and learning and nature.

Emily G., Durham, NC
Emily G.Durham, NC

Going to Nature Camp has taught me many things. When I first went to Nature Camp, I could not tell the difference between a death angel mushroom and an oyster mushroom. I also could not have told you the difference between quartzite and limestone. Since going to Nature Camp, I can tell you these things and many more. Nature Camp is truly a wonderful place. From my first day to my last, I have the most fun I will have all summer.

Phoebe W., Fredericksburg, VA
Phoebe W.Fredericksburg, VA

Nature Camp is a true chance for immersion learning. My family has been amazed how many times the academic learning at Nature Camp has been connected to my school and home life.

Josh C., Williamsburg, VA
Josh C.Williamsburg, VA

I feel that there could never be any words to explain my feelings for Nature Camp. It’s a different world there: no TV, radio, cell phone, or anything from the real world. Nature Camp has changed my life forever. I believe that when people cross that tiny bridge going into camp, they become their true selves. They take their masks off and have a break from everything in the world.

Hannah S., Mount Jackson, VA
Hannah S.Mount Jackson, VA

There is just something special about Nature Camp. Maybe it’s the smell of being outdoors, the freedom of being away from your parents, or that you are at a summer for two weeks. I do not think those are the reasons why Nature Camp is so special. I think it’s the people you meet, the science things you learn about, and the pride and confidence you walk away with at the end of the session.

Kelsey G., Fredericksburg, VA
Kelsey G.Fredericksburg, VA

I have attended Nature Camp for four years and have never had a more rewarding experience. Nature Camp has taught me what one person who cares can do to make a difference. The hikes to Table Rock, the salamander searches at Buttermilk Springs, the breathtaking view from Lookout Rock, and of course the Sunday hikes to undiscovered mountain peaks are experiences one cannot have anyone else, and experiences I will remember forever. I have made friendships at Nature Camp that promise to last a lifetime.

Lucy A., Ruckersville, VA
Lucy A.Ruckersville, VA

There is a coveted two weeks in the heart of the summer that is called Nature Camp. It is the best thing that I do all year and is what I most look forward to. I grow mentally there more in two weeks than I do in the rest of the year.

Buck T., Fredericksburg, VA
Buck T.Fredericksburg, VA

For the past three years I have attended Nature Camp and loved it. Most four-year-olds, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, say a fireman, a ballerina, or an astronaut. When people asked me what I wanted to be, I replied confidently, “A nature scientist. I want to save the land.” Ten years later my answer still hasn’t changed.

Veronica P., Williamsburg, VA, Camper
Veronica P.Williamsburg, VA, Camper