Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Tom Denney Nature Camp?
TDNC is similar to an old-fashioned summer camp where kids play games 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. Descriptions of the programs we offer are on the "About Our Camp" page.
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 make s'mores!
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 while chasing certain groups and avoiding others. 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 Eco Adventures program 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 also get to do advanced activities and adventures like kayaking, an interactive adventure hike, a weekly surprise activity and the overnight.
The Counselor in Training 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. We also try to make it as fun as possible since we are at camp!
How do I register?
Registration opens February 1 on this webpage. Instructions will be given at that time. You will need to register online and then pay and send in paperwork.
What if the week I want has a wait list?
Don't worry! Go ahead and register on the wait list. Things happen and lists fluctuate, so make sure to still register and we will keep in communication with you. We almost always get every kid into camp.
Do you offer Before and After Care?
If you need Before or After Care, then email the camp and an arrangement can be made with a counselor that can be paid separately as you would a babysitter.
Do campers attend more than one week?
Yes. Many of our campers attend two weeks or more. 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 special needs allowed to attend camp?
Although we are not a camp specifically designed for campers with special needs, 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 (Route 117/Main Street in Bolton to Harvard Road to Flanagan Road on the left and go to the end and there is a parking lot on the left, GPS: 40 Flanagan Road). This is town-owned conservation land that we are privileged to be allowed to use.
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 to let them out of the car. If you are there before 9:00am, then please stay in your car lined up along the right side of Flanagan Road until you are directed in to the parking lot. Other cars may pass you, but they are dog walkers. 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.
If your child is not coming to camp (before 8:00am email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the camp phone 978-429-3004; after 8:00am call Camp Director - please ONLY call this number during camp hours and the camp season).
Please watch the weather and your email/phone (you could be called from an unfamiliar phone number so please answer those while your child is at camp) in case we need to cancel camp for safety reasons and you need to pick up your child.
*IMPORTANT: Please go back to your registration records on the website http://tdnc.boltonconservationtrust.org and review your information that will be used in the case of an emergency and also if camp is canceled due to weather and campers need to be picked-up. Please especially review your own, the other parent/guardian and the other the emergency contact names and phone numbers. Parents/guardians will be called first, but as has happened in the past, if they cannot be reached we will call the other contacts. Even if you think you did it correctly, please check again because we have seen many errors such as too many numbers or even names in a number slot, and we print out straight from your on-line registration records. So it is for your child’s benefit and well-being to make sure your information is correct. Here is how to do it: Go in as if to register for the exact same week and program which brings you to the "Family Members" page and hit the "Edit" button next to the camper's name. This brings you to the "Participant Information" page. Once you decide that is all correct, you go to the bottom and hit the "Submit" button and it will bring you to the "Supplemental Information" page. Make sure that if you make changes you go to the bottom of this page and hit the "Submit" button; otherwise the changes will not be saved. Important note: If you make a change, then you will also want to email the camp to make sure we got the change since the data has already been downloaded and brought to camp.
What is the pick-up procedure?
On Monday-Thursday at 3:00pm, please drive in to the parking lot and park as you will have to get out of your car to sign out your child at the chain.
On Friday, at 12:00pm Eco Adventures campers are picked up, and trust us, they will be tired and ready to go home. You will need to sign them out at camp so please park and walk down to the camp. If you walk straight from the parking lot (either across the field or down the tree-lined path, then you should hear us in the woods). There is a path to the right that will lead you to camp circle and staff members. If your child has a sibling in Tom Denney and you would like your Eco Adventures camper to stay at camp until you come to the 2:00pm performance, then please let us know and they can stay with the Tom Denney staff that are not with the campers on the hike.
On Friday, at 2:00pm Tom Denney families and friends are invited to come to camp to see skits/songs the campers have been working on and will perform. You will need to park and walk down to the camp. If you walk straight from the parking lot (either across the field or down the tree-lined path, then you should hear us in the woods). There is a path to the right that will lead you to a circle of logs that you can sit on, or you can bring chairs. Please let us know if you will find it difficult to walk to the camp area ahead of time and we will help arrange transportation and seating. We don't want anyone to miss this opportunity. If you are not attending the performance, then we ask you to walk down to camp to pick up your child at 2:30pm.
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. Some suggestions are still to wear sneakers since we will be playing running games and rain boots are not good for those and also to bring a raincoat and maybe an extra shirt/sweatshirt for warmth if it is a cold rain (we did have one day a few years ago that was 50's and rainy and cold in July!).
How do you handle thunder/lightening?
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 serious weather during the camp day, then you will be notified of the cancellation of camp via phone (you could be called from an unfamiliar phone number so please answer those while your child is at camp), email or you can check the website. An example of serious weather would be thunder and/or lightening at which the Board of Health requires us to shut down camp and you need to pick up your child ASAP.
What can be done if I can't pick up my camper during the day if camp is cancelled?
You can email the camp and arrange ahead of time for a counselor to take responsibility for your camper if needed and they can be paid separately as you would a babysitter. Once we are at camp, we do not receive emails or voice mails, so please arrange this ahead of time.
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 bathroom facilities and changing areas available.
What should my child bring to camp in their backpack?
(Label everything and bring a big enough bag to fit it all!):
· Old sneakers are recommended for footwear. No open-toed shoes are allowed! Trust us; your child does not want to wear them running around in the woods.
· Water – lots and filled with ice on hot days
· Snacks (food sharing will not be allowed due to possible food allergies of campers)
· Lunch (if bringing a hot dog then make sure to also have a back-up non-cooking lunch in case there is no campfire or the food falls in) (EA: do NOT bring uncooked food since EA eats lunch at various locations while adventuring and there is not always a campfire available)
· Small trash bag for personal garbage since we are in conservation land and it is a carry in/carry out policy
· Hand sanitizer/antibacterial wipes
· Sunscreen and insect repellent
· Swimsuit and towel – swimming is a choice for Tom Denney campers, so bring if you want to swim (the other choices at this time are running games or arts & crafts). Eco Adventures campers should bring them every day since there are many EA water activities - and they should wear their suit to camp on Monday morning and bring a change of clothes)
· Crocs or something like them are allowed for campers who intend to swim when they walk down to the waterfront for free choice (and all EA campers since there are many water activities). This is the only time they are allowed (otherwise it is sneakers). No open-toed shoes are allowed (no flip flops, slides, etc.).
· Extra socks (especially important for EA campers)
· Hat with brim
· Raingear and warm clothes if necessary due to weather
Friday: Tom Denney campers go on a hike on and carry their own backpacks, so pack lightly (i.e. there is no swimming or camp fire lunch, so do not bring suit/towel or food that needs to be cooked).
Eco Adventures Overnight Information:
The overnight will be scheduled for Thursday night. If there is a forecast of thunderstorms for that evening, the overnight may be moved to another night.
Required/Recommended to bring:
· At least 2 extra water bottles besides what normally bring for day at camp
· Sleeping bag
· Bug spray, bug fan, etc.
· More extra socks
· Warm clothes, cool clothes, extra clothes for Friday
· Sleeping pad (campers will be sleeping on the ground under the big open tent in the woods)
· NO tents are allowed
· Cell phones are allowed but to be brought at your own risk for emergency use only and will be kept in the camper's backpack and only be allowed to be taken out with permission from the counselors. We recommend you program all your emergency contact numbers into the phone including non-parent ones. You will be given the counselor's phone numbers and can text or call them if needed.
The Bolton Conservation Trust and Tom Denney Nature Camp take no responsibility for anything brought to the camp.
Food to be provided by the camp: afternoon snack (e.g. chips, crackers), dinner (e.g. burgers & dogs), breakfast (e.g. bagels) and morning snack (e.g. chips, crackers). 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.
Parents may pick-up their campers who are not spending the night at 3:00pm and bring them back for camp at 9:00am the next morning.
Parents will not be allowed to stay overnight with their child.
What is the swim test?
The Board of Health who issues us our license requires a swim test to be taken by anyone who wishes to swim at camp. A new swim test has to be taken every year. However, once a swim test is taken, it lasts all season, so if the camper comes two weeks or more, they will only have to take the test the first week.
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 test: The swim test must be taken by any Tom Denney camper who wishes to swim during free choice time after lunch (or they can choose games or arts & crafts instead of swimming - therefore not swim at all and not take the test). The swim test will be a modified version of the Eco Adventures swim test that is applicable for the TD camper.
Eco Adventures swim test: All Eco Adventures campers must take the swim test 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 100 feet. If a camper fails the test, 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 test. Just tell us your concerns and we will work with you to avoid embarrassment. Not being able to swim will not affect your fun at camp since almost all Eco Adventures water activities require all campers to wear lifejackets anyway. Eco Adventures campers take the swim test on Monday morning of their camp week, so please come to camp with your bathing suit on and bring a change of clothes for after.
Counselor in Training swim test: The swim test will be the same as the Eco Adventures one. It is a requirement by the Board of Health that all CITs take the swim test, however passing of the swim test 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.
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. We will accept a personal floatation device, provided by a parent or guardian, for the use of a minor at camp. Any PDF used at camp must comply with the regulations, even one provided by the parents.
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.
Can I bring medication to camp?
If your child will be bringing medication to camp, then when you send in your paperwork please include the Authorization to Administer Medication form at left in the Documents section.
If you are bringing medication to camp (e.g. Epi-pen/inhaler/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!
In planning for an enjoyable, safe and successful camp experience we ask that you read these camp rules and discuss these with your son/daughter before camp begins.
1. Listen to counselors
2. Keep your hands to yourself
3. Be kind in words and actions
4. Respect others
5. Talk to a counselor if you have a question or problem
6. No running, except in the field or woods as part of a game
7. No swimming without a lifeguard and always with a buddy
8. Always stay with your group
9. Tell a counselor when you need to use the bathroom
10.Carry In Carry Out: whatever you bring in, take it out with you
11.Buddy: If you’re leaving the group with permission, take a buddy
Do you offer scholarships?
Scholarships are given for the TDNC program at 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. To apply for a scholarship please begin by registering your child for your desired week. Next please send the camp an email explaining your request for a scholarship. If the week you registered for becomes full, then we may have to move you to another week that has open spots. Please understand we are a non-profit organization and do the best we can to find a place for every kid who wants to attend camp.
Please explain how to avoid a late fee.
If you register before April 1, then we ask that all paperwork is received by April 1.
If you register after April 1, then we ask that you send in your paperwork within one week of registering.
A late fee of $25.00 is added if paperwork is not received on time.
If you are close to incurring a late fee and would like to drop off the paperwork at the Bolton post office, then that is fine, but be aware there are some parameters. You will need to hand the paperwork to a person at the counter to be put in PO Box 14 during the hours that the retail counter is open (not the PO boxes - check before you go since the retail hours are limited and if you put it in the indoor slot or outdoor mailbox, then it goes to a different town to be sorted before coming back to Bolton).
Please realize that we do not want to charge anyone a late paperwork or payment fee, but there is an inspection prior to the start of camp, and in order for your child to attend camp and for TDNC to comply with all the regulations of the MA Department of Public Health and be licensed by the Board of Health, we must have all camper's paperwork and payment for the inspection.
What is the refund policy?
Please remember that we are a nonprofit organization. Registration fees are treated as donations towards the operations of the Tom Denney Nature Camp. A refund of registration fees may be considered under special circumstances. 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, etc.). To request a refund due to exceptional circumstances, the parent/guardian of the camper requesting to withdraw from registration must submit a written request detailing the exceptional circumstances justifying the refund on or before May 1st of the registration year. A $50.00 administration charge will be applied to any amount authorized to be refunded. Once approved a check for the amount authorized less $50.00 will be issued. A request made after May 1st of the registration year will be reviewed, however it is our policy to consider any money not requested by May 1st of the registration year a donation in full to the camp and will be used as a scholarship to sponsor a camper.
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 510-143-182.
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 local Board 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 chat about camp! Please feel free to contact the Bolton Conservation Trust office at
(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 do not receive emails or voice mails in the woods, so if it is between the hours of 8:00am-5:00pm on a camp day, then you will need to call the camp director. To contact the camp directly ONLY during camp hours and when your child is there: Tom Denney Director: