CLT Bike Camp is now in its 8th season. Over the years, the overwhelming majority of children have enjoyed our camp experience enough to return (sometimes to the point where they’ve participated in camp long enough to make it their first volunteer experience, and their first place of employment). But we’ve also, sometimes, had a child/youth who really did not enjoy their camp experience. Because of that, we wanted to offer some guidelines for parents who are making a decision on which camps are best for their children/youth.
We are a destination riding camp. Every day, we ride to destinations to have a variety of experiences outdoors. We visit splash pads and pools. We do light trail riding under supervision. We play on playgrounds, play soccer, touch football, catch. We play a variety of card games. This is an active day, often in quite warm temperatures. During storms we seek shelter. If it gets overly hot, we have a variety of cool down breaks, including finding spots in town to take a break (like the Imaginon). But the majority of the day is spent outdoors.
We try to be very interactive with children, and encourage games and play during their day at camp. We also understand that a child might want to read a book by themselves for a while, and we try to be inclusive of different types of personalities and styles. But we sometimes find the best kind of magic happens when children are allowed to “be bored.” New games are invented, imagination takes off and children learn new skills of self management.
Many of the children in our camp realize over time that they can do more than they thought they could. Often a child will take their longest ride ever with bike camp. Maybe they’ve only ridden in a small area or at a park. We ride all over the city. Most of our children are excited to learn how far they’ve gone in the week they’ve been in camp. We encourage an “I can” attitude with our campers.
We also encourage freedom within limits. Children have the freedom to have snacks and lunch when they are hungry and drink when they are thirsty (during the summer we do take specific water breaks to make sure our campers stay hydrated). We encourage them to play whatever games they want (within reason), or read if they want, or get wet if they want. Our two big rules of camp are to treat others the way you want to be treated, and to always ride with safety in mind, and consider the safety of both yourself and others.
Our camp community is a respectful, inclusive community. That doesn’t mean it is a perfect community and it doesn’t mean that children (and adults) don’t make mistakes. We encourage respect for our counselors and for one another. If a child can’t be respectful of others, this is not a good or safe environment for them. For instance, if you can’t follow safety directions on a ride, we really don’t trust that we can take you on a group ride safely. We will always model respect towards everyone in our community. That is the expectation we have for our campers as well.
Over the last few years, electronics have become a much larger part of camp than we’ve ever wanted them to be. If your child/youth needs to bring a cell phone, they need to know it’s for emergency use, not to take the place of real interaction with other people or the world around them. If your child has a smart watch, that too, is for emergency use only. Our counselors will contact you if anything happens during the day. We will always contact sooner rather than later, including if your child is having a rough day and they just can’t continue with camp.
It’s also important to have a conversation with your child prior to registering them for camp, to find out if this is what they want to do. Does your child want to ride bikes? That’s an important question to ask them. CLT Bike Camp is about active exploration of the Charlotte community. And while that sounds awesome to us, realistically, it’s not for everyone. And since we want all of our campers to have a positive experience, we recognize the importance of making sure all of our campers want to participate in such an active, lively camp.
Thank you for your time in reading through our guidelines. We hope to ride bikes with you sometime soon!
The Bike Camp Team