What to Include in Your Summer Camp Attendance Policy


As a summer camp leader, it’s only natural you want to provide the best possible experience for your campers.

However, not many people realize there’s a lot of preparation and planning involved in making sure attendees get the most out of their summer adventure.

And you can’t do it all on your own.

Some assistance from families is required, too.

So, to help them help you, your attendance guidelines must contain all the crucial rules and policies that will ensure the camp runs smoothly. These regulations are paramount in establishing an environment where everyone can have fun, unwind, and learn.

Wondering what exactly to include in the policy?

Read on, and we’ll help you figure it out!

Summer Camp Attendance Requirements

Let’s start with the attendance requirements.

It’s important to inform families of the designated time for daily attendance and any procedures for campers who may be running a bit late. You don’t want parents panicking just because they got to the camp a couple of minutes later than the rest of the group.

Moreover, some camps will provide a comprehensive list of recommended clothing and equipment to bring along. This can be particularly useful if you have scheduled specific field trips or activities that demand particular attire or gear.

It’s also vital to note if there are going to be activities that may not be safe to participate in while, for example, wearing open-toed shoes.

summer-camp-parent-handbook Source: Regpack

Children themselves also have a role to play in creating a positive atmosphere during the program. Be sure to outline expected behavior and consequences for misbehavior. They should know you won’t be tolerating any bullying or theft.

Just a quick reminder: these guidelines are here to ensure everyone has a safe and amazing time without taking away from the fun. Camp attendees should understand this, too.

Procedures for Signing in and Out

On the first day of camp, the session should be already paid for in full, and all the necessary paperwork, including parental consent forms, participant information, travel paperwork, and waivers, should be filled in.

Use your attendance policy as a reminder that campers can’t enter camp without these documents.

A little pro tip: to make this part of the sign-in go smoothly, it’s best to use camp registration software like Regpack that’ll automatically inform registrants if any important items are missing during the registration process.

regpack-email-example Source: Regpack

That way, the participants will surely have all the documentation prepared in advance, making the sign-in procedure much more streamlined.

Furthermore, specify the time and location for both check-in and check-out and clarify whether a guardian or parent must be present during these times.

Some camps have strict policies that require parents to sign their children in and out and provide identification each time, while others may allow for self-sign-out depending on the age of the camper.

Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures

This is a very important one.

To avoid long wait times along with chaos, stress, and confusion, it’s essential to offer a detailed outline of the drop-off/pick-up procedure. This involves the location as well as available parking spaces. If parking rates apply, be sure to mention that.

Ideally, everyone should arrive at the camp at the same time, but you already know this won’t always be the case. Therefore, have clear late drop-off and early departure rules. They’ll help you dodge any misunderstandings later on.

map-showing-location Source: Summer of Surf

Summer camps sometimes even charge a late arrival fee, so if this applies to your camp, too, let the families know.

Overall, these guidelines are designed to make the pick-up/drop-off process more streamlined, but they can also help reduce the anxiety parents occasionally experience when leaving their children in an unfamiliar environment for the first time.

By following the procedure, parents can rest assured that their little campers will be in good hands and that the entire process will be hassle-free.

Policies Regarding Absences

Campers can’t have an amazing time at your camp if they’re not even there.

Still, an occasional absence is bound to happen.

In this case, though, you need to ensure the program keeps running smoothly and you continue delivering an enjoyable, high-quality experience for the rest of the group.

This is where the absence policy comes into play.

Begin by explaining what is considered an absence in your camp. Does it entail leaving early or arriving late? What constitutes an excused absence vs. an unexcused one?

Then, move on to the specific rules regarding missed camp days.

absence-policy-example Source: Regpack

Think about whether you want to provide refunds in such cases. And if so, is it going to be a full or partial refund?

And what if a camper misses camp multiple times without an excuse? Will he or she be asked to unenroll?

Consider how much leniency you want (or can) offer to the families and form your guidelines accordingly. Whatever you decide, however, be sure to clearly communicate the policy to avoid any future complaints from parents.

Requirements for Reporting Changes

Even with the best of efforts, some things, especially those related to camper families, are out of your control.

Parents are truly unpredictable creatures. Their plans change, the session they booked no longer suits them, and so they try to transfer their child to another one. It’s not an uncommon scenario.

Of course, being the amazing camp leader that you are, you want to accommodate everyone’s needs, wants, requests, and wishes.

But don’t forget: you have a business to run.

Deciding to switch sessions is quite alright, as long as it’s requested on time. This allows you to look for available spots in other groups and consult the waitlist to find campers to fill the initial one.

summer-camp-session-change-form Source: Regpack

Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to ask for a written request for a transfer to another program at least a couple of days before camp begins.

That way, everybody gets what they want. You get enough time to restructure the groups, and parents get the session that suits them best.

Procedures for Requesting Cancellations

A similar procedure can be applied to cancellations, too.

Sometimes, campers simply can’t make it to the camp, whatever the reason may be.

That’s why it’s advisable to have a cancellation policy in place.

Typically, camps will offer refunds for cancellations made prior to a specific date, but it is not uncommon for a portion of the total amount to be withheld for processing and administrative fees.

no-refund-policy-example Source: @OswegoMBball on Twitter

Alternatively, if you’re not able to issue a refund but still wish to provide some kind of gesture of goodwill to the families who had to cancel, consider, for instance, offering discounts for the upcoming year’s sessions.

A full refund, partial refund, or no refund—ultimately, the decision is yours. Just ensure all information is readily available on your website and clearly communicated to parents. You don’t want to upset anyone with unpleasant surprises.

Remember, there’s always a chance that those who couldn’t show up this summer may be interested in signing up for the next one.

Policies Concerning No-Shows

As a summer camp leader, you truly can expect anything and everything to happen at any time.

For example, there’s a possibility that a camper who booked a session months in advance suddenly chooses not to show up at your camp without any prior notice.

While this may not occur all too often, it’s imperative to keep such scenarios in mind and be ready to handle them if they do happen.

no-show-no-refund-illustration Source: Regpack

In these cases, it’s important to have a clear no-show policy stated on your website.

Although it may seem like common sense that a refund would not be possible in this situation, it’s crucial to have the rule spelled out.

The policy is often summarized in a single sentence, such as “No refunds for no-shows.”, which should be more than enough to cover you in situations like these.


All in all, having a well-defined attendance policy for your summer camp is crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of all campers.

Make sure to supply detailed instructions for campers who arrive late or are absent, as well as those who wish to change sessions. It’s also vital to clearly define what is considered unacceptable behavior and the corresponding sanctions for such actions.

By setting expectations early on, you can help create a positive and productive camp experience for everyone involved!

About The Author
Asaf Darash

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