Sending your child to camp is a big decision and can be confusing and scary. Below is a list of common questions we get from parents that might help alleviate any anxiety you might have about sending your child to camp and help you make the best decision for you and your camper. 

Q: Will there be bus transportation this summer to/from camp?
Yes! There will once again be bus transportation provided to/from Gladstone and Salem. Space is limited as we will only be running one bus each week.

Q: What is your policy on age exceptions?
A: To make the Big Lake experience the best we can, we have grouped our camp sessions by age because of the differing physical and emotional levels of each age group. We do have a three month age grace, meaning campers who will be the specified age for the camp within three months of attending camp, can register for camp. Exceptions for campers who are outside the three month age grace but are still very near the required age are granted on occasion. Any exception requests must be made by email ( or phone call to (503) 850-3583.

Q: What should I do if my email or address changes?
A: Please remember to notify us or go to your account online to make any address or email changes. We will be communicating by email prior to and during your camper’s time at camp and if we don’t have your email address listed correctly you will miss out on any special announcements. Likewise with your mailing address. Sometimes we need to communicate with you by “snail mail” and can only do so if we have a correct address for you.

Q: My child is attending camp with a friend and they want to be cabinmates.  Is that possible?    
A: Make sure to put cabinmate request names in when you register your camper. For Tween and Teen camps, we will make every effort to have your camper in a cabin with friends who have chosen the same activity. We cannot guarantee that campers will be together as requested. Our Adventure and Junior campers don’t have an activity choice, so it is important to put in the name of friends they want to bunk with.  Big Lake Expedition (RAD) campers are placed in cabins with others signed up for the same session, so no cabinmate request is necessary.

Q: I’m worried that my child might get homesick.  What do you do in this kind of situation?
A: It is our goal for each camper to have a good time at camp.  Homesickness is possible though usually does not become a significant hindrance to a camper’s experience. Out of almost 2000 campers each summer, we average about 6 that need to return home early due to homesickness. It is our policy to try to work through homesickness by keeping campers involved and busy, and usually in this way campers begin to have so much fun that the homesickness fades. If the homesickness persists our village directors may decide to call you to consult about what course of action you would like us to pursue. In most circumstances phoning home to talk with mom or dad does not help, and can actually intensify the feelings. This is one of the reasons we do not allow cell phones. Your camper’s growth toward independence and happiness are of the utmost importance to us, and we always do our best to balance the two.

Q: If my camper is injured or becomes sick, when will I be notified?
A: Parents will be notified at the discretion of the medical team.  What guides us as we determine when to call is the nature and severity of the illness/injury and our involvement in resolving it. We desire to keep parents aware of our concerns early on so that they will be able to understand our intervention and plan the follow-up accordingly.  Minor issues, of course, will be cared for without notifying parents. If a concern is lingering at the conclusion of camp a letter will be sent home with a full disclosure of our intervention and what we feel will be needed in follow-up, if any.  If the need arises for transport to a higher level of care, a call will be placed to the parents to notify them accordingly.

Q: Camper Mail 
A: Please address camper mail as follows:
Camper Name – Session Name (ie. Junior 1 or Teen 2)
c/o Big Lake Youth Camp
26435 Big Lake Rd
Sisters, OR 97759

We suggest using USPS or UPS.

If your camper is in a Big Lake Expeditions (RAD) camp that happens away from Big Lake please write the name of the camp clearly on the package so that we can get it to them when they return to camp.

Q: Can I add more store money to my child’s store account?
A: Deposits made to the store account for each camper are given to the store on Sunday evening at the beginning of the camp week. If you wish to make additional deposits you may do so by logging on to your Registration Account (the account under which your camper is registered for camp). If you need assistance, please contact camp at (503) 850-3562.

Q: How do we get a DVD of my child’s week at camp?
A: We no longer sell DVDs of the “week in review”. Instead, we email a link to be able to download the videos. You may pre-order a “week in review” video online when you register. The cost for a video is $10 and it will be emailed to the primary email address on your account within a few days after the week of camp ends. If you would like to order a video after your camper has attended camp, please contact our Gladstone office at (503) 850-3583 and we will email you the video once payment has been received. There is NOT an option for a “week in review” video for our Big Lake Expeditions (RAD) camps.

Q: How do I email my camper?
A: One-way emails are available for purchase in blocks of 5 for $5. You may purchase and send the emails by logging in to your UltraCamp Account (The account under which your camper is registered for camp). The one-way emails can be sent through the “email a camper” link Monday through Thursday each week. Please understand that printing and distributing email is a labor-intensive activity for our staff. We ask that you send no more than one email per day. And while emails are nice, campers are actually more excited about “snail mail!” The emails will be delivered daily, Monday-Thursday, to your camper. Email submissions will not be accepted after 5:00 pm Thursday.

Q: Why does it cost money to send emails to my camper?
A: Big Lake has chosen to follow industry standard by charging $5 for 5 emails.  With an average of over 200 campers a week – the daily volume of emails we receive can be anywhere from 300-500 – thus it is a costly and time consuming process to compensate for the man hours, ink, and paper used to offer this service. Thanks for your understanding!

Q: Do you have scholarships available?  
A: There are limited Campership Scholarships available. Please see our scholarship page for more info.

Q: Are the fees for my child attending Big Lake Youth Camp tax deductible?
A: Since Big Lake Youth Camp is an overnight camp, fees associated with it are unfortunately not tax deductible.

Q: What’s camp food like?  
A: Your camper will enjoy three healthy meals each day during camp. Meals served are vegetarian, but do include eggs, cheese and milk. Common meals may include macaroni and cheese, pizza, spaghetti, bean and cheese burritos and the like. Nutritional balance is always considered and special requests for allergies can be accommodated. Please note any food allergies or dietary restrictions when registering for camp, whether it be online or a paper application. Also, please list food allergies and dietary restrictions on your camper’s health history form.

Q: My child has special dietary needs.  Who do I contact to discuss this with?
A: Please be advised that food prepared in this facility may contain the following ingredients: milk, eggs, wheat, soybean, peanuts, and tree nuts. We understand many kids have food allergies or may require a special diet. We’re more than happy do our best to accommodate these needs. Please note any food allergies or dietary restrictions when registering for camp AND on the Camper Health Form. Also, please list food allergies and dietary restrictions on your camper’s health history form. We do offer vegan, dairy-free, and gluten free options on a regular basis, but our facility cannot guarantee that there will not be trace amounts of allergens. For additional assistance, please contact our summer camp office at (503) 850-3562 during the camp season, (503) 850-3583 when not during the summer, or by emailing us at:

Q: My child lost something at camp.  What do I do?
A: Lost and found items are returned to our business office in Gladstone at 19800 Oatfield Road, Gladstone, OR 97027-2546. You can contact our Gladstone office at (503) 850-3583. Please check to make sure you have picked up ALL of your camper’s belongings when you pick him/her up from Big Lake Youth Camp. Kids frequently have items in plastic bags so you may want to ask them. All unclaimed items are only kept for two weeks following each week of camp. BIG LAKE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST ITEMS.

Q: Mail (after camper is home)
A: Mail that arrives after a camper has left camp is forwarded to the home address on file.

Q: Do you have a doctor or nurse onsite at camp?
A: Big Lake has an RN on site and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all medical needs. We also have a physician present at camp. Our nurse cares for the distribution of medications at each meal. It is very important that your camper’s health history form is filled out and handed in during check-in at camp or at the bus stop. This is to ensure that our trained medical staff are able to administer any needed medicine or care to your camper. Some examples of common medicines that parents grant permission to use are Tylenol, decongestants and vitamin C.

Q: Multiple family registrations
A: Signing up multiple family members from the same household on one account works great. However, if a single account is used to register campers from different households, it can increase the challenge of making sure the mail and/or emails from us arrive at the correct address. If you sign up three children from three families on your account, you will be the person receiving all the mail for all three children. You will also be responsible for completing the Health Form for all children AND be required to obtain a “Consent to Register” form from the parents (form can be found on your registration account in the Document Center).

Q: What should my child avoid packing?
A:  Please do not bring cell phones, IPods, MP3 players, etc. We like our campers to focus on building relationships with new friends rather than isolating themselves with headphones in the corner. Due to safety and security issues we request that jewelry be left at home. Fireworks, matches, lighters, flames of all kinds, are banned during the summer months. Drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, knives, utility tools, and weapons of any kind are not allowed.

Q: What SHOULD my child pack?
A: Sleeping bag, pillow, everyday clothes, underwear, long pants/jeans (required), sweater/jacket, pajamas, closed toe shoes & socks, flip flops for the shower, modest swimsuit (no bikinis for girls, no speedos for boys), beach towel, shower towel & washcloth, soap, shampoo & conditioner, comb/brush, toothbrush & toothpaste, sunscreen, water bottle, insect repellent, laundry bag, flashlight, store money (suggest $25-$80), camera (Amazon digital camera).

Q: Tell me about the photo gallery.  
A: Yes, we have a photo gallery! You may view the photo gallery by logging in to your Registration Account . If you do not remember your username and password please DO NOT set up a new account. You are only able to view Big Lake photos for the session your child is registered for, so you need to use the account under which your camper is registered. If you experience difficulties please contact our office and someone will assist you.  At some point (and it may even be the week following your camper’s time at Big Lake) we will upload photos in high resolution for you to purchase and download, including your camper’s cabin photo.

Q: Tell me about the Big Lake Mall?
A: Kids always enjoy picking out items from the store with the help of the friendly staff at the “Big Lake Mall.”  Your campers have the opportunity to buy items that help them remember their fun-filled week at camp. They will find a wide variety of items from water bottles, t-shirts and key chains to books and stuffed animals. Many items have the Big Lake logo printed on them! There are also snack items available for purchase.

Q: If my child doesn’t spend all of their money at the Big Lake Mall, do they get a refund?
A: Any money left in your camper’s store account will be refunded back to the online account your camper was registered under. The funds will remain on the account for future use unless you contact our business office and request a refund. You can contact our business office, located in Gladstone, by emailing or by calling (503) 850-3583. Monies will be refunded to the method used for applying the money. Exceptions would be if your credit card has expired or you have had fraud on your card since using it. Only requests made by the Primary Contact on the account will be accepted.

Q: Can I visit camp and/or walk my camper to their cabin at Sunday drop-off?  
A: Yes! We’d love to give you a tour of camp and/or have you help your camper settle into their cabin. To do this, you will need to park in one of our designated parking spaces after dropping off your camper’s luggage.

Q: What’s the weather like?
A: Summer days are warm and nights are delightfully cool. Trees provide shade for our camp, nestled right on the shore of Big Lake. The days are usually in the 70s, with nights in the 40s.

Q: Can we bring our pet when we drop off/pick up our camper?
A: We love animals and know you love your pet. However, our policy is no pets allowed on Big Lake Youth Camp’s property. Thank you for understanding.

Q: What time is drop-off and pick-up for my camper?
You will be receiving an email listing what cabin your camper is in and the drop-off and pick-up times specific for you camper’s cabin group. If you have a  Big Lake Expeditions (RAD) camper, drop-off will always be 2 – 2:30 p.m. If you cannot find the email we send out by Thursday right before your camper comes to camp, call our camp office at (503) 850-3562 or email

Q: What if I have a Big Lake Expeditions (RAD) camper and a REG camper to drop off? Will I have to drop off at two different times?
Great question! No, you can drop off all campers at the RAD drop off time.

Q: What if I need to pick up my camper earlier/or later than my assigned time?
A: We understand things happen, and if you are needing to pick up early, please either call our camp office at (503) 850-3562 or email our headquarters director at as soon as you know you need to pick up early.

Q: What is your cancelation policy if my child gets sick right before they come to camp?
A: Please call our camp office, (503) 850-3562, to see if we can reschedule them for a different session of camp. If you are needing to cancel the reservation, we are happy to give a full refund, no matter when you cancel, if due to health reasons.

Q: My account is showing a list of “Uncompleted Tasks”, does this mean I need to do something?
A: No, you do not need to do anything. That is just a list of our automated tasks that are sent out.

Q: What documents does my camper HAVE to have before being checked in to camp?
All campers have to have their Camper Health Form completed by the Thursday before they arrive, their Camper Photo Release Form completed, the Allergies & Sensitivities Form completed, and for Big Lake Expeditions (RAD) campers, the Big Lake Expeditions (RAD) Transportation and Consent Form by the Thursday before they arrive.

Q: What happens if I need to have someone other than myself drop off or pick up my camper(s)?
A: For drop-off, make sure all the above mentioned forms are completed, and you can have anyone drop off for you. For pick-up, you will need to make sure that the person you send to pick up your camper is listed on their Authorized Pick-Up list on their reservation account. If you have difficulties finding where to do this on your account, you can call our camp office at (503) 850-3562 or email and ask us to add this person to the Authorize Pick-Up List.

Q: On the daily schedule I see Campfire listed, what is that?
A: Typically every evening your child will head down to the campfire bowl with their cabin mates. During campfire your camper will sit back and relax as energetic staff put on a memorable program creatively presenting a character building lesson. Each year campers report this is their favorite part of camp. Campfire begins with the singing of Big Lake favorites, old and new, songs the campers take home with them when the time at camp is over. The night is capped off with a character building play presented by the talented Big Lake staff. Campfire is a fun-filled experience for all campers and will provide great memories of their time at camp.

Q: My child was at camp last summer and loved their counselor, can I request the same counselor?
Sometimes a return camper will request a certain counselor. Because our counselors are assigned on a random basis, rotating each week, may not have returned to work Big Lake, or may have chosen to pursue a different job calling at camp, it is not possible to honor those requests. This is a perfect opportunity for your camper to get to know someone new!

Q: Can I sign my camper up for multiple weeks of camp if they are one right after the other?
A:  Campers registered for multiple weeks will need to be picked up from Big Lake on Friday and return on the appropriate Sunday to check-in for the next session of camp.