How do I know if my daughter is ready for day camp?
When you combine excitement, a full schedule and add a bit of hot August weather, camp can definitely be an exhausting experience. Girls who are trying to pack in competitive sports or activities before or after camp will be dragging and probably a bit on the grouchy side. Some questions to ask yourself: Is my daughter ready to play with girls who are not her best friends? Can she cope with unknowns? Can she give graciously — does she always have to have her own way? Can she function as a member of a group? Does she have the physical stamina to spend the entire day outdoors?
What kinds of facilities are available at Camp Potomac Woods?
Camp Tag-A-Long takes place at Camp Potomac Woods. Owned and operated by the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, it is a developed campground on 101 acres. We walk a lot! There is potable water and the campers use latrines. Almost all campsites have open-air shelters that provide cover from the sun and during rainstorms, and the lodges are available for severe weather. There is no refrigeration or air conditioning. Camp Potomac Woods provides a wonderful outdoor experience in the heart of Loudoun County.
How does a change in Girl Scout levels affect summer camp?
Because Camp Tag-A-Long takes place at the end of the summer, we move the girls “up” a grade when they come to camp. For example, a rising 4th grader would be placed in a Junior group called Fly-ups and would earn Junior badges, or a Daisy who has bridged to Brownies would be placed in a Bridger group and earn Brownie badges.
How are the Units put together?
•Daisy Units are composed of girls who have completed Kindergarten, with some exceptions for staff children who are rising Kindergartners. These exceptions are made on a case-by-base basis. This unit will have 4 camp aides and 2 adult leaders up to 20 Daisy Campers per unit.
•Bridger Units are composed of girls who have completed 1st grade. These units will have 3 camp aides and 2 adult leaders and up to 20 girls per unit. We call them Bridgers, because they have or will soon be bridging to Brownies.
•Brownie Units are composed of girls who have completed 2nd grade. These units will have 3 camp aides and 2 adult leaders and up to 22 Brownie Campers per unit.
•Fly-Up Units are composed of girls who have completed 3rd grade. These units will have 3 camp aides and 2 adult leaders and up to 22 Fly-Up Campers per unit.
•Junior Units are composed of girls who have complete 4th grade. These units will have 3 camp aides and 2 adult leaders and up to 22 Junior Campers per unit.
•PALS Units are composed of girls who have completed 5th grade. These units will have 3 camp aides and 2 adult leaders to 24 PALS per unit.
For our Adult Volunteers, Camp Tag provides Day Care Units for Non-Girl Scout Campers.
•Infants & Toddlers: birth through 2½ or 3 years (still napping and/or not potty trained).
•Preschoolers (Pixies): 3 years (must be potty trained) through rising kindergarten. Pixies do not nap!
•Young Boys: rising 1st grade through rising 4th grade.
•Older Boys: rising 5th grade through rising 7th grade
We do our best to ensure that cliques do not form in a unit by mixing girls from different troops and schools. We will try to honor “buddy” requests, which you can provide when you complete the online health form.
Please dress sensibly and comfortably for the out-of-doors. Because the area is wooded, all campers MUST have closed-toe, closed-heel shoes – there are too many rocks and roots to trip on or stub toes with flip flops or sandals. We encourage socks that will provide protection from prickly plants, poison ivy and ticks. Highly recommended is the use of hats or bandannas to provide coverage from the sun and from ticks. Shorts are ok, but please leave the short-shorts at home. Wear tall socks or lightweight pants on hiking days! Shoulders and abdomens must be covered. Campers will also need a clean bandanna each day that serves as a towel for drying hands.
Any camper inappropriately dressed calls home and asks mom or dad to bring appropriate clothing back to camp. Bringing an extra set of clothes might be a good idea, too! Place these in a gallon baggie with the camper’s name on the front. The extra set of clothes may stay in the Unit’s shelter for the week.
Apply sunscreen and insect repellent before you come to camp — NO AEROSOLS PERMITTED AT CAMP.
FOOD & WATER
What kind of food is available?
Meals are not provided at Camp Tag-A-Long, with the exception of an ice cream treat on Friday (nut and dairy-free options will be available). Every camper must bring a packed lunch, morning and afternoon snack to camp each day. The packed lunch should be heat resistant, as refrigeration is not available. When packing snacks for your camper please pack items such as apples, pretzels, crackers, goldfish, granola, cereal bars, and other healthy energy snacks — it is a long hungry day. Please leave candy and sodas at home — they attract bees to your campers!
While we are not a nut-free camp, we ask you to minimize nuts/nut products. Be sure to fill in any food-allergy information in the online health form.
We cannot over emphasize the importance of drinking water while at camp each day. Campers MUST bring a water bottle or a cup to camp each day. Water is available throughout camp for bottle or cup refills. In addition, please encourage your camper to drink water before and after camp each day.
All campers at Camp Tag-A-Long will use latrines or BIFFYs which are located throughout camp. The units may make BIFFY sniffers and use other strategies to make latrines more tolerable. Occasionally, we have a girl who refuses to use the latrine. Obviously, this is not healthy and if it continues to happen, our only option is to send the camper home. Please talk with your camper about latrine use and what to expect before coming to camp. All Campers are encouraged to take part in daily kapers (clean up duties). These kapers do include the latrines, and there’s a special SWAP given to all campers who help clean a BIFFY! Latex gloves, cleaning supplies and brooms are used, and an adult is present for supervision. If a camper does not want to take part in this activity, the camper will not be made to do so.
Is it necessary to give Junior and Teen Girl Scouts instruction in the proper disposal of feminine hygiene products while at camp?
The latrines at Camp Potomac Woods are bio-degradable units. The only items to be put down the latrine is human waste and toilet paper. Girl Scouts have a special way to dispose of feminine hygiene products while at camp to ensure they do not damage the latrine, hurt the environment or attract animals. We use “snap cans” in the latrines to serve as wastebaskets. The used feminine products are wrapped in foil and placed in the snap can that has a tight-fitting lid. Since the girls use the latrines, they must know the proper and safe way to dispose of this trash. We have found that a simple, matter-of-fact explanation makes it more comfortable for everyone!
Is there any transportation provided by the camp for camper pick up or drop off during the week?
NO. All transportation to and from camp is the responsibility of the parents. Due to the small parking lot area, we require parents to drop their campers the AM and to pick up the campers in the PM without parking. Camp Tag-A-Long provides escorts for campers at all times during camp. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND car pools for quicker drop off and pick up times. Parking is for Staff during the camp week.
Be a good role model for your Girl Scout and a good neighbor! Please obey the speed limit; the neighbors are very watchful of speeding. Please watch out for animals in the road; many of the homes on Camp Potomac Woods Lane are small farms. Do not arrive earlier than 8:30 am (this does not include Staff, staff children or staff siblings). Wait patiently in the line until a staff member indicates it is time to unload. Please yield right-of-way to campers and staff. We request, for safety purposes, that you do not use your cell phone while in the car line as there are staff and aides helping you get your children as quickly as possible.
Car Unloading and Loading
With everyone’s cooperation, we can load or unload about 150 cars in 20 minutes! A staff member wearing a yellow vest and waiving a yellow flag will direct you to the unloading/loading area.
Follow staff directions to the unloading area, staff members will help your camper by opening and closing doors. When campers have to climb over brothers and sisters to get in or out of the car it really slows things down. Please do not put your camper’s daypacks in the trunk of your car! Drivers should stay in the car when loading and unloading.
The afternoon loading period is the most difficult. As you drive into the parking lot, you will provide us with a card or paper with your camper’s name or all campers’ names for car pools. By the time you reach the pick-up area, your camper should be there to meet you. The staff members loading and unloading cars are not available to take messages, pass notes to the directors, hold discussions about activities, etc. If there is something you need to discuss, please call the number for the Director.
If you bring your camper late, please drive into the parking lot and pull up to the Security Volunteer Area (located in the middle of the parking lot). The security volunteer will have you sign in your camper and call for an escort to come up and take her to her unit. Please wait with your camper until the escort arrives.
If your camper must depart early, pick up must be NO LATER THAN 2:30 pm. Please send a note with your camper informing the Unit Leader that she must leave early and what time you will be in the parking area to pick her up. Drive into the parking lot and pull up to the Security Volunteer Area. You will need a picture ID to sign out your camper. The Security Volunteer will compare your picture ID to the names of individuals authorized to pick up your camper listed on the camper registration form.
LOST AND FOUND
A Lost and Found box is kept at the camp all week. If we can identify the owner of an object, we will send it to her unit. Each camper also has an opportunity to look through the Lost and Found before the closing Flag Ceremony each afternoon. Otherwise, it will stay in the Lost and Found until claimed. After camp, the Lost and Found will be discarded on Saturday. Please be sure to check your camper’s belongings immediately after camp ends on Friday. If items are missing, please contact the Director.