Frequently Asked Questions
We strive to make the process of choosing an overnight camp and preparing for summer at Camp Chi as easy as possible. We’re here for you every step of the way.
Where is Camp Chi?
Camp Chi is located in Lake Delton, Wisconsin just outside the Wisconsin Dells. During the non-summer months, our team works in JCC Chicago offices throughout Chicagoland.
What is Camp Chi’s approach to religion?
Camp Chi is a Jewish camp open to people of all faiths. As part of JCC Chicago, we offer a pluralistic and value-based approach to Judaism. Our core values are Community (Kehilah), Kindness (Kavod) and Respect (Chesed), which are all universal values. We put a Jewish lens on those and try to build everything we do around those values.
We teach and say a short prayer before and after meals, and we celebrate Shabbat with a brief service on Friday evenings, full of music and a mix of Hebrew and English.
Being Jewish is not a requirement to be part of Camp Chi. We simply ask that everyone embrace our values and live by them while part of our camp community.
How does the canteen work?
The Camp Chi Canteen is a full-service camp store. Campers visit the Canteen approximately 3 times each week depending on their age. Each camper has a canteen account that is funded upon camp registration. Campers withdraw from this account to pay for Canteen items, including snacks, Chi Gear (sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, etc.), games and necessity items (stamps, stationery, shampoo, etc.). Upon each visit to the canteen, campers are limited to two consumable items (plus a bottle of water). The canteen staff closely monitors each camper’s account and will contact you if your child’s account is running low. Family members can also order items online or over the phone for their campers. At the end of the summer, we reconcile all of the canteen accounts, refunding any balance above $10. Balances of $10 or less are automatically donated to the Camp Chi scholarship fund.
What is communication like with families while their camper is at camp?
Open and clear two-way communication is necessary to ensure our partnership is successful. You can always call or email us, and we will do our best to get back to you in a timely manner. During the summer, a camper’s village leader will be the main point of contact for families.
We will communicate with you through a variety of ways. We post a daily newsletter that provides a quick overview of what happened at camp the previous day. We also share the weather forecast and each day’s menu. All of that can be found in your CampInTouch under News. We also send sporadic email updates from email@example.com, so please be sure to add this name and email to your address book, safe list, etc. and check your spam/junk/clutter folder often.
Camp Chi staff will contact parents for a plethora of reasons. Over the summer you may hear from the office staff, health center, canteen, your camper’s village leaders, or one of the full-time staff. Contrary to what many families believe, getting a phone call from camp is not necessarily a bad thing. We often call just to give an update on how your camper is adjusting or to celebrate your camper’s achievement and make you aware.
Finally, each day, except for Shabbat, we will post photos in CampInTouch by village. We employ a team of photographers to try and capture as many moments and campers as possible in their photos. Please visit the family guide to review more details on the photo procedures and policies.
How does Camp Chi ensure my camper is successful?
When you entrust your camper to our care, we want you to think of us as your partner in your camper’s well-being. As partners, we promise to keep your camper safe and healthy, while providing a community of friends where they can become more independent and grow as individuals.
Prior to camp, families fill out a series of forms that provide medical information, friendship requests, transportation requests, and information about your camper including how they do in school, how they handle transitions, their hobbies and interests and much more. Our team thoroughly reviews all of the information provided and follows up as needed. We may involve members of the community care team, including our Inclusion Coordinator, Social Workers, etc. to make plans with families to ensure your camper’s success.
Who is on the community care team?
The community care team is made up of staff who focus on the mental, emotional, and social health of our campers and staff. Our full-time staff all play a part on this team along with our social workers, inclusion coordinators, nurses, etc.
Why do you require so many forms?
Your camper’s success is our highest priority. We are a care-providing partner and your camper’s well-being, and success are our top priorities. We can keep our end of the partnership only if we have the information to prepare our medical staff and counselors to ensure your camper is well cared for and free to have the best summer. We ask you to fill out all the forms honestly and thoroughly. The more details you provide, the better prepared we are to help your camper have a safe, happy and memorable time at camp. Feel free to call us to discuss anything in greater detail or if you would feel more comfortable talking to us rather than putting it down on paper. For more information on camper forms, click here.
How do friendship request work?
Camp provides a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends, and if campers come to camp with a friend, they may both request to be placed in the same cabin. The process of making cabin groups is very complex and difficult. We try our best to make sure that everyone will be happy. We use the guidelines under the friendship request page/section on our website as the framework for creating cabins.
What if my camper needs accommodations?
Camp Chi prides itself on being inclusive of all campers and staff, meaning we believe everyone should be successful at Chi regardless of ability, gender, sexual orientation, etc. For campers that may need a great level of staffing, we partner with Keshet to provide 1-on-1 support for campers who need it. Our Community Care team is experienced in creating simple and effective accommodations for campers, whether it is time in our chill zone (sensory room), visual schedules, fidgets, extra time to pack/unpack, etc.
Camp Chi is a gendered experience, meaning that cabins and villages are identified as either male or female. At camp, campers live based on who they are, not how they were born. All of our bathhouses have locking toilet stalls and private showers. We work hard to maintain campers’ and staff members’ privacy and provide an environment where everyone is safe and comfortable.
You can read our full inclusion statement here.
How do you handle home sickness?
It is important that campers, family members, and staff all know that homesickness is normal, common and happens to campers and staff of all ages. Most campers and staff, at some point, experience a moment where they miss home or want to go home. Most of the time, those moments are far outweighed by the fun they’ll be having at camp, friends they are with, and the memories being made.
In our experience, it is a not a “one size fits all” type of problem. Some campers want to talk about it with an adult. Some want to be doubly busy with camp activities to forget about the homesickness. Others need to take a walk around camp, write a letter home, draw a picture, etc. Our staff is trained in how to help identify homesickness and address it with each camper. Our community care team is present to provide additional support and strategies for campers and staff.
How do I know if my camper is ready for camp?
Just like there is no one way to fix homesickness, there is no one age that indicates it’s the right time to try overnight camp. If your camper is expressing interest in overnight camp, they are ready. If they struggle with sleepovers or sleeping at a relative’s home, they may not be ready for one of our longer experiences. We are happy to speak with you and your camper to help evaluate if they are ready for camp.
What does Camp Chi do to prevent bullying?
We believe that everybody should enjoy Camp Chi equally, feel safe, secure and accepted regardless of color, race, gender, popularity, athletic ability, religion, intelligence, physical appearance, nationality, or any other group to which someone might belong. We agree to do everything we can to prevent bullying at Camp Chi. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves a power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.
Staff are trained to observe signs of bullying and instructed to act quickly to solve disagreements, aggressive acts and behaviors, or physical confrontations. Daily observations of campers and cabin dynamics in each cabin are recorded and shared with our community care team. Staff are also instructed to share potential concerns with supervisors and the camper care team.
All campers and staff agree to live by our values and affirm this in various forms signed before coming to camp, which is all reviewed at camp again.
How can my camper meet other campers before camp starts?
Some campers come to Chi knowing a lot of people from home. Some come knowing nobody. It’s a spectrum and there is no wrong place to fall on it. If you or your camper want to meet other Chi campers, there are a few ways we can help:
- We run programs throughout the year where campers can meet others, interact with our full-time team, and actually be at camp. From Winter Camp to Weekend at Chi, and even Family Weekends these are great opportunities to get some familiar faces and get ready for camp. Get more details here.
- Ask to be added to our “Buddy List.” We maintain a list of campers who want to meet others before camp and try to match them up with similar campers who will be in the same village and session. Matching up buddies takes time and is easier to complete successfully for us after you have filled out some of your Camper Forms, so we know a little more about your camper. Call or email us to get added to the buddy list.
In addition to these questions, we encourage you to visit the Health and Safety section of our website.
How do you ensure my camper is healthy while at Chi?
Our goal is to keep all campers and staff healthy and safe at all times – a key component of that being our Health Center. The Atkins Family Health Center, which was brand-new in 2021, is centrally located, air-conditioned and a state-of-the-art facility, staffed by 6-8 nurses, health center interns, who are usually nursing students, and a physician. Campers receive excellent medical attention should they require treatment, take daily medications or are admitted for an overnight stay.
For campers who take any regular medications, vitamins, supplements, etc. we require families to enroll in a camp pharmacy service, Pack My Rx. This service ensures higher efficiency, lower risk of error, reduced wait time for your campers and increased focus on their overall health. Campers using rescue inhalers, EpiPens and injectable medication (i.e. growth hormones) do not need to use the pharmacy service for these items. There cannot be any other exceptions to this policy.
Any medication, including over the counter, that your camper takes regularly should go through Pack My Rx. For occasional use, the Health Center does have over-the-counter pain medication, cough syrup, etc., on hand. At camp, we have two nebulizers so campers needing nebulizer treatments do not need to bring their own to camp.
What about COVID-19?
COVID-19 continues to impact many aspects of people’s lives and camp is no exception. As we focus in on this coming summer and the complexities of COVID-19, we continue to learn, study and monitor guidance provided by local and state health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Camp Association (ACA), and trusted medical advisors and colleagues. We also will rely on our experience running a healthy and safe camp in 2021.
You can view our most up to date health and safety protocols here: https://campchi.jccchicago.org/camp-chi-summer-2022-health-and-safety/
My camper has food allergies. How do you handle this at camp?
Camp Chi can accommodate many food allergies and dietary restrictions. We employ a specialized chef, whose job it is to make safe and delicious meals for campers who cannot eat the regular meal due to dietary restrictions or allergies. Additionally, there is a large allergy board in the main Dining Hall that visually lets campers see the food in the meal and the common allergens present.
To help protect the health of campers and staff, we do not use peanuts, tree nuts or nut oils in the preparation of food in our dining hall or at outdoor cooking. Although Camp Chi does not serve peanut butter, a delicious soy alternative is available. We will not serve items where the label indicates that the food contains peanuts or tree nuts, but we may serve packaged items that state that a product has been produced in a factory or on machinery where nuts may have been present or similar language.
Although serious efforts are being made, Camp Chi cannot guarantee an entirely nut free facility. Nut products and gluten are not always clearly labeled.
For more information on preparing for camp, click here.
How do campers get to/from Chi?
Camp Chi provides bus transportation to/from Chicagoland, Minneapolis/St. Paul*, Indianapolis*, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and Dane County Regional Airport (Madison, WI). We use coach buses, with air conditioning, movies, bathrooms on board, etc. We have staff on each bus who help campers meet one another, get everyone excited about camp, and provide supervision.
Camp Chi campers come from all over the United States and world, and we recognize that for some campers, traveling by airplane is easier than getting to one of the bus sites. We provide transportation from Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport. For Chicago O’Hare, we ask that all campers arrive by 12:00pm, so they get to camp in time to get settled in their cabin and join the rest of the group. For departure, we ask that all campers flights from O’Hare are scheduled between 3pm-6pm, so they can leave with the rest of camp and have plenty of time at the airport. If you are booking a flight to/from Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport, please contact the Camp Chi office for travel details.
While a majority of our campers come on the bus, some get driven to/picked up from camp. Family members are not able to enter camp on arrival/departure days as there is so much happening. Our staff will be out front to greet you and assist with the transition.
*depending on campers numbers from these communities
What about my camper’s bags?
All campers who choose to take the bus get luggage service as well. We partner with Camper Laundry & Baggage to provide time frames on multiple days where families can drop their bags off at various locations around Chicagoland before camp. Campers from outside Chicagoland are the only campers allowed to bring their bags to the bus, as there is limited space underneath for luggage.
On the way home, luggage is dropped off at each bus site about an hour before the buses arrive. A STAFF MEMBER ORGANIZES THE BAGS ALPHABETICALLY AND STAYS WITH THE BAGS THE ENTIRE TIME.
How do I pack my camper for their time at Chi?
We have packing lists available online here. The Chi packing list is designed for 10 days of camp, which makes it useful for all our 2-, 3-, 4- and 8-week sessions. Occasionally, laundry is returned on the 11th day, so a few extra outfits are not a bad thing to include. The most important part of packing is to ensure that every single item that is packed is labeled with your camper’s first and last name.
How does laundry work at camp?
We partner with a professional laundry service to wash, dry and fold the contents of each camper’s laundry bags. During each four-week session, campers will have their laundry cleaned three times. For campers in the Mini Sessions, their laundry will be done one time. And for those in the three-week program, laundry will be done twice.
Each camper will receive a color-coded Camp Chi laundry bag to use each summer. The nominal fee for this laundry bag is charged to the camper’s canteen account. Camp Chi is not responsible for lost clothing or other articles. Please note there is no laundry service during Try Chi.
What are your sessions?
We offer sessions ranging from our 3-day/4-night Try Chi program to our 2, 3 and 4 week options. Click here for our session dates and rates.
How do I know if there is still space in the session my camper wants?
We regularly update our website with sessions already on a waitlist and watchlist of sessions that are close to being full. You can view the latest update here.
If a session is on a waitlist, we will do our best to accommodate your camper. If enough people are on the waitlist and we have the ability to do so, we may open additional cabins for that age group.
We want to attend Camp Chi, but are not sure we can afford it, what can we do?
JCC Chicago is proud to offer fee assistance to those that request it and can demonstrate need. Please note that you must enroll in camp before you can apply for aid, or the application will not be processed as you will not have a balance for an award to be applied to. The deadline to apply for assistance is March 31. For fee assistance questions, please reach out to FeeAssistance@jccchicago.org.
Furthermore, Foundation for Jewish Camp offers the One Happy Camper grant to campers the first time they attend 12+ days, which can provide up to a $1000 savings, regardless of need. You must be registered for camp before you can apply for the One Happy Camper grant. You can apply for the grant at www.onehappycamper.org
Both JCC Chicago Fee Assistance and One Happy Camper are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so we encourage you to apply early.
If further assistance is needed, we encourage families to speak with their synagogues to see if they can provide assistance for members attending Jewish camps.
What deposit is required? What is the cancellation policy?
For all policies, please visit www.campchi.org/policies.
Each session, except PNW, requires a deposit of $500. Families applying for fee assistance provide a deposit of $150 at the time of registration. If fee assistance is not awarded or declined, the deposit is refundable less a $25 processing fee.
PNW/I-B + PNW require a deposit of $1000.
Except for PNW, camp fees are refundable minus the $500 deposit until April 15. Cancellations that occur after April 15, will be assessed half of the camp fee. Once a program begins, no refunds will be granted for cancellations.
For Full summer or multiple sessions, if either session is cancelled, $500 of the deposit is non-refundable.
To see PNW policies and our full cancellation policy, click here.
Is there any insurance I can purchase that will help me if I have to cancel or my camper cannot attend camp?
We know that camp is a significant expense, and we want to help you protect your investment. Similar to trip insurance, our partners offer Program Protector camp insurance that allows you to get some or all of your money back should you need to cancel or your camper’s experience is interrupted for one of the covered reasons. Per our policies, we do not refund if you decide to cancel your enrollment or a need arises to depart early from camp. Program Protector camp insurance provides opportunities to get some or all of the camp fees back for one of the covered reasons. This service is optional, but we encourage all our Camp Chi families to take advantage of this offering.