The Fine Print
NBTSC is not an ordinary youth camp. Every once in a while we have a misunderstanding with a parent who expected something different, or a camper arrives with needs we’re not staffed to support. To ensure that we’re all happily working together, we need you to look over the following expectations and details before signing up. (We address most of this page to parents. But we also need campers to be on board. You’ll see that they should read a few sections themselves.)
If you’d like to get a deeper feel for NBTSC culture, also see these optional-reading items:
- All About NBTSC (adapted from our former “long brochure”)
- NBTSC camper handbook 2016. (The 2017 edition will be shared with all registered campers in the spring. FYI, due to popular request it will also be shorter than the 2016 edition.)
- 2017 camper handbook extras. (We’ve shortened the main handbook; these are the outtakes – people who like details or have unanswered questions should have a look at this document.)
- and our photo albums!
Of course, contact us if you have questions or concerns you’d like to discuss before registering (or any other time).
Is NBTSC compatible with your child’s needs?
We’ve occasionally found ourselves trying to support someone we aren’t adequately staffed to support – most often a person with mental health needs, but occasionally other situations too. Please carefully read the information below and then make the best decision whether your child should register for camp this year.
In the three domains described below, there are grey areas. The truth is that we have hosted many campers who didn’t fit these standards, and for the most part they were fine. (Or their parents even told us, “NBTSC is the best thing that ever happened to our little Johnny!”) But even in some of these “fine” cases our staff was extremely overextended and neglected other important tasks in order to get to that fine, and we’re hoping to make things smoother and more sustainable for all of us.
Please know that we won’t be upset with you if you register your child in good faith and then it turns out they have unexpected difficulties. Once we’re together, we’re fully committed to doing our best by each camper, we absolutely want them to turn to us as needed, and we consider ourselves honored to show up and offer support to the best of our ability. We just want to be realistic at the outset about the levels of support that we are generally able to offer.
We ask that campers register this year only if you (and they) sincerely believe the following three statements are currently true. (If you have any doubt, please discuss thoroughly with your child – and contact us if you’re still not sure.)
1. Their mental health is currently stable, and NBTSC is compatible with their mental health needs.
If your child has a serious mental health issue that is likely to need attention during camp, or that frequently needs professional attention, we may not be staffed to support them. We are not able to offer mental health services as part of our program.
If a camper has anxiety related to sensory differences, NBTSC may not be a good choice.
Since NBTSC is a largely outdoor program, and buildings and facilities tend toward the rustic, we are not always a good choice for people with serious anxieties about insects, dark nights, or other realities of the outdoors.
Since at most of our sites phone (and cell phone) access is very limited, it’s important that campers don’t need to be in frequent or extended touch with family or friends in order to feel okay.
Changing psych meds just before camp can lead to unexpected difficulties.
If a camper is currently suicidal, or has recently attempted suicide (such as within the past year), we are concerned that we may not be able to offer adequate support should they be triggered while at NBTSC.
2. They are able to take care of themselves and respect others.
Parents, please ask your child to read the following section (and read it yourself too, thanks).
Each camper should have at least one strong, close relationship with a parent or other adult.
We need everyone to be able to respect others’ boundaries.
We need everyone to care for their own boundaries.
We need everyone to do their best to respect differences (of race, class, gender, etc.).
Ideally, all campers have some prior experience with peer pressure and standing their own ground.
3. Their physical needs are compatible with our program.
We cannot support all dietary needs.
We can’t accommodate campers who need routine access to medical facilities.
If you feel at all uncertain about any of the above areas, or if your child is a new or a younger camper (especially if they’ve never been away from home or family for a week), you need a departure plan.
Is NBTSC a good fit for your child?
Sometimes, even when an individual doesn’t have needs that we’re not able to meet, NBTSC just may not be the perfect fit.
NBTSC may not be a good choice for..
People who have little or no experience with personal growth or group bonding activities, and are wary of trying new things in these realms.
Kids accustomed to externally-imposed structure, and not to lots of freedom.
Emotionally unstable teenagers.
People who don't want to be there.
People with secret tobacco addictions. Parents, if you think there might be even a remote possibility that your child uses tobacco, please make sure they carefully read this section (and consider your own willingness to sign off on tobacco use).
In Vermont ~ people with tobacco addictions (even if parents are aware).
People with current, active, uncontrollable addictions to illegal drugs.
What parents should know about NBTSC
The vast majority of feedback we get from parents is glowingly positive, and we do our work in the hope that it contributes to the health and happiness not only of our campers, but also of their relationships with the families that they return to. But some of the things we do may not be consistent with what you want for your family. We have had an occasional parent upset to find out later that their kid participated in certain discussions or activities, so here are a few things to know:
Like other teenagers, many campers are interested in learning about sexuality and gender identity.
Staff also offers workshops or panel discussions related to sexuality.
A 2016 parent suggested that we frontload the information that at some sessions, there are more overtly LGBTQ youth than one might encounter in daily life - especially in more conservative geographical areas.
Some of our workshops, projects, and evening activities tend toward the realm of personal growth and even somewhat therapeutic processes.
NBTSC allows for significant freedom regarding bedtimes & sleeping arrangements.
We trust campers to communicate with their parents as necessary.
Finally, on a rather different note, we want parents to be prepared for their kids to get sent home if they break agreements repeatedly or in any way that the staff deems serious or likely to undermine others’ camp experience.
Thank you for reading the fine print!
photo by Joe Denardo, 1998