FAQs about Camp Blue Skies
where IS Camp Blue Skies?
Camp Blue Skies rents camps in the off-season at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Georgia, and at YMCA Camp Harrison in Boomer, North Carolina. By the way, the name comes from founder Dick Sesler, who says we can hold camp anywhere there are blue skies.
YMCA Camp Harrison, 7901 S NC Hwy 18, Boomer, NC 28606 (about 90 minutes northwest of Charlotte). Click here for more information.
YMCA Camp Thunderbird, 1 Thunderbird Lane, Lake Wylie, SC 29710 (about 20 minutes south of Charlotte). Click here for more information.
Applying for camp
Who is eligible to attend? Individuals 21 and older with developmental disabilities. Click here for eligibility requirements.
When can a camper apply? Applications open in mid-November for our Georgia and Williams syndrome sessions and in early June for our North Carolina sessions. For Camp Blue Skies-Weekend in 2019, applications are open through Oct. 1.
What happens when I submit an Inquiry Form? When a parent/caregiver or camper contacts Camp Blue Skies through our Inquiry Form online, via email or via phone, a Camp Blue Skies staff member will follow up within two days to answer any questions. If a camper meets our criteria, they will be encouraged to apply online for the session they want to attend. Parents/Caregivers are also welcome to apply online prior to talking with a CBS staff person, but reviewing our criteria is recommended.
What happens when I apply? Upon receiving an application, our Health Services Director will have a phone conversation with the primary parent/caregiver(s) to make sure our camp is a good fit for the camper and answer any questions. At that point the camper will be enrolled, pending forms and payment.
What are the required forms? Three forms are required to attend camp and are due approximately six weeks before camp:
The Health Form can be completed by any parent or caregiver that works with the camper on a daily basis.
The Liability Release must be signed by a legal guardian.
The Physical Exam form must be completed by a physician or approved health professional.
What happens after I turn in the three forms and payment? Once all forms have been reviewed, and payment has been received, the camper has completed the enrollment process. If something significant changes with the camper's physical, mental, or emotional health prior to camp, the Health Services Director will have another conversation to confirm if camp is still a good fit. A month or two before camp, Parents/caregivers will receive a link to a Camper Handbook that provides information about what to bring, how to get to camp, how to contact your camper, etc.
Does Camp Blue Skies provide transportation to camp? We provide transportation from Atlanta airport for Camp Blue Skies-Williams Syndrome, in Rutledge, GA, and from Charlotte to Camp Blue Skies-Weekend in Lake Wyle, SC.
Are campers only from the Carolinas and Georgia? Campers travel from around the United States. Parents/caregivers get creative when it comes to getting travel. Some who drive will book a vacation home nearby. Others carpool.
When should I arrive? When should I pick up my camper? You will receive information via email before camp to confirm arrival and pick-up times.
Can I visit camp while it's in session? Yes, if it is arranged in advance.
I'm not sure I can afford the fee, can Camp Blue Skies help me? Yes, contact Dick Sesler at Dick@CampBlueSkies.org.
What to expect during camp
How many campers and counselors will be there? Up to 65 campers can attend each session. There will be approximately one counselor/volunteer for every two campers.
How many campers are in a cabin? There will be approximately 5-7 campers and 2-3 counselors in each cabin
Describe the cabin layout and facilities. Cabins have twin beds, heat/AC, bathrooms and showers. You will need to bring sheets, pillow, towels, etc.
FOOD & SNACKs
What if I have a specific dietary need? You can let us know about special dietary needs on application form. Click here for the application form.
How is the food at camp? Can I bring my own snacks? All meals are in the dining hall. Snacks will be available in the dining hall during the day. Unless you have a special diet or allergy, and we work out a plan with your parents/caregivers for you to bring some of your own food, we ask that you do not bring any food to camp. No food is allowed in the cabins.
Do you have soda at camp? No. We provide water, coffee, tea (iced and hot), etc.
What is an average day or week like at camp? Our schedule at camp can vary because of programs available, weather and other factors. Some activities are not offered at both camps. Example: Putt-putt golf is offered in Georgia but not in North Carolina.
Do I have to do all of the activities at camp? Our philosophy is "challenge by choice." You will not be forced to do anything you don’t want to. However, we do encourage campers to challenge themselves whatever that might mean for the camper. If you don’t want to do something, you can cheer for your cabin mates!
Will campers go off site for any activities? No off-site activities are planned.
Will I be able to go swimming? It is too cold to swim and the pool is closed.
Can I bring an instrument with me? You are welcome to bring an instrument to camp with you, but Camp Blue Skies is not responsible for the instrument. It is your responsibility to keep it in a safe place so that it is not damaged.
If I get tired, can I lay down or take a nap in my cabin? If you need a break, the best thing to do is sit down and rest at your activity. Nobody is ever alone in their cabin, unless it is approved by the Health Services Director. Also, there will be quiet games to play in the Dining Hall or you can lay down in the Health Center. These two options are very short term, and you will be encouraged to rejoin your group.
What if there is a medical emergency? Each session will have an on-call physician. The Director of Health Services will be supported by nurses. All medical concerns will be directed immediately to the Health Services Director and the nurses. There will be radios with every group of campers at all times, so that the nurse can be notified immediately if there is an unexpected incident/injury. In the case of a serious injury or emergency (volunteer or camper), the Health Services Director or a nurse will contact camp doctor, treat the camper/volunteer at camp as directed by the physician, and/or oversee transport of the camper/volunteer to the most appropriate and closest medical facility. Individuals listed as emergency contacts on the volunteer Health and Emergency Form (or camper medical form) will be contacted prior to or while in route.
What if there is a weather emergency? If there is severe weather, or any threat of it, the CBS staff works closely with the host camp staff to watch the weather carefully, adjust activities as needed, and/or keep campers inside in a safe place. The Health Services Team is aware of which campers have anxiety or concerns with weather, and are available to support those campers. Both camp locations have tornado warning sirens and designated tornado shelters if needed. If severe weather occurs, CBS staff will keep parents informed via email. Both camp locations are on the priority list for resolving power outages, so if the power goes out it is typically restored quickly. In the case of power outages at night, the Health Services Team will visit each cabin to assist with any medical needs regarding CPAP machines, camper anxiety, etc.
STAYING IN TOUCH
Can I bring my cell phone? Cell phones are allowed, but when out at activities you can only use it for photos (no texting, posting to social media, etc.). You may make calls, text and use social media during cabin time before breakfast, after lunch, or before bed.
How can I contact a camper during camp? Call Camp Director Jim Guimond at (704) 560-8715 or email Contact@CampBlueSkies.org.
How can I stay in touch with camp friends? You can connect with your friends by swapping emails and phone numbers or connecting on social media. Camp Blue Skies cannot give a camper's contact information to other campers. Camp Blue Skies has a private Facebook group for campers and volunteers to stay connected when not at camp. Email Crystal@CampBlueSkies.org to request an invitation to the group.