How is missing home handled?

We devote time during our staff training week to teach our staff the most effective methods for working with homesick campers. Our instruction is focused on evidence-based tactics that help campers overcome the anxiety of being away from home. Homesickness can be a natural part of overnight camping and tends to affect anywhere between 10 and 20 percent of our campers in a given year. Usually by the third day of camp, we have worked with the camper successfully, and they are having a great time.

It is important to us that we find a way to make sure each camper succeeds at Tockwogh. Oftentimes counselors will talk with parents in the most severe homesickness cases and ask for advice. We understand that you know your child best. A last resort is to put the child on the phone with a parent. This can usually be an overwhelming experience for the child and just talking to mom or dad can make the homesickness unbearable. While every situation is different, it is usually best to work with the campers at camp and use the parents as consultants for our counselors as needed. Some things that you can do if you are worried about your child being homesick before arriving at camp:

1. Send your child to a relative’s house for the weekend.
This will help your son or daughter get used to a different environment with slightly different rules. You can talk about the experience with them afterward to see how it felt. Our Mini-Camp is another great way to introduce your child to the summer camp experience. It is a short program that gives younger children (grades K-5) the independence and confidence they need to be successful attending a longer session.

2. Try not to reassure your child by telling them you will come pick them up.
As parents, it is natural to want to comfort and support your child. Telling them that you are going to come get them if they become distressed may not be the best tactic to prevent the feelings of homesickness from surfacing. Iif the child believes that you will come get them, it may increase the likelihood that they will act out, in an attempt to get the directors to call you. Also, if you do not fulfill your promise to come pick up your child then it represents a breach of trust. Be warm, reassuring, and express confidence in their abilities. Tell them that they can write you if they have problems, and let them know that they can always talk to their counselors.

What about Counselor training, ages, ratio to campers?

A good staff begins with good training. Before the summer starts our leadership staff goes through a full two weeks of training. These are long days filled with a combination of classesAll of our counselors have graduated high school and range in age from 18- 25 years old. Many of our staff are education majors and enjoy using their summer months to work with youth. There will never be fewer than 1 counselor for 8 campers in a cabin, and overall there are 110 staff on camp, working with 400 campers. That means, in general, our staff to camper ratio exceeds 1:4. We pride ourselves on having multiple staff to supervise your child because we firmly believe that good supervision provides the safest environment for kids to develop at camp. Safet begins with the staff.

What is the waterfront pre-registration form?

We created the waterfront activity pre-registration form a couple years ago to allow campers to sign up for our popular sailing and wakeboarding/waterskiing programs before they ever set foot on camp. There has been a little confusion about the pre-registration form and our water sport specialty camps. Sailing, wakeboarding, and waterskiing are programs offered at our Traditional camp to children of all ages and abilities. Our specialty water sports camp known as Tickwogh is for campers who are interested in developing specific skills in either sailing, wakeboarding, or waterskiing. So you do not need to sign up for the specialty camp to be sure your child gets to participate in waferfront activities; all you have to do is send in the waterfront pre-registration form, and we will take care of the rest. The waterfront pre-registration form is in your forms packet and only campers enrolled at Traditional Camp should fill it out. Mini-Campers and campers signed up for one of the Tickwogh specialty camps do not need to fill it out as they will both automatically be registered for the appropriate waterfront activities.

How do you make waterfront activities safe?

There are a lot of inherent risks in waterfront programming, and we take them very seriously. To reduce the risks, we believe in educating campers, training staff, and enforcing rules. When campers arrive at Tockwogh, they are taken on an orientation tour with stops at the dining hall, wellness center, pool, and waterfront. When they are at the pool, campers are given a swim evaluation. If a camper receives a red tag, they are automatically signed up for swim lessons. So long as these campers agree to take swim lessons, they may participate in waterfront activities. All campers at the waterfront are required to wear a properly-sized lifejacket anytime they are in a boat or in the Bay, regardless of swimming ability. AS campers continue their orientation they make a stop at the waterfront. The Waterfront Director reviews the critical safety rules with each cabin, so campers know what to expect. In regards to training all staff who operate our boats have at least their Maryland Safe Boater and new employees go through more than 20 hours of training on safe driving and operation. Most important, over two thirds of our waterfront counselors are Special Faculties Ellis Lifeguards. To top it all off, rules are then enforced from the top down, with little tolerance for any unsafe behavior. Waterfront activities are about fun, but it is not possible to enjoy the programs without first making them safe.

When and how do children choose their activities?

Note: Campers will not choose their own activities Summer 2021. Cabin cohorts will move throughout camp and will participate in the top 18 activities together. Cabins will also choose 8 additional activities.
Before the start of each camp week, campers are able to select their activities. Essentially campers choose up to 5 activities that run the course of a week. In some special cases like waterskiing, sailing, horseback riding, pottery, or swim lessons, they may already be registered. They can fill up the remaining activity slots for the week as they see fit. We do our best to ensure that campers get their first choice in activities, and we also encourage them to try something they have never done before. Once the camper has filled up all of his or her activity slots, the activity sheet is returned to the counselor and master sheets are created. Once the week has started if a camper is really struggling with a particular activity, we can work on switching them out so they can have a more enjoyable time.

Can my child choose a cabin mate?

We do honor cabin requests. There are some limits. A cabin mate request must be mutual, with the parents of both children agreeing, and campers are limited to one request. We limit each camper to one mutual request because of group interactions in the cabin. It would be very strange and challenging for a new camper to come into a cabin where 4 best friends have all been placed. Part of the magic of camp is meeting new people and challenging yourself socially, so unless you think it is vitally important to your camper’s experience to be in a cabin with one other specific friend, we suggest you do not make a request.

What medical staff are on camp?

Everyday camp is in session we have an RN onsite. He or she is assisted by nursing students, LPNs, and EMTs, who all work here throughout the summer. Safety is incredibly important to us and that certainly includes the medical condition of our campers. We also work closely with a pediatrician in town who annually reviews our standing orders, and provides additional medical care to our campers when needed.

Where is the closest hospital?

The closest hospital for emergency room visits is in Chestertown which is only 15 minutes away. A fire company with ambulance is less than 10 minutes away with a response time under 15 minutes to camp. We may also take campers to the pediatrician or emergency room in camp vehicles to determine the extent of an injury. For example, if we think a camper might have sprained his or her ankle, we might take them to the emergency room with our staff just to get X-rays so we can be sure. We will contact parents in the event of any medical condition that requires further care.

What meals, snacks and food/water can they bring with them?

We allow campers to bring snacks with them to camp. Comfort food is great; we only ask for moderation. Too many snacks and sweets tend to generate trash and attract critters. Additionally we want to keep all our campers safe so please consider all allergies, dietary needs etc when packing. Many campers cannot eat all of the traditional snacks and sweets and we do not want them to feel left out or not “normal.”

Campers will have several opportunities to purchase snacks and beverages from our wet store. No cash is required for these purchases, so please do not send your child to camp with money. The store accounts are set up by you, the parent, before the camper arrives.

How are bullying problems handled?

It is our experience that there is no exact formula for dealing with bullying problems and personality conflicts within cabins. Because each person is different and each situation is different, we focus our training on recognizing problems early on and effectively engaging campers in being a part of the solution. Bullies are simply not tolerated at Tockwogh. We take time to work with our staff during our training weeks to teach them how to effectively recognize when bullying is happening and how to stop the behavior. Tockwogh staff go through the same Bully Prevention training that teachers are required to attend in Delaware Public Schools. We demand that our staff are proactive in managing these situations, and if a few basic techniques are not successful in remedying the problem, we will send the bully home. Personality conflicts are somewhat more subtle than bullying, but can still cause a great deal of stress for the campers involved. Our staff are trained as mediators, and if necessary our Village Chiefs will assist counselors in working with campers who don’t seem to be getting along. Our goal is to find common ground between the two campers, and we believe that it is an incredibly valuable lifelong skill to be able to interact with others respectfully. It would be great for all of our campers in every cabin to become best friends with one another. Sometimes that is not realistic. What is realistic is that we can teach kids the value of respecting all people equally despite potential personal disagreements.

What will happen on a Summer Camp Tour?

There are currently no scheduled in-person camp tours. 

  • 1:30 – Presentation with the Camp Directors followed by a Q&A session in our Dining Hall
  • 2:30 – Walking tour of camp. Please make sure you wear comfortable shoes!


Do you allow phone calls home/cell phones/games/iPods?

Tockwogh is a place to be unplugged from modern technology and focus on the camp atmosphere. As a result, we do not allow campers to bring their cell phones with them to camp. It tends to take focus away from the immediate goal of making new friends if they are constantly texting back and forth with their friends at home. Additionally, while we allow other portable electronics at camp like iPods, we do so with the recommendation that you do not bring them. They are expensive pieces of equipment and not always conducive to camp life. It is up to each family to decide whether or not to bring them, but with the cost of the item, the possibility it may get damaged or lost, and the fact that the most usage a camper will get is an hour a day, many campers feel that it is not worth it to bring the item at all.

Phone calls to home are sometimes an issue as well. We believe that part of the camp experience is rooted in independence. In very rare cases, we allow calls home from campers, but especially in cases of homesickness, we tend not to put the camper in direct contact with the parent. About 90 percent of the time, if a camper speaks with someone from home while they are still homesick, it increases their anxiety rather than decreases it. As a parent, you may always request to speak with your child’s counselor, who will call you as soon as he or she is able to that same day to update you on your camper’s experience at Tockwogh. We have staff available to answer the phone in our main office until midnight every night camp is in session. All of that being said, if there is a family emergency and you need to speak with your child, we will certainly make that happen.

Where are you? (distance from Philly area for example)

Tockwogh is located on the Northeastern portion of the Chesapeake Bay. We are approximately 2 hours away from Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Baltimore. We are just over an hour from Wilmington and Dover, Delaware, and about 45 minutes from the Bear-Glasgow area.