As we make our cabin assignments, our goal is to create groups with a mix of campers both new and returning. We also want to provide campers with the opportunity to meet new friends from different geographic areas and for the group to develop its own camp identity, separate from preexisting friendship groups. Many of our campers are attending camp on their own, and it would not be fair to place them in a cabin with a large group of campers who know each other from home. As we make cabin assignments, we look at the following information: grade and age; special needs and requests from parents regarding placement (such as maturity level and supervision requirements); school and hometown; mutual requests (both campers have each other listed as only request); other requests. We make every effort to ensure that a significant number of campers in one cabin group are not from the same school and/or city. This facilitates good relations among all members of a cabin group. We will make an effort to split friends from the same town/school into groups no larger than 3. It is likely that groups of 4 (or larger) will be split into 2 (or more) groups unless there are special circumstances. With large groups, there are often interwoven requests, which make it impossible for us to place each camper with their first-choice request. We ask that you as parents keep in mind that camp is a place to make new friends and be inclusive of other children. If your child is part of a large group, we will be sure to place him/her with someone else from that group, but it will not necessarily be the person you listed first. In many cases, it is beneficial for campers to be separated from friends from home. We have heard numerous times that campers have enjoyed the camp experience MORE by coming on their own. Camp is an opportunity for a fresh start socially, and we appreciate your support in making each cabin group balanced and unique.
Gold Arrow Camp offers sessions for campers ranging in age from 6 to 14 (or the summer past 9th grade). Depending on the child’s level of independence and interest in attending camp, they usually start attending Gold Arrow Camp between the ages of 6-10. At ages 6-7, we recommend you send your child only if he/she expresses interest and excitement about the experience and has demonstrated a minimal amount of independence at home, such as being able to take a shower and wash their own hair, get themselves dressed, etc. Counselors do assist campers at that age with everything they need, and camp is a good experience to reinforce those skills. If, by age 10, you and/or your child are still unsure whether he or she is “ready” for camp, it is still probably a good age to start. For children needing to gain some independence, it seems to be easier to make the adjustment at a younger age than during the adolescent years. Even children who don’t enjoy sleepovers tend to do well in the structured, fun, supervised environment of camp. Some of our campers do start camp at older ages (12-14), and they tend to adjust fine. Usually they are disappointed, however, that their number of years at camp is limited. If they are interested in continuing in our JC (Junior Counselor) program for campers coming out of 10th and 11th grade, they need to have attended Gold Arrow as a camper.
Our camper to counselor ratio is at most 5:1. A minimum of two counselors live with and supervise each cabin group of 8-10 campers. Female counselors supervise girls’ cabin groups, and male counselors supervise boys’ cabin groups.
Our campers live in large tents on wood platforms. The living area in the tent is 20' X 20', with a deck of equal size for sleeping outside (when desired). Campers sleep on army-style bunk beds with a foam mattress. Campers bring a twin fitted sheet to cover the mattress, and their own sleeping bag, blanket, pillow, and comfort item from home. We also have a limited number of wood cabins, which are primarily for our oldest girl campers (ages 13-15). Our tents do not have electricity, so it is truly outdoor, rustic living. Campers bring flashlights and/or battery-operated lanterns for light. Bathrooms are located near the tent areas and have electricity and hot water. Counselors escort campers to the restroom during the night. Our counselors live in the tents with our campers.
Staff hiring and training is what makes a great camp, so we work hard in both of these areas. All of our counselors are at least 19 and have completed one year of college or work experience. We have a rigorous application process, which includes a written application, a thorough two-part interview, written and telephone references, and a criminal background check. All staff members who work at the waterfront have their lifeguard certification, and we have a one-week staff training prior to the start of our camp season where staff learn how to operate our equipment and run programs safely. All of our counselors are certified in C.P.R.
Yes, we have fully staffed charter buses that can pick up and drop off your camper. The fee for this is $75 one way. Our two bus stops in Northern California are San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Dublin, and in Southern California, we have four stops: Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Irvine, and Cardiff. We also pick up campers at the Fresno Air Terminal free of charge between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm for flights. If you will be dropping off at the Fresno Air Terminal, the drop off time is 1:00pm. If you will be picking up after camp from the Fresno Air Terminal, pick-up time is 11:00am. We show appropriate movies and stop for lunch on the way to and from camp. For our international campers, we can arrange to have staff meet them at San Francisco Airport the evening before camp begins (for an extra travel fee). Please contact the camp office for more information.
We recommend that first-year campers take the bus to camp (note: most campers travel to camp by bus). Good-byes are easier at the bus stop and campers have the opportunity to get the full camp experience. Upon arriving at the bus stop, families are welcomed by staff, campers are introduced to other campers their same age, and the camp experience begins! At the end of the session, many parents pick their children up from camp. Campers enjoy sharing their camp adventures with you while touring their cabin and the rest of camp.
If you have the time, it is always fun to see camp in person and get the “real” tour from your child. However, because of our remote location, the majority of campers do take the bus home at the end of camp. Typically, about 60 campers are picked up at camp, and the other 200 go home on buses or flights. It is best if your camper knows whether he/she is taking the bus home before he/she leaves for camp. Some parents change plans and decide not to come up to camp, which can be disappointing if the camper was planning on having them come up.
The spending limit is the maximum amount you want to allow your camper to spend in our camp store. We suggest $50-100 for two weeks. Any unused store funds with a balance over $5.00 will be returned to the parents after the camp session. The balance of store accounts below $5.00 will be donated to the Manny Vezie Fund (our camp scholarship program) unless the camp is requested to do otherwise. Remember, if your camper referred a friend to Gold Arrow, they will receive a $20 store credit on the first day of camp, so you may want to adjust to a lower limit.
Huntington Lake is located in the High Sierra at 7,000 ft. elevation, so the water can be cold at times. Some children do not use wetsuits and have a higher tolerance for the cold water; however, many campers (especially younger/smaller ones) need a wetsuit to be comfortable participating in some of the watersports. We keep a selection of different size wetsuits in our life jacket shed for campers to borrow when needed, but we can’t guarantee a perfect fit. If you feel your child will always want to wear a wetsuit, then you might consider sending him/her with a shorty or “spring” style wetsuit. Many families find very reasonably priced wetsuits at Costco and other locations.
CampMinder is a technology company that provides registration, photo, and email services for our campers, parents, and staff. Campers’ parents have individual passwords they use to log-in to the site and have the ability to assign passwords to other family members. Gold Arrow Camp photographers upload approximately 200 photos each day, available for viewing and purchasing through CampMinder. To login to CampMinder, click the Parent Login link at the top of our menu. Once logged in, parents can send one-way emails to campers, view daily photographs, read newsletters, and edit contact information. If you have technical issues logging on to CampMinder, email us or call the office at 800-554-2267.
While both are good, we recommend a soft-sided trunk or large duffel bag because they are easier to transport in cars (they take up less space and are less likely to damage your car interior during loading and unloading), and are easier to move around at camp. The less-expensive trunks bought at department stores are many times poorly made and will break if a camper steps up on it while at camp. Generally, campers use two pieces of luggage to travel to camp. A detailed equipment and packing list can be found in the parent login area.
Parents may visit their child during camp if enrolled for 4 weeks or more. Two weeks is such a short time for campers to adjust and settle into camp, and visiting in the middle of the session would disrupt their camp experience. Parents who wish to visit camp usually arrange to pick their child up at the end of the session. Refreshments and a tour, courtesy of your camper and his/her counselor, are provided!
Your child may have the chance to meet up with friends or siblings from other cabins for the evening free time activity or early morning programs by signing up for the same program. During rest hour and some evening campfires, campers have the opportunity to check in with friends (same gender) from other cabins. Meals are also a great time to check in and say hi to campers in other cabin groups.
Depending on the activity, campers will be scheduled with their cabin group for one or two sessions. Free choice activity periods in the evening are an opportunity to have more time at a particular program.
We schedule activities by cabin group for the morning and afternoon activity periods. This ensures that all campers have the opportunity to try every activity offered. Also, we have found that campers will often not sign up for activities in which they have never participated or may be nervous trying for the first time. By participating as a cabin group, campers can try new activities with the support of their group counselor and cabin mates. The evening free choice and early morning programs offer a chance to spend more time at favorite activity areas.
Our counselors will make every effort to keep sunscreen on campers. For younger campers (ages 6-9), counselors will help with application. For campers ages 10 and over, counselors will supervise application and help with hard-to-reach places (backs & shoulders). Sunscreen dispensers are placed throughout camp for re-application, and counselors make it part of the daily routine. If you have special instructions regarding your child’s sun protection, please make a note for the counselor on the Camper Profile (one of the online forms you complete prior to camp).
At every meal, in addition to the main entrée served, campers have the following “other options”: Breakfast: cold cereal, fruit, yogurt, toast and bagels; Lunch: peanut butter & jelly, deli meat, soup selection, salad bar; Dinner: pasta bar, salad bar. For more detailed information, please visit the “Food” section of our website.
Session changes can be made as long as space is available in your child’s age group in the desired session. There are no fees for making session changes. Many sessions fill quickly, and changes are not always possible.
In case of an emergency at camp, our staff are trained in C.P.R. and camp emergency communication procedures. Our camp medical personnel, who are registered nurses, are on call via radio 24 hours per day. We also have a Camp Doctor on call at all times and usually on the camp premises. We keep oxygen, epi-pens (for allergic reactions), and other emergency supplies in our camp Wellness Center. If there is a life-threatening emergency, we have access to emergency evacuation service via helicopter to Fresno (which is 65 miles from camp), where Children’s Hospital Central California is located. Of course, our most important priority is maintaining our campers’ and staff members’ safety, so we enforce safety rules throughout camp and during all activity programs. Our excellent safety record attests to our stringent adherence to high safety standards.
As we state in all of our camp information, Gold Arrow Camp has Camper Standards of Behavior and Appearance, and we are committed to upholding them. If a camper is disrespectful towards, or disobeys, his/her counselor, then we follow these disciplinary procedures:
Counselor talks with the camper and discusses what the unacceptable behavior is and what appropriate behaviors can be utilized instead.
If the behavior continues, then the counselor talks with his or her supervisor, a director contacts the parents, and the camper meets with a director to sign a behavioral contract outlining his/her understanding of what behavior is expected and that the subsequent consequence will be to go home early from camp.
If the behavior still persists, a director contacts the parents again and we make arrangements for the camper to go home.
We understand that the behavior of one camper can have a significant impact on the group, so we are committed to ensuring that our campers show respect for one another and for our staff. Fortunately, we get a great group of campers and only rarely need to utilize the most severe consequences.
Gold Arrow Camp is coeducational. All campers attend assemblies and meals, and boys and girls participate in camp activities together. Living areas are separated by gender, with boys’ cabins and girls’ cabins grouped together. Campers and counselors are not allowed around, on the deck of, or inside cabins of the opposite gender, so that campers can always be assured of privacy. Siblings and friends who are different genders have the opportunity to visit each other during meals, free time activity, and in the central area of camp (Chipmunk) at campfire time, but are not allowed in or around each other’s cabins.
The majority of our campers come from California, but are from many different areas and cities. Most of our California campers travel to camp on one of our charter buses from Northern or Southern California. We also have international campers (73 in 2019) and campers from other states in the U.S. Our staff come from all over the world, with approximately 20% coming from other countries, primarily England, Australia, New Zealand, and Eastern Europe.
Gold Arrow Camp is an independent camp and is not affiliated with any specific religion or religious organization. Our campers and staff come from different religious backgrounds and are taught to respect each other’s beliefs. Camp can be a time of spiritual growth, and campers and staff are permitted to bring religious materials to camp. There are no formal religious services for campers. We hold our campers and staff to a high standard of moral character.
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