This page outlines many of BT's policies and is full of information that you and your daughter need to read, digest and ponder. All the forms that need to be filled out can be accessed through your online Birch Trail account, by clicking here.

2018 Camp Dates

1st Session: June 18th-July 14th
2nd Session: July 15th- August 10th
8 Week Session: June 18th- August 10th

What travel arrangements do we need to make?

Our campers fly into Minneapolis; from there we take buses to camp. We meet every plane as it arrives at the airport, accompanying all campers to and from their planes. We'll take care of their luggage, hold their tickets for safe keeping, gather and load all baggage and distribute all of the return tickets when campers leave Minneapolis homeward bound.

We schedule most arrivals into Minneapolis between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. so we can get to camp early enough to unpack and have some fun during the daylight hours of the first day. Minnesota-area campers should plan to meet us around noon at the airport. We'll let you know where to meet us in early June; we'll direct you to our trucks when you leave the airport and unload your daughter's luggage for you. We provide you with a handy form from our camp travel agent, Travel One. They book all the tickets and schedule directly with the airlines, make special arrangements for block seating and pre-checking baggage. They will even call you to arrange for your daughter's flight if they don't hear from you! Travel One gives us a master schedule so we know which planes to meet and which campers to expect on each flight.

Here are two travel reminders: First, Chicago-area, Racine, Milwaukee and Madison campers will be making their entire journey to and from camp by bus! We'll be sending a separate mailing detailing the time and pick-up location along with baggage information to those families in May. Second, all Houston campers must fly to and from Inter-Continental, not Hobby.

If special arrangements for travel are to be made, please let both Travel One and us know. We change reservations and work with Travel One throughout the summer and can, of course, change plans for you. Travel One will make sure you get your daughter's ticket at least two weeks prior to departure. Travel One makes a logistical nightmare manageable for us; please remember our $100.00 surcharge if you do not use Travel One or if you deviate from their designated flights.

Please note that there is also information from Travel One regarding campers traveling as "unaccompanied minors." If your daughter is flying round trip, you will need to purchase round-trip unaccompanied minor coverage for your daughter when she departs unless we have a 15-year-old BTer on her flight. Check our website in June and we will post the flights that won't need unaccompanied minor status.

Driving your daughter to camp? A few families bring their daughters to camp. If you'd like to drive your daughter to camp, please plan to arrive between 1:00 and 3:00 pm, and to leave immediately after seeing camp. If you plan to pick up your daughter at the end of the session, please arrive in camp sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 am. And by all means, please let us know your plans in advance and in writing. If special arrangements for transportation to or from camp are required, please drop us a note.

What activities can my daughters choose?

You can download our "Activities Selection Sheet;" it's what you and your daughter complete and returns to us with her chosen activities. You should also download the "Activity Descriptions Sheet" to refer to while filling out the form. Please remember that Horseback Riding, Explorers and Voyaguers are two-hour activities. For each two-hour activity that is selected, one less one-hour activity can be chosen.

Our Tamarack campers (girls going into 9th and 10th grades) have special options available to them. Tamaracks can participate in our regular activities, but they can also partake in special activities for Tamaracks only. Finally, they also help teach our activities; all they need to do is to write a "T" (for "teach") next to the number corresponding with the activity choice they wish to teach. Download Activity Descriptions for further information.

What's the best way to ship our daughters baggage to Birchtrail?

Giving our campers' luggage the best care and prices can be a struggle with the airlines; their baggage fees are a big part of that struggle. It has been our experience that bags can most easily be sent to camp via FedEx for about $50 per bag. If your daughter's bags are exceptionally heavy, it may cost a little more. Regardless of whether you choose to ship or fly your daughter's bags, please make sure you let us know by selecting the appropriate box on the transportation form. If you would like your bags shipped home from camp, please create a FedEx account at www.fedex.com/us. At the end of the session, we will ship the bags and charge your account.

Three baggage tags will be sent to you for all campers traveling by air. The third baggage tag is for carry-on luggage; sometimes excited campers leave things on the plane. If you need more than two duffels, you're packing too much! Be sure to fill in your address and attach our tags securely to each piece of luggage (used "twist-ties" work well, and it's a great way to recycle them). Don't let anyone tell you that you are not to use our tags; we spot your daughter's luggage at the airport in Minneapolis this way (that's why we use red ink!). The airlines tell us that duffel bags are required—no foot lockers or trunks. You will be able to check baggage through the airport at the time of your daughter's departure. If you anticipate a crowd at your airport, please make plans to arrive early. We also have UPS service to camp as well (for special needs or travel plans). Please note our "ship to" address is: Birch Trail Camp, W6260 Hwy 77, Minong, WI 54859.

Can we send our daughter letters & emails?

Correspondence with your daughter is a critical aspect of her camp experience, and we can offer some practical suggestions. First, keep your letters positive, upbeat and newsy. Two to three letters each week is plenty, since too many letters can actually make a well-adjusted camper homesick! If your daughter complains of some situation that is upsetting to her, by all means acknowledge that when you write back; then focus on some positive aspect of her personality and tell her that you're confident she'll work things out. Try something along the lines of "It sounds like things are tough for you right now, but we bet you can work this out—you're very good at thinking things through!" Phrases like "I miss you" and "The house is empty without you" are really tough on kids.

We ask that the girls write home at least twice a week. We encourage you to make a contract with your daughter for a certain number of letters during the course of the summer. You and your daughter should agree on how many letters each week she should write and she should be held responsible for her side of the contract. Please understand that the first ten days of camp provide a "mixed bag" of letters because of homesickness and our normally slow mail service.

You may find that you receive a "homesick" letter or a letter complaining of some situation, but by the time you respond or contact us, that situation has often subsided. We welcome your calls of course, but please do understand that letters are often cathartic for your daughter. Once vented, those feelings of loneliness or frustration often disappear. Do let us know if you get two unhappy letters in a row or if you hear of something we should be aware of so we can look into the situation and get back to you. We'll let you know if your daughter is not receiving mail from home.

Girls very often write funny and sometimes touching letters to home or friends; others have not yet found the ability to communicate in letter form. Some campers will assume that our pet camp names and activities are easily and automatically translated by their parents. We hope you will get a good picture of the summer from your daughter's letters, but remember that your daughters are in a world of their own at camp, and we adults can share only a small part of it with them.

Several parents take advantage of the time their daughters are at camp to do some vacation travelling of their own. Our experience has shown that quite a few campers struggle with their parents being away from home (anxiety for your safety and interruption of mail are two big factors). Please be sure to send us your itinerary if you will be out of town while your daughter is with us so we can give her some extra attention and reassurance. Some parents write letters in advance, to be mailed regularly to their daughters while they're travelling, since mail service can be so spotty from distant places. Just give the letters to family or friends with instructions to mail one every few days while you're gone. You'll help your daughter tremendously.

You will be receiving correspondence from us constantly via this website. Pictures are posted daily and our weekly letters and blog posts will describe camp and camper activities as well as answer your general questions. A photo of the cabin group will be posted on the website the second day of camp. If you don't have Internet access, please let us know and we'll use "snail-mail" for you! At the close of the session, your daughter's counselor will write an individual evaluation and report regarding your daughter's experience.

We ask that the girls write home at least twice a week. We encourage you to make a contract with your daughter for a certain number of letters during the course of the summer. You and your daughter should agree on how many letters each week she should write and she should be held responsible for her side of the contract. Please understand that the first ten days of camp provide a "mixed bag" of letters because of homesickness and our normally slow mail service.

Email

Yes, we do have email at camp. No, you cannot email letters to your kids! Kids love opening envelopes and getting real mail with their cabin-mates after lunch. The only exception to our "no email" policy is if you're out of the country; then email help your daughter feel connected when you are far away. Your daughter will not be able to return email to you while you are traveling.

Can our daughter get online at camp?

Campers do not have access to a computer at all during their stay at camp. For those of you who leave it up to your daughter to check the Birch Trail website, we urge you to start looking at it periodically. We post our newsletter online and we often have articles dedicated to our parents.

This summer you will be able to check out what is going on at camp, get a weather report and most importantly see photos of your daughter! You can find it all at Birch Tales. We will post cabin pictures on the second day of camp and continue to update them throughout the summer. Our weekly newsletter to parents will also be posted on this site. We will use email and our website to communicate with you throughout the summer. Please ensure that Directors@birchtrail.com is an acceptable sender so our emails do not end up in your junk mail folder. Please check the website regularly.

How do you choose cabin mates?

The process of putting nineteen delightful, compatible and geographically diverse cabin groups together each session is challenging! We'll spend all of May working on this, and we need your help. If you or your daughter have preferences, please note them on the sheet called "Yo' Barbara, Gabe & Laura"; please do this even if we have talked about this before. We can't please everyone every year; all we can promise is to use our experience, our judgment and our best efforts. We use the following as guidelines:

  1. A geographically varied distribution within cabin groups is very important to us
  2. We try to honor at least one request or "disrequest" from each camper
  3. It is sometimes impossible to accomplish both 1 and 2 above; in that case we will do the best we can to make sure your daughter's cabin is appropriate to her preferences, needs and growth.

If you suspect some "divergence of opinion" between your daughter's preferences (or yours) and someone else, please call the other girl's parents to resolve this before you send us your requests! If that doesn't work, attach a detailed note giving us as much insight as you can.

How do you handle heath and medical information?

Our health form is sent to you in the spring. Properly completed, it gives us all the information we need to care for your daughter this summer. It requires your input and signature and that of your daughter's pediatrician. We'll assume that if you have selected the optional camper insurance if you don't attach a copy of your daughter's insurance card to her health form.

We use Campmeds, to handle all camper medications and pills. Campmeds provides a convenient service that dispenses, packages and ships medications directly to overnight camps in the U.S. All of our camp families use Campmeds to have their child's medication dispensed, pre-packaged and sent to camp prior to their arrival.

Please give us full details if there are any physical restrictions not otherwise mentioned. Call us if your daughter has been exposed to any contagious condition (like chicken pox or head lice) prior to her arrival at camp.

Is your daughter currently taking medications (other than antibiotics) that you intend to suspend before or during her stay at camp? Changes in medication can produce changes in health and behavior, and no one is better equipped to recognize and deal with those changes better than you are. We recommend against "medication vacations" at camp. If you or your daughter's physician feels strongly about suspending a medication within six weeks of your daughter's arrival at camp, please call us.

If your daughter needs glasses for any activities, please note her current prescription on the medications form. We have arrangements with area orthodontists and we frequently send campers to visit them for minor orthodontic repairs.

So, get right to work on this form; fill it out completely, sign everywhere and pass it along to your daughter's pediatrician. We've got to have this by May 15th in order to properly review and complete your daughter's camp health care record!

What should our daughter pack for camp?

Our packing list can be found in the Big Spring Mailing and in the download section of this page. Please heed our advice to send up old clothes and minimal clothing. We really do need only one week's worth of clothes. The dirty clothes go to the laundry and are returned within one or two days. Leave your daughter's newer, nicer clothes at home since they're likely to get dirty or ruined at camp!

Two big duffels will work well for all campers; if you need three, you are over-packing! Horseback riders should have shoes with a heel of at least 5/8"; sneakers are not acceptable. Low-cost hiking shoes are good for Upper Lindens and Tams if they go backpacking; campers currently in grades 2-6 won't need them. Avoid cotton or down sleeping bags; go for a synthetic bag in the $100 range. Mark everything! If you wish to use name tags, you can order them through Camp Cloz or you may order them locally. We've used rubber stamp pads with indelible ink—they work well on most clothes, and it's a real time-saver! One last tip: send up a pair or two of thick rag wool or SmartWool-type socks; the rest of the socks should be cheapies ('cause you're not going to want to touch them if they come home)!

Are there any extra or add-on's we can take advantage of?

  • 7-day backpacking trips to Isle Royale National Park
  • 5- to 8-day canoe camping trips to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • 7- to 12-day canoe camping trips to Quetico Provincial Park
  • 4- to 6-day sea kayaking trips to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
  • 2-day rock climbing trips to the north shore of Lake Superior
  • 2-day Mt. biking trips within the CAMBA trail system (the largest network of trails in the midwest!)
  • 3- to 5-day backpacking trips on the Superior Hiking Trail or North Country Trail
  • 2-day fishing trips to the Chippewa Flowage or Hayward lakes region
  • Whitewater canoeing day trips on the Bois Brule and St. Croix rivers

Over 75 camping trips each summer make up Birch Trail's wilderness adventure program! All trips are led by our experienced wilderness trip leaders, each of whom have undergone extensive training prior to camp and have met the qualifications set by the American Camping Association. Our trips include "van" trips to area parks for our younger campers, and then more specialized canoeing, backpacking, climbing, sailing, riding and kayaking trips for older girls. We cut a wide path with our trips, often traveling over 250 miles from camp in search of pristine wilderness.

The vast majority of these excursions are equipped in our trip supply facility; when specialized access, knowledge or equipment dictate the use of outside providers, we pass those charges on to the participants.

One of Birch Trail's favorite specialty trips is the Isle Royale adventure, which represents our longest and most popular backpacking trip for TM campers. After riding a ferry across Lake Superior, the campers hike one of the most beautiful islands in the Great Lakes area. The Porcupine Mountains hiking trip is a favorite amongst our Linden campers. Additionally, the Superior Hiking Trail is a wonderfully scenic, challenging backpacking trip for our Linden and Tamarack campers.

Both the sailing and sea-kayaking trips boast the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore as their destination. The sailing trip is a two-day instructional trip that finds the girls learning to sail in laser-class boats to different islands in the Apostle Island chain. The sea-kayaking trip is a 5-day excursion that gives campers an opportunity to paddle through sea caves and camp out on various islands in the Apostle Island chain each night.

Another water-borne trip available to TM and BLT campers is the time-honored tradition of canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The Boundary Waters wilderness offers untouched forests and remote lakes for truly exceptional canoe adventures. Quetico canoe trips have our campers traveling to a remote part of the Quetico canoe area in Canada, while whitewater kayaking trips take campers down class-2 and -3 rapids on the beautiful Brule river.

The north shore of Lake Superior at Tetagouche State Park and the bluffs above the St. Croix River at Interstate Park provide the setting for our most popular climbing trips. These trips give campers new opportunities to practice the climbing skills learned at camp. The girls begin with instruction close to the ground and progress to greater heights under the watchful eyes of our climbing guides and instructors.

Linden campers love our Mountain Biking trips. The Mountain biking trips let the campers ride through scenic, forested trails by day and camp out at night. Our Maple campers can also participate in our horseback riding and fishing trips.

Since campers have so many options open to them, we will allow your daughters to sign up for these trips at camp. We assume that they have your permission to participate and incur additional charges on any of these optional trips unless you indicate otherwise on the "Yo' Barbara, Gabe & Laura" form. We'll just add the fees to your daughter's invoice at the end of the session.

What's the cost and how are payments made?

Four Week Tuition

Cash or check: $5700
Credit Card: $5850

8 Week Tuition

Cash or Check: $10,400
Credit Card: $10,700

An initial deposit of $1000 is due with registration.

  1. Nov 15th - 2nd deposit is due
  2. Jan 15th - 3rd deposit is due
  3. March 15th- 4th deposit is due
  4. April 15th - Final payment is due

Your invoice is sent at the end of March; it includes both fixed and optional charges, together with credits for deposits received. Please return the invoice form together with your payment prior to April 15th.

Many aspects of our program are negociated with outside providers and those negotiations are not complete until late March; the charges will appear on your spring time invoice.  Accordingly we will not list the dollar amounts to those charges in the fall; however we can tell you that our experience has been for less than 5% increase in any given area (some prices have not changed in a decade).  The coach bus ride from the Minneapolis airport to camp was $150, the coach bus from Illnois and Wisconsin to camp was $280.  Both busses are roundtrip and include transportation of luggage.  Laundry was $75 per session.  Horseback riding worked out to be $20 for a 3 hour ride.

Will our daughter need any extra money at camp?

Your daughter won’t need much cash at camp, except for a few dollars in quarters to “raid the soda machine”. If she should need some money for trips, it will be given to her by her counselor and charged against her canteen account. If money should be needed for a special purpose such as new shoes, we'll also put that on her account. We ask that our campers deposit any money they might bring with them into our safe, and we will give it back to them whenever they want it.

Campers are permitted to make purchases of their own choice in the "canteen," our camp store. Some girls have a hard time limiting their purchases (you may already have noticed that); please talk with your daughter about this before she comes to camp. Of course, our canteen staff will talk with your daughter if she appears to be spending too much on certain items. If you have any special concerns about their purchases, please let us know on the "Yo' Barbara, Gabe & Laura" form

Wrap Up

We hope all of this takes most of the mystery out of getting everything ready for your daughter's summer. Please believe us, this information and all the forms we have you fill out pay rich dividends in providing your daughter with a FUN and meaningful summer experience. If there is anything else that you'd like us to be aware of or any requests or special needs that don't fit on any of the other forms, jot it down on the "Yo' Barbara, Gabe & Emma" form—it's just for that purpose!

Learn about our Parent's University

Parenting is one of the most rewarding endeavors any of us will experience, but raising healthy, happy kids is tough work! And in our culture, girls face some particular challenges.