Camper FAQs

You’ve come to the right place for information about camp! You might not find all your camp questions answered below, but this is a very good place to start. If you’re interested in finding out more about our Family Camps, click the link below and you’ll jump to the relevant answers at the bottom of this page.

2021 Camp Update

We are disappointed to share the news that we have made the incredibly difficult decision not to offer onsite camp this spring and summer due to COVID-19. (For more information, please read this blog post with our official announcement.) While camp sessions will not be held in person, our team has created meaningful alternate programming to provide positive experiences for our campers and to help us stay connected during the pandemic.

Family Camp FAQs

Summer Camp FAQs

What Campers Want to Know About Summer Camp

What is a typical day at Camp?
While the schedule is similar every day, there is no typical day of camp. Mooseness just doesn’t work that way. After waking up, breakfast is served in the dining hall, don’t worry parents, we make sure they wash your hands and brush their teeth. After breakfast, you and your cabin will go to different activity areas throughout camp. Back to the dining hall for lunch and then rest hour to recharge for more activities in the afternoon. Dinner is your third meal of the day with a variety of evening programs like cabin nights, unit nights, outpost, the Carnivartyartyance, and the closing campfire. Lights out is dependent on how old you are but early enough to get at least eight hours of sleep each night.

Who will take care of me?
Each cabin has a group of caring cabin and activity leaders who live in the cabin with you. First and foremost, they are there to make sure you have a safe experience. They are also there to be great role models and help you grow. In between the fun, growth and developments are important parts of the camp experience. We want to foster adventure and exploration, help you try new things and of course, build friendships. The cool thing is that it’s not just the campers who grow and develop. Pretty much everyone that comes to camp discovers things about themselves they never knew. While your cabin leaders are responsible for your day to day well-being, there are also nurses and doctors on site to make sure you get all the medical care you need.

What are the camp “rules?”
The rules of camp are pretty simple. So simple in fact you carry a reminder with you every day. Hold up your hand…four fingers and a thumb. Safety first. That’s your index finger and the number one thing we do at camp. Respect for people and our environment. That’s number two on our list and represented by that really long finger. Act out of Love. Your ring finger represents commitment and love. At camp, if we act out of love, even when we make mistakes, we were trying to do our best for ourselves and others. Your pinky finger reminds us to practice challenge by choice. That means that we won’t tell you how to participate, we expect that you choose that for yourself. Not participating however, is not an option. The last one is your thumb and as the most prominent of those digits (official terminology for fingers and toes) and possibly the most famous, give yourself a thumbs up. That’s for fun. Not that we really need to remember to have fun, camp does that pretty much all by itself. So there you go, the five “rules” we have at camp. It may seem like we have lots of other rules, but if you break them down, they fit into these five. The great thing is, these rules work for life as well. See, there’s that whole growth and development thing.

What will I eat at Camp?
There are three full meals served every day. Sometimes it seems all we do is eat. Meals are served family style, which means that you sit together with your cabin and choose what and how much you want to eat. There are always options including a salad bar. We do our best to serve healthy, balanced, kid friendly food as well as offer choices for vegetarians or those with food allergies, dietary or religious restrictions. We work hard to be allergy aware and peanut prejudiced. What does that mean? It means that while we try really hard to serve food that won’t cause a reaction in our campers or staff, the wide variety of foods we serve sometimes are manufactured in places that use peanut products. We promise that there will always be something tasty to keep you fueled for the day’s activities. Snacks are available just about any time.

Where will I sleep?
You will share a cabin with campers your own age and gender. You will sleep in a big room with approximately 9 others plus your cabin leaders. Each cabin has its own bathrooms and showers and sits in a group or a unit (we call it a constellation) with three others. Constellations are also grouped by age and designed in a way to encourage interaction among each cabin group. Every evening as you find your way back to your cabin, the sound and smell of a glowing campfire will await your arrival.

What’s there to do?
Talk to any former camper and you’ll find this question triggers a look of disbelief. What’s there not to do? That’s the reply you’ll likely get back. But here’s a brief orientation: Most of the time you will venture out to activities with your cabin. Part of the joy of camp is that every day (every hour, every second) is different. Sometimes you will also do things as a constellation (that is, with cabins in your unit) and other times you’ll join the entire camp. Our activities include: adventure, arts and crafts, archery, boating and fishing, cooking, sports and games, story studio and swimming among others.

Will there be kids like me at camp?
There is a mix of kids who come to camp. Everyone has or has had a serious health challenge that prevented them from attending a typical camp that cannot support their medical needs. Each session welcomes campers with the same or similar conditions although some may be totally different than you. Some kids may look totally healthy, others may have a disability. Some need medications every day, others do not. Either way, no matter who comes to camp, they generally leave wishing they could stay. A guy named Paul once said, “No matter if you are coming to or leaving from camp, you are always going home.” Yeah, he’s right.

Where do campers come from?
Most of our campers come from throughout the Great Lakes region but may come from just about anywhere… except Mars. So far, we have not received any applications from Martians.

What Parents Want to Know About Summer Camp

Who can attend camp?
North Star Reach offers a cost-free, medically-supervised, residential camp experience for child who have experienced serious health challenges. Currently we serve children with organ transplants, congenital heart conditions, epilepsy and sickle cell disease and blood-related disorders. Additional groups will be added by our medical advisory committee.

What does it cost for a child to go to camp?
There is no cost to attend North Star Reach. That’s right: Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing.  Lodging and all meals are provided. While it does cost money to make camp happen, it is always cost-free for our campers and families.

Will my child be safe at camp?
We do all we can to provide a safe environment for the children at camp. All staff and volunteers are carefully screened including reference and background checks. Our medical providers are fully licensed and have extensive pediatric experience. Our leaders and cabin life staff go through staff development and training before the campers arrive and are given lots of support and supervision. All program areas are reviewed for safety on a regular schedule. All staff members maintain certifications as required for specific program areas.

Who will take care of my child?
The leadership staff undergo a strict interview and screening process including reference and background checks. Leaders are chosen from many applicants for their experience, enthusiasm and empathy. The entire staff receives intensive training in areas including: safety, medical issues of our campers, child development, behavioral techniques and cultural awareness.

During family camp, parents will be responsible for routine medical care, procedures and medications for their children at camp. Our Health Center, also known as “The Observatory,” is staffed 24 hours a day and will be able to provide First Aid and referrals to outside providers as needed.

What immunization records do you require for my child to attend camp? 
At North Star Reach, safety is our highest concern. We strive in every way to create the safest environment possible for children with medically complex conditions. As such, we uphold the Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. The CDC sets the U.S. childhood immunization schedule based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). You can view that immunization schedule here. Your health care provider will be familiar with the recommended immunizations as well as any potential medical contraindications to those vaccines. When you log into our online application system (UltraCamp website), the form will have all the details of what dates are needed. All summer campers must be fully immunized unless there is a physician documented medical reason not to do so.

Do I need to bring my child’s medical supplies?
Yes! Please bring all medications and supplies to camp with your child. This includes: all medications (prescription and over the counter, oral, IV, IM), supplies for central line care (heparin, saline, syringes, caps, access needles, EMLA, etc.), and all other supplies (IV or pump tubing, pumps and supplies, wheelchair, oxygen, crutches, etc.).

What happens if my child gets sick at Camp?
If your child gets sick or injured at camp, the physicians and nurses in The Observatory will evaluate your child and provide basic First Aid and OTC (over the counter) medications if needed. The medical team will work with parents to facilitate care with outsider providers for more serious illnesses or injuries.

What is the staff to camper ratio?
At camp, we have a ratio of one staff member to two campers. There may be times when that ratio is higher or lower depending on the needs of the campers or group.

Where do the children stay?
Campers live in cabins with other children their own age and gender. Each cabin typically has eight to ten campers plus cabin leaders. The cabins are equipped with accessible bathrooms and showers. They are also climate controlled environments, providing air conditioning and heat when needed.

What does my child need to bring to camp?
You will receive a complete packing list upon your camper’s acceptance into a session. Camp is an active and rustic environment so attire is usually comfortable, casual and durable. Camp bunks are twin xl sized (longer than typical twins) and will have a fitted sheet so that you can pack a sleeping bag or flat sheets and blankets along with a pillow. 

Can I visit or talk to my child while he/she is at camp?
In our experience, we have found that talking to home often causes or increases homesickness and anxiety in campers. Our policy is that children are unable to call home during their time at camp. If you would like to check in to see how your child is doing, you can always call to get an update. But remember, no news is good news. Really! We will encourage your camper to send you a letter or post card during the week so that you know they haven’t forgotten how awesome you are. We also do not have parents visit during camp sessions.

How do I contact my child?
Campers love to hear how much you miss them and that you hope they are having a great experience!

Guaranteed day delivery:

At check-in we will have a mailbox for each day listed where you can drop off mail for your camper. We will sort through and pass out the mail on the designated day you have chosen. On the envelope/package please list the camper’s full name, birthdate and day you would like this letter to be delivered.

Guaranteed delivery:

E-mail. You may send an e-mail to your camper at Please make the subject of your e-mail your camper’s full name, birthdate and cabin number. We will print the e-mail out and hand to your camper. Your camper will not have access to a computer to respond. Your camper can respond via snail mail.

Uncertain date delivery:

Classic mail. You can send mail or packages to North Star Reach in care of your camper at 1200 University Camp Drive, Pinckney, MI 48169. Make sure you think ahead and send your mail before your camper leaves home as it may not get to them while they are still at camp, if you send it after they arrive.

Mail/Packages should be addressed to:
(Your child’s first and last name)
North Star Reach
1200 University Camp Drive
Pinckney, MI 48169

Please note that campers are able to respond by mailing cards and letters home, but we do not provide internet access to our campers during our camp sessions.

Family Camp FAQs

How much does it cost for my family to attend Family Camp?

There is no cost to attend our Family Camp sessions. That’s right: Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing.  Lodging and all meals are provided. While it does cost money to make camp happen, it is always cost-free for our campers and families.

How many people can I bring?  

Family Camp is open to children with serious health challenges, their siblings and parents/guardians. While we can appreciate that you might also want to bring your entire extended family, our Family Camp is for immediate family members only.  We want to maximize the families we serve.

Are infants welcome to come with us?

Absolutely!  During most of your stay with us, you will be responsible for the supervision of your children. However, there are times when families may split up to attend independent activities and parents are relieved of supervising their children. During those times, our volunteers provide play time support and supervision for infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children. At these designated times, we are happy to provide care for your little ones—it’s an option that’s available to you.

What about teens?

Just like the little ones, those under 19 years old are considered minors and must be accompanied by either volunteers or parents/guardians. We do our best to provide age appropriate programming and experiences for all of our program participants.

What should my family bring to camp?

You will receive a complete packing list upon your family’s acceptance into a session. Camp is an active and rustic environment so attire is usually comfortable, casual and durable. Camp bunks are twin XL sized (longer than typical twins) and will have a fitted sheet so that you can pack a sleeping bag or flat sheets and blankets along with a pillow.

Are you going to make us sleep in a tent?

Wouldn’t that be great! But we think you’ll be much more comfortable in our awesome intentionally designed cabins, built to welcome between two and four families (depending on family size).  What does that mean exactly?  Our cabins have a common sleeping space with two independent restroom areas, each with two showers, stalls and sinks.  They can sleep up to a total of sixteen people per cabin.

What immunization records do you require for our family to attend camp? 

For our family camp sessions, campers remain under the care of their parents or other legal guardian. For the weekend family sessions, we require all participants to be immunized at a minimum to chicken pox (varicella), measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), and tetanus and pertussis (Tdap). Exceptions will be considered when there is a physician documented medical reason not to immunize.

Do I need to bring my child’s medical supplies?

Yes.  Parents will be responsible for their child’s medications as well as treatments, supplies, etc.  The Health Center will be minimally staffed with nurses on site for First Aid and for referrals, if additional medical assistance is needed.

What sort of activities will my family do at camp?

We call it Family Camp because the weekend experience is all about your family.  We will provide family-centric programming, giving you the opportunity to do things together . . . yes together as a family. Many activities are similar to the traditional camp programs we offer during the summer while others are unique to Family Camp.

Can I come on Saturday only or only a portion of the weekend?

Unfortunately, no.  Family Camp is an all-in kind of program.  We ask that your family commit to arriving Friday evening, parking the car for about 40 hours and enjoying the beautiful camp and surroundings.

Where is Family Camp located?

North Star Reach is located near Pinckney, about 30 minutes NW of Ann Arbor.

What is camp food like?

Good.  Really good. Like I want seconds and thirds kind of good.