Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that the summer camp experience can be an exciting, though sometimes confusing, adventure. Read through these questions and answers to get detailed information on a variety of topics. Our frequently asked questions section will provide in-depth answers to most of your questions.
The questions are organized in several categories, click as indicated to get more information. If there is something not answered here, please call our main office (262) 248-3600 to be directed to the right person.
For questions about Pier 30 or Alpha and BaseCamp programs, contact Brad Hutchison by email or at extension 336. For questions about Day Camp, Kishwauketoe or Day Camp Counseling, contact Kelly Elwell by email or at extension 337.
What is the difference between all the camps?
Our summer camps offers four different experiences serving campers currently in grades K-12. Day Camp, Kishwauketoe, Pier 30, plus two options for high school students. Each program takes place at Covenant Harbor at the same time and shares many facilities. The waterfront, lodge dining area, big field and other activities are shared by each program.
Day Camps serve our local community with age-appropriate programming in Day Camp (Grades K-6) and Day Camp (Grades 7-8). Our Day Camps are a great opportunity for campers to experience camp without staying overnight.
Kishwauketoe (Kish) is a smaller camp of approximately 45 campers. Kishwauketoe is intentionally designed for a camper’s first camp experience. The program has a cozy feel, helping campers to feel right at home. Kishwauketoe offers a one night option, a three night option and a week long option for campers who are currently in grades 1st-3rd.
Pier 30 is our largest camp of over 200 campers. Pier 30 offers a large group setting, while still providing the intimate cabin group experience. Pier 30 (Grades 3-5) serves campers currently in grades 3rd-5th with a half-week camp. Pier 30 (Grades 4-5) serves campers currently in grades 4th-5th, with week long camps. Pier 30 (Grades 6-8) serves campers currently in grades 6-8 with an option to choose a skill to ‘major’ in for the week. Skill time offers a chance for our older campers to branch out and learn new things or practice something familiar.
High school students have several options. BaseCamp is a week long camp for students in grades 9-12. Alpha is an opportunity for students 15 and older to get a taste of what it’s like to work on summer staff in two week sessions.
Visit our camps page to watch a brief video that explains the programs.
How is “religion” incorporated into the program?
Covenant Harbor is a Christian camp, owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and exists for the purpose of introducing people to Jesus Christ. Our primary goal with the campers is to love them, share the gospel with them and encourage them to know God more. We think this happens best in a fun environment where kids build relationships with staff who are living lives committed to Jesus Christ. We also build a Bible program where Biblical truths are presented in large group, small group and one-on-one times. We incorporate dramas, songs, skits, and games into our large group meetings to make the process of learning about Jesus fun and meaningful. Each truth is presented in an age-appropriate manner. Our goal is not to force campers to agree with us or make campers decide what to believe, but to answer questions the camper has by using text from the Bible and sharing how God has worked in the lives of our staff.
Can we take a tour of Covenant Harbor?
During the summer camp sessions, no visitors, including parents, are allowed.
Beginning in March and continuing through May, we will offer a tour the 1st Saturday of every month at 11:00 am. This tour will give you a chance to see where your camper will eat, sleep, swim and experience all of the other great activities that we offer at Covenant Harbor. It is also a great chance to ask any questions and get comfortable with our staff. If you are interested in signing up for a tour contact Kelly Elwell by email.
After May, tours of camp are available upon request and scheduled on an as-needed basis. Please call our office at (262) 248-3600 to request and schedule a tour after May.
How is your summer staff trained?
Our leadership staff arrives in mid-May in order to plan the Bible program and to get the activity areas ready and safe for camper use. Counselors spend 10 days in training. Areas covered include team building, small group leading, evangelism, age characteristics, daily role expectations, discipline, cabin group dynamics, and severe weather and emergency preparedness. Training is also an important time to build our summer staff community and sense of team. We take staff training very seriously and strive to create a team of summer staff that desire to serve campers with excellence.
Where does your staff come from?
All over! Most of our summer staff find out about Covenant Harbor from other people, through their Evangelical Covenant Church, or a former camper or summer staff member at their college or high school. Most of our summer staff members come from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin; though past staff members have come from Alabama, Connecticut, California, Washington and South Africa.
How do you hire staff?
We have a fairly rigorous application and hiring process to ensure that only the most qualified staff will serve at Covenant Harbor. Each staff member goes through at least two interviews and provides four references. References fill out extensive forms and are also contacted via phone. If offered a position, summer staff members must agree to strict expectations and also undergo a background check.
Are you accredited?
Yes, we are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). There is a rigorous process in order to be an accredited ACA camp. Covenant Harbor is checked every three years to ensure we meet those requirements.
In addition to our ACA accreditation and membership, we are also members of 2 other organizations, ACCCCs and CCCA.
ACCCC is the Association of Covenant Camps and Conference Centers. The Evangelical Covenant church has different conferences located throughout the United States, many of which own their own camp like Covenant Harbor. We meet annually, have a governing board, and do a joint mission project each summer.
CCCA, Christian Camp and Conference Center Association, provides resources for current trends in camping news, an annual conference and an educational program called Cairn Series. This is a great organization that helps us stay connected others in the same ministry.
What denomination are you affiliated with?
Owned and operated by the Central Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church since 1947, Covenant Harbor serves summer campers and retreat groups from many different denominations throughout the year.
Is there financial help available?
Yes! We have several discounts: Early Bird, Bring a Friend, and YMCA member. We also have scholarship forms available; just contact our Camp Registrar to fill one out. We don’t want a camper to miss out from camp due to financial reasons!
Early Bird Overnight Camp: Pay in full by March 15 and receive $30 off camp fee. Not applicable for Alpha.
Bring-a-Friend: Returning campers, bring someone that is new to camp- family member, neighbor, school friend – and each receive $50 off the camp fee. You must both attend the same week of camp, and you must register on the same day. If a camper cancels, the friend will not receive the discount. Available on 6 night camps only.
YMCA Discount: Day Campers who have memberships at the Geneva Lakes YMCA receive $10 off the day camp fee. The camper must be part of the YMCA membership (either a child membership or a family membership).
Early Bird Day Camp: Pay in Full by May 15 and receive $10 off camp fee.
Triple Play Discount: Day Campers save $15 per session when registering for three or more 5-day Day Camp experiences.
Day Camp Discounts only apply to 5-day Day Camps.
We also offer scholarships for people who can not afford the full price of camp. To learn more about scholarships call our office (262) 248-3600 and talk to our registrar at extension 327.
What is your cancellation policy?
If you have to cancel, we must receive written notification. Refunds are given based on when we receive a written notice of cancellation.
More than 30 days before the first day of camp – Full refund except non-refundable deposit ($100 for overnight camps, $25 for day camps)
7 to 30 days before the first day of camp – All but $150 of payments made will be refunded to overnight campers; all but $50 of payments made will be refunded to day campers.
Less than 7 days before the first day of camp – No refund.
Medical Cancellations – If we receive a doctor’s written verification prior to the start of camp, you will receive a full refund minus a $25 processing fee.
Overnight Campers – Cancellations (except for medical reasons) involving the bring-a-friend discount will cause the friend to lose that discount.
Can my child move up to the next camp?
Our camps are carefully planned and programmed for each specific age group. Therefore, younger children are not allowed to participate in camps for older campers. In some situations when siblings or friends, in separate age groups, want to attend the same camp, the older camper may attend the younger program. In this case, it is important for the older camper to be aware that some elements of the program may not suit them.
Can I register my child with special needs?
We want as many children as possible to enjoy the full Covenant Harbor camp experience. However, we are not always able to meet every need – especially those that require one-on-one custom care. Each child and situation is unique, so please contact us according to the information below to discuss how we can best serve you and your child.
Who can I call to ask questions?
For questions regarding your balance due, what program you are registered for, team or cabin mate requests, or any special dietary needs, please contact the Camp Registrar at 262-248-3600 ext. 327.
For questions regarding Day Camp or Kishwauketoe camps, contact Kelly Elwell, Children’s Ministry Coordinator 262-248-3600 ext. 337.
For questions regarding Pier 30 or Element or Alpha Team camps, Brad Hutchison, Youth Ministry Coordinator 262-248-3600 ext. 336
For questions regarding camper care packages, contact our office for more information and we would glad to assist you.
Where should we go when we arrive?
Check-in for overnight camp programs is located in the Jackson Family Activity Center (JAC). Parking attendants will guide you to parking on our big field. You will be directed to check-in when you arrive. Drop-off for Day Camp is a drive-thru process. You will be directed to Day Camp Drop-off when you arrive.
Can we arrive earlier on Sundays for overnight camp programs?
On Sundays, you can arrive as early as 10 am. Summer Sunday worship services take place each week at 10:30am in the big tent. Swimming will be open from 12:30pm to 4:00pm and you can purchase lunch at the Lakeside Cafe. You can learn more about these services on our Summer Worship page. Even when you come for our Summer Sunday worship services, check-in does not open until 3:00pm. Covenant Harbor staff do not take responsibility for the campers until the conclusion of our welcome programs, around 5:00 pm.
We can’t make it to check-in on time, is that okay?
In order to have a smooth start to the camp week, we prefer all campers to arrive on time. However, if you are absolutely not able to check-in by 5:00pm for overnight camp, please call our office in advance to make plans. Late arrivals for Day Camp should bring their campers to the office and call in advance when possible. If a camper has not arrived by the end of check-in, they will be contacted by our administrative staff immediately following the conclusion of check-in.
We need to pick up our camper early, is that okay?
Early pick ups are strongly discouraged and should be considered only in the most extreme circumstances. If absolutely necessary, arrangements must be made in advance with our staff. Early pickups for overnight camp, when allowed, must happen between 7:30am and 8:30pm Early pickups for Day Camp, when allowed, need to be confirmed in advance with the Program Directors at drop-off.
What should we pack?
Label your camper’s clothing with iron on labels. Iron On MD Labels provide affordable packages for labels specifically meant for use at camp. Once on their site, click on Special Packages on the left hand side.
How will my camper be supervised?
Overnight campers sleep in the cabins with their assigned counselors. Most cabins have a counselor to camper ratio of 1:8. Some cabins have 1 counselor with 9 campers and some cabins have 2 counselors with 10-12 campers. Day campers are assigned to teams, with a maximum counselor to camper ratio of 1:9.
Throughout the day, all campers will be with their counselor or a summer staff member. Safety is a primary concern and we take that responsibility seriously. All campers have some free time options throughout the day where they can choose from several activities with a partner. Counselors do have limited time off throughout the week, and during that time, non-counseling staff supervise each cabin in the same ratios mentioned above.
How structured is the day?
Each program balances the daily schedule so that there is play time, down time, large group games and meetings, as well as cabin fun and individual rest time. Each age group is considered in planning the day and we allow time for campers to make decisions on how they’ll spend their time which helps build their decision making skills.
What activities will my camper do?
Covenant Harbor has two main activity areas, the waterfront and the big field.
The waterfront is a highlight for many campers and includes swimming, the water playground (2 aqua jumps, slide walk and aqua launch and a rolling log), banana boating, tubing and boat rides.
The big field is another camper favorite and includes the skate park, archery pit, mountain boarding hill, BMX bikes and arts and crafts.
Our adventure center offers the climbing tower, high ropes course and zip line, indoor wall and the giant swing. Each camper will participate in ONE adventure center activity, based on their age and program.
Other activities include carpetball, gymnasium, bounce castle, playgrounds, sand volleyball, 9 square, gaga ball and mini golf.
How will my camper participate in the various activities?
Campers enjoy activities in a variety of ways throughout the camp experience.
Large Group activities
– Kish and Day Camp will enjoy some activities with their entire camp program. These are assigned on the schedule. Pier 30 campers enjoy most of the traditional activities in teams. Campers will rotate through a variety of activities in a pre-assigned group of 5-6 cabin groups.
– There are several times when cabin groups are given the opportunity to choose from a variety of activities. Cabin groups choose the activity that suits them best.
– Free time is an opportunity for each camper to choose what they’d like to do. Campers are given their options and can choose which activity they’d like to participate in, then can travel between those activities as they choose. Campers are encouraged to travel with partners and each activity area is fully staffed.
– Pier 30 (Grades 6-8) campers participate in a pre-chosen skill each morning at camp.
Is there an extra charge for the activities?
Most activities are included in the camp fee, with only a few exceptions. There are additional charges for some of the skill options and these are paid as part of registration. Overnight campers receive one free boating activity and one free adventure activity while they are at camp. Pier 30 and BaseCamp Only: Additional boating or adventure activities cost $4 and will be taken directly from the camper’s spending account. Purchase of additional activities is dependent on space and availability. Some special crafts may charge a small fee.
Why does my camper need spending money?
Campers have the opportunity to visit the camp store each day. Depositing spending money allows your camper to make choices without having to keep track of any cash. The store carries candy (.25-1.50), snacks (.25-2.00), drinks (1.00-2.00), souvenirs (.25-25.00) and clothing (5.00-45.00). Campers are only allowed to go to the store once each day and are limited to $2.00 per day on candy items ($1.50 for Kishwauketoe & Day Camp; no limit for BaseCamp) and $2.00 per day on whole grain snacks or fruit. We do not limit water or Gatorade. Campers also have an opportunity to donate a portion of their spending money to our mission project. Campers choose how much they’d like to donate, anywhere between $0 and $5.
How much money should I deposit?
We recommend a deposit of $10 to $60, depending on your program (smaller amounts for shorter sessions). We suggest discussing with your camper and working together to determine what the best amount is for your camper. Unused funds can be donated to Covenant Harbor or refunded on the last day of camp.
Overnight campers receive one free boating activity and one free adventure activity while they are at camp. Pier 30 and BaseCamp Only: Additional boating or adventure activities cost $4 and will be taken directly from their spending account. Purchase of additional activities is dependent on space and availability.
What are the accommodations (cabins) like?
Each cabin varies in design. Kishwauketoe campers get to stay in an area all to themselves! The four Kish cabins and the Treehouse have four bunk beds, plus a counselor bed. Our covered wagon sleeps up to five campers plus a counselor. There is a separate bathhouse in the center of Kishwauketoe.
Pier 30 campers stay in a variety of cabins, each with indoor restrooms. Campers are housed according to how they fit with their cabin mate requests and by age. We cannot honor specific cabin requests. Generally, the oldest campers each week are housed in the newest housing.
What kind of food is served?
Our food service staff serves a balanced menu that kids enjoy. Each meal provides options. In addition to an entree and at least two side dishes, cold cereal is available at breakfast, sunnut butter and jelly sandwiches are available at lunch and dinner and a salad bar is available at dinner.
Milk, water and juice are available at every meal.
Past breakfast menus include: pancakes, sausage and hash browns; French toast sticks, bacon, potatoes, waffles, eggs, polish sausage.
Past lunch menus include: individual pizzas, veggie tray, breadsticks; sandwiches, chips; taco bar.
Past dinner menus include: spaghetti, broccoli, French bread; chicken tenders, mashed potatoes with gravy, mixed vegetables, biscuits; roast beef, potato wedges, mixed vegetables.
Can I contact my camper?
Campers can receive letters, emails, packages or faxes during the week. Mail is delivered ONCE per day (at lunch) so be sure to send communications before noon. Campers do not have access to phones to make or receive calls. When sending letters or packages, consider bringing them to check-in and we will deliver them on whatever day(s) you indicate.
Is there health staff on duty?
Each week of camp, we have an on-site volunteer RN on duty 24 hours per day. The volunteer RN works with our student nurses, who are hired for the entire summer, and is responsible for dispensing all medications.
The Health Center Staff will contact you if your camper: a) has a fever of over 100.3; b) experiences any vomiting; c) has any injury that requires treatment or evaluation offsite; d) repeatedly contacts us about any injury, illness, or complaint.
How is the waterfront run?
We have specially trained lifeguard certified waterfront staff. The waterfront staff supervises all waterfront activities including swimming and boating.
At the beginning of the week, campers must take a swim test to determine which waterfront activities they can safely participate in. Campers must swim 25 yards in the front crawl, tread water for 30 seconds and swim another 25 yards in a different stroke. Campers who swim proficiently throughout the test are called ‘deep end swimmers’. They are allowed to participate in all boating activities, the water playground and swim in the deep end.
Campers can opt to take the swim test with a life-jacket, which allows participation in boating activities and the water playground, but not swimming in the deep end.
All campers are allowed to swim in the shallow end.
Life jackets are required on all boats and on the water playground, even for campers who have passed the swim test.
When swimming, campers must check in at the buddy board. Each camper has a tag, and must swim with either one or two buddies. Buddy checks are called every 15 minutes, and waterfront staff counts the campers and checks that against the number of campers checked into the buddy board. At the conclusion of a successful buddy check, waterfront staff members rotate posts to stay fresh and alert.
An unsuccessful buddy check, when the number of campers swimming doesn’t match with the number of campers checked in, results in a lost swimmer procedure. Our staff members are well trained in operating this emergency procedure, and campers are instructed at the beginning of the week to know what they should do. Most unsuccessful buddy checks are either tests or the result of a camper not checking out at the buddy board.
Does my camper have to take the swim test?
We will not force any camper to take the swim test. Our staff will encourage campers to try and will give them the option to take it with a life jacket but will not force them to do something they are not comfortable with. If a camper chooses not take a swim test they will only be able to go to the shallow end and will not be allowed to go on any boating activities but may try again later in the week if they choose to.