Parent/Guardian Handbook 2023

Register Now Nature Explorers Brochure Camp Handbook (PDF)

Registration Information

Registration and Costs:

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline for registration, all required forms, and full payment is 7 days before the start of camp.

Full cost of camp is $160 for children or grandchildren of Outdoor U members, or $200 for non-members. After the first child is registered at full price, a $20 sibling discount will be available for each additional sibling (both members and non-members).

Full payment is due upon registration, which includes a $25 non-refundable fee.

Early and late care is available! Times are listed below under the "Camp Drop Off and Pick Up Times" section. Costs will be $25/week for early care, $25/week for late care, or $50/week for early and late care. This is due when you submit your forms and insurance information.

No pro-rated daily rates are available. No refunds for missed days of camp.

Outdoor U reserves the right to cancel a camp session if there is insufficient enrollment. If a session is cancelled, all fees will be refunded, minus the $25 non-refundable fee.


There are scholarships available on a first-come, first-served basis. Limited spots are available for each camp session. Please contact Jenny Hengel prior to registering if you are in need of a scholarship.

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellation 8 or more days before camp week: refund minus $25 non-refundable fee

Cancellation 1-7 days before camp week: refund on a case-by-case basis

Required Forms and Insurance:

After registering and paying online, parents/guardians are required to submit online the following forms (emailed out to you after registration is received/confirmed):

  • Release Form
  • Health and Safety Form
  • Medication Form
  • Early or Late Care Form
  • Behavior Agreement Form

Your child will not be able to attend camp if we do not receive these forms.

*SJU requires all campers to carry health insurance. Evidence of insurance will be required to complete registration.

General Information for Camp Weeks


Our indoor camp space is in New Science Center room 140. We will be outside in various areas of the Saint John's University campus and Saint John's Arboretum during the camp week.

General Schedule: 

We have different activities planned for each day, but we have established a general schedule for campers to be comfortable and know a little of what to expect. Below is the general schedule for each camp day:

  • 8:20 am - 8:30 am: Check in/drop off and quiet activities
  • 8:30 am - 12:00 pm: Morning activities and morning snack
  • 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Lunch and nature play
  • 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Afternoon activities
  • 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm: Afternoon snack and wind down time
  • 3:30 pm - 3:40 pm: Check out/pick up and quiet activities

Camp Drop Off and Pick Up Times:

Camp drop off and pick up will be in New Science Center room 140 (drop off) and the hallway outside of New Science 140 (pick up).

Drop off is from 8:20 am - 8:30 am. We expect campers to be dropped off by 8:30 am.

Pick up is from 3:30 pm - 3:40 pm. We expect campers to be picked up by 3:40 pm.

Early care is from 8:00 am - 8:30 am, and late care is from 3:30 pm - 4:15 pm. Early/and or Late Care will be charged for the whole week. Please see above in "Registration and Costs" for cost information.

If you arrive early or late and have not informed camp staff by the first day of camp, you will be charged $5 for every 10 minutes you are early or late.

Check In and Check Out:

Check in will occur inside New Science Center 140. Please enter through the back door of New Science in between New Science and Science Lot #2. Please follow the signs to the room. Check out will be in the hallway outside of New Science Center 140. Please enter through the back door of New Science in between New Science and Science Lot #2. There will be a daily Check In and Check Out form. 

We care about the welfare of your child. As such, we will check IDs to make sure campers are going home with authorized adults. Please have a driver's license ready at pick up. If an unauthorized adult is picking up a camper, we will call the emergency contact number given by an authorized adult to confirm. If we cannot confirm, the child will not go home with the unauthorized individual. Make sure you have all adults that will or could be picking up your child on the authorized pick up list.


Please inform camp staff if your child will be unable to attend a day of camp. Our camp staff wait to leave the building until all campers have arrived. Please make sure the camp staff know about any absences by 8:30 am. You may call the Main Camp Phone Number or email Jenny Hengel, the Camp Coordinator (see Questions and Concerns section at bottom for contact information).


Camps are staffed by full time Outdoor U professional education staff and assisted by college student employees. All camps will maintain at least a 1:10 ratio of staff to campers. Campers requiring supervision beyond this ratio may need to provide a personal aide at their own expense.

What to Bring

  • Lunch and afternoon snack in insulated carrier if sending perishables (morning snack will be provided; campers are still welcome to bring their own morning snack if desired)
  • Water bottle - highly recommend reusable bottle
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Close-toed shoes 
  • Complete change of clothes
  • Sun protection - hat; loose, long sleeved shirt
  • Drawstring backpack
  • Jacket or sweatshirt - weather dependent and helps keep the bugs off

What to Leave at Home

  • Valuables
  • Electronic Devices
  • Toys
  • Multitools, pocketknives, or weapons


Sunscreen and Bug Spray at Camp

It is important to us that your child is well prepared and protected for being outside all day. Please make sure your child has sunscreen on before they arrive at camp and discuss the importance of sunscreen use with them. Campers can also wear protective clothing such as a hat and light, loose fitting long sleeve shirts.

We will be in outdoor areas with the guarantee of encountering bugs. We suggest applying bug spray before camp and sending your child with a bug spray to reapply as needed during camp.

We will have times to reapply sunscreen and bug spray throughout the camp day. If you would like staff to assist your child in reapplying sunscreen and bug spray, our staff prefers that you provide spray-on sunscreen.

COVID-19 Policy:

Camps will abide by the most current recommendations for prevention of COVID-19 as recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health and the current policies of CSB and SJU. Campers' parents/guardians will be notified no later than 2 weeks before the start of camp as to the COVID requirements for attending camp, which may or may not include and are not limited to wearing masks, health checks before attending each day, and vaccine requirements. If parents/guardians choose not to send registered campers due to COVID requirements, your deposit will be refunded, minus the $25 non-refundable fee, as long as you notify us of the change no later than 7 days before the start of camp.

General Illness Information:

If you child exhibits symptoms of an illness at camp, we will contact the parent/guardian to discuss next steps, which may include the child getting picked up from camp. Depending on symptoms, the ill child may be isolated from the other campers until the parent/guardian arrives to pick them up.

Weather Preparedness

Campers should come prepared to be outside. Camps will not be cancelled due to inclement weather, but activities will be adjusted for the safety of the campers.

Rain - playing outdoors in the rain can be an amazing opportunity at camp. If there is no unsafe weather (such as lightning or strong winds), we will still go outside. Make sure that an extra change of clothes is packed on days that we are forecasted to be wet, and pack an optional raincoat.

Thunder/Lightning - if there is thunder or lightning in the area, we will not go outside until it is safe to do so. We will do activities inside until it is safe to go outside again.

Dangerous Storms - if there are dangerous storms, we will not go outside and will monitor the situation. If needed, we will seek shelter in a storm-safe area until it is safe. If we are in the New Science Center, we will seek shelter in the basement of the attached Peter Engel Science Center.

Heat - because our camp is in the summer, there is a risk of heat-related stresses and illnesses. Camp staff monitor the weather and will make sure we all stay cool through water-related games, staying indoors or in the shade, and drinking plenty of water.

Behavior Guide

Zero Tolerance Policy:

Campers and camp staff are expected to be respectful to other campers, camp staff, guests, university staff, and members of the Saint John's community. Saint John's has zero tolerance for harassment such as inappropriate language, gestures or behavior including bullying, inappropriate comments to or about others, or misconduct. Outdoor U retains the righ tto dismiss a camper without a refund for violating the zero tolerance policy. See the Non-Discrimination Statement for more information.

Behavior Expectations:

Staff Expectations:

  • Provide a safe, respectful, welcoming space for each individual camper to be comfortable, learn, and enjoy themselves to their unique abilities and personalities. 
  • Communicate regularly with parents/guardians as to their child's experiences at camp.

Camper Expectations:

  • Be respectful to other campers, camp staff, and others that my be on campus. Keep hands to yourself.
  • Be respectful to the equipment and activity areas, avoiding damage of equipment, supplies, and facilities. Be respectful to others' property.
  • Take direction from camp staff and stay with the group at all times under camp staff supervision.
  • Avoid using verbal threats, disrespectful language, bullying, bullying-like behavior, or other harassing behavior.
  • Refrain from any form of aggression, including lack of self-control with anger, blatant disrespect, absolute refusal of camp staff, or causing bodily harm to self, other participants, or camp staff.
  • Neatly place belongings in designated areas when in camp areas and pick up activities before doing another activity.
  • Be kind in words and actions - no put-downs or foul language.
  • Participate in planned activities to the best of your ability.
  • Walk quietly and respectfully in buildings. Run only when it is part of an activity or outside safely.

Behavior Management Policies:

Our goal for camp is to provide a safe and supportive environment for campers to take healthy risks, make good choices, improve teamwork skills, and have the opportunity to fix their mistakes. Camp staff are trained in positive ways to redirect behavior and anticipate difficulties before they start. If a camper does exhibit behaviors that are not appropriate for the setting and activity, redirection from camp staff will always be the first method attempted. If repeated attempts by camp staff to redirect behavior do not result in changed behavior and better choices, the following tiered procedure will be followed:

  • TALK IT OUT: camper having difficulty will discuss the issue with camp staff. We will address what went wrong, what the camper can do to fix it, and how camp staff can support the camper.
  • SIT IT OUT: if camper continues to have difficulty, the camper will sit out during the activity and not participate for an amount of time determined by camp staff. Camper will remain supervised and in the program area. After the designated amount of time, the camper and staff will again talk it out, and the camper can return to the activities. Parent/guardian will be notified about behavior difficulty at pick up, and a written report may be given to parent/guardian and kept on file at camp.
  • CALL IT OUT: if all attempts to change behavior do not result in the camper being able to participate in activities, camp staff will call the camper's parent/guardian to discuss the issue. The parent/guardian and camp staff will determine from there what the next course of action will be, such as being picked up early from camp or a phone conversation between parent/guardian and camper.

For safety reasons, Oudoor U reserves the right to determine that the camp atmosphere does not cater to the camper's behaviors, is outside of the staff's training to handle, or there is potential of harm to self/others, and to withdraw the camper for the remainder of the camp session with no refunds.

I, as the parent/guardian, read and understand the contents of this handbook and agree to follow them.

You will be asked to acknowledge that you have read and understand this information upon registration and first check in.

Questions or Concerns and Contact Information

Please contact Jenny Hengel, Outdoor U Environmental Educator/Camp Coordinator, at [email protected] or 320.363.3166, with any questions or concerns.

Main camp phone number: 612.405.2084 (Note: this phone number is only monitored during camp weeks - contact Jenny Hengel outside of camp weeks directly)

John Geissler - Director of Outdoor U - [email protected] or 320.363.3126