Frequently Asked Questions
How should parents explore sending a son to Pathfinder?
Start with this website! It contains good basic information, photos and films about the location, program and culture of Pathfinder. Pathfinder is an Accredited Member of the Ontario Camping Association, and is listed on their website www.ontariocamps.ca. As one of the founding members of OCA, Pathfinder conforms to hundreds of OCA Standards ensuring health, safety, and professional practice in children's camping. The camp's director serves on the association's Standards Committee and consults on best practices in tripping.
Next, give the Director Mike Sladden a phone call or email (585.249.0716 or email@example.com) to chat about Camp and get a list of current camp parents who are happy to talk with your family about the Pathfinder experience. Consider inviting Sladds over or attending one of Pathfinder's open house events this winter Open Houses .... These informal gatherings are held throughout the northeast.
Some parents visit Pathfinder with their sons for a long-weekend Family Camp or enjoy a day tour of the Island, to see Pathfinder first-hand in action during the summer. Give us some advance notice so we can welcome you during the season and include you in activities and meals.
You can view and download enrollment information from this site, or request a package by mail from Camp's winter office in Rochester, NY. View the Pathfinder Enroll Form ...
Does my Camper really need a camp trunk? Where do I get one?
A camp trunk or foot locker is a great piece of camp luggage. It becomes a dresser, stepstool, seat and table for your camper. You have two ways to go here. An inexpensive trunk is the Rubbermaid type storage trunk, which ideally has a hinged lid and snap closures and can take a padlock. Pretty good solution. Not quite as much storage capacity as a steamer trunk. The other option is to get a quality camp trunk. Some have a tray inside to hold small stuff, kinda nice. If you don’t find one easily around town, order it online from www.cnmfg.com/camp/ where they have good products and make a charitable donation for each trunk they sell back to both our camp and camps for needy kids.
A packing tip: you can roll up pants, shirts, sweats etc and stand them upright in the trunk. That way, your Camper can see everything without tearing apart stacks of clothes.
What other luggage is recommended?
A duffel bag or hockey bag is for extra gear like your blankets, sleeping bag, pillow, raingear, towel, life vest and spare shoes. Also, a day pack or small hiking pack is a good idea, for extra items, and for taking bike, hike and day trips at Camp. A school pack works well for this, or a smaller internal frame pack. Many Pathfinder boys already have an early bird Pathfinder North Face or Osprey day pack to bring.
What is a Dry Bag? How does my Camper use it?
Your Camper will use Pathfinder trip packs for his canoe trips, and his personal clothes and sleeping bag will stuff into his waterproof 30L Dry Bag for use inside those packs. Please get a 30-litre SEALINE bag. Please no substitutes. You can buy it at an outdoor store, or get it at cost from Pathfinder.
How can we help him to keep track of his stuff?
LABEL EVERYTHING! Campers tend to leave their stuff around. A rain jacket or sweatshirt gets forgotten at one activity area if the weather improves. Dirty trip socks get left in the TP and end up in the lost and found. Even though the Staff try hard, it’s likely things will get left behind or get into someone else’s trunk, unless you label, label, label. Mark his ball cap, his rain jacket and pants, his life vest, his SmartWool socks, his pillow, his fishing rod, as well as his clothes and towel.
Will you do my Camper’s laundry?
Yup! Once a week he can put his laundry bag on the boat, and have it back next morning washed and folded. Send a labeled drawstring laundry bag, and he will put his dirty stuff in it day to day. No mesh bags, please. Most Campers do just 1 or 2 laundry runs during their camp stay. Laundry costs are billed to the Camper’s tuck account, and they tend to run about $8-11 per laundry service.
Does my Camper need sheets and blankets, or just a sleeping bag?
This is purely preference, but many boys like having sheets and blankets on their camp bed, then the sleeping bag is available as a comforter, and for trips. He doesn’t have to live in the bag all summer, he can air out a trip bag on return from the trail, and nothing feels better than clean cotton sheets after a trip. Our camp beds are twin sized camp mattresses on steel bed frames.
Does my Camper need expensive, specialized clothing and gear?
Not at all. Send play clothes and old sneaks that can get dirty. Make sure to include some long sleeves and warmer layers. Choose good basic trip boots, sleeping bag, basic headlamp, raingear and life vest. These are the most important investments, along with SmartWool socks and the best quality flashlight batteries!
You can always ask Pathfinder for advice and help, and we can obtain some key items at cost for you. Life jacket, dry bag, sleeping bag. This is only a convenience for you, and not a money-maker for Pathfinder.
We have more details. Be sure to read the packing page on the web site:
Clothing/Gear at Pathfinder
Does my Camper need a full physical exam for Pathfinder?
No. The Health Form includes spaces for the doctor’s office to provide info, and a doctor’s signature. This is optional.Please note: an immunization record is required and must be attached by parent or physician.
Medications – What should I do?
DO send your Camper’s meds to us in the original containers and specific instructions written on his health form. Dosage information on the medicine bottle should match the health form instructions. If you send over-the-counter meds as well, be sure to give us specific instructions. DO NOT pack these things in his trunk. Have them in a Ziploc bag with his name on it, and hand it right to the counselor in charge, or the Camp Nurse. DO NOT tell your Camper to self-administer OTCs like Advil, Tums, cough /cold or allergy remedies, etc. However, Campers with an albuterol rescue inhaler or prescribed Epi-Pen may keep it with them and the staff will be aware of this. The Nurse will phone you personally if any questions.
We’re not sure if our Camper is allergic to nuts or bees. What should we do?
If there is no specific diagnosis, relax. Pathfinder Staff are specially trained to handle severe allergy or asthma episodes and carry benadryl/epi-pens on all outings.
What if my Camper gets sick?
Please do not send your son to camp if he is sick on departure day. He will just infect a bunch of other boys. Wait a day or so until he’s not contagious and we’ll arrange a way to get him up to camp. You will be doing a favor to all of us Parents, Campers and Staff.
We have excellent facilities and doctors in Huntsville, and outstanding Medical Directors and RNs at Pathfinder. In addition, all our senior counsellors are highly-qualified first responders. If your son feels ill while at camp, he will be cared for by the Camp Nurse. The Camp Doctor will consult. Either your Camper will stay in his own lodge, or move into the Infirmary for some special TLC! Lots of rest, fluids, and monitoring. If necessary we will take him for an appointment with a doctor in town. Either you have universal coverage as Canadian citizens, or Camp pays the bill and charges you if you live outside Canada. You submit the bill to your HMO for reimbursement. If an X-ray is needed, or a throat culture, or a prescription, it is all taken care of. The Nurse and Director will phone you to check in all through the process.
Is help nearby in case of emergency?
Yes. Pathfinder is served by the local EMS system, including ambulance and air ambulance response. Our Camp Nurse and Staff First Responders are always at hand, and our trip guides are all certified in wilderness emergency care and evacuation procedures.
Will my Camper bathe, brush his teeth and otherwise maintain his hygiene?
Definitely! Teeth are brushed after breakfast and before bed each day. The young guys are supervised. Boys age 13+ are reminded and nagged, just like home! We are very fussy about everyone washing hands throughout the day. Soap Bath is required of a Camper on return from any trip and on Sundays. Or, any time he's dirty! Swim Staff will have a Camper bathe if he needs it at any time. All the boys have to pass the Swim Staff-clean inspection! This is an important Pathfinder tradition. Staff automatically report any cut, scrape, bruise, sunburn, bites or rash to the Camp Nurse as well. You can help your Camper greatly by teaching him to trim his nails and ears, wear sunscreen on his own, and to wash his hands faithfully.
Will he be able to eat the food? What are meals like at camp? On trip?
Even picky eaters love Pathfinder food. It’s home style cooking, there’s plenty of it, and the kids are hungry from all the outdoors activity. The whole camp eats together family-style at meal time, and everyone looks forward to the next Pathfinder meal! The staff sit at each camper table and serve the boys. We encourage everyone to try the meal. Still, a boy can always have a PB/J sandwich and some fruit if he does not care for a given meal in camp. Campers sit at tables with staff supervision, and everyone is encouraged to try foods, to eat and drink healthy amounts, and even to maintain good table manners. It helps! If your Camper has a special diet, food allergy/intolerance, or is a vegetarian, please be sure we know so the Chef can make arrangements.On trip the great food continues. There are so many delicious trip meals at Pathfinder. We use all fresh and staple ingredients on Pathfinder trips, rather than freeze-dry hiker meals.
What will the weather and the water be like?
July and August are gorgeous months in Algonquin Park. The lakes warm up in early June and swimming is terrific all summer. Summer days alternate between hot and humid just like home, to cool and breezy if a cold front is coming through from the northwest. The occasional thunderstorm rumbles through in July. Afternoons tend to be windier than mornings. Nights are balmy in July and gradually become cooler in August. With no light pollution, the night sky at Pathfinder is indescribable. Think of weather as similar to summer weather in the northeast US, but since we’re all living 24/7 in the outdoors it’s smart to pack some warm layers, even a hat for the rare chill mornings. Think about your Camper’s sun exposure. Hats and long sleeves for early morning and later afternoon are good choices. Non-aerosol sunscreen is a must.
Will the bugs be a problem? What will happen if my Camper gets bug bites?
Algonquin is buggy in late May and early June. Except in the rarest of years, by early July, the black flies are gone, and mosquitoes are a hassle only at dawn and dusk, and on certain parts of portage trails. The Island is breezy, which keeps bugs away. The counselors will use a small piece of Pic, a bug-repellent incense, in tents and lodges for a half-hour at night to drive them all away. We like and use natural repellents like mixtures of Rosemary, Lemongrass and Citronella oils. Choose a bug repellent lotion for your Camper, and avoid high concentrations of DEET. Remember no aerosol sprays allowed.
Expect some bites, but the key is to relax about bugs and avoid scratching. We will have the Nurse help a boy who may scratch in his sleep, since scratched bites, especially on the legs, can become infected or even leave temporary scars. We have some after-bite and stop-itch creams. Coach your Camper to wear long sleeves early and late in the day. Please know that there are no mosquitoes in Algonquin that carry the West Nile virus.
My young Camper still has a stuffed animal and blanket. He might still wet the bed.
Very common with younger Campers and not a big deal. Absolutely, bring that favorite animal or blanket! For those who are concerned about possible bed-wetting, send pull up pants and a basic mattress pad. Have the Camper use sheets/blankets rather than sleeping bag in camp. Our counselors are very wise about helping these boys without any fuss or upset. Bedtime routine: no drinks after 7:30pm, use the washroom right before bed, put on the nighttime pants; if something happens, the counselor will handle it discreetly. Camp can also plan to wake a child in the night for a bathroom trip. The best thing you can say to your Camper is to trust his counselor and to be up front with him about this topic.
What if there’s an accident and my Camper’s sleeping bag or sheets are soiled?
Camp will loan him a fresh sleeping bag, and have the soiled bedding laundered immediately.
What should my Camper NOT bring to camp?
No junk food.
No electronics … no iPods, cell phones, game machines. Actually, these are okay on the bus or plane ride, but they’ll be locked in the camp safe on arrival. Pathfinder takes a hard line on this policy. No cell phones or gaming devices.
No use of cell phones as a camera or timepiece.
No highly valuable items to Camp, things like expensive watches or heirloom pocket knives, fishing rods, or expensive clothes or sunglasses.
No flip-flops or open-toed sandals can be worn around Camp or on trips.
No canoes, kayaks, climbing gear, bikes, etc. We supply all necessary equipment.
No inappropriate knives. Choose a small folding or sheath knife. We supervise.
Don’t let your Camper bring aerosol cans, lighters, matches, open flame lanterns.
Don’t let your Camper bring food and beverages to Camp. There’s plenty of food here!
No clothing with alcohol advertising or offensive graphics.
No adult literature.
What kinds of things are OK to bring to Camp?
Camera … binoculars … lacrosse stick / ball glove … musical instrument … books … canoe paddle … ENO hammock ... sunglasses … fishing rod …
How will you take care of my Camper's important documents and electronics?
Everything in this category is labeled and locked in the camp safe or safeguarded by the Camp Nurse. Passports, birth certificates, airline tickets and other documents should be given to the bus or airport counselors along with any medications. If you drop your son at camp personally give them to the counselor or a director. We do not have the Campers keep their documents or medications during the camp session. Same goes for cash or credit cards.
How will my new Camper get involved in Pathfinder canoe trips?
All our boys, new and veteran, do trip training activities together during the first few days of a session. This is when boys learn paddling, canoe safety and rescues, swim skills, and how to pack, portage, camp and maintain low impact on the environment. At the same time, the boys are making new friends and are helped to form their own trip groups. This is specifically a time for new boys to be brought into the family! This is when Pathfinder staff excel, helping to form friendships and suggest great trip options.
Should my Camper ride the bus or should I drop him off?
The bus trip is a good value, its cost is shared between all families who choose it. The more who use it, the cheaper it is. It is also a great way to help your Camper meet friends right away! About half our families drop their sons off in person. This is a chance to tour the Island, meet the Staff, and chat with Sladds or the Nurse.
Can parents drop off or pick up their Campers?
Sure! This is the perfect time to see Pathfinder in action and marvel at Algonquin Park.
How do we get to Source Lake? How do we get to the Island?
Getting to Algonquin Park is easy, find directions to Camp on our web page.
Call from your cell when you are close to our camp road. A boat will pick you up at the car park/boat landing. A 5-minute boat trip will bring you to Pathfinder Island.
Are there parent visiting days?
In short, No.
Drop off and pick-up days are our parent days at Pathfinder. This is a wise tradition for many reasons. There is a Pathfinder Family Camp in 2018, Aug. 2-5!
Can my Camper call home?
No camper calls out.
Can I call my Camper?
Be mindful that a Camper’s emerging independent spirit can be undercut by calls from home. Of course you may call him if you wish.
A suggestion: you can call the Director for a quick update and know that he’s o.k., then send an email for printing to his mail call.
What about letters?
Send him letters often, and start early; it takes 7+ days to reach the Island from the US. Send a fun, encouraging letter even before he leaves for Camp! As for your Camper, he should be writing you a letter each Sunday or on return from his canoe trips. You can send him with paper and envelopes, but don’t put stamps on if you are in the US, they won’t work from Canada. We supply all these items, and we help younger Campers write and read their letters.
Can I get a letter to my Camper quickly?
You may fax or email your letter to camp and we’ll include it in the lunchtime mail call. Camper letters come to you by snail mail.
Can I send care packages?
Food and candy care packages are not permitted and will be discarded if sent. Magazines, comics, letters, a small toy, and a small treat etc. are great. In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in large junk food packages. Please do not do this. Food attracts unwanted wild animals and unwanted social competition. Campers don’t eat or hydrate properly when they’re munching junk all day. It’s completely against the Pathfinder culture and inevitably causes upsets between boys. Your Camper has plenty of access to treats via the Pathfinder Candy Store and our dessert menu! No food care packages
What is unique about Pathfinder culture?
Pathfinder was established in 1914, and has been in continuous operation ever since. Founders William Bennett and Franklin Gray were educators who wished to give boys a living and learning experience in the north woods, to counterbalance the more urban and academic rigors of the school year and urban life. Apart from the founders, Pathfinder's owners have always been men who attended and worked at the Camp. Today, like others before them, Sladds and Glenn are former campers, counselors, headmen, alumni volunteers and parents.
This 'homegrown' tradition is also observed regarding the Staff: the vast majority are young men who worked their way up the ranks at Pathfinder, under the supervision of their Staff mentors, who were themselves influenced and taught by Pathfinder counselors a generation before.
In 2013, Pathfinder celebrated 100 summers of outstanding camping and canoe tripping from its home island on Source Lake in Algonquin Park. With this long history, and the richness of world famous Algonquin Park to call home, Pathfinder has been successful by retaining its founding traditions: a homegrown Staff giving personal attention to campers, maintaining a small enrollment with a focus on wilderness canoe trips, and keeping the camp experience rustic, without modern technology and its distractions. A Pathfinder summer is meant to fuel a boy's experience of emerging independence and self-reliance, of wonderful friendships enriched by shared adventures and challenges, and one of personal connection to simple living in an incomparable natural environment.
Pathfinder alumni are extremely loyal and active on the Camp's behalf. The most active alumni are Senior Staff members serving for years as directors of the camp. Other alumni serve monthly rotations each summer as guests in residence during the sessions. Still other alumni administer a non-profit scholarship fund to aid needy families hoping to send a son to Pathfinder. Alumni donate their time and professional expertise to Camp in myriad areas. And alumni, who know the Pathfinder culture best, send their sons and grandsons to Pathfinder, and refer wonderful families to the camp so more sons can experience Pathfinder in their lives.
Who are the Staff members at Pathfinder?
During a camp session, there are 75 or more Staff members at Pathfinder, including directors and counselors. Most of the Staff are guys who themselves attended Pathfinder and know what it's like to be a Camper in the program, and on the Pathfinder canoe trips.
Senior Staff members return to camp each summer from their professional lives as educators, guidance counselors, and outdoor sports professionals. The Pathfinder Trip Staff have been trained from camper age in the arts and skills of back country canoe travel. They have lived the 'Pathfinder Way,' and can be positive leaders and role models to their kids. Pathfinder counselors undergo a 3-year apprenticeship and several important skills certifications before they can lead trips. They possess expert knowledge of Algonquin Park and its wildlife, and they are trained and certified in wilderness first aid, lifesaving, and canoeing.
The Staff is guided by the owners Glenn Arthurs and Mike Sladden, with co-owner 'Sladds' as full time Camp Director. The assistant directors, tripping director and age-group supervisors average 10 years each at Pathfinder. They lead a team of counselors, ages 17-70. Our in-camp Staff of swim and activities instructors is trained and certified in their specialties. Each year, the Pathfinder CIT Leaders Program trains a small group of invited age-16 campers toward a role on the Staff. All of the Staff are thoroughly vetted and background checked personally by the Director.
What is the staff-to-camper ratio?
Pathfinder maintains a 1:2 ratio of staff to campers. Of the 75 active Staff members, virtually all are involved personally in instruction and supervision of campers on a daily basis. For programs in-camp, the ratio will vary depending on the activity; say, from 1:1 to 1:8. On canoe trips, the ratio remains 1:2 at all times.
How many campers are at Pathfinder?
There are 105-110 campers at Pathfinder in a given session. In some years, Pathfinder admits a small extra number of campers in response to demand. Ages 7-8 and 9-10 are the Mic Mac and Chippewa tribes - capacity 24 campers. Ages 11-12 are the Cree tribe - capacity 38-50 campers. Ages 13-14 are the Ottawa tribe - capacity 38-45 campers. Age 15-16 is the AA tribe - capacity 22 campers.
Where do the campers come from?
Pathfinder campers come from 14 US states, 4 provinces of Canada, and several overseas countries. From 2004-2011, boys attended from Great Britain, France, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, Singapore, China and Mexico. The majority of boys are from western New York State and southern Ontario Province. A number of boys attend from Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Washington and California.
What are the living arrangements on the Island?
Mic Macs and Chippewas live in cabins on the southern shoreline. There are 6-8 campers in a cabin living with 3 counselors. An Area Supervisor and Mic-Chipp director oversee the tribe. Cree, Ottawa and AA campers live 3 boys and a counselor each in one of 30 wood and canvas tent platforms lining the waterfront and climbing the forested hill. An Area Supervisor is in charge of each tribe. Older Senior Staff, female counselors, and married staff members live in private staff cabins dotted along the forested trails. Our Registered Nurse lives fulltime in the Camp Infirmary, and the Owners have cabins along the northwest shoreline, sharing the Pathfinder tradition of simple living without electricity, bathrooms or running water in the accommodation.
The entire Camp community eats meals together, family style, in the large pine Dining Hall, where our food is scratch-made by a chef staff of five professionals.
How does the Director organize Camper supervision?
Pathfinder Campers are supervised by adult staff at all times. Importantly, some of the Campers' in-camp time is self-directed.
On canoe trips, a Headman is the lead guide and counselor. He is a minimum of age 19 with a year of college experience, and has a demonstrated history of canoe tripping skills with Pathfinder. He has the most advanced outdoor leadership certifications and the greatest back country experience. His assistants are a Second Man and a Third Man, counselors ages 16-18 who are trained in the Pathfinder program. The typical Pathfinder canoe trip is 9 men, including 6 Campers and 3 Staff. At times, 4 Campers travel with 2 Staff. Several AA trips take long journeys in the far north with 8 Campers and 4 Staff.
In camp, the counselors live with the Campers in a 1:3 ratio. Area supervisors and assistant directors supervise the living arrangements and daily needs of boys and counselors in four clusters arranged by age group: Mic-Macs ages 7-8, Chippewas ages 9-10; Crees ages 11-12; Ottawas ages 13-14, and AAs ages 15-16.
What are the activities? What is the daily program like?
Pathfinder's core activities are known as the Pillars. They include Canoe Tripping, Swimming/Aquatics, Paddling, Earth Lore, and Ropes-Challenge. Emphasis is placed on individual instruction in these Pillars, and boys progress year to year in their knowledge, confidence and expertise.
Supporting activities include: kayaking, sailing, mountain biking, archery, arts and crafts, and general athletics including basketball, volleyball, soccer and softball, tetherball, disc golf.
The daily program in-camp begins as assigned pillars and sports morning and afternoon, building core abilities in all the boys. Soon a camp day becomes a mix of structure and choice. The Camp gathers for morning Flag Pole and Breakfast at 8:20 am. Morning periods are one hour and a quarter each. These are assigned activities such as swimming and ropes, or canoeing and earth lore. Small groups of boys in one age group attend these assigned periods, and hone their skills.
After lunch at 1:00 pm and a rest hour, boys have their choice of favorite "optionals", and often use their choice time to work toward advanced levels in a particular activity they love.
Swimming and bathing are daily rituals at camp. Free swims are generally in the afternoon and evening. Supervised soap baths are enjoyed after all-day treks, any canoe trip, and on Sundays prior to Chapel.
Each evening after supper, the entire camp gathers for the Evening Program. Ages 7-70 share a contest, game, or Pathfinder tradition. These can be any one of a number of Pathfinder favorites, including Capture the Flag games, relay race contests, all-camp dodgeball fests, free time on the lake in canoes and kayaks, council fires, trip reports and award presentations, camp movies in the Rec. Lodge, or all-island scavenger hunts.
Call to quarters is at 9:00 pm. The younger campers are in bed shortly after, and the older boys are 'lights out' at 10:00 pm each night.
What's the food like?
Pathfinder food is, by Camper acclaim, fantastic! It is homemade on the Island by a chef staff, led by Head Chef Gonzalo Pantoja, or crafted on the trip trail by the Headmen. Our guys are hungry! Something about the northern air, and days spent paddling, portaging, climbing, swimming and playing in Algonquin Park. Luckily for everyone, food is a high priority at Camp, with a lot of wholesome, nutritious fare fueling the Pathfinder season.
Pathfinder's chef staff prepare fresh meals daily on the Island. All the delicious ingredients are brought by water to three times weekly the island. Our own Baker takes care of the celebrated breads and desserts. These boys can eat tremendous quantities of food! The menu is home cooking, served family style in the Dining Hall at tables of six campers and two counselors. Special Sunday dinners include roast beef and turkey dinners with a special dessert. Awards banquets wrap up each session, famous for the menu and dessert tables. Pathfinder serves whole grains and places an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and real fruit juices. Vegetarian meals and special accommodations for dietary restrictions are provided. Pathfinder has a meal plan for nut-allergic campers who are able to self-manage with adult supervision. Parents of nut-allergic campers should check with the Camp Director before enrolling to ensure we are able to take care of the Camper's needs.
On canoe trips, the Headmen take pride in their open fire cooking. If you can pack it, they can use it to cook up a tripper's feast. Some freeze-dried trip food is used on very long trips, but a great deal of Pathfinder trip food is fresh and staple foods. Steaks are often packed for the first night on the trail. Fajitas and other wraps are popular. Pasta and rice meals with custom sauces are always a hit. Harvest Crunch cereal, eggs, bagels, cheese and Peameal bacon is a camper favorite on trips. Fresh vegetables and potatoes are worth portaging for the flavor around the camp fire. Pizza, beef stroganoff, marinara, spinach and alfredo pastas, chimichangas and vegetarian chili are trip favorites as well. Trout and small-mouth Bass are a special treat. Pathfinder uses traditional bannock mix for everything from trip bread to cinnamon rolls and fresh tuna-cheese calzones. Pathfinder trip fudge is unforgettable, though only a handful of Headmen can still make the original recipe.
What are the health/safety practices at Pathfinder?
Camp practices are in accordance with our accreditation by the Ontario Camps Association, and with health, hygiene and safety laws of Ontario and Canada.
Pathfinder maintains an Infirmary on the island, with a full time Nurse, and a full-time on-call consulting physician in the local community. Huntsville Memorial Hospital is our local top-notch facility. The regional EMS system ensures professional response to health emergencies in Algonquin Park. The Director, all Headmen, and key Senior Staff members are certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR). All the Trip Staff are Red Cross or NLS certified lifeguards and certified ORCA paddlers. Pathfinder has long-established fire and emergency procedures. The entire camp drills in these procedures when a new session begins. The Trip Staff are highly trained, and the guides are capable of handling a variety of emergencies on the trail. A number of Pathfinder trips, in fact, have rendered assistance to other parties while in the Algonquin interior. For details on Pathfinder's safety practices, please contact Mike Sladden directly.
What are policies on phone calls, visits, mail, care packages?
At Pathfinder, parents are welcome to phone their children, but Campers do not phone out. We advise parents to use their best judgment when considering a call to their Camper. Sometimes early or excessive calls from home can tend to derail a Camper's hard-won sense of independence. Of course, in cases when the Director recognizes the need, Campers and parents are put in touch by phone. Parents are always encouraged to call the office to get the latest on their Camper from Mary or Sladds.
Old fashioned 'Snail Mail' remains an important tradition at Pathfinder. In fact, a Camper's ticket to Sunday dinner is a letter written to mom or dad. The counselors help the younger Campers write letters home and read letters from home. What could be more welcome to a Camper than a newsy letter from home? Many parents have sent their first letter to camp before the kids are even on the bus. Canada Post can take a while to reach Algonquin Park, so parents are encouraged to write early and often! It is also possible to email or fax your letters.
Pathfinder does not have visiting days for parents per se, but encourages parents to personally drop off or pick up their sons. These session change days are virtual parent visiting days. Parents tour the Island, meet the Staff, and chat with the directors. Boys attending Camp for the full season often have their parents visit during the mid-season changeover, to whisk them away for hot showers and a couple of town meals.
Care packages are not encouraged. Sending candy and food to camp tends to attract animals to the tents as well as sore feelings if any Campers feel left out. Please plan to send magazines, cards, comics, etc. and avoid treats and food items. If a food package arrives, the office will dole out small amounts during the session, to be shared among tent mates.
Technology is extremely limited at Pathfinder by design. Campers who bring iPods, cell phones, game machines or other devices on their travel to Camp will have their items locked in the camp safe during the session.