Sarah Pirtle and the Discovery Center

Note to Parents

We ask all parents of Journey Camp participants to read this section because over time we have developed a set of guidelines that make our camps work successfully.

Dear parents,

We emphasize communication at camp and want all parents to feel welcome as they drop off and pick up. We want to help each camper feel valued and included. To do this, we like to build a close community involving teamwork between parents and camp staff. We hope this information will introduce how the camp operates.

Good wishes, Sarah Pirtle

This is the camper code we ask children and parents to discuss and sign before camp. Is this a set of skills that your child is interested in developing?

Our Camper Code

  1. I agree to treat all people, including myself, in a friendly way.
  2. I will be ready to listen to the needs of the whole group.
  3. I agree to talk out problems instead of fighting or calling names.
  4. I agree to tell a staff member or my parents about any problems that come up so that I receive help from an adult or teen leader.
  5. I agree to use the “stop” rule. If someone is doing something upsetting or unfair, I’ll say “stop” or get help asking them to stop. And if someone asks me to stop, I will stop myself and talk more about it.

Building a Secure Camp Community

Please don’t register children for whom the program is not the best fit.

We find that our camp does not work well if children:

  • need a lot of one-on-one attention each day
  • need a therapeutic program
  • prefer being alone and do not feel comfortable in a group
  • treat other children verbally or physically aggressively when they are upset.

Six Readiness Questions:

Will your child be able to attend a story circle for half hour each day?

Will they be able to stay inside the boundaries in the woods and not wander off?

Will they respond to directions given by teen leaders as well as adult staff?

Will your child definitely refrain from verbal or physical aggression when they are upset?

We need to be sure they won’t hit, shout at or put-down other children.

Has your child bought into the need for group agreements?

Will your child be able to walk up the hill and back from the woods each day?

(You can visit the site in advance if you aren’t sure).

We work with parents as a team.

1. Please discuss this code with your children as you plan for camp and also right before camp. If you click on Talk It Out there are examples explaining how these agreements operate in daily life at camp.

As camp starts, if your child is having trouble following these agreements, we will let you know as soon as possible and ask you to work with us as a team, guiding them as they develop these skills.

2. Please inform us openly and honestly about the needs and concerns of your children.

We aim for having the right match – connecting with parents and children who want what we have to offer.

If we can, we will strategize how to meet their needs. Before camp starts, it’s crucial that we understand a camper’s specific needs to determine if we can be supportive. Once camp gets going, we are very busy.


  • If your child needs help on long hikes, let us talk more to make sure our setting can meet their needs.
  • If your child has a peanut allergy, we will want to inform other families in plenty of time.
  • If a relative, friend or pet has recently died, it helps us to know they are grieving.
  • If you have a way you help your child with anger – we would like to learn about it before camp. We believe that anger brings a message, and want to help children hear themselves as well as develop constructive communication.

3. Please pay camp fees on time. We appreciate having all forms and fees submitted prior to the beginning of camp. This allows our staff on the first day of camp to completely focus on welcoming campers, not administrative details.

4. Contact with Other Journey Camp Parents

If you have questions or feedback, you can talk to our staff or members of our Parent Advisory Council.

Would you like to talk directly to a parent about camp before registering? Contact Sarah Pirtle at and she will put you in touch with a Parent Advisory Board member.

5. What Happens Next?

After confirmation of your registration, later in the spring you will receive:

  • A map to camp
  • A list of what to bring
  • An address list of other families to help with carpools
  • A medical form to be returned promptly. A new physical exam is not needed; it can be filled out by a parent

Payments, Refunds, and Late Payments: 

Payments for each camp session are expected according to the schedule described in your registration confirmation letter.

The $50 deposit is non-refundable.
Up until April 15th, fees paid in addition to deposit are refundable.
After April 15th  through May 5th, half of fees are refundable.
After May 5th, fees are not refundable.

However, if there is a camper on the waiting list who can take your slot, your fees will be returned except for the deposit. We have this policy because unexpected cancellations seriously impact our budget.

During the camp session, if a child has to be asked to leave camp, no funds can be returned.  This is why we urge parents to study our description of camp and describe the social needs and skills of their child as honestly as possible.

A $10 surcharge will be added to any payment made on the first day of camp. A $15 surcharge will be added to any payment made later than the first day of camp. Please understand that every late payment generates additional administrative costs.

More Program Details:

We respect a young person’s need for play and fun. We serve children who like to explore and are in touch with their creative spark. We are on a hillside where we do not have swimming. We have active climbing and games. Our camp is not competitive sports oriented. It is a camp for fun, humor, and giving space for kids to develop their own culture of play.

We serve young people who feel nourished by nature. We feature daily activities in the woods and emphasize nature awareness. We also offer workshops like basket-making, tracking and bow-drill making.

We serve young people who like to be part of a community. We serve children who are ready to learn to balance individual and group needs, can participate in problem-solving and learn communication skills. This is a camp for children who have already learned self-control and care about learning how to be conscious about their actions to take responsibility for their behavior.

We promote ecology and partnership values:

  • We emphasize respect for all dimensions of diversity and actively foster understanding of differences and interrupting of exclusion and bias.
  • We teach cooperation and partnership, helping children feel part of the generations of people who want to help create a human society that respects all life and fosters justice and sharing.