Frequently Asked Questions (Campers)

Happy Trails for Kids summer camp is for children ages seven and older who have open cases in the California foster care system.  New campers must be 7-12 years old.  Exceptions are made only for previous campers, who can attend after age 12.  Happy Trails for Kids provides transportation to and from a central Los Angeles location, as well as meals and camp accessories (sleeping bags, toiletries, etc) if needed.  Thanks to many generous donations, camp is free!  You must make a $50 deposit – however, as long as your camper attends camp or cancels registration by the deadline, this deposit will be fully refunded after camp.


Space at camp is limited and there is no registration deadline.  Registration is on a first come, first served basis for all returning and new campers depending on availability in cabins.  We expect that both camp sessions will fill up very quickly this year.  You are not enrolled in summer camp until you receive a confirmation packet.  Confirmation packets and waitlist notifications will be mailed on April 28, 2017.


Camp enrollment requires completed registration forms, including Camper Health History and all required signatures, as well as a fully refundable $50 deposit.  The deadline to cancel registration with a full refund is Friday, June 2, 2017

When is camp?

Happy Trails will have two different weeks of camp again this summer.  Each camper can only attend one session.  Session 1 is Sunday, June 11, 2017 – Friday, June 16, 2017 and Session 2 is Sunday, June 18, 2017 – Friday, June 23, 2017.  Campers must attend for the entire week. 


Where is camp?

Happy Trails is located 29 miles above the city of La Canada in Angeles Crest.  The camp meets the rigorous standards required for accreditation by the American Camp Association.


Who can go to Happy Trails?

Happy Trails serves youth ages 7-12 who are wards of the State of California at the time they sign up to go to camp.  Exceptions are made only for youth ages 13 – 15 who have attended Happy Trails camp before.  Select campers who are over 15 can also attend as junior counselors (see below for more information about the junior counselor program).  Campers must be in good health and pass the lice check in order to attend camp.  You can help prepare your camper for the week by sharing details about camp life, reviewing the Camper Behavior Contract, packing together for camp and talking about coping with homesickness.  


Can I send a 7 or 8-year-old to camp?

Yes, you can send a 7 or 8-year-old to camp.  Please make sure that your camper is prepared to attend camp and to be away from home for the week.  Also, campers must be able to bathe and dress themselves with minimal assistance.


How does my camper get to camp?

Happy Trails provides roundtrip transportation for campers between the drop-off location in Central Los Angeles and camp.  You must drop-off and pick-up your camper at the assigned location. Detailed information about camper drop-off and pick-up will be available in your camper’s Happy Trails confirmation packet.  Campers cannot be dropped off or picked up at the camp.


Who are the staff members?

Happy Trails staff members are at least 18 years old.  They have been selected through an application process that requires reference checks and criminal records background checks that comply with of California state law.  All staff members complete extensive training on topics including youth development, behavior and conflict management, and emergency procedures. 


What is the camper to staff ratio?

At Happy Trails we maintain a low overall staff-to-camper ratio of approximately 1 adult to every 3 campers. There are no more than 10 campers per cabin with 2 adult counselors and additional support staff at camp during the week.


What is the daily schedule like?

The camp schedule is organized to allow campers the maximum amount of time to participate in camp program activities.  Campers typically wake-up at 7 a.m. and are scheduled to have lights out by 9:30 p.m.  During the day campers receive breakfast, lunch, dinner and an evening snack.


What are the camp activities at Happy Trails?

Camp activities are age appropriate and campers are typically separated into age groups.  Camp activities include swimming, team building, zip line, canoeing, hiking, arts & crafts, rock climbing wall, organized sports, and much more. 


Will you be leaving the camp at anytime?

No, we will not be leaving camp at anytime during the week.


Will my camper need to bring money to camp?

Please do not send any money to camp with your camper.  We will have a camp store and your camper will be able to earn “Happy Trails dollars” throughout the week to use at the store.


What are the sleeping arrangements?

Campers are separated by age and gender and assigned to cabins.  Each cabin has bunk beds, storage closets and indoor bathrooms and showers.  No more than 10 campers are housed with 2 adult counselors of the same gender. 


What are the meals like at camp?

At Happy Trails we serve nutritious, well-balanced meals that meet the USDA’s meal pattern requirements.  Breakfast is served at 8:00 a.m., lunch at 12:30 p.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m.  Campers also receive an evening snack at 7:30 p.m.


What if my camper has food allergies or special diet needs?

We can change meals for campers who have a medical condition or have requested a special diet due to food intolerance or allergies.  Special diet requests must be noted on the Camper Health History Form that is included in the Happy Trails registration packet.  Food preferences can only be accommodated within reasonable requests. Campers are not allowed to bring food to camp.

What does my camper need to bring to camp?

You will be sent a confirmation packet once your camper’s enrollment is confirmed.  Please see the packing list in the Happy Trails confirmation packet for more information.  If your camper does not have a sleeping bag to bring to camp, sleeping bags will be available only for new campers or for returning campers who have relocated since last summer’s camp.  Please also carefully review the list of items that campers are not allowed to bring to camp.  Happy Trails will not be responsible for any damaged or lost articles.  Luggage is limited to one suitcase or duffel bag and a regular sized backpack per camper.


What is the Camper Behavior Contract?

The contract outlines behavior guidelines that all campers are expected to follow at camp.  You and your camper must review and sign the contract as part of the Happy Trails registration packet.  Inappropriate behavior will result in consequences such as time outs from activities.  Serious behavior violations may result in dismissal from camp and you will be responsible for transporting your camper home from camp.  Any behavior that is harmful to the camper, other campers or staff will result in immediate dismissal.


What happens if my camper gets homesick?

Happy Trails staff members are trained to work with homesick campers to help them be more comfortable at camp and to encourage participation in camp activities.  We will contact you if your camper is unable to complete the week at camp.  You will be responsible for transporting your camper home. 


What happens if my camper needs to leave camp due to a medical or behavioral issue?

If your camper needs to leave camp due to a medical or behavioral issue, you are required to arrange for transportation to pick-up your camper in Angeles Crest.    Depending on the time of day, you may be required to pick-up your camper at camp.  Once you have been contacted by Happy Trails you must pick up your camper within four hours.  If pick-up is not arranged and completed within four hours we will call the hotline at the Department of Children and Family Services to pick-up the camper.


Can my camper call home?

Campers are not allowed to bring cell phones to camp or to make calls home.  Phone calls are only allowed in case of an emergency.  Campers may receive letters at camp.  Letter can be sent via email, fax or mail – additional information will be available in the confirmation packet.


Can I visit camp?

For the safety of all campers there are no visitors allowed at Happy Trails.


What should I do if my camper takes medication?

All medication must be checked in with Happy Trails and should not be packed in your camper’s luggage.  Happy Trails will have a nurse on staff all week that will administer all prescribed medication and provide minor first aid.  All medication must be in the original container with the original label listing your camper’s name and doctor’s instructions (including inhalers).  All medication will be kept by the nurse at camp and will be returned at the end of camp.


What happens if there is an emergency at camp?

The registered nurse on staff at Happy Trails will only provide minor first aid to campers.  If there is a major emergency at camp, such as an illness or injury, you will be notified immediately and your camper will be transported to a local hospital.  Please make sure that the emergency contact numbers and health insurance information listed on the registration forms are accurate.  Happy Trails staff members are also trained to address other emergencies such as a lost camper or natural disaster.


What happens if I pick my camper up late from the camp bus?

For late pick-ups from summer camp, if you are:

·       Ten (10) minutes late: We will contact you via phone.

·       Twenty (20) minutes late and we have been unable to reach you via phone: We will call the emergency contacts listed on your camper’s application and we will also contact your FFA, if applicable.

·       Thirty (30) minutes late or more, and we have been unable to reach you or the emergency contacts: We will call the hotline at the Department of Children and Family Services to pick-up the camper.


Does Happy Trails provide other activities for campers throughout the year?

Yes, Happy Trails is committed to long-term involvement with our campers.  We organize several camper reunion events throughout the year.  These events are an opportunity for campers and staff to see each other again and have fun at activities such as bowling, ice skating and the movies.  Camper reunion events are for Happy Trails campers only and are provided at no cost to you.  You will receive an annual calendar and information about events via mail.


How many times can my camper attend Happy Trails summer camp?

Each camper can only attend camp for one week each summer.  We hope that campers will attend Happy Trails summer camp every year.  The regular summer camp program is available for new campers up to age 12 and for returning campers up to age 15. 


What happens when my camper turns 16?  Can he/she no longer come to Happy Trails?

Campers who are 16 and are already involved with Happy Trails (i.e. have been to camp before) can apply to be Junior Counselors but can no longer attend the regular camp program.  Junior Counselor positions are competitive and require campers to complete applications and interviews.  If selected as Junior Counselors, campers are required to complete training with Happy Trails, work at camp for one week and are paid for their work.  Once campers reach age 18, they are no longer eligible to be Junior Counselors but will be eligible and are encouraged to apply for summer camp staff positions.


What is the LASSO program for older youth?

Happy Trails has started a new program for returning campers ages 14 years and older, known as LASSO (Learning Adulthood Skills and Supporting Ourselves).   The LASSO program aims to help prepare Happy Trails campers ages 14-17 for life after foster care and the responsibilities of adulthood.   Campers will learn life skills, prepare for college and develop job skills – while continuing to have fun with Happy Trails.