Going to camp is exciting for campers, and can leave a lot of questions for parents. We want your camper's experience at Beacon to be the best it can be. To make sure you and your camper are ready for camp, we'll send you a Parent/Camper Handbook by email, usually 1-2 weeks before your session begins. In the meantime, you're welcome to read through some of the most frequently asked questions below, which should help make sure that you're ready! If you're wondering about something that isn't listed here, please let us know and we'll get you an answer as soon as possible.
Life at Camp
What does a typical day look like?
Beacon's day is pretty full - we only get one week to have fun with your camper, so we pack everything in! Below is a typical day at one of our youth camps (family camps can vary):
9:30am Morning Devotions/Cabin Clean-up
11:00am Activity Rotation
1:15pm Cabin Time/Tuck Shop
2:00pm Activity Rotation
3:00pm Swim Time (and other optional activities)
6:45pm Evening Program
8:00pm Evening Singing/Lesson
9:00pm Wash-up/Evening Devotions
9:30pm Lights Out (somewhat later for older campers)
Where do campers sleep?
Campers at our youth camps sleep in one of Beacon's cabins, which can each host 8 campers and 2 staff. They are fully contained buildings with walls, doors, screened windows and mattresses. The bathrooms are a short walk away from our cabins.
At family camps and fall/winter sessions, campers may also stay in a lodge. Lodges are heated buildings that have washrooms inside them, and often have a small living room as well.
All of our cabins are very well maintained, and we are currently in the middle of an upgrade plan for most of our buildings, meaning that each time you come to Beacon, something else will look brand new!
What is the food like?
Beacon provides balanced, nutritious meals with homemade flair. Breakfast, whether hot or cold, creates a good start to the day, with cereal always available in addition. Lunch is served hot and is the biggest meal of the day; many unique Beacon classics occur at this time. Dinner is lighter and highlights many youth meal favourites, such as burgers and pizza. Beacon's desserts, which follow lunch and dinner, are very often homemade. Snacks are served every evening before the nighttime routine begins. The final dinner of the camp session is a special banquet.
Can my camper do laundry?
Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to offer laundry for our campers. Most of our sessions are only one week long, so this usually isn't an issue. If you have a camper staying for two weeks, you can choose to send them with two weeks worth of clothing, or else meet them during the camp changeover and take them to Bala, where there is a laundromat.
Of course, if there is an accident or surprising issue in the middle of a camp session, we won't leave your camper in the lurch. We'll figure that out no problem.
How do you manage lost and found?
Excited campers (of all ages!) often leave things around camp. When an item is found, we bring it to the Dining Hall and place it in our lost and found basket. At dinnertime each day, staff attempt to clear out the basket by showing campers what has been lost.
At the end of a camp session, we wash and tag all items left behind. They are kept for 1 month, after which items are donated to a local Salvation Army branch.
If you believe your camper has lost an item at camp, please contact us as soon as possible. If we do have the item, we will find a quick way to get it back to you.
Does Beacon have rules about camp life?
Beacon has a Code of Conduct which all campers and staff are expected to follow. We also have guidelines and policies regarding important topics like bullying prevention, sun safety and healthcare (among other things). Guidelines that campers are expected to follow are clearly explained before camp begins or early on in the camp session.
How do I register for a Beacon program?
All Beacon program registration takes place through CampBrain, our online registration database. We don't do paper registration. If using the Internet is a problem for you for any reason, give us a call. We'd be happy to help you register over the phone.
When does registration start?
Registration opens for all summer and fall programs on February 1 each year. Our winter registration opens in December for the following year.
Can I request cabin mates for my camper?
Definitely! During the registration process, you can give us the name of two campers who you want to have in the same cabin as your camper. While we do our best to accommodate all cabin mate requests, we can only guarantee mutual single requests (example: Jimmy request Johnny only, and Johnny requests Jimmy only).
How do I know what to pack?
Two weeks before your camp session, we'll send you an email with the final registration details for what you'll need to bring. You can also visit our Packing Lists page for a general idea of what you'll need to have ready. Some camps (like Wilderness) have special packing needs based on the trips taken.
Why is the medical form so long?
We wish there was an easier way to collect medical information! To make sure that your camper gets the care that they need in case of an emergency, we need to get certain information from you. We've recently introduced pre-filled medical forms, so once you've completed the form the first time, it will get much easier the next time.
How does the Tuck Shop work?
Beacon's Tuck Shop is our on-site store that offers sweet treats, Beacon-branded clothing and small souvenirs for our campers and staff. During a camp session, each camper will get to visit the Tuck Shop 3-4 times. During the week, we use cash only in Tuck. Parents usually send campers with between $20 and $40 spend (and before you worry about dental bills: we limit the amount of candy and pop purchased by younger campers each time they visit).
The Tuck Shop is also open during drop-off and pick-up at camp (but parents will have to be with campers to come for a visit). During these times, we accept credit card payment as well.
Do you have a wait list for full sessions?
Some of Beacon's programs are incredibly popular. This means that we have to operate a wait list system for those who are interested in a camp session that is currently full. To be added to a wait list, please email the camp office (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let us know your name, email address and phone number as well as the name of your child and the camp session you'd like to be wait listed for. As soon as a spot opens up, we'll contact you.
As a reminder: all of Beacon's programs are volunteer-run. We depend on the generosity of our volunteers and the gift of their time. While we always strive to find extra space for campers on the wait list, we are sometimes limited by the number of staff who volunteer during a particular session.
What does Beacon look like?
Beacon is set on almost 400 acres of Muskoka wilderness. Over the years, we've worked hard to maintain the wooded nature of our camp - guests will notice right away that it feels like your camp session is taking place in a forest! Our cabins are closely centred around our Dining Hall and chapel space (called the Lighthouse). We also have a cleared sports field a short walk from the main camp buildings, and various trails and paths in the more forested area, which are all clearly marked. One of the most beautiful parts of our property is our waterfront: we are the only private owners on our part of Echo Lake, meaning that for most of the summer, we have the whole thing to ourselves.
If you would ever like to come see Beacon for yourself, give us a call! We love giving tours of our beautiful environment.
What type of activities do you do at camp?
Beacon is a "traditional" summer camp. That means that we focus heavily on time-tested camp activities like archery, canoeing and wide games. We also have a full-sized gym for rainy days and a beach volleyball court for when the sun is shining. The costs for all of our activities are included in your camp fees.
Can I bring my fishing rod/hockey stick/etc?
Yes! If you have a fishing rod, we support catch-and-release fishing in our lake. We do require that all fishers comply with government regulations about fishing licenses. For other sports equipment, you can contact the camp office to find out if we already have what you're looking for at camp. We don't want items to get damaged or lost at camp, so we'll be honest with you about whether we already have your desired equipment at camp.
Does my camper need to take a swim test?
All campers and staff are required to perform a swim test when they arrive at camp. This is not just to help them decide where to swim safely, but also to provide our lifeguarding staff with a general idea of how many campers will be using which parts of our waterfront facilities.
Any camper can use any part of our waterfront as long as they are wearing a lifejacket/PFD. Those who pass our swim test (swim 50 metres unassisted and tread water for 5 minutes) are able to swim in the deep end of our waterfront area without a lifejacket. Any time there are campers at the waterfront, Beacon has qualified and trained lifeguards present to make sure that they are safe.
First Day/Last Day
How do I get my camper to Beacon?
Campers are welcome to drive to camp with their families (you can find directions on our Contact us page), and we offer bus transportation for certain camp sessions. You can learn more about those on our Transportation page.
Who is allowed to pick up campers?
In order to make sure that campers under the age of 18 are safely picked up by the right people, Beacon has put in place a Safe Arrival program. During the registration process, you'll be asked to provide the name of up to 3 people who are allowed to pick up your camper (You can call or email the camp office to change these names if you need to do that).
When you pick up your camper (at camp or at the bus stop), Beacon's staff will compare the name of the person picking up the camper to the names on the list. We ask for photo identification during the process. If your name is not on the list, they will need to call the camp office to confirm that you are allowed to take custody of the camper in question.
(In case you're wondering: we don't need to know who drops off your camper for camp. We assume that if they're dropping them off at camp or the bus stop, they're doing it because you told them so.)
What does the first day of camp look like?
On the first day of camp, we start welcoming campers at Beacon at 3:00pm. When you arrive, we'll be waiting for you at the registration tent next to the camp office. There, we'll make sure that everything is A-OK with your registration information (medical, payments, etc.) and we'll collect any additional Tuck Shop money that wasn't deposited online. We also do a thorough check for head lice and offer the opportunity to talk with our camp medical staff if you need to.
Once that's done, you'll take your camper to find out which cabin they'll be staying in, meet the camp staff and have a while to take a walk around Beacon. We ask that all campers arrive (and parents leave) by 5:00pm, so that we can do an introductory talk with all our campers, and then head to our first meal together.
What happens on the last day of camp?
Beacon's programming ends at 10:00am on the last day of camp. At that point, the bus will leave and parents who are picking their campers up from camp are asked to be present. Unlike many other camps, Beacon starts a new camp on the same day that the last camp ends, so we need as much time as possible to "turn over" camp to the new program. If you are going to be much later than 10:00am, we ask that you call the camp office to let us know.
Health and Safety
Do you have medical staff at Beacon?
Beacon has a medical staff person at every camp session. During the summer, we have many trained first aiders on site, and a nurse or doctor to care for campers and staff.
Beacon is close to several walk-in clinics and pharmacies, and is a short drive to the nearest hospital. In the rare case where campers need care that cannot be provided at Beacon, we have procedures in place to ensure immediate and effective care.
What should I do about medication?
When your camper arrives at camp, we'll collect any prescription medication during the registration process. We'll also double check with you about the times of day and dosage that our medical staff will administer. Records are kept every time a camper receives medication (prescribed or from our infirmary).
At the end of the camp session, we'll return the medication to you when you pick up your camper.
How do you deal with food allergies?
During the registration process, we ask that parents identify any food allergies on their camper's medical form. Our Hospitality Coordinator will review these forms and contact parents to discuss the best way to support the camper's health during their camp session.
Beacon does not make accommodations for food preferences (those who are picky eaters, for example). When food allergies are involved, we work to ensure that safe and healthy options are available at all meals. In some cases, Beacon can easily accommodate the allergies with alternatives. At times, we may ask parents to send food items that they already know work well with their camper's diet.
Is Beacon a nut-free/nut-aware camp?
Beacon is not a nut-free facility. During some meals, peanut butter packets are available, and some Tuck Shop candy bars contain nuts. During camp sessions where a registered camper has a nut allergy, these items are not available to campers and staff work diligently to ensure that they are removed from places where campers can access them. As campers sometimes bring their own food to camp (which we ask that you do not do), we cannot guarantee a nut-free faciility.
What is your lice policy?
In an effort to prevent head lice, we ask parents to check their child’s head before they come to camp. If you find lice prior to coming to camp, please give your child proper treatment and put all clothes, hair brush, bedding, stuffed animals, etc. coming to camp through a hot dryer and make sure to contact the camp office to discuss your camper's camp experience.
After arrival at camp, all campers and staff will be checked for lice or nits. This is standard camp procedure for all individuals coming through Beacon. Should lice become an issue or lice/nits be found at camp, parents will be asked to pick up their child and take them for a professional lice treatment.
The family may contact the Lice Squad in their local area for full head lice/nit treatment. A receipt as proof of treatment will be required prior to the camper being re-admitted for the remainder of the camp session. Should the camper stay home, a full refund minus a $50.00 administration fee will be refunded.
Do you allow smoking or alcohol at camp?
Beacon is a smoke-free and alcohol-free facility. As part of our Code of Conduct, we do not allow smoking or the consumption of alcohol on our property or by our campers/staff while they are taking part in Beacon programs.
What's the ratio of campers to staff?
Each cabin group has a maximum of eight campers and two staff, meaning that your camper is going to get close attention from our caring staff team. We also have program staff, teachers, directors and medical staff at Beacon, bringing our overall ratio closer to 2:1 - we have many committed staff members who love helping out at camp!
Where do Beacon's staff come from?
Beacon's staff is entirely comprised of volunteers. Each year, over 175 people choose to give at least a week of their time to help Beacon run its programs. Our staff come from a variety of walks of life: university students, teachers, firefighters, stay-at-home parents, retirees. They are all people who have committed to following Jesus and want to make sure that campers who come to Beacon have the chance to make the same commitment.
What kind of training do they receive?
Our staff are selected based on applications that they submit to us early in the year, including vulnerable sector checks and reference checks. They each receive training in areas such as our camper care policies (bullying prevention, emergency procedures, etc.) as well as mandatory government training for health and safety. Specific staff will receive training before they teach skill-based learning like canoeing and archery.
How old are your staff?
Every staff person who works directly with campers at Beacon has to be 18 years of age or older, unless they have completed FLIGHT (our leadership training program), in which case they can be 17 years of age. Some non-camper positions (kitchen, for example) are available to 17 year olds, but we often have an "experienced" group in the kitchen as well. The average age of our staff team over the past three years is 30.25 years old (having week-long volunteers definitely has it's advantages!).
Can I volunteer as a staff member?
Absolutely! We love having parents volunteer as staff. If your camper is going to be at camp while you volunteer, it's even better! We often have a need for kitchen staff during our camp sessions and parents occasionally ask to be a cabin leader too! To find out where we need help, visit our Staff Needs page.
What types of staff positions are available?
We have all sorts of staff positions availble if you're interested in volunteering. Visit our Staff page for more information.
How can I pay for my camp fees?
In order to reserve your spot at camp, Beacon requires a deposit for each camp session. During the registration process, you can choose to pay the full amount of your camp fees, or only the deposit. For summer sessions, the full amount of your camp fees are due by June 1. For fall/winter sessions, full payment is due on the first day of the session. Incidental fees (bus transportation, camp t-shirts, Tuck Shop deposits, etc.) are due the day that you register.
We provide options during the registration process to pay for your camp fees in installments. If you need alternate arrangements, please contact us.
When registering online, Beacon accepts Visa and Mastercard. You may also pay by cheque, payable to Beacon Bible Camp. As soon as you are finished the registration process, please send the cheque to us by mail (4488 Southwood Rd, Torrance, ON P0C 1M0). We prefer that you do not pay with cash.
How does Camper Sponsorship work?
At Beacon, we believe that no child should miss out on the life-changing experience of camp because of financial barriers. This commitment to campers is made possible through the generosity of donors who believe the same. For more information about our Camper Sponsorship program, or to apply for support, visit our Camper Sponsorship page.
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
We know that plans change, and that sometimes that means that your camper can no longer attend their camp session. In the event of a cancellation, every effort is made to find other campers to take the place of those who have cancelled. The reality is that this is often difficult, especially as the summer approaches.
For summer camp sessions, Beacon offers a full refund before May 1st. After that, cancellation fees apply. For fall and winter sessions Beacon offers a full refund until 30 days before the session begins. Afte that, cancellation fees apply.
Do you offer any discounts?
Beacon's staff and board work very hard every year to provide an excellent camping experience while keeping prices affordable. This is very much due to the generosity of Beacon's volunteers, without whom the cost of camp could easily double.
At this time, Beacon offers a 25% discount to campers who have one or more parents in full-time ministry. To access this discount, register your child for camp and then contact the camp office before payment is made so that we can apply the discount for you. It is not an automatic discount, and the office must be contacted for the the discount to be applied. Click here to let us know you'd like the Full-Time Ministry Discount (fill out the form at the bottom of the page).
How can I stay in touch with my camper?
Programs, activities, and getting to know new friends all take a lot of time and work, and we want our campers focused on having fun! If you want to connect with your camper, please do not call camp. It is a special treat for campers to receive "snail mail", so we always encourage that! As our sessions are only a week long, we suggest that you may want to send a letter the week before they leave for camp, so that it arrives in time. You can also leave "mail" with us on the first day for us to deliver to your camper on specific days. Please clearly label the mail with your camper's name and session (ex: John Smith, Junior Boys).
Another option is to send an email to your camper. You can email them at email@example.com, and we'll deliver the printed email to them at meal time. Please note that campers cannot reply to emails, and we don't recommend sending more than 2-3 emails during the week, as this can cause homesickness at times for campers. Emails that include photos will not be delivered.
Can my camper bring a cell phone to camp?
The short answer is no. While we love technology, camp is a special place that allows campers to reconnect with each other in the time-tested method of "face to face communication". Cell phones can cause distraction for campers, which we want to avoid. Youth in our culture need a space where they can unplug from the constant barrage of social media notifications and instant communication in order to take a break. (Cell phones/tablets are also very expensive. Any damage or loss will not be covered by Beacon.) We take lots of photos every day, and do our best to post them on social media accounts (if you've given us permission), so you'll be able to see what your child is doing at camp.
If a cell phone/device is discovered at camp during a session, it will be held in the camp office until the end of the session. Active disregard for this rule may result in a phone call home to parents. If you have concerns about this policy, please contact the camp office.
What do I do if there is an emergency?
In the case of an emergency at home, please call the camp office to speak with one of our staff. During camp sessions, the office telephone is monitored 24/7. If we don't answer, leave a message, and we'll get back to you as soon as we receive the message.
Beacon's staff are trained to handle emergencies at camp. In the remote chance that something occurs, you will be informed immediately and provided with options for caring for your camper.
What happens if there is a discipline issue?
Campers sometimes act out: it's a fact of life. We love all the kids that come to Beacon, but if someone has trouble adjusting to life at camp, we'll make a call home to their parents or guardians to discuss the situation. We always strive to have campers stay with us at Beacon for the duration of the camp session, but in rare circumstances, campers need to go home.
If this happens, we'll work with you for the benefit of your camper. Going home from camp once doesn't mean that a camper can't ever return - we'll work hard to make sure they're back and having a blast as soon as possible.