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 sessions of camp per summer in eight 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 Adventure Studio 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. The following parks usually fill up within minutes of registration opening. 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.
- Bryant Lake Regional Park, Eden Prairie
- 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.
Another park that tends to fill within the first day or two, but not the first few minutes or hours is:
- West Bush Lake Park, Bloomington
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
- Battle Creek Regional Park, Maplewood
- French Regional Park, North Minneapolis/Plymouth
The community legacy is just beginning to be 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.
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 three 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 GOLD BAND: Julian, Brett and the gold company (at Bryant Lake, Wirth Park, French Regional, Caponi and West Bush Lake)
- THE BLUE BAND: leaders TBD with the blue company (at Wirth, Battle Creek and Tony Schmidt)
- THE GREEN BAND: leaders TBD with the green company (at Caponi, West Bush and Minnehaha)
New Registration Provider
Finally, we have a new registration provider this year which will allow you to sign up multiple campers in one session rather than one at a time. We are getting familiar with the new system now and will have a team of staff on hand to be available on the opening day of registration to help you by email or over the phone if you run into problems. Please be patient with us if you run into problems, we sincerely want to help you as fast as we can.
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 just to save space for yourself while you wait for a waitlist to open. You have months to decide 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 2019:
registration weekend (Jan 12th and 13th): no fee for refunds
January 14th - 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 12th; you will have MONTHS to decide.
Thank you so much for your patience and understanding!