How to Register for Summer Camp
...and get into a session that works for you!
We present this guide to help you manage getting into a session of camp that works for you and with the friends you’d like to be with. Though we can't guarantee that you'll be able to get into your first choice, this guideline is our opening effort to do all that we can to see that you get into a session that works for your family with the people you want to be with.
Why is it hard to get into some parks and not others?
We try our hardest to arrange as many weeks as possible at our most popular parks, but some of these parks limit the number of weeks we can be in them. We operate thirty-six sessions of camp per summer in seven different parks that are all about 15 to 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis or Saint Paul. For many of these sites we offer bus service from Powderhorn Park and from North Commons Park both in Minneapolis.
No park is inherently better or more suited for AiC than any other park, but... due to the community legacy that has been building for years at the parks we’ve been established at longest... some sessions are much more difficult to get into than others. There is an Early registration for returning families and families on the waitlist every suceeding year where many of these camps fill, but for 2021 if we are able to negotiate new additional sessions at popular parks we will reserve them for our General Registration and NOT the Early Registration Window so new families will have a m,uch better chance of getting into popular parks as we expand.
The following parks have traditionallly filled up within minutes of registration opening when we have not been able to negotaite additional sessions. Certainly check to see if there is any availability at these parks when you register if they are at the top of your list, but if you are planning to get into a session with a larger number of buddies it might be best NOT to plan on registering for one of these sites ast least until 2021.
- Theo Wirth Park, Minneapolis
- Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
If you are able to get into one of these sessions you will not necessarily be able to coordinate taking camp with all or even some of your friends unless you are all able to register within the first few minutes - a very stressful and difficult thing to try to accomplish.
It’s important for us to honor the legacy of community at each site as it develops. So if you’ve never taken a camp at one of these sites it is probably best to choose another site and begin a legacy of friends there.
Other parks that tends to fill within the first day or two, but not the first few minutes or hours is:
- West Bush Lake Park, Bloomington
- French Regional Park, North Minneapolis/Plymouth
But as West Bush becomes more popular it may also fill up much faster. Please have a second or third choice in mind from the following list:
- Tony Schmidt Regional Park, Saint Paul/Arden Hills
- Caponi Art Park, Eagan/Apple Valley
- Moir Park and Oak Grove Field and Rink, bot at Nine Mile Creek, Bloomington
The community legacy is still being built at these sites; sessions in these parks take weeks or even months to fill. Sessions at these parks also tend to have more availability because we are able to set up many more weeks of camp at these sites.
None of these parks are less suitable, less beautiful or in any way less awesome for the games we play in summer. Each and every park is explored extensively by a cohort of staff and campers and is considered for its natural beauty, variation in terrain, safety, accessibility, its system of trails and the overall feel and impression it gives. We are EXTREMELY picky about where we set up and only settle for the best staff-and-camper-rated sites for our summer camps.
Unfortunately, we won't be able to set up in the following parks this year due to extensive renovation plans that would make daily operations difficult, but we will be back in force at the following parks in 2021!
- Bryant Lake Regional Park, Eden Prairie. We suggest West Bush Lake Park which is 5 minutes away or French Regional Park if you live in to the north.
- Battle Creek Regional Park, Maple Grove. We suggest Tony Schmidt Regional Park about ten minutes away or Caponi Art Park if you live to the south.
We understand the east metro area near Battle Creek may be far from Caponi and Tony Schmidt, if you would be interested in signing up for a bus from Carver Elementary in Maplewood to Tony Schmidt Regional Park, we have made arrangements for a bus Week 3 with The Band of Storms, the same group of counselors who were at Battle Creek last year!
Coordinating Large Groups of Friends
If you are trying to coordinate large groups to take our camp together it is very important for us to accommodate this whenever we can. We take friend and sibling requests at the highest priority. But also know you will have a MUCH better chance of coordinating this at sites that do not fill up right away.
Sometimes groups of friends grow to great sizes because they all attend the same school. If you are new to camp and want to get into one of these growing groups of friends there is not very much we can do at this point if that group has traditionally chosen a hard-to-register-for park. Though we ALWAYS ask our most popular parks for more weeks and sometimes they are willing to work with us and sometimes not, it would be prudent to work with your group of friends to see if you all might be willing to try a different site that is easier to register for and will give you all a much better chance of getting into together.
Though there is usually some form of early registration for returning campers that comes in an email notification the second week of January if you've taken camp before, any early registration process will not hamper your ability to get into a session of camp if this is your first year at AiC. Again, we are usually not full until some time in April; there are plenty of choices available until then. We look forward to expanding into more parks in the metro area and perhaps adding another band or two as our community continues to grow.
Finding your favorite counselors!
We currently operate in four bands. The configuration of staff at each group will stay the same from year to year and these bands will operate in the same parks every year; it is important for us to honor the legacy of relationships between staff and campers each year and each group’s relationship to the land.
- The Band of Storms (formerly the Blue Band): Alison, Maggie and the Stormy Company including Dan Jones, Lacey, Mark Safford, Diana, Daniel Gubrud, Huyana, Kieran the Hákarlan, Young Roger, Simone, Lin, Grayson and many more. Aaron and Fletcher will be around Week 8 at Wirth Park. (at Tony Schmidt Park and Theo Wirth Park)
- The Band of Mountains (Formerly the Green Band): Meg and Mikha and the Mountain Company including Eric Dymit, Liz Hickman, “Fighting Fionn”, Lola, Henry, “Castle Steve”, Liz, Mia, Seamus & Dom, Jack & Peter and many more. (at Caponi Art Park and West Bush Lake Park)
- The Band of Thunder (Formerly the gold Band): Ramon and Rachel (AKA Alfie the Elf) and the Thunder Company including Noah, Teresa, Ranea (Lord Bacon), Anna, Grant, Faithann, Master Pete, Zoe, Rory, Master Logan, Kirian, Mike and many more. (at Theo Wirth Park, French Regional Park and Oak Grove)
- The Band of Iron (Formerly of the Gold & Blue Bands): Brett and Kevin and the Iron Company including Eric Bowles, Tyler, Lauren & Olivia, “Armory Ace”, Henry & Charlie, Abby, “Old Erik” of Okami, Master Lewis, Roo, Taelyn and many more. (at West Bush Lake Park and Moir Park)
- Where is Julian? Whether or not your kids care, Julian is most often found with the Bands of Thunder and Iron but will also tag into the wonderful craziness of the Band of Storms and Mountains for a week each. If it matters to your kids, you can find weeks of camp with Julian present by using the selector tool in our dynamic online schedule.
Signing Up Multiple Campers at a Time
One parent can sign up multiple campers at a time when they register, rather than one at a time. We will have a team of staff on hand the opening weekend of registration to help you by email or phone. Please be patient with us if you run into problems, we sincerely want to help you as fast as we can.
We like mixed age groups because this presents us with more options for fun, role-playing and games, and it helps us set up a sense of community where the older kids can act as mentors for younger kids while still being able to hang out in their peer age group.
We have also started to offer Advanced Sessions for older adventurers.
- Classic Session are the original AiC programming. All weeks of Classic AiC include castle building, arms and armor creation, games and swimming wherever beaches are available. Adventurers will have elective opportunities over the course of the week to customize their experience.
- Advanced Sessions are very similar to Classic Sessions, but the average age of campers is older. Both types of Advanced Sessions are story-based and include the same activities as Classic Camps. In Tactical Sessions the focus is largely on strategic and tactical gaming, a more "sandbox" style open world with rules for conflict and competition. In Theatrical Sessions the focus is largely on character and free role-playing, more of an improvised story-based exploration of world creation. There is no castle activity in Tactical.
What happens if I get on a waitlist?
If you are placed on a waitlist you may not hear from us for weeks or even months unless a spot opens. If a spot opens for you, you will be contacted to see if you still desire that session before we register you. You will not be charged until we have confirmation that you still want that session. After contacting you about a spot opening on the waitlist you'll have two days to respond.
There is really no way for us to predict if you will get into a session if placed on a waitlist. There is wild variability in how many people drop sessions or switch sessions every year. If your child is #1 - #4 on the list the best we can say is, "There is maybe, probably a pretty good chance that a spot might open before April." Sometimes we have had as many as ten people drop in a single session, some hold fast without a single drop. Again this is very hard to predict and it's difficult when many people DO drop. Other than letting you know what number you are on a waitlist, your tarot card reader or local psychic probably knows better than us if you'll get in!
Can I get a refund?
Please don't register for a session of camp you know you will not be attending while you wait for a waitlist to open. You will have weeks, if not months, before all options close, and your cancellation fees could be expensive. Though there is never a fee to switch camps, fees increase for cancellations the closer it gets to summer. After April 30th we don't provide refunds unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
Here is the cancellation/refund schedule for 2020:
registration weekend (Jan 18th and 19th): no additonal fee for refunds beyond our ACH payment processor's fee.
January 20th - February 28th: $30 fee for each refund
March 1st - April 30th: $100 fee for each refund
after April 30th: no refunds available
What if I can't even get on a waitlist?
If you can't get on a waitlist it means that that waitlist already has twenty plus spots on it and we have closed it. It would probably be meaningless to get on a waitlist longer than ten to twenty spots in length.
Thank you for registering!
With all of this in mind and a little preparation on your part you will be better prepared to register for a week of camp that works for you and with the friends you’d like to share the experience with.
And once again, if any of the less popular sites work for your family there will be no rush to register on January 18th; you will have weeks maybe even months to decide.
Thank you so much for your patience and understanding!