Where will we sleep?
Everyone sleeps in a dorm room. Each dorm room has two bunk beds in it. The bunk beds have short railings on the top bunks and built-in ladders. Each bed has a thin foam or innerspring mattress on it, but no bedding. Bring your own fitted twin size sheets & blankets, or bring a sleeping bag. Don’t forget a pillow.
The dorm has two halves—a “girls side” and a “boys side.” Each half has its own bath area, with a long row of sinks, a shelf for toiletries, a clothesline for handtowels, toilet stalls, and 4+ curtained shower stalls. We try to house the kids on the correct side for their gender, but some parents or families with younger kids may be housed on the “wrong” side due to space. Please use the appropriate side bathroom for your gender for showering—using the sinks and toilets is OK on either side. The “girls side” is the one closest to the main walking path. If your room is not on the same side as your gender bathroom, you will need to walk outside briefly to get from one half of the dorm to the other to get to the bathroom.
Who will we bunk with?
Because of the popularity of the camp, nearly everyone will need to share rooms. We fill nearly all of the beds, especially on Friday night. Let the camp directors know if you have particular requests for who you’d like to room with.
Kids 6 and under usually sleep with their parents. Age 7 and up are grouped into same-age rooms of kids, with parents sharing rooms with other parents. If your older child wants to sleep in the same room as you, be sure to contact the camp directors ahead of time so we can figure that into the rooming assignments.
What does a typical day look like?
Wake up and immediately get dressed and go outside for mankšta (morning exercises). Head directly over to eat breakfast after mankšta, raise the vėliava (flag), then some time for each būrelis (group) of kids to have a meeting with their vadovas/vadovė (counselor) to talk about the day and debrief the day before. Several activities in 30-60 minute chunks occupy the rest of the morning—anything from art projects, singing, folk dancing, sports, etc. Activities usually are centered by child’s age group, though occasionally būreliai are merged together for larger activities. Lunch is at noon in the valgykla (cafeteria). After lunch there are a few more activities, mixed with swimming time and some free time for the campers to enjoy each other’s company and the beautiful campground in a less structured manor. Before dinner we organize an all-camp game, such as capture the flag. After dinner, there is an evening program which starts with lowering the flag, then ranges in activities from laužas (campfire), skits, linksmavakaris (polka party), etc. Then a quick evening snack, and off to bed.
It’s a long day that is action-packed, and younger kids have been known to take naps in the afternoon when they don’t usually at home.
I don’t speak Lithuanian. Will this be a problem?
No, this is not a problem at all. We conduct the camp in English, and nearly half of our campers do not speak Lithuanian. However, it is a goal for all campers to use certain Lithuanian words throughout the week to refer to place names, group names, and other key camp activities. Campers will also be encouraged to incorporate at least one Lithuanian word in their šukis (cheer) at evening vėliava.
What will my 0-4 year old child do all day?
Although the core camp program is designed for kids age 7-17, Group 1 campers have a small play corner in the valgykla. Mornings will include a pre-school type activity for the youngest campers to provide some structure and bonding during their camp experience. In the afternoons they typically join the older būreliai for as many activities as possible, including singing, some art projects, swimming, and evening programs. For the activities that require an older kid, there are separate activities for the 0-4 būrelis, such as playing with playdough, digging in the sandbox (the sand volleyball court), blowing bubbles, special art projects, etc.
I’m a parent coming with my child to stovykla. What am I supposed to do all day?
There is an expectation that parents are fully available to contribute to the running of the stovykla. Every family with kids under 7 must have at least one parent at the stovykla for the entire time your children are there.
Generally each parent in attendance should be:
- taking several turns helping out in the kitchen over the course of the week. There is a schedule to ensure fair rotation.
- helping your kids and others’ kids get to where they need to be
- supervising the kids around you (yours or others) to keep things fun and safe
- helping out other parents with running activities
- coaching kids with their projects
- proactively looking for ways that you can help out and improve the camp experience for everyone
- coming up with an activity to lead for younger (or older) kids is also highly encouraged. Please reach out to the camp directors with any ideas.
It is essential for everyone to feel like an “owner” of the camp. It makes a huge difference for everyone to be invested and actively shaping the camp, rather than just relying on a few people to do all the organization. When we all work together, we can make an amazing camp for the kids, and have a lot of fun doing it.
Where do we eat?
There is a kitchen with a large all-purpose dining hall. The room has many long tables and chairs, as well as a table with built-in benches where adults typically sit. If your child needs a booster seat or high chair, you should bring it with you. All meals are served cafeteria-style.
We say a short grace at the beginning of every meal. Kids sit with their būreliai at assigned tables, and are called up table by table to the cafeteria window.
What do we eat?
A menu is planned in advance that usually has a mix of foods for each meal. There’s usually enough variety in what’s offered that everyone can find something to eat. There are also peanut butter, jelly, and lunchmeats for sandwiches offered as an alternative at most meals. Remember that we are cooking for a very very large group, so meals are simple, but we aim to be balanced and nutritious. Meals are buffet style, and you can always go back for seconds. Large partitioned trays are used predominantly, as well as plates, cups, bowls, and regular silverware.
What if I get hungry between meals?
An afternoon snack is available in the midafternoon on the buffet table for anyone who needs it, and most kids will stop by to grab a snack when it’s available. We also have a before bed snack (naktipiečiai) after the evening program. Usually there’s so much activity over the course of the day, and the meals are big and filling, that this isn’t usually a problem.
Snack foods are not permitted in the dorms—they attract ants, mice, and other pests.
What kind of activity spaces are there?
There are a range of activity spaces. Here are the most popular:
- Biblioteka (Library) Cozy room with carpeting and old couches and chairs. Great piano. Wonderful for singing and cozier group activities. Has a big fireplace at one end. The whole camp can stuff in there, but it’s a bit of a tight squeeze.
- Virtuvė (Kitchen) Large commercial-style kitchen is used mostly for preparing food, but some cooking classes are offered for older kids to make traditional Lithuanian dishes. Island workspace and counters are the best workspaces. There is also a giant refrigerator/frezer and a huge professional stove & oven.
- Valgykla (Dining Hall) The dining hall has 20+ long tables with 8+ chairs each and seats more people than our camp typically holds. It is used as a mixed space both for eating meals as well as doing art projects. An open area towards the back can be used as an impromptu stage or activity location, especially in rainy weather. Has a nice piano, but the room tends to be very loud and echoey.
- Klasė (Classroom). There are two classrooms beside the library that have school-style seats for pupils, and blackboards. These are often used for history and culture classes.
- Outside picnic tables. Four large picnic tables outside the kitchen are good for art projects, especially messier things.
- Path around the lake. There are several walking trails, the most popular is a path around the lake that takes maybe 30 minutes to walk, depending on how fast you go.
- Sand volleyball court. Occasionally used for volleyball, but makes a really great sandbox for the little kids.
- Basketball court. Full size basketball court across the field from the main buildings. Kids like to ride their bikes down there because it’s the only paved surface in camp. It’s not that big, though.
- Laužavietė (Campfire circle) The main outdoor place for a campfire is near the basketball court in a bit of a natural ampitheater with rustic bench seating. On years when there are burn bans (more years than we’d like, unfortunately) we are forced to do the laužas inside in the library.
- Pingpong table. There’s one fullsize pingpong table in the vestibule of the girl’s dorm. It’s a popular fixture, and we are always running short on serviceable paddles and balls.
- There is a jungle-gym type playground in the courtyard between the girls and boys dorms. Good for the little kids to spend a little free time. The playground has wood chips on the ground, so bring good footwear.
- Soccer field. There is a soccer field with goals. Usually the grass is very dry and scrubby, so good shoes are essential.
- Vėliava (Flagpole) There is a flagpole outside the kitchen where we raise and lower the flag each day. The kids each will get a turn to help with the flag over the course of the week. Flag raising/lowering are also key times during the day when schedule changes and other key information is announced.
- Baseinas (Pool) Outdoor swimming pool with locked fence, concrete decking, bathrooms & showers. Locked closed except when actively being used for supervised swimming. There is one apartment with beds in the pool house that typically houses Marcia, whose horse is stabled behind the pool.
What kind of clothing should I wear?
A lot of activities are messy and some of the paints, etc. that we use can stain. It’s a lot easier if you don’t have to worry about what the kids are wearing. Best to bring clothes you don’t mind staining, or bring smocks.
The weather in Shelton tends to be hot and dry, but that being said, some years have had very cool rainy days so it’s hard to predict. Check the weather. It cools down quite a bit in the evenings, and since some evening activities are outside, you will want long pants and a sweater.
Bring good footwear—there are lots of rough and wild areas that you will want sturdy sneakers for. You will be unhappy if you try to spend the week in flipflops—especially kids.
Should I bring my child’s bike?
Yes, the kids love to ride their bikes back and forth on the paths between the dorm and the kitchen. There are also a few short trails they can ride. However, remember that the trails are rough gravel, so two-wheelers are required, and only appropriate for more experienced riders. Remind your child to be careful riding around pedestrians, especially little kids and near the kitchen where there are more people milling about—we’ve had a few scary near misses in past years.
Bikes should be parked in the designated bike parking zone, and never on the concrete pad or near the doors.
Most of the kids will have their bikes. Don’t forget helmets—almost all of the kids regularly wear theirs, let’s keep it that way.
What should I be bringing that I’m not remembering?
There’s no air conditioning, so you might want to bring a small fan for your room, especially if it’s supposed to be hot.
Don’t forget the basics: full bedding, all toiletries, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoos, and towels: hand towel for bathroom, bath towel for showering, beach towel for the pool. The facility provides liquid hand soap for handwashing, but beyond that you need to bring everything you need. That being said, you can always ask to share with a neighbor if you forgot something.
The bugs usually aren’t too bad, but there are some mosquitos—so if you are sensitive, you might want to bring bugspray.
A flashlight or lantern for getting around at night is helpful. Remember to bring it with you to the evening program—frequently you’re walking back to the dorm in the dark. There are a few lights along the way, but not enough for full lighting.
Sturdy, closed shoes for walking in the woods and playing around in the grass fields. The ground is usually pretty dry and scrubby by the time we get there in late August, so you really need appropriate shoes for playing soccer, hiking in the woods, etc.
Don’t forget sunscreen, hats, sunglasses. We spend a lot of time outside.
Sand toys for the littlest kids. There’s a volleyball court that makes a giant sandbox.
Sippy cups for water. A bed rail for the tiniest kids. The lowest bunk is still 2 feet off the ground. You can also put a mattress directly on the floor.
Extra materials, ideas, toys for “down time” when we need a little something for the kids to do…
An intercom or baby monitor if your kid goes to sleep early or naps during the day so you don’t have to be 100% tied to your room. Something that works over a long distance is ideal, it’s pretty far between buildings.
What do I need to know about the pool?
The kids love the pool, and we swim every day after lunch. It’s a heated pool, but it takes a long time to heat and it can be cool in cooler weather. In hot weather it is great, though it’s not at all shaded so be sure to bring sunscreen and hats. There is a locked fence around the pool, a concrete pool deck with some chairs, bathrooms, and showers.
We usually separate the pool time so that little kids have separate pool time from the oldest būrelis to keep the chaos down. Non-swimmers absolutely need to have parents supervising them, ideally within arms reach, especially for the littlest kids. There are assigned lifeguards, and we do have at least one certified lifeguard present at all times, but we still ask parents to keep a close eye on their kids for extra safety. Kids who want to swim in the deep end of the pool will need to pass a swim test to swim the length of the pool and tread water.
Large pool toys (giant inflatables, large mats, rafts, etc) have been a safety problem in past years—kids try risky maneuvers, like jumping from the side of the pool to land on a mat. It’s also harder to lifeguard and keep track of all kids when there are large things obstructing visibility. For this reason, large pool toys are not allowed.
Noodles, beach balls, and smaller toys are great. Bring a life jacket, swim ring, or arm floaties for your child if they need them. The shallow area is already more than 4 feet deep, so the youngest kids can really only play on the steps before getting in over their heads. Don’t forget about swim diapers for those who need them, and remind kids to use the bathroom before getting in.
The pool is a short walk from the dorms on a gravelly & barky path, so make sure you have some kind of footwear that you don’t mind a soggy kid walking in after pool time is done. Water shoes, flip flops, crocs, etc. are perfect.
Will my phone work?
Probably not. Cell service has gotten better over the years, but service is still spotty and won’t work in all areas of the camp. It’s particularly bad in the dorm rooms. Best spot for connectivity in the past has been right near the flagpole. Campers are not allowed to use phones during camp activities.