Frequently Asked Questions
How competitive is registration for new families?
In the past three years, interest in our summer programs has exceeded our capacity. While we are very grateful for the loyalty of our returning camp families, we cannot accommodate everyone interested in our programs, and registration for new families can be limited and is very competitive.
Our priority registration period begins in December for returning campers. Registration opens to new families in mid-January. The official dates are posted on the website’s Registration page in mid-November.
Because our retention rates are high, some age groups typically fill quickly during returning camper registration, and limited spots may be available to the public. As such, we always recommend enrolling as soon as possible after registration opens. If a camp is full, you are welcome to join the waitlist.
The camp I wanted to register my child for is full. How does the waitlist work?
In our CampMinder registration platform, a red hourglass next to a camp session indicates that the session is at capacity and a waitlist is available.
You can add your child to the waitlist for that camp for registration. CampMinder will show you the total cost of the camp and request a payment method. Please note that you will only be charged if a spot opens and you are formally offered and accept it.
Waitlists function on withdrawals. When a family withdraws from camp, we move through the waitlist and offer spots to families. You will get an email from us with a deadline by which we need a response. Although we do get some withdrawals every year, they tend to be random and hard to predict.
You may ask to be removed from a waitlist at any time.
How old does my child have to be to start camp?
Children who are 3.5 years old and over are welcome at camp. They must be fully potty trained and able to use the restroom independently. We understand that accidents happen and campers need reminders, but our program is not equipped for campers who cannot use the bathroom independently. Pull-ups and swim diapers are not allowed.
Development in early childhood can be varied even over a few months, so if your child is younger than 3.5 years old but expected to be potty trained by summer, please contact us at su****@be********.org, and we can discuss placement in camp.
My child has special medical or behavioral considerations. Is Belmont Day Camp right for them?
If you have questions about your child’s needs and how they fit at BDS camp, we are happy to discuss them with you. Each child’s situation is unique, and we handle them on a case-by-case basis. We will be honest with you about how your child’s time at BDS might work—our goal is always to provide a positive summer experience for all our campers. If we talk and decide it is not the best fit, we’re happy to give local recommendations that may suit your child’s needs.
We have a nurse on-site at all times and staff dedicated to camper support. However, each child’s level of need is different. Email Zach d’Arbeloff, director of summer programs, directly at zd********@be********.org to start the conversation.
We’re new to Belmont Day Camp. Can we take a tour of the facilities before registering?
Of course! We have an open house for registered families in May each year, with group tours and fun activities. We also offer tours after 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on a per-request basis. Email us at su****@be********.org, and we will find a date for you to visit.
- Ramblers: typically two pre-kindergarten groups and two kindergarten groups
- Voyagers: typically three first grade groups, three second grade groups, and two third grade groups
- Pioneers: campers are split by age; the youngest group (P1) is typically fourth grade, and the older groups (P2, P3) usually encompass a range of grades from 5 to 7
- Journeys: one group of all ages.
- Swim block (lessons/free swim)
- Free/Change/Snack block (after swim blocks)
- Activity block (activities with a specialist like sports, games, crafts, art, yoga)
- Rest Time (Ramblers only, after lunch)
- Electives (Pioneers only, daily signups)
- Special Events (All-camp events, usually on Fridays)
My child does not know how to swim. How do you handle that?
As a camp that welcomes 3.5-year-olds every summer, we are well-versed with first-time swimmers. One of the pools is a 2-foot-deep wading pool where new swimmers will begin. On the first day of camp, all campers receive a swim test to place them into a swim level. First-time swimmers are placed in level 1, where they work on the basics, including floating, kicking, gliding, and becoming comfortable getting their heads wet.
During afternoon free swim, campers can only swim where they receive lessons or in lower areas. Level 1 swimmers do their free swim only in the wading pool. As campers move up in level, they progress to deeper pool areas.
- Level 1 swimmers use the wading pool
- Level 2 swimmers use the shallow end of the big pool (3 feet)
- Levels 3 and 4 use the mid-depth areas of the pool (3-5 feet
- Levels 5 and 6 use the pool’s deep end (7-9 feet).
How do campers pass into higher swim levels?
Campers are placed in initial swim levels on their first Monday and assessed regularly. Testing days are Tuesday and Thursday. To test out of a level, a campers’ swim instructor has to approve them for testing. Then, the swim tests are run by Jimmy Athens, our head of pool, or Denali Kikuchi, our aquatics director.
Camp swim lessons function differently than at a year-round aquatics center. We have larger swim groups and more children in the pool at once. Some swimmers excel in this environment; it can be challenging for others. Encouraging your camper at home is a great strategy. If you are curious about the skills your child needs to improve to move on to the next level, email us at su****@be********.org, and we can check in during swim lessons.
As a policy, we will never evaluate a child on skills we do not explicitly see in our pools. While we recognize that some swimmers may have more skills than they demonstrate at camp, for safety reasons, we must stay within these limits to avoid a swimmer potentially passing into a level that is unsafe for them.
If your child is frustrated about being unable to move up to the next level, contact us, and we can get specifics for you to help them with at home.
What type of food do you offer for campers?
We provide every camper with a snack each morning, and campers should bring a packed lunch. Snacks come in various forms, including yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, and Lays snack products. Campers also enjoy a popsicle before going home. On Friday, we offer a special end-of-day treat. These special treats include Italian ice and ice cream sandwiches. Campers who attend extended day will have additional snacks.
Ellen Brandt, a year-round food service team member, supervises our kitchen. She is certified in allergy awareness and will provide allergy-safe alternatives to any children who are unable to eat the day’s chosen snack. Belmont Day is also a peanut and tree-nut-free facility.
We also offer an option to purchase lunches. These lunches are delivered to campus daily, and campers will stop by the kitchen with their counselors during lunch to pick up their orders.
Are parents allowed to visit during the camp day?
Camp is for campers! We know our day is fun and inviting for people of all ages, but it’s important that campers are allowed to experience their camp day independently. Our goals include helping campers grow their independence and encouraging them to try new things, which is most successful without parents present.
What age are your staff members?
In Massachusetts, camp counselors must be at least 16 years old. We also have 15-year-old volunteer staff who are helpers there to learn alongside older staff before their opportunity to become a counselor arrives.
Every group has at least one head counselor who is 18+ and has either attended a year of college or has graduated high school and is in their third summer working at camp.
For camp licensing, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires all counselors to be background-checked through a criminal and sex offender database before being hired.