for parents

Mail Call:
Everyone loves to get mail! Letters can be sent to your child addressed to:

Camper’s name (Cabin if known)
YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian P.O. Box 4188
Burt Lake, MI 49717

You may even wish to send a letter early for your camper to receive the first full day of camp. Please remember to keep your letters cheerful and supportive! Campers are encouraged to write home during the camp session. Pre-addressed and stamped envelopes with stationary are helpful. Do not worry if you do not receive mail—it means your child is active and happy. Please remember when sending mail that we are in a rural area and mail coming in or going out can take an extra day or two to reach us.

Camp In Touch Online Photo Gallery and One Way E-mail:
We are pleased to offer an online photo gallery and blog for camper parents. You can also choose to purchase e-mails to send to your child and you’ll have an opportunity to invite relatives into this password protected area. Please understand our photographer strives to get all children into the photo gallery, but not all children may end up in photos.  Log-In Information will be available in early June. 

Care Packages:
Campers often look forward to receiving care packages.* Books, crossword puzzles, playing cards and magazines are all suggested items to include in a care package. Camp Al-Gon-Quian does allow campers to have a reasonable amount of snack food, but only if it is stored in an airtight container. Boxes full of treats are an invitation for mice, raccoons, skunks or chipmunks. Their sense of smell is much more sensitive then ours, and packages containing food are easy targets for hungry animals. Airtight containers keep animals and insects out of the food and away from our buildings.  Care packages sent during Sessions 1 and 2 must be free of nuts and traces of nuts. Camp Al-Gon-Quian will not provide storage containers or be responsible for lost or stolen food items or packages destroyed by animals foraging for food. UPS, USPS and FedEx both deliver daily to camp, but packages must be sent to camp’s street address:

Camper’s name (cabin if known)

YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian 9928 M-68

Burt Lake, MI 49717

*Please send healthy snacks and non-food treats whenever possible. Note that care packages can be a source of cabin conflict. Please pack enough for your camper to share with his/her cabinmates, and avoid large or excessive packages that can make other campers feel excluded.

Telephone Calls:
Parents can call the camp office on Burt Lake at any time to discuss their child’s experience, for information or in emergencies at (231)548-5343. Campers are not permitted to use the telephone while at camp except for emergencies. We have found that phone calls take away from the outdoor experience and can intensify feelings of homesickness. Please do not promise your child he or she will speak to you on the phone while at camp. This promise can worsen homesickness and behavioral issues. Any messages that need to be relayed to a camper can be done so through our office staff. All phone calls to camp, except emergencies, should be made during regular office hours, which are between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Sometimes we find it necessary to let the answering machine pick up calls during our busy camp days. Please be sure to leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Cell Phones: We have a NO CELL PHONE POLICY at camp. Aside from the fact that cell phones are expensive and can get lost or stolen and that the physical camp environment is not kind to such items, there is a fundamental problem with campers having cell phones at camp, and that is trust. As children learn to trust other caring adults, they learn, little by little, to solve some of their own challenges. We believe this emerging independence is one of the greatest benefits of camp. Telephone usage by campers is counterproductive to this process. Please be our partner in helping to develop strong, independent young people by not sending your child to camp with a cell phone. This opportunity could be one of the only times in your child’s life when he or she is not connected by cell phone. Leaving phones at home allows campers to focus on being a kid and being 100 percent at camp. Counsel your child that if he or she needs to contact home, he or she should speak with his or her counselor, the head counselor or the director. Parents will be contacted if any problems arise or if your child is experiencing a challenge in his or her adjustment to camp.

Parents are free to tour our camp during check-in days between 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Camp Al-Gon-Quian welcomes visitors, but please arrange this with the camp office prior to visiting. At the same time, keep in mind that visiting campers during their session can disrupt the camp experience. All visitors must register at the camp office. No pets are permitted on camp property without a leash. Drinking of alcoholic beverages or use of any tobacco products on camp property is prohibited. 

What if my camper becomes homesick?
Going away to camp for a week or more can be a challenging experience for a child of any age, and anxiety is perfectly normal. It is the policy of Camp Al-Gon-Quian to try to keep our campers involved in constant activity so as to reduce the feeling of homesickness. Temporary homesickness is a normal reaction, particularly for new campers. Parents can help prevent problems by being positive and excited about camp. Parents can also let their child know that missing home is normal, but it will pass if the camper really tries to get into the fun.Do not panic if you receive a homesick letter from your child. Usually by the time you receive it, your child is having a great time.

With proper handling by the staff, campers and parents, homesickness can be overcome and the camper can make a big stride in maturing. We welcome this opportunity to help youngsters grow in this area and we train our staff to handle homesickness in constructive and loving ways. However, if homesickness is extreme after a brief adjustment period and is interfering with the child’s camp experience, we will call parents to discuss the situation. By working together with you, we are confident that healthy adjustments can be made.

How do you handle lost and found at camp?
Lost and found items are collected and displayed at camp. Our counselors make every effort to ensure that your child will return with everything he or she brought to camp, but your child is ultimately responsible for what he or she brings. Please be sure all clothing and objects brought to camp are plainly marked with your child’s name and counsel your child to keep close track of all items. Although we do our best to help campers keep track of belongings, things do get lost at camp. Do NOT bring any irreplaceable items.

On check out day, be especially thorough, as laundry, medication, sleeping bags or entire suitcases are sometimes left behind. If you discover something is missing upon your return home, please call as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the less likely it will be found. Unclaimed articles are sent to the Ann Arbor YMCA after the close of each session. Articles are held for two weeks following the session, at which time they are donated to a local charity. Camp Al-Gon-Quian is not responsible for anything lost or left behind.

What if my camper needs to do laundry?
Please pack enough clothing for your camper’s time period at camp. Laundry services are provided for campers staying more than two weeks. The camper’s store account will be billed $8.00 per load. Please mark all items of clothing with a laundry marker.

My camper has a birthday at camp.
Many Al-Gon-Quian campers celebrate their birthdays while at camp. On the camper’s birthday, the camper will be recognized at the meal with the AGQ rendition of "Happy Birthday" with and a special cake to share with his or her cabin. Parents are welcome to deliver or have delivered other birthday items to the camp office for distribution by your child’s counselor. Please inform the camp of your child’s birthday prior to the start of the session so we can inform our chef and your child’s counselors!

How do you handle bullying?
The Ann Arbor YMCA and Camp Al-Gon-Quian have no tolerance for bullying. Children who are found to be bullying (including, but not limited to, verbal abuse, physical abuse such as hitting, punching, pinching, spitting, kicking, emotional abuse and destruction of property) will have proper disciplinary actions taken, up to and including being sent home at their parents’ expense. Please tell your camper that if he or she is being bullied or harassed to immediately inform a staff member. Bullying can and will be ended immediately if the staff members are aware of the occurrence.

It is the policy of the Ann Arbor YMCA and Camp Al-Gon-Quian that behavior that would be classified as any kind of harassment or abuse will not be tolerated by staff or campers. Such behavior results in immediate dismissal or termination and, if applicable, contacting of authorities.

What is ACA Accreditation?
The American Camp Association (ACA) is the only independent accrediting organization reviewing camp operations in the country. Its nationally-recognized standards program focuses primarily on the program quality, health and safety aspects of camp’s operation. The ACA-accreditation program has a fifty-year history and is continually evaluated and updated to reflect current best practice in camps. American Camp Association collaborates with experts from The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Red Cross, and other youth service agencies to assure that current practices are current and sound. ACA standards are revised based on research in the public, legal, youth development, and camp arenas.

Camps and ACA form a partnership that promotes summers of growth and fun in an environment committed to safety. For us at Camp Al-Gon-Quian, it is a regular, independent health and safety audit of camp operations. ACA Accreditation is a behind the scenes risk-management process that assures us that we are prepared for the uncertainties so we can concentrate on the campers. For parents, the ACA-accreditation camp sign symbolizes excellence and our accountability and ongoing commitment to the children we serve.