Camp Frequently Asked Questions

///Camp Frequently Asked Questions
Camp Frequently Asked Questions 2021-03-05T10:08:47-05:00

Updated March 2021

Essential Information

Location: 358 Springside Ave, New Haven, CT
Phone: (203) 389-4333 ext 1213
Drop off time: 8:30 – 9:00 Pick-up time: 2:45 – 3:00
Latest pick-up time from extended day: 5:30
Due date for payments and doctor’s physicals: June 1, 2021

Important Camp Links

Financial Aid Application
Typical Day at Camp (2021 will be modified to keep cohorts separate)
Medical Form
Behavior Policy
Refund Policy
A Letter to Parents

We operated a small, joyful, healthy camp in summer 2020 and are looking forward to welcoming children again in summer 2021.

Like schools and childcare centers, camps are directed to keep cohorts of campers separate from each other throughout the day. We want to make sure all campers have a chance to access all the spaces on our campus that they are excited to enjoy: visiting the chickens, building forts, exploring the wetland, mixing up a feast in the mud kitchen, building in the woodshop, and more. Creating a schedule that allows all groups access to all the opportunities on our campus while keeping those groups separate from each other means that we can offer less than 50% of the camper spots that we would offer in a typical summer. We know parent and camper interest will be higher than the capacity we can accommodate and we truly look forward to the summer when we can resume our typical routines.

Who is eligible to enroll?
  • Children ages 4 – 13 may be enrolled in camp. Children must be 4 by July 5 in order to be eligible. 
  • Children ages 14 – 16 may be enrolled as Junior Counselors. JC’s are wonderful helpers in our groups for younger children! Please be sure to read the JC program description to see if this role is a good fit for your child.

Campers may be enrolled in one or more two-week sessions:

  • July 5 – 16
  • July 19 – 30
  • August 2 – 13

Hours are 8:30 AM – 3 PM with optional extended day available from 3 – 5:30 PM.

We do not provide lunch or transportation.

Where is the camp located?

Our address is 358 Springside Avenue in New Haven. 

How soon do I need to register?

Registration opens at 7 AM on April 1, 2021. We are usually full within a few weeks of opening registration. There is no cost and no obligation to joining the waiting list if a session you are interested in is full.

The link for online registration is on the page with all the details for each individual camp (Sprouts, Adventure, or Junior Counselor). 

    • Tuition is $550 for a 2-week Adventure Camp session for children ages 5 – 13 and $680 for a 2-week Sprouts Camp session for children ages 4 – 5.
    • Extended day is $200 per 2-week session. 
    • Children may be enrolled in one or more sessions.
  • Financial aid is available to qualified applicants from any town. Apply online HERE
  • A non-refundable deposit of 20% of camp fees is required at the time of registration. A payment plan option is available for the balance, with payment in full due by June 1.
What does a typical day look like?

Over the course of their 2-week session, camp groups will enjoy time in all of our activity areas as well as hikes and adventures in West Rock Park and time for unstructured free play time. 

Activity areas include:

  • Woodshop
  • Wetland
  • Honey bees
  • Children’s garden
  • Mud kitchen and sandbox
  • Field games
  • Fort building
  • Campfire cooking
  • Chickens, ducks, and turkeys
  • Sheep and baby goats

For returning campers who know and love Common Ground Camp, many favorite activities and experiences will be the same, and some things will look different from what they remember:

  • All campers will be able to do favorite things like build a fort, cook with food from the farm, enjoy a campfire, play in the mud kitchen, hold a chicken, make art, sing silly camp songs, work in the woodshop, and have adventures in West Rock Park. 
  • We will not have “choice time” (our morning free play period) because we need to keep camper groups separate. But, time for unstructured free play in designated areas within the assigned camper groups  will still be an important part of each day.
  • Instead of gathering for an all camp morning meeting, each group will start their days with a morning circle to greet each other and get ready for a great day at camp.
  • We will continue to hike throughout West Rock Park, enjoying Stream Day, Judge’s Cave, the Big Rock Challenge, and other camper favorites! We will avoid times and locations of high visitation from the general public and will be ready to shift plans if needed. West Rock Park is huge, and there are plenty of quiet places for us to enjoy. We will not take any bussed trips off of our campus.
  • We are not offering specialty camps like Amazing Animals Camp or Farm to Feast Cooking Camp, but campers will have the opportunity to cook with their group and to spend time with the farm animals!
How does extended day work?

Extended day is supervised recreational time with activity choices including outdoor play (including garden and animal time), field games, and an activity tent with art supplies and games.

Day-by-day extended day scheduling is not available this year. Campers must be enrolled in extended day for all the days of their session (they may actually attend on a different schedule, but tuition is not refunded or credited for days not attended).

There are up to 24 campers in extended day, and it is a new cohort of campers and staff for your child (in addition to your child’s assigned camp group).

We do NOT have a nurse on campus during extended day, but extended day staff are trained in first aid and CPR as well as any needed emergency medication administration procedures.

You may pick-up anytime from 3 – 5:30. Tuition is $200 per 2-week session.

Is it fully outside?

We will be *almost* fully outside. All of our activities are outside. Campers will wear their mask indoors as follows:

  • Visiting the bathroom
  • Visiting the camp nurse for first aid or medical needs
  • Activities in their group’s assigned classroom if severe weather or other outdoor emergency makes it dangerous to be outside (typically this means thunderstorms)
  • Brief cool down times in their group’s assigned classroom on exceptionally hot days. 
What do you do in very hot or very rainy weather?
  • Campers should come prepared for the weather. We will be outside in any weather as long as it is safe (including rain). Campers usually love rainy days – it is not so hot, and they are allowed to get all wet!
  • During thunderstorms, campers will be indoors in their assigned classrooms (remaining in their camp group). 
  • Staff and children must wear masks at all times when indoors. 
  • When it is very hot we take frequent water breaks and make sure that all campers have a filled water bottle. We also turn on the sprinklers for campers (and staff!) who want to cool off in the water. We may also take short indoor breaks (with masks on) to cool off in the air conditioning on exceptionally hot days, but will not spend all or most of a day indoors.
How will campers be grouped?
  • Adventure Camp groups are 18 – 24 campers with 4 – 5 staff. Sprouts Camp groups are 8 campers with 2 staff and a Junior Counselor volunteer.
  • Campers will be grouped by age, with typical age groupings being ages 4 – 5, 5 – 8, 8 – 10, and 10 – 13, plus one or more mixed age groups (ages 5 – 13) for friends and siblings with a wide age range who want to be in the same group.
  • You can make friend and sibling requests for grouping when you register.
Who are the staff?

One of the strengths of Common Ground Camp is our amazing staff team! Our camps are staffed by teachers, assistant teachers, counselors, and junior counselors.

Our teachers are professionals who have significant experience with children and lots of enthusiasm for outdoor play and exploration. Our teachers represent a diverse range of ages and backgrounds, and they all share a love of child-centered adventure and learning. 

Assistant teachers are often folks who are exploring the possibility of a career in teaching or environmental education. We have one assistant teacher in each camp. The assistant teacher helps with activities and may lead their own activity with the mentoring of one of the teachers. 

Counselors are high school students who have earned a job working in camp by volunteering with children’s programs during the school year and/or by being an amazing Junior Counselor or counselor in a previous summer. Many of our counselors are Common Ground High School Students. Counselors assist teachers with activities, sing songs, play games, help make sure that hands are washed and water bottles are filled, and bring lots of fun to each camp day. They are learning about child development and are not primarily in charge of leading activities, guiding behavior, or caring for first aid needs (the camp teachers are responsible for these roles).

Junior counselors are our hard working volunteers! They are former campers, ages 14 and up, who love working with young children and may be interested in earning a counselor position in the future. They primarily help in camps for ages 4 – 8. Junior counselors are great friends – they read stories, tie shoes, fill water bottles, and hold hands on challenging hikes!

What health measures is Common Ground taking to protect campers and staff?

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is the State agency that licenses summer camps. We will be following all of their guidance as it is issued and updated. Currently, we anticipate implementing the following Covid risk mitigation measures:

  • Staff are encouraged to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and we anticipate high vaccination rates among our team.
  • Adults and children will wear masks as directed by camp licensing at the time of the program. As of March 2021, this means that adults wear masks at all times (except for short breaks when outside and at least 6 feet from all others) and that children may choose to wear a mask when outside, but are not required to. Children must wear a mask when inside. We anticipate that activities will be entirely outside, with campers coming inside for bathroom runs and for severe weather.
  • Children will only interact with other campers in their assigned group. There will be no contact between groups, greatly reducing the risk of any potential Covid spread on a wide scale. Within their assigned group, children are NOT expected to maintain a 6 foot distance from others at all times. This is in alignment with licensing requirements and with the ways that we know children need to play and socialize. Unnecessary, excessive contact (like games that involve hugging or wrestling or whispering into ears) will be redirected to other ways of playing, but campers should experience social interaction within their group as mostly normal.
  • Adults and children will sanitize hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer throughout the day, and always before and after eating. Hand sanitizer is carried by staff and is also available in all activity areas.
  • We have a professional cleaning crew that sanitizes surfaces every evening, and is available during the day for on-call sanitation needs.
  • We have a camp nurse on campus at all times and will actively assess and isolate any child with illness symptoms.
  • Families will be notified of any known Covid exposure that affects their child, and the recommended home quarantine protocol will be followed.

Official guidance for licensed summer camps may change to become more or less restrictive. These risk mitigation measures may change as we update our policies and procedures to be in alignment with current guidance.

What happens if there is a COVID positive case?

If a camper or staff person has a COVID-19 positive test, we will notify the Health Department and follow their guidance for cleaning, closure of individual groups, and notification of families.

Refund policy

If you register and then cancel for any reason up until June 15, you will receive a refund of 80%, and the remaining 20% is not refundable. Between June 16 – August 13, we will issue an 80% refund for cancellations IF we are able to fill your camper’s spot before the start of the camp session you are canceling.

If there is a confirmed Covid case at camp, it is likely that the Health Dept will require the affected group to quarantine for a period of time. Closures are determined on a case-by-case basis and may affect some groups and activities on campus while not affecting others. If we need to close your child’s group due to a Covid exposure we will refund 50% of the tuition for the closure days within the same session. If your child is enrolled in a subsequent session and will miss some days due to completing the required self-quarantine from an exposure that happened at Common Ground Camp then you may withdraw from the subsequent session and receive an 80% refund or you may stay enrolled and attend once the self-quarantine period is complete, with no refund for missed days.

No refund will be issued for missed days if your child needs to self-quarantine due to illness or due to a Covid exposure that happened outside of Common Ground Camp.

My child has an inhaler or epipen. What documentation do you need for camp?

We need an Authorization for Administration of Emergency Medication Form that is signed by the parent and the child’s doctor. Medication must be in its original container, in a clear plastic bag with the camper’s name on the outside. It is most likely the same paperwork and packaging that you are required to do for your child’s school.

My child has a medical, emotional, behavioral, or developmental need that is different from typical peers. Will Common Ground Camp be a good fit?

We welcome children with many different kinds of needs. All children with a need that requires support beyond what is typical for a child of their age must have a Special Care Plan written by their parent, which is then shared with our nurse and your child’s camp teachers so that we can have a shared plan to help your child have fun and be safe. We have one teacher for every 4 children in Sprouts Camp (ages 4 – 5) and one teacher for every 6 – 8 children in Adventure Camp (ages 5 – 13). Our planned staffing accounts for children being able to share attention and direction from teachers according to those ratios. Our routine staffing does not include capacity for a staff person to provide individual direction for the majority of the day – please contact us at to discuss your child’s needs if they have a need that requires individual support throughout much of the day.

What are your food policies? Is camp nut-free?

Please send a lunch each day for your camper and use an insulated lunch bag and an icepack if your child’s lunch needs to be kept cold (refrigeration is not available).

You may pack any foods you wish in your child’s lunch – we do not restrict any specific foods. If your child has a food allergy that could be triggered by being in the presence of a specific food, please contact us so we can discuss how to best provide for your child.

Do you provide snack?

Snack is not provided. Packing one or two small snack options in addition to lunch is helpful so that your camper has the option for a quick snack if needed before or after lunch. Campers who are staying for afternoon extended day will need a snack, too, so please send an additional item in your child’s bag if they will be staying past 3 PM.

What does my child need to bring to camp?
  • Backpack (with camper’s NAME on the OUTSIDE). We often take our lunches with us on the trail, so a backpack your child can comfortably carry is very useful! 
  • A full water bottle (32 oz size is highly recommended) with your child’s name on it
    • Packed lunch, in an insulated bag if necessary. Lunches are not refrigerated.
    • A small snack or two that your camper is welcome to eat before or after lunch if they are hungry
    • a change of clothes in a plastic bag (in case of serious messes or uncomfortable wet clothes)
  • Wearing sneakers, boots, or closed toes sandals (no flip flops or slides/open backed shoes)
  • Dressed for mess and for the weather
  • Long-lasting bug-spray and sunscreen applied (optional)