First Time Camp Families

We’re so thrilled that you are considering sleepaway camp! Although a very exciting process, we also know that being away from home for the first time can sometimes be a daunting experience for new campers. We want to assure you that we are aware of this and that we have put systems in place to ensure that campers feel comfortable not only on their first day of camp, but for all the days of their summer experience. 

Sending your most precious possession away for the first time isn’t easy for parents & guardians either but you can rest assured we care for your kids as if they were our own. Every first-year camper has the same important questions: Will I feel comfortable? Will I make friends? Will I like the place, the food, and the schedule? We don’t leave any stone unturned when mapping out a new camper’s experience. We go to great lengths to make sure each child has everything they need to thrive during the summer and before they know it they think of Incarnation as their home away from home!

Becoming a part of the community starts before camp does!
(Offseason engagement)

Before anything, you always have the option of setting up a phone call with one of our year-round Camp Staff. This can be your introduction to Incarnation and can provide you with an opportunity to learn more about our camp and our philosophies and also provide us an opportunity to learn more about your Camper. Once enrolled, we have a number of ways to integrate your child and family into our community before the summer, and for us to make sure we get to know you all as well:

  • Winter Camp, where returning and new campers come together at camp for President's Day Weekend. Campers stay indoors for two nights and participate in some fun winter-themed activities.

  • We would be happy to facilitate phone calls or other lines of communication with another camper family. This is a great way to get to know camp from the perspective of another family who may have had similar questions themselves, and can then speak to their own experiences having attended the program.

  • We host open houses in the spring, where you can sign up for a tour of the property and meet some of our year round and seasonal staff, along with other new prospective camp families.

  • Regular email newsletters with the latest camp updates and other fun content to get you and your camper excited about the summer.

  • Information and videos designed to help the entire family prepare for the overnight camp experience

  • Our detailed Welcome Packet and “Getting to Know You” forms help us understand all of your child’s hopes, goals, and needs so we can set them up for success. This is where you would note anything private that you think we need to be made aware of, i.e. “Megan sometimes gets overwhelmed in large crowds so when there’s an activity where she’ll be in the middle of a crowd, please have counselors check on her and provide her with an option to leave the space if she needs”

  • A week or two before camp begins your child’s Unit Director will review the Camper Confidential forms for each camper in his/her unit to make sure they are aware of any important issues. If they have any questions or concerns, they will reach out to you. This information will be used when assigning your camper a counselor and tent mates that will compliment their experience.

  • We’ll share a thorough camper packing list so you know exactly what your child will need to bring to camp!

Arriving at camp

When you arrive, one of our staff members will meet you upon entering the Campus to check your documents and direct you to Katsanis Field. Once you arrive at the field you’ll be instructed to park your car and leave your campers’ luggage at their appropriate spot. There will be balloons with the color of our units spread out on the field (See below for your unit color). Find your unit color and drop your luggage there. Keep your Bedding with you, you may get to your unit before your luggage does and you’ll need your bedding to claim your bunk!

7-9 year old girls = Pink
7-9 year old boys = Blue
10-11 year old girls = Yellow
10-11 year old boys = Red
12-13 year old girls = Purple
12-13 year old boys = Green
Once you’ve dropped off your luggage a staff member will direct you toward our Health Check Station where members of our staff will check your forms, any medications, and also check your hair to make sure it is Lice free. 

From here a staff member will direct you to your unit! Once you’ve arrived you’ll be greeted by your Unit Director who will check you in and introduce you to your counselor. Your Counselor will take you to your tent so that you can set up your bunk and get settled. After that you can get ready for your swimming test and join the other campers around the unit making friends with the help of our dedicated staff.

Tent Life

We camp in platform tents, and we love it! One of the most unique, and memorable things about Incarnation is our authentic platform tents. A good tent life is critical to a camper’s success as they will spend a large amount of time with their tent mates. Our Unit Directors carefully review and analyze all camper information, requests, & forms to ensure that campers are placed in tents with other campers who have common interests, and who they think will get on well with one another. All campers will be bunked with other campers their age along with a counselor (sometimes two!). 

We have 6 different Units: 

7 to 9 year old girls
7 to 9 year old boys
10 & 11 year old girls
10 & 11 Year old boys
12 & 13 Year old girls
12 & 13 Year old boys

There can be up to 7 campers in each tent. Our tent platforms are well built, with bunk beds housing clean, comfortable mattresses so no one is sleeping on the ground! The temperature within the tents is always a common question for new families who may have never experienced this. Our tents get the best of both worlds, during the day the tent flaps are rolled up. This allows them to be kept naturally cool by the Connecticut breeze, and helps to avoid any stuffiness. At night the tent flaps are rolled back down to keep out any chill. Our tents are 100% waterproof and rain is not an issue for us. In the case of inclement weather, we have the ability to house campers indoors.

Each unit has a wash house that is equipped with showers, sinks, toilets, and ample warm water. Each shower stall has a private changing and drying area so campers can have the privacy they require. Our wash houses are located in the middle of the unit and are lit up all night so they can always be seen by campers.

First Week!

The first few days of your child’s sleepaway camp can be the hardest….for parents and guardians! We’re sure that you’ll be eager to know how your camper is doing as soon as possible, and while our priority is always to be present with the campers as much as possible in order to enhance their experience, we wanted to let you know what to expect in terms of updates and communication.  

Before we get started, we wanted to make you aware of a phrase that you will hear often in this section, and that is ‘Bunk1’. This is an outside organization that we use to help facilitate great parent communication. Once registered, you will get information on how to create an account for this service. Some aspects are totally free to use, and there are some paid extras. As a family you can decide which option is right for you.

On opening day we post updates on our social media channels, and you’ll be able to log into your Bunk1 parent account that night to see photographs taken by our camp photographers. You’ll also receive an email that night from one of our Camp directors, who will let our families know how opening day went, and how campers are settling in. 

Prior to camp you will recieve of information about all the ways that you can be in touch with them (your camper) and with us (the camp staff). Additionally, your Campers’ Unit Director will contact you in the first few days with a specific update on your child’s experience so far. You are welcome to contact us at any point, and we make sure you have the summer camp office contact information as well as specific emails and phone numbers for Liam, the Camp Director, and Jarrett (also known as Batman), the Assistant Camp Director (ask him how he got the name).

Between Liam and Jarrett & the camp team, we will have spoken with every new family, in some shape or form, by the end of May to discuss their child’s upcoming summer. We’re also available by phone or email anytime during the off-season. During the summer months, we will be reachable as well, as long as we’re not out on camp leading an activity with the kids! It is our goal within the summer season to return all non-emergency contact within 24 hours. As you can imagine, camp gets a little busy once the activities start flowing!

Access to our team

Speak to a current camper’s parent

If you’d like us to connect you with the parent of a camper who would be in your child’s age cohort next summer we’d be happy to arrange that. It’s always nice to hear from a parent that’s been through it all already and can help alleviate some concerns and speak to their own experience.

Communication with your Camper

There are a few ways parents & guardians can communicate with their camper while they’re having a great time at camp. The first is old-fashioned handwritten letters sent through the mail. The second is through bunk1. We partner with bunk1 each summer to provide pictures of your campers' daily adventures with us, we also use bunk1 to provide our ‘bunknotes’, which is a one-way email system so you can stay in touch with your campers daily. If you send a bunk note, campers generally get these the following day.

Ideally, we like to avoid campers calling home (unless in the case of emergency or for a birthday call) . Please understand that this decision is based on decades of experience helping kids acclimate to life within our community. Homesickness is typically less about missing parents and guardians and more about not feeling as connected to peers and staff as anticipated. Being able to make phone calls during bouts of homesickness prevents campers from fully integrating into life here, which unfortunately can exacerbate the cycle of homesickness. Should your child encounter any challenges like that we can assure you that (a) our staff will be available to nurture and help them in any ways that we can, and (b) that should they experience any prolonged homesickness we will be in touch with you to keep you in the loop, and also make a plan specific to YOUR camper. We are your partners and will not keep information like that from you. 

We often encourage our campers to write home during rest hour or free time, although we can’t promise how often they’ll actually do it! Campers will always have access to pens, paper, and envelopes. But we always encourage you to send these too, along with stamps!


Photos will be posted on our Bunk1 page each day. Bunk1 also has an app so you can be notified when new photos go up (it is not always the same time each day, due to camp schedules being very fluid!). Please remember that we try to make as many good quality photos as possible. Not every photo will be a group shot smiling, some will be your campers in action and they may not even realize. Also, we try our best to get a snap of every camper every day, but sometimes that is not always possible. Please be patient if you do not see a picture of your camper on any given day, chances are they are having a great time and were just on a different schedule to our photographers!

Wrapping it all up

When you have built a community based on kindness and consideration, campers feed off that positive energy and are able to leave their comfort zones and push themselves to attempt things they wouldn’t have thought to try at home. This is because they are in an environment that doesn’t reward ‘winning at all costs’ but instead promotes effort and attitude over result. That’s not to say we don’t celebrate healthy competition and encourage our campers to be the best they can be; we do! 

Children come to our camp with an array of skills and talents in various areas and are encouraged to either harness and refine those skills or discover new passions, while feeling no fear of judgment or failure. Incarnation campers receive support from not only the staff but also their fellow campers who instill confidence and resilience in them as they navigate their summer experience. Because of Incarnation’s intentional focus on acceptance, should a camper struggle to accomplish an objective, whether on the sports field or at the theater, it will serve as motivation to work harder towards reaching that goal knowing they won’t be judged on the outcome. 

There are many things that go into an incredible summer experience but getting started on the right foot and feeling a part of the community might be the most important. With everyone at camp supporting your child and their development from the moment they step onto our campus, there is an undeniable feeling of intimacy that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Once you join the Incarnation community, your family will forever be treated as a part of our family! 

Thank you so much for considering our camp. We hope you’ll join us!

Welcome to the family!


po box 577
ivoryton, ct