Parent Info and Camp Guidelines

Welcome to Roughing It!

Our camp guidelines are designed to help you and your camper understand what to expect at Roughing It and have the best summer possible. Your cooperation helps us create a camp community that is safe and fun for every camper!

Camp Hours

The camp day runs from 9:00 – 3:00 pm.  Bus pick up times are between 8:00am – 8:55 am and Drop off is 3:00 – 4:00 pm.  We offer before and after camp programs with morning care available at 7:00 am and late after noon drop offs between 5:20-6:30 pm.

Preparing for Camp

Staying Fit for Camp

Being outside is a wonderful and healthy way to spend the summer, but it also takes a lot of energy, and getting enough sleep is essential to having the energy required to participate in a full camp day. Dr. Tracy Trotter, one of our camp doctors, recommends the following amounts of sleep needed Sunday through Thursday:

  • Children ages 6 years and younger: 10-12 hours/camp night
  • Children ages 7-10 years old: 9-10 hours/camp night
  • Pre-teens and Teens: 8-9 hours/camp night

For all campers arriving home from camp, we recommend a brief rest time of 10 to 20 minutes in a quiet spot like on their beds. We even recommend this for our staff!

What to Bring to Camp

  1. Lunch and beverage in a soft reusable lunch bag/thermosack or paper sack. No hard-sided lunch boxes, please!
  2. Small plastic water bottle may be included.
  3. Towel and swimsuit.
  4. Sweatshirt for cool mornings.
  5. A hat for protection from the sun plus sunscreen if your camper sunburns easily.
  6. Day pack to carry the above items and any other essential items.
  7. If you would like to send a special treat with your youngster, it is a Roughing It tradition to send a watermelon!

What NOT to Bring to Camp

  1. Anything Electronic: including cell phones, ipods, video games,ipads, tablets…
  2. Watches
  3. Makeup or Jewelry (Earrings and Piercings of any kind are not permitted but campers may wear stud earrings only if they are not able to be removed and should be covered with athletic tape while at camp)
  4. Sports Equipment
  5. Fishing Gear
  6. Toys or Stuffed Animals
  7. Trading Cards or Games
  8. Pets or any other living animal
  9. Candy, junk food, or sodas
  10. Weapons, knives, contraband of any kind
  11. Any personal items or accessories of any kind.

Roughing It accepts no responsibility for the loss or damage of any of these extra items. Campers will have a great time just bringing themselves.

What to Wear to Camp

  • T-Shirt
  • Shorts, long pants, or sweatpants
  • Tennis Shoes. No sandals, please!
  • Campers can wear sweats over a T-shirt & shorts on cool mornings. When the sun comes out, they can take off the sweats and put them in their day pack.
  • Clothing needs to be modest and appropriate for Roughing It. The fit should be neither too loose nor too tight for normal participation in camp activities. Clothing that exposes cleavage, midriff or buttocks when bending, running, etc., is unacceptable.
  • Makeup is not needed nor acceptable at camp.
  • No personal items, including watches or jewelry, other than the above. We do have a Lost and Found every day at Closing Circle. Help us to return your camper’s belongings by clearly marking all personal items, especially towels and Roughing It clothing.
  • Campers do not need special clothes for English riding at our Moraga Site, because we use bareback pads. We provide helmets for campers to wear while riding.
  • Fifth graders and above need long pants if they choose to ride saddles on Friday, if that is the activity they choose for SuperChoice.

Lunch Guidelines

We recommend parents keep lunches nutritious. Include enough lunch so that your youngster has something extra for a mid-morning snack. Natural juices that come in containers or boxes are the easiest beverage to bring. Juices that come in boxes can be frozen the night before, wrapped in foil, and put in the lunch to keep food cool as it defrosts. We suggest parents send lunches in a thermosack with an ice pack.

The following safety procedures have been developed to prevent any possible contamination of food brought to camp by campers. We have never had a case of food poisoning at Roughing It because our parents have adhered to these basic food safety rules.

  • Do not send perishable food items (cream based products and egg products besides hard boiled eggs.)
  • If you send any semi-perishable food products (meats, cheeses, mayonnaise, etc.) you need to freeze your camper’s beverage or water bottle and place it next to the semi-perishable food or freeze the food product.
  • Beverages – Send water or natural juice boxes.
  • It is always a good idea to freeze your camper’s water bottle and beverage.
  • Small insulated containers and non-breakable thermoses (small) may be used for semi-perishable foods.
  • During extremely hot weather it is best to use only processed/packaged food products.
  • Please alert the camp to any special dietary needs your child has.
  • Due to food allergies and dietary needs of our campers, there is no food sharing. Campers can bring a watermelon or fresh fruit to share with their group.
  • For your camper’s safety, our counselors will screen lunches and will dispose of perishable foods that appear to be spoiled.

Counselors at Roughing It will check campers’ lunches and will dispose of perishable foods and foods that appear to be spoiled. It is our sincere desire to protect our campers from an unnecessary bout with food poisoning. On very hot days, Roughing It uses coolers with blue ice to keep lunches fresh.

Camp Rules for Campers

  1. Be considerate of others in what you say and do.
  2. Cooperate with other campers and be supportive of one another.
  3. Follow the instructions and directions of the Staff.
  4. Stay with your camper group and do not wander off.
  5. Gum is a safety hazard and is not allowed at camp.
  6. Leave sticks and rocks on the ground where they belong.
  7. Tread lightly upon the earth – Be considerate of the environment.
  8. Leave your shoes on except when your counselor says you may go barefoot.
  9. We do not allow campers to bring guests to camp. Guests may come with parents on Parent’s Visiting Day or the July 4th Picnic.
  10. Campers should dress to be outdoors all day. Expensive designer clothes, dangling or heavy earrings (they catch), and make-up are not needed or appropriate at camp.
  11. Do not bring extra items (toys, electronics, accessories, candy, etc.) from home. They can be easily lost. Campers may not trade any food items at camp.
  12. Firearms, weapons of any kind, drugs, tobacco, alcohol are prohibited at camp and possession or use of any of the above items will result in immediate dismissal from camp.


Parents must disclose and notify camp if a camper will need medication at camp. Parent will provide medication, with instructions and give Roughing It written permission to administer prescription and non-prescription medication (including any aspirin, Tylenol, and cold medicine) to a camper. For Epipens, inhalers, and any medications needed for life threatening conditions; campers will keep these in their back packs which will be with them at all times to be used as needed under the guidance of their counselor.  Roughing It requires instructions to be provided from both their doctor and parent before camp. All medication is kept in our secure medical box at camp and will be administered by a Camp Administrator to the camper as needed and directed.


Campers are grouped according to age, gender, and year in school. We have found that the campers prefer it that way due to different interests. K and Pre-K ages 4-5 are placed in coed groups of up to 12 campers with an adult counselor and a junior counselor (a high school student age 15-17). In Little Raccoons, our 2-week introductory program, campers are in multi-age/grade co-ed groups. Day campers are in groups of approximately 12 with an adult counselor. Little Raccoons, Kindergarten and CILTs (high school age) are coed groups. 1st grade – 8th grader groups are divided by age and grade with designated groups for boys and girls.

Grouping is done at the discretion of the Directors. Parents are asked not to request that certain campers be together in the same group. One of the important life skills we teach — helping campers learn to make new friends — is facilitated by the group counselor. We have found, over the years, that campers adjust to the group much faster without a “buddy” to hang back with. Such requests can actually inhibit a shy or apprehensive child’s adjustment to the other children in a new group. We appreciate parents’ support in ensuring that campers come to camp ready and willing to be inclusive with everyone in their group.


Taking your child out of camp for a trip can affect the continuity of the camp experience. There is no refund for days missed. We recommend that any camper who would miss a day in the first week of camp enroll in another session where he or she will be there for orientation, rules, and get-acquainted activities. We appreciate that our camper families plan their vacations around the camp session so their camper can be a part of our camp community in a consistent manner.

Registration Information & Refunds

Questions about refunds, and details on registering for camp, can be found on our Registration Page.

Tips or Presents for Our Counselors

Roughing It does not allow our staff to accept monetary or expensive gifts from campers or camper families as a “tip” for doing a great job. We do pride ourselves on paying the best salaries of any camp in order to attract the very best staff. Tipping can really be very detrimental to staff morale and performance and unfair to other campers. If you would like to recognize a counselor’s exceptional performance, it would be appropriate to call or send us a letter, allow your camper to make a card or small token of his or her appreciation, or make a small donation to the Roughing It Foundation to provide scholarships to children within our community who could not otherwise attend our camp.

Parents Are Invited to Camp!

We invite parents to visit camp on several days during the summer. We have an Independence Day Family Picnic on Monday, July 4th for our Day Camp and Horse Day Camp Session I families. During Session II we have Parents’ Visiting Day. Parents are welcome to come to camp on a drop-in basis. We would appreciate parents not coming during the first week of each new session or on the last day of camp.

See the Camp Calendar »

Parent Communication

At Roughing It, we welcome the opportunity to talk with parents and get to know our camper families better. We feel that being partners with parents is the best way to make camp the most positive experience possible. Our Head Counselor, who is responsible for parent relations, is happy to speak with you, as are any counselors or program staff members. And, of course, Directors Ann and Hobie are always available should you wish to speak directly with them.


Please help our office by informing us if your camper will be absent from camp. A parent or caretaker should inform the camp by phone or email no later than 7:00 am on the day the camper will be absent. This allows us to inform the Bus Captain so the bus will not wait at your stop and make the entire bus group late for camp. If a camper is absent without a prior call or note from you, our office will contact you to check on the unexpected absence. If you do need to contact us after 7:00 am about an absence, please call or email so we’ll be sure to get the message.

There is no refund for days of camp missed due to illness.


In the event a bus is running more than 10 minutes late, we will try to reach you by phone. In an emergency, we will contact you by phone immediately. Please understand that we may be delayed in reaching you if there is a major traffic delay affecting multiple bus routes. You can call our office at 925-283-3795 at any time to get the status of your bus.

See our Transportation Info for more details on the Camp Bus »


Whenever a camper is not feeling well and wishes to speak to his or her parent, we permit the camper to call. Often, just a few comforting words from Mom or Dad is all that is needed for the camper to bounce back and continue to participate at camp.

Parents are also called whenever a camper is not feeling well enough to participate in activities beyond resting for one activity period. At this point, we normally ask parents to pick up their camper and take him/her home for the remainder of the day so that the camper can rest and recuperate. If your camper has a cold, but is well enough to be outside with others, you may send him or her to camp, but please inform the office of your camper’s condition.


Whenever a child is injured and requires professional medical attention, parents will be notified immediately and asked to either take their child to their own doctor or meet our staff at the office of one of our camper doctors, Dr. Malone at Lamorinda Pediatrics or Dr. Tracy Trotter in San Ramon.

For minor first aid treatment provided by our staff that goes beyond applying a band-aid, cold compress, or similar treatment, a staff member will contact the parent at the end of the day.


In the event of an emergency, Roughing It will attempt to contact parents and guardians first, followed by third party emergency contacts as listed on the camper application.  An emergency contact must be specified and will be contacted if parents/guardians cannot be reached.  Campers will only be released to parents/guardians or third party emergency contacts that are listed on the Camper Application.

Hot Weather – Beat the Heat Days

During hot weather days, we will put in place a hot weather plan where camp schedule and activities will be modified to provide campers and staff additional time to rest, recover, and have water breaks in the shade.

Helping Your Child Adjust to Camp

A major reason for sending your child to camp is for them to grow as an individual. At Roughing It your child will learn to become resilient, independent and confident.

Growth comes with some struggle and perhaps some pain. Our goal is to help your child see these challenges as opportunities and not to fear them.

When a child is confronted with challenges, they may often say things that can be decoded as “I am having trouble with this situation.” They may say things like:

  • “I don’t want to ride, swim, hike, etc.”
  • “I don’t like my counselor, riding, camp, etc.”
  • “Camp is boring, too exhausting, full of mean kids, too hot, too cold, etc.”

How, as a parent, can you respond to this?

  1. Acknowledge their concerns. Whether it is real or imaginary, it is real to them.
  2. Ask for specifics.

    “What do you mean the camp has wild horses?”

    “What makes you feel that way?”

    “What happened and when and who was there?”
  3. Brainstorm options for solving the problem. Remember not to over-rationalize with your child or let them make excuses.
  4. Provide encouragement and belief in your child to work through the challenge.

    “You can do this!” “I believe in you!” “We are here to help.”

  5. If you need additional help: Contact our camp office as soon as possible. An administrative staff member member will look into your situation and speak to you before your child returns to camp the next day.
  6. Our goal is to help your child see challenges as opportunities and not to fear the uncertainty of new situations.

What not to do – Please, do not try to bribe your child into staying in camp by:

  1. Writing a note saying that he/she does not have to participate in an activity. Such a note ties our hands in trying to assist your child in solving the problem.
  2. Letting your child stay home from camp. We once had two Junior High girls who talked their parents into letting them stay home and go shopping on the day of the rock climbing. They certainly missed out on a great experience!
  3. Offering material rewards or money to get your child to do what they are afraid to try. This subtly undermines you child’s self-confidence.

We ask for your support as we help your child through any challenges of camp. Your expectation and encouragement that they try their best is so important. As Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.  This holds so true at camp.


The high caliber of adult counselors recruited each year contribute greatly to the success of Roughing It. We personally select the entire Roughing It staff from a large applicant pool of college sophomores and older adults, aged 20 – 26 (many staff were former Roughing It campers and over half return each summer). All applicants go through rigorous interviewing and reference checks. They are selected based on interest and experience in working with children, love of the outdoors, maturity, friendliness, and leadership qualities. The staff to camper supervision ratio is 4 campers to 1 adult staff.

Our Staff - Excellent Role Models and Mentors for Children

Group counselors are adults (generally 20 to 26 years of age) who have documented previous experience working with children. They are responsible for the safety, supervision, leadership and planning part of the daily program.

There are additional Program Counselors for horseback riding, swimming, boating, fishing, crafts, sports and outdoor adventure.

All counselors are supervised by older Camp Administrators, including Ann and Hobie, who have had many seasons of camp experience. All staff members participate in an intensive 6-day staff training.

Quality Staff Make the Difference

A trademark of Roughing It has always been the exceptional all adult staff we hire to work at our Camp each summer. We know that it is the counselors who MAKE the camp experience special for our campers. Our Staff serve as positive role models for our campers, and create the nurturing environment that encourages and enables them to grow and flourish. Every day when Ann,Hobie, and Gus walk up the hill to Opening Circle with the campers, we hear, “Guess what I can DO!” from excited campers of all ages.

Ann and Hobie and our year-round administrators are dedicated to hiring, training and supporting the best camp staff.

More on our Staff

Roughing It’s Staff Screening and Hiring Process  » 
Meet our Staff  »
Colleges Attended by Staff  »

Useful Info for Camp

Camp Calendar – See our Important Camp Dates and Theme Days  »
Visit Camp  – Open House and Camp Tours  »

Directions to Camp

Directions to the Lafayette Reservoir  » 
Directions to Roughing It’s Lafayette Office  »

Please Note: During the camp season there is not always someone at Roughing It’s Lafayette Office. As we are up at camp during the days and have our summer office at a different location.  If you want to stop on by, please call first so that we can make sure someone will be there!

Extended Care – CampPlus

Parents who need earlier or later bus stops than our standard schedule will find that Breakfast Club, our before-camp program in Lafayette beginning at 7:00 am, and CampPlus, our after camp program, can meet their needs.

CampPlus campers may designate a different bus stop for CampPlus from their regular bus schedule. This choice can be made on the CampPlus registration forms. Learn more about CampPlus  »

Items that Can be Purchased at Roughing It

Roughing It gear can be purchased at the Camp Open House on the Thursday before the first session begins, or you can contact our office to place orders. We recommend that families make their purchases before the start of their camper’s first day because we occasionally run out of popular items.

Roughing It ClothingSize/ColorPrice
T-ShirtsChildren’s Sizes:
S (6-8)
M (10-12)
L (14-16)
Adult Sizes:
S (34-36)
M (38-40)
L (42-44)
XL (46-48)
SweatshirtsListed Above$20.00

One Size Fits All. 2 styles:
Style #1: Baseball, washed green/brown
Style #2: Trucker hat, yellow

Protection & Prevention

Resources for Camp Parents and New Families

Topics include:

  • Is your child ready for camp? Take our Ready for Camp Survey
  • 5 Important Questions to Ask Camp Directors
  • Archived parent advice Q&A with the authors of The Yes Brain book
  • Links to Roughing It video events on Facebook Live