Scenic view of trees at camp

Your In-Depth Guide to Dominating Drop Off at Overnight Youth Camp

by Pine Cove

smiling kid giving high five to staff

Everything in One Place

You can find all your pre-camp information in one handy-dandy place right here!

Updates for All Youth Camps – Summer 2024

  • We are encouraging everyone only send the amount of prescription medication needed for their session. So if your camper needs a daily prescription med and is there for a week, send six pills, not thirty! More details in our guide to meds.
  • Swim checks will be later in the day after drop-off at all properties. Elementary aged campers should wear a swimsuit to drop off to make the swim check process smoother, but middle-school and older campers don’t need to wear a swimsuit unless they want to.
  • The Towers has moved to drop-off times by gender. Girls drop-off begins at 2:30 pm; boys at 3:00 pm. If you have a girl and a boy, bring them both into camp with you and you’ll check the girl in first.
  • Free bottles of water in the camp store! Stop by and get hydrated!

Dropping off your camper (what we call “opening day”) at overnight youth camp can be a little overwhelming, especially for first-time parents. There’s the mixed emotions about dropping off your camper, plus all the work of getting packed and loaded up, and then that sneaking feeling like you forgot to do something important. We’ve got your back! This in-depth guide to opening day covers everything you need to know to have a smooth and enjoyable drop-off experience.

Check the map

Triple check that you are heading to the right camp and pull up the map on our handy dandy coming to camp page for your camp session. It sounds crazy, but we’ve had campers drive to the wrong camp on opening day, and some of our camps are a couple hundred miles apart!

Fill out your forms

You probably were on the ball and already did this, since forms are due a week before opening day. We want to take the best possible care of our campers and to do that we need to know some important information about them. Forms are available a month before opening day. If you did not complete them beforehand, you will have to stand in line and take care of these when you arrive before you can do anything else, and who wants to do that when there’s so much other fun stuff to do?!

We’ve upgraded our medical information system this year to better provide care, but it will mean you need to input information in again that you’ve entered before in the past. So sorry for the extra work! It’s worth it!

If anything medical changed for your campers between the time you first filled out your form and the time you leave for camp (maybe they started a new medication or you discovered a new allergy) please update your medical form before arrival.

Load up the car

Our in-depth guide to packing covers everything you need to know to get the trunk packed and ready, but there are a few things we recommend keeping separate. Here’s how we suggest putting everything in your vehicle:

Lots of families enjoy decorating the car windows with paint as a fun family activity before leaving. Then you can wave when you see each other on the highway traveling to camp!

Pull up to camp

Check our drop off and pick up page to figure out when we open the gates at your camp. You do not need to be at camp right when we open the gates, but you should know that a lot of returning campers get there early to be in line ready to go when the gates open. Bunks are first come, first served, so if getting a specific bunk is important to your camper you may want to arrive early.

If you have campers at more than one camp check the drop off times for each camp. They are not all the same. We recommend starting drop-off with your youngest camper, then heading to the next camp up in grade. You’ll have plenty of time to get more than one camper dropped off.

Once those gates open, it’s welcome time! Our staff are literally jumping for joy! We like to say we’re having an early celebration of what God is going to do in the hearts of campers during the week.

A big tradition for many campers is to celebrate their arrival in some way, usually with things like car paint and confetti. We love that seriously fun energy! We just ask that you please leave any non-biodegradable silly string or confetti cannons at home. At the end of the day, all that confetti and silly string gets left behind on our grounds, and it takes our amazing team of summer staffers a long time to clean up. Instead, we suggest you celebrate with small water blasters, automatic bubble blowers, colored powder poppers, or anything else celebratory! Thank you so much for helping us keep camp clean and beautiful.

Time to move ahead to drop off your luggage. No parents carrying around luggage at Pine Cove! We’ll grab your trunk out of your…well…trunk and send it on its way to its cabin.

Once you park, bring your bedding and anything else your camper needs you kept in the main area of your vehicle with you. There will be a staffer right there to direct you where to go next.

Drop off meds

We put together a guide with all medication guidelines. There is a station set up for dropping off medicines. Need to talk with the camp nurse about some medical specifics? They’ll be right there at the medicine table. Here’s the three biggest “gotchas” for parents when it comes to meds:

  1. Forgetting to put meds on their camper’s medical form. Any med (including an OTC allergy pill) that you are checking into the nurse must be on the camper’s medical form.
  2. Taking meds out of their original packaging. We cannot take medication unless it is in the original container (it’s a legal thing) with proper dosing instructions.
  3. Bringing way more meds than needed. If you have a pill bottle with thirty pills and you only need six for the week, leave the twenty-four unnecessary pills at home and just turn in six in the original container. We legally can’t mail medication, so if you forget to pick up their med you’re not out a bunch of meds.

Walk to Your Cabin

When you arrive you’ll be given your cabin assignment; now it’s time to walk to your cabin! Your counselor or co-counselor will be there at the door to greet you. Most families will take some time here to help their camper put their bedding on their bed, put their toiletries in the bathroom and help them feel settled, but this depends on the age of the camper and their personality, so it’s up to you how much you want to do.

Stop By the Camp Store

Want to get a glimpse of all the cool stuff your camper will be able to browse during their afternoon free time? Make sure you swing by and visit the camp store! Not only is it air conditioned (can we get an amen?), but we’ll also be handing out FREE bottles of water! See something you’d like to purchase while you’re there? Our friendly staff would love to help you out! You can either check out by using the funds in your camper’s account, or with a credit card or Apple Pay. More questions about the camp store and camper accounts? Read our guide.


You know your camper best, so you can decide the best time in the afternoon to say your goodbyes, but there’s no need to linger. If you’d like to visit the camp store, this is a great time. Or if you’d like to meet the camp director, they will be one of the staff in a Pine Cove polo.

Swim check

Later in the day everyone goes through the basic swim check every year. Safety first! The swim check is 30 seconds of treading water then swimming across the pool. Campers don’t have to do any specific strokes to get across the pool. If it helps, feel free to practice swimming across a pool and treading water on your own before you arrive – it’s a great excuse to get in the pool!

Send a Little Love

​​Want to send your camper a custom package full of Pine Cove merch that YOU pick out for them? Try a Bunk Box! These seriously fun boxes are the perfect way to select the stickers, hats, and shirts you know your camper will love and have them delivered straight to their cabin while they’re at camp! Deliveries are available Monday through Thursday.

Order here for Towers, Ranch, Timbers, and Shores
Order here for Silverado, Outback, and Ridge
Order here for Springs

On the way home

We want you to stay connected to the camp experience from home, and there are three great ways to do that.

First, download our CampLife App. Later in the day you’ll be getting a counselor bio with some information about your camper’s counselor. The next morning you’ll see your first photo gallery!

Second, follow your camp on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (or all three!). There will be fresh pics and Instagram stories daily showing all the fun.

Third, check out our podcast! We took the life and fun of camp and put it into your headphones (or maybe car stereo). With insightful interviews, outrageous camp games, and unexpected surprises, you’ll get to experience a little bit of the same camp fun as your camper.

Have more questions? Contact us and we’d be glad to help. Can’t wait to see you!

Posted Mar 1, 2022

Pine Cove

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