Frequently Asked Questions

When does registration open?
Registration opens January 1. Register before April 1 for an Early Bird discount of $25 per camper per week. Register here using this CampBrain link.

What is the Tom Denney Nature Camp?
TDNC is similar to an old-fashioned summer camp where kids swim and play games and do activities in the woods, fields, trails and ponds. We have a variety of games and activities that involve playing and teamwork and adventure and creativity – without any distractions like electronics. Nature themes are built into our games and activities so the campers can learn while having fun.

What makes the Tom Denney Nature Camp special?
The campers tell us what makes us special are the counselors. Our counselors do everything with the campers, from playing the games to eating lunch. The kids love hanging out with them and vice-versa. Speaking of lunch, we have a campfire where kids can roast their hot dogs and marshmallows!

We pride ourselves in keeping the kids entertained with games, but also offer team building and creative activities to keep things balanced. Everything we do is based on fun and with a nature theme. For example, one of our all-camp tag games is called Predator and Prey where the campers and counselors are arranged in groups of animals on the food chain and they have to find food, water and shelter that are hidden around camp while tagging those in the food chain below them and avoid getting tagged by those in the food chain above them. This is a camp favorite. Another favorite is shelter building since who doesn’t want to build a lean-to fort in the woods. The kids are so creative and proud of their work. You are welcome and encouraged to visit with your child and see their structures. Then we have the performances on Fridays. The kids create these during the week and perform them for their families and friends. The Tom Denney program is for campers entering Kindergarten through 5th grade.

The Eco Adventures program for 6th-9th graders is unique in that they help plan their activities since we treat them as the older campers that they are. They still play a lot of games, but they also get to do advanced activities and adventures like kayaking, laser tag, water guns and staying late on Thursday night to do fun activities in the dark.

Please see our “Testimonials” and “A Day at Camp” pages for more information.

Do you have a Counselor in Training program?
We love our CITs and make the program about fun as well as experience. CITs play the games with the kids! The program gives the CITs the chance to work on responsibility, leadership, team building, communication, skill development and personal growth, so that they can gain confidence and independence for wherever their future takes them. CITs attend Orientation and then choose two weeks or more that they want to be at camp. Time spent at camp can be used for volunteer/leadership hours. CITs are entering 9th grade or above. 9th graders have the choice to be a CIT or have one last year as a camper in the Eco Adventures program.

Do you offer Before and After Care?
Camp runs from 9am – 3pm. Counselors can be paid separately at the rate of $15 per hour per camper for Before and/or After Care. Before Care drop off is at 8:00am (please be aware it is not on camp grounds) and After Care pick up is at 4:30pm at camp. If camp is canceled due to dangerous weather, then After Care is canceled as well and you will need to pick up your camper ASAP for their safety. Please email the camp (bcttdnc@gmail.com) to work out your individual needs.

Do campers attend more than one week?
Yes. Many of our campers attend multiple weeks. Although we make sure to include all the camp favorites every week for those campers who only come one week per summer but look forward to certain things, we also like to change things up every week for the campers and ourselves. We want to make camp as fun as possible, so we run the week according to the group of kids. For example, if we have a group who likes running games, then we do a lot of those – of course, always making sure to offer alternate activities for those who need a break or want to do something different.

Are campers with disabilities allowed to attend camp?
Although we are not a camp specifically designed for campers with disabilities, nor does our staff have official training for this, we do welcome talking to parents/guardians about how we can accommodate any and every camper at camp. In the past we have had campers with physical/medical/emotional/social disabilities and are always willing to have a conversation about how/whether it would work for the camper, the other campers and the staff.

Where is the location of camp?
The camp is held at the Bowers Springs conservation area in Bolton, MA. This is town-owned conservation land that we are privileged to be allowed to use. GPS is 44 Flanagan Road.

What is the drop-off procedure?
At 9:00am (no earlier than 9:00am please – or you can ask about Before/After Camp Care) cars will be directed into the parking lot. Please sign your child in to camp in the morning with one of the two counselors standing at the parking lot entrance with clipboards and then proceed to the chain where counselors will help them out of the car. Do NOT block driveways! If you are there before 9:00am, then please stay in your car lined up along the right side of Flanagan Road or Old Harvard Road until you are directed in to the parking lot. Please refer to the DRIVING MAP on how to drive in the drop off and pick lines as dictated by the Bolton Police. Other cars may pass you, but they are people enjoying the conservation area. There is a confidential staff meeting until 9:00am so we will not be able to watch your children unless Before Care has been planned.

What if your child is not coming to camp in the morning?
Before 8:00am email bcttdnc@gmail.com (BEST WAY) or call the camp phone 978-429-3004; after 8:00am call the camp director.

What is the pick-up procedure?
Pick-up will follow the same procedure as drop-off. If you are there before 3:00pm, then please stay in your car lined up along the right side of Flanagan Road or Old Harvard Road until you are directed in to the parking lot. Other cars may pass you, but they are people enjoying the conservation area.

Do you hold camp in the rain?
Yes! Many campers say their favorite days at camp are the rainy ones. We have many activities for rainy days. Please realize your child will still be playing camp games and will get wet, so please dress accordingly for the weather. Sneakers are still required since we will be playing running games and rain boots are not good for those. Bring a raincoat and an extra shirt/sweatshirt for warmth if it is a cold rain (we tend to have one day each season that is in the 50’s and rainy and cold even though it is supposed to be summer!). Also, there is no campfire if it is raining, so bring a non-cooking lunch.

How do you handle thunder/lightning/flooding/etc.?
The camp will be held in all but the worst weather. Please check your email if there is bad weather in the morning to see if we need to cancel camp for the day or delay the start time. If there is dangerous weather while at camp, then you will receive a text via the Remind alert system to come pick up your camper ASAP. Even if your camper is signed up for After Care, if camp is canceled, then there is no After Care and you will need to pick up your camper for safety. An example of dangerous weather would be thunder/lightning/flooding/etc. at which the Board of Health requires us to shut down camp for safety and you need to pick up your child ASAP. This is done to keep your camper safe since we are an all-outdoor camp. Do NOT use the Remind system to communicate with us. We will not receive your message. It is a ONE-WAY system for us to notify you of weather/etc. concerns. Make sure you do not delete Remind from your phone AND that you have notifications turned on AND that the volume is turned up – there will be a fee if you do not pick up your child from camp within 30 minutes if/once it is canceled. This is for your child’s and the staff’s safety.

What facilities do you have?
We are a nature camp held on a conservation area with woods, fields, trails and ponds that are owned by the town. There is a big tent and there are portable toilets and changing areas available.

How do you make the groups of campers?
Groups are sorted on Monday mornings by grade and campers are asked to make sure they are with their friends (or they will make new ones!). Depending on the camp population, campers may be in a group with others who are in the grade above or below them. There are a large number of all-camp activities because it is more fun to play games with many people, however groups are made for some events where it is better to make things age-appropriate. Groups are also used for safety at camp.

What is the ratio of staff to campers?
We follow the regulations from the Board of Health who issue our camp license. They are one counselor for every ten campers over seven years of age and one counselor for every five campers under seven years of age. Then, we also hire more counselors since more counselors means more fun for the campers! Every group will always have a minimum of 2 counselors. We also always exceed the lifeguard requirement.

What should my child wear/bring to camp?

  • Backpacks: Label everything and bring a big enough pack to fit it all and make sure it closes since they have to carry their backpacks as they walk to and from camp. Don’t have them bring anything they don’t need (i.e. if Tom Denney camper and not swimming during free choice, then don’t bring a suit and towel, however Eco Adventures campers should bring that every day)
  • Sneakers are required for footwear. We recommend old ones because they may get dirty. No open-toed shoes or rain boots are allowed! Trust us; your child does not want to wear them running around in the woods.
  • Water – lots
  • Snacks and Lunch. If bringing a hot dog, then make sure to bring two and also have a back-up non-cooking lunch in case there is no campfire or the food falls in it. Campfires are only Mondays-Thursdays, so do not bring cooking foods on Fridays. Do not bring cooking foods on bad weather days with a chance of storms or rain. Food sharing will not be allowed due to possible food allergies of campers
  • Small trash bag for personal garbage since we are on conservation land and it is a carry in/carry out policy
  • Hand sanitizer/antibacterial wipes
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent – make sure your camper can apply it themselves as staff cannot, but staff will remind them to do so
  • Swimsuit & towel – Tom Denney: Bring if you think you want to swim during free choice during Monday – Thursday – other options are running games or arts & crafts. Swim assessment information is below. Eco Adventures: Bring every day because there are many EA water activities and wear your swimsuit to camp on Monday for the swim assessment and bring a change of clothes for after
  • Crocs or something like them are allowed only for campers who intend to swim. They can wear them only when walking to and from the swimming area, and sneakers will be required for the rest of the day. No open-toed shoes (flip flops, slides, etc.) are allowed
  • Rain gear and warm clothes if necessary due to weather. Every year there are some rainy and cold days. We recommend a sweatshirt under a rain jacket. Rain boots are not allowed since we still run around and those tend to chafe, so sneakers are still required
  • Life jackets: Feel free to bring your own with you name on it if it is U.S. Coast Guard approved and fits properly. The camp also has them
  • Eco Adventures Thursday Late Night: extra water, extra snacks, flashlight/head lamp, sweatshirt/pants/bug spray for bugs and if it gets cooler. Food to be provided by the camp: afternoon snack (e.g. pretzels, crackers) and dinner (e.g. burgers & dogs or pizza). Campers will be notified of the menu ahead of time to check with their parents regarding food allergies or taste preferences. Campers may bring their own non-cooking food
  • Friday Hike Day: no swimming, no camp fire lunch and campers carry their packs on the hike, so pack lightly and do not bring suit/towel or food that needs to be cooked
  • What not to bring: stuffed animals, action figures, games, books, smart watches (kids have played games on them during camp), etc.

The Bolton Conservation Trust and Tom Denney Nature Camp take no responsibility for anything brought to the camp.

What is the swim assessment?
The Board of Health who issues us our license requires a swim assessment to be taken by anyone who wishes to swim at camp. A new swim assessment has to be taken every year. However, once a swim assessment is taken, it lasts all season, so if the camper comes two weeks or more, they will only have to take the assessment the first week. Swim assessments are offered on MONDAYS ONLY!

The camp has lifeguards and meets the safety requirements of the Board of Health.

The water is tested weekly by the Board of Health.

Tom Denney camper swim assessment: The assessment must be taken by any Tom Denney camper ON MONDAY who wishes to swim during free choice time after lunch (or they can choose running games or arts & crafts instead of swimming – therefore not swim at all and not take the assessment). The swim assessment will be a modified version of the Eco Adventures swim assessment that is applicable for the TD camper and must be taken without a personal flotation device. The camper does not have to pass the swim assessment to be allowed in the water, however a life jacket may be required to be worn.

Eco Adventures swim assessment: All Eco Adventures campers must take the swim assessment per the Board of Health regulations. They will be asked to swim a strong stroke of their choice for 150 feet, tread water for 30 seconds, then swim 150 feet, and it must be taken without a personal flotation device. If a camper fails the assessment they will still be able to participate in the water activities if they agree to wear a life jacket. Please do not worry about not being able to pass the swim assessment. Just tell us your concerns and we will work with you to avoid embarrassment. Not being able to swim will not affect the camper’s fun at camp since almost all Eco Adventures water activities require all campers to wear life jackets anyway. Eco Adventures campers take the swim assessment on Monday morning of their camp week, so please have your camper come to camp with their bathing suit on and bring a change of clothes for after.

Counselor in Training swim assessment: The swim assessment will be the same as the Eco Adventures one. It is a requirement by the Board of Health that all CITs take the swim assessment, however passing of the swim assessment is not required to be a CIT.  Let us know if your CIT might be embarrassed and we will work with you to ensure that does not happen.

Per the Board of Health rules, if the swimming skill level of the individual is deemed unsafe for aquatic activities at camp, that individual will not be permitted to utilize the swimming area without a personal flotation device, as safety of campers is paramount at TDNC. Personal flotation devices will be made available for all minor children, non-swimmers and swimmers at risk who will be present at swimmer areas.

Can my child bring their own life jacket?
We will accept a personal flotation device, provided by a parent or guardian, for the use of a minor at camp. Any PFD used at camp must be labeled and comply with the regulations, even one provided by the parents. It must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and fit properly.

Will you apply sunscreen and bug spray on my child?
Staff is not allowed the apply sunscreen or bug spray on a camper. The camper must supply their own products and can ask another camper for help. Staff will remind campers to apply/reapply products. Please make sure your camper can apply the items themselves. Since most of camp is in the woods, we are somewhat protected from the sun, however sunscreen is still recommended. Bugs can vary year to year and person to person.

Can I bring medication to camp?
If your child will be bringing medication to camp, then please fill out and sign the Authorization to Administer Medication form.

If you are bringing medication to camp (e.g. Epi-pen/inhaler/pills/etc.), then please understand that it has to be given to us following the Board of Health rules: “Medication prescribed for campers shall be kept in original containers bearing the pharmacy label, which shows the date of filling, the pharmacy name and address, the filling pharmacist’s initials, the serial number of the prescription, the name of the patient, the name of the prescribing practitioner, the name of the prescribed medication, directions for use and cautionary statements, if any, contained in such prescription or required by law, and if tablets or capsules, the number in the container.” If the medication is not labeled properly, then your child will NOT be allowed to be dropped off at camp. Also, if you are sending medication such as Benadryl, then please make sure it is in the appropriate form for the child (ex. please do not send a pill that has to be swallowed when your child can only take the chewable ones).

Do you have the lyrics to the camp songs?
The camp songs are on the “Documents” page!

Camper Expectations:
In planning for an enjoyable, safe and successful camp experience we ask that you read these camp rules and discuss these with your camper before camp begins.
1. Listen to the counselors and directors
2. Respect others and be kind in words and actions
3. Keep your hands to yourself and don’t hurt others/nature/animals
4. No throwing sticks/rocks/dirt/etc.
5. Always stay with your group and tell a counselor when you need to use the bathroom
6. If you’re leaving the group with permission, take a buddy
7. Talk to a counselor if you have a question or a problem
8. No running, except in the field or woods as part of a game
9. No swimming without a lifeguard and always with a buddy
10. Carry In Carry Out: whatever you bring in, take it out with you
11. No food sharing since we need to be careful with food allergies
12. Have fun!

Do you offer scholarships?
Scholarships are given for the Tom Denney program at camp. As we are a non-profit and only charge what we need to run camp, these scholarships depend on donations from other camp parents and can vary from year to year. Please note we cannot guarantee a particular week for your child for the first few months that registration is open as we need an idea of where we will have space. Also, as registrations progress, we may have to move you to another week that has more open spots. To apply for a scholarship please send the camp an email (bcttdnc@gmail.com) explaining the circumstances of your request. We will do the best we can to find a place for every child who wants to attend camp.

Do you have an Early Bird Special Discount?
Register before April 1 to receive the Early Bird Special Discount of $25 per registration!

Do you have a refund policy?
Refund requests must be made prior to May 1 and will be assessed a $50 administrative fee. Please remember that we are a non-profit organization and we try to keep the costs within reach of every family. We need to plan camp and meet our obligations and financial commitments have been made in expectation of your camper’s participation. A refund of registration fees after May 1 may be considered under special circumstances with a $50 administration fee, however no refunds will be made for failure to attend camp or incomplete attendance (e.g. due to illness, injury, transportation issues, being asked to leave due to behavioral issues, camp closures due to dangerous weather, etc.). It is our policy to consider any fees not requested prior to May 1st as a donation in full to the camp and will be used as a scholarship to sponsor a camper.

Can I get a copy of my invoice?
Invoices can be found in your registration.

Is my registration fee tax-deductible?
Since the Bolton Conservation Trust is a non-profit organization, some portion of your donation may be tax deductible. Please contact your financial adviser. The tax identification number is 510143182.

Are you a licensed camp by the Board of Health?
The Tom Denney Nature Camp complies with all the regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and is licensed by the Nashoba Associated Boards of Health. Parents/Guardians may request copies of background checks, health care and discipline policies as well as procedures for filing grievances at any time.

How do I contact you?
We love to talk about camp! Please feel free to contact us at bcttdnc@gmail.com (best and fastest way) or leave a voice mail message at 978-429-3004 with any questions. Let us know when it is a good time to call you and please be prepared to answer your phone from an unidentifiable number since it will not be the one listed here.

When camp is in session, we may not receive emails or voice mail in the woods, so if it is between the hours of 9:00am-3:00pm on a camp day, then you will need to call the camp director. To contact the camp directly ONLY during camp days/hours and when your child is there: Tom Denney Director: Jen 978-877-6895.

Please do NOT use the Remind alert system to contact camp since it is only an outgoing text system used by camp staff to alert parents about camp closures or other issues. We will not receive any communication you send to Remind.