RISE Camp Parent & Guardian Guide Book

For easy reference, we’re putting all the policy and procedures up front. 

We’re heavy on values and philosophy, but we also know that once you’ve read that once, you’re either on-board or have moved on. So if you’re referencing this guidebook more than once, it’s for the details. So here they are, first.

Location

686156 Oxford 2, Woodstock, ON N4S 7V9

Contact

Andrew Witchell: andrew@provenance.farm
Eliana Witchell: eliana@provenance.farm

Property

Provenance Farms is located on 46 Environmental-Conservation (EC) zoned acres consisting of almost 20 acres of Grant River Conservation Authority protected wetland and forest, and another 26 acres of rolling pasture and fields, all connected with a network of ponds and streams.

RISE Camp Policy & Procedure

Table of Contents

Registration

Leadership Training Program
Payment
Refunds & Cancellations
Privacy
Morning Sign In and Afternoon Sign Out
Late Pick-ups
Extended Care
Absent?
Risky Business
Illness
Emergency
Parent & Guardian Responsibilities
Participation & Ratios
Environment
    Sun
    Rain
    Lightning
    Wind
    Biosecurity
    Campfires
    Communication
Ticks & Bugs
Facilities
     Co-Working
     Washrooms & Toilets
Food
    Low Sugar Environment
    Nut Free Zone
    Snack Sharing
    Litterless Lunches
    Hand-washing and Drinking Water
Time at RISE
    Things to Bring
    What a day looks like
    What a week looks like
    Activities
    What we won't be doing
    Ponds
    Animals
Philosophy & Values
How we learn - Biophilia
Flow State
Growth Mindset
Eco-Autonomy, not Eco-Anxiety
Connection
Inclusion
1:1 Support
Integration & Accessibility
Fun!
Smiling
Questions?
   

Registration

Four easy steps:

  1. Review the website and this Guide Book
  2. Request the registration package through the form on the RISE Farm Camp page
  3. Once your application is received, and we’ve reviewed it, we’ll reserve your spots for 48 hours and send you an invoice and confirmation email.
  4. Once payment is received, your spot is confirmed!

If we don’t receive payment within 48 hours your reservation will be released to be booked by the next person.

Leadership Training Program

Feb 23, 2024: Stay tuned for more information by mid March 2024. Please email Andrew@provenance.farm if you have any immediate question about the program, or call me directly at 416-668-4350 and we can discuss together.

In the meantime, if you'd like to enrol, please complete the registration and we'll know by their age to save their spot in the Leadership Training Program. 

We'll communicate directly with you with all the details to the program as soon as they're ready.

Payment

Full payment is due upon booking. You will be e-mailed an invoice and a link to pay. We accept most credit cards, paypal, and bank e-transfer. Your registration is confirmed once payment is received.

Refunds & Cancellations

If you need to cancel and can give us 30 days' notice, then we’ll issue a full refund.

If you need to cancel with less than 30 days' notice, then we’ll refund 60% of your fees.

Unfortunately, we're not able to provide for make-up days or single-day refunds if you are unable to attend due to illness or other circumstances. 

Privacy

Please see our privacy policy.

Morning Sign In and Afternoon Sign Out 

Drop offs are from 8:30-9:00 am; and pickups are from 4:00-4:30 p.m.

Let’s make sure pick up and drop offs are smooth! When you register, you'll let us know who is allowed to drop off or pick up your child(ren) on the consent form (parents, guardians, authorized adults). That way we ensure everyone stays safe.  

Each morning our Staff will take attendance; we will also need to check adult ID before allowing children to go home.

 

Oh no! A friend (who is not on our list) needs to pick up your kids for you? We understand. Here’s our protocol: 

  1. We will call you to get verbal consent for your friend to pick up your children. 
  2. If we can’t reach you (parent or guardian), then unfortunately we can’t let your child leave the farm. Your camper(s) will have to stay with us until either you have been reached or an authorized adult is able to pick them up.

Late pick-ups

Late? We get it. We only charge a $500-a-minute late-fee......  kidding, of course.

If you know you’re going to be late please make sure to call us and we’ll work it out. Our priority is to the child’s safety, enjoyment, and care, so we’ll work with you to make sure there’s a plan in place.

Extended care?

Unfortunately we don’t provide any extended care services, yet.. Unless you’re offering and are looking for a job? Then we should talk!

Absent?

Can’t make it today? Please let us know!

Risky Business

It is so hard to let our children learn how to navigate risky tasks, isn’t it?  

But this is an integral part of Farm Camp and more importantly, of child development. Our staff work to intentionally assess and manage risk with the campers, helping them along the way. Our staff will always assess the risk vs benefit of any situation.

Some examples of risky situations your camper(s) may experience while at farm camp:

  • Injuries while being active on the farm (walking on uneven ground, exploring in the forests, getting stuck in the brush, playing sports, etc),
  • Injuries while using tools (even if we have reviewed the safety protocols), such as glue guns. 
  • Injuries while learning how to start and manage fire safely.
  • Injuries from coming in contact with various plants (e.g. poison ivy)
  • Getting bitten by insects and ticks
  • The presence of wild animals in the forests.
  • Interacting with the farm animals
  • Variable weather conditions

Our camp space must be reasonably safe and easily accessible, so whenever possible we will visit and assess site areas before activities take place. During our assessment, we will seek to identify any significant hazards and take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk to an acceptably safe level.

Due to changing weather conditions, possible wildlife and visitors, we may be faced with new challenges, such as fallen branches, high water levels, the presence of wildlife, or even human litter. These risks will need to be assessed and may alter previously arranged activities.

Where checks are not possible prior to the group’s arrival, a site sweep and assessment will be made immediately upon the group’s arrival. We pause our activities to articulate these assessments with students at any point where there is a hazard or risk. Assessing and managing risk is an important skill for children to develop, and it can offer great learning opportunities.

Illness

We are following the COVID-19 Health and Safety Measures set out by the Ministry of Education and Public Health Ontario. As such, we request that all participants (including campers, counsellors, and parents in the co-working space) refrain from coming to the farm for at least 48 hours after their last symptoms have subsided, for the following cases:

  • Temperature (100.4°F or higher)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pink Eye
  • Any contagious illnesses

If any of these symptoms arise in a camper, parent, or counsellor while at the Farm Camp, we request that that person go home to rest and recover. So as parent or guardian, if your child is sick, we will contact you to come and pick them up immediately. 


Any sickness, contagious illness, or communicable disease that presents itself at the farm will be communicated to all parents, so we can all stay safe together.

Emergency

Our counsellors are all educated in our emergency policy & procedures and how to manage an emergency while at the camp. Every counsellor is equipped with fully stocked first-aid kits, and the medical information and emergency contact numbers of all campers present in the program. Mobile phones and walkie-talkies are carried by all staff members for quick & easy communication in the case of an emergency

For injuries bigger than minor bumps, cuts, and scrapes, parents will be notified immediately. Otherwise, for minor injuries the parents will be informed at the end of the camp day. 

Parent & Guardian Responsibilities

We ask all parents and guardians to complete a registration form before their child begins the program. This form shares with us things like relevant medical details for the child, consent for the child to take part in the activities, permissions to administer medicines and/or to admit the child to hospital for emergency treatment. The form also provides emergency contact details and optional permission to take and use photographs and videos of the child for promotional purposes. This information will be kept by the counsellors in case it is needed while the child is present at the camp. We also request that parents and guardians can be prompt with drop-off and pick-up times. Finally there is a liability waiver for the parent or guardian to sign that will be shared upon arrival at the camp.

Parents and guardians are always welcome to stay and work in the co-working space, and we request that everyone who uses this space can be conscious and considerate of the others who are working there.

Participation & Ratios

We love seeing how a mixture of ages opens the campers up to learning and growing from each other, not just from the farm activities. The age range for children attending RISE is 6-12 years. The ratio of participants of the camp to counsellors is in accordance with the recommendations from the Ontario Ministry of Education, of up to 8:1 for school-aged participants.

Environment

Environmental sustainability and protection is not just something we learn in the camp, but something we practise. This means not only protecting the environment, but also protecting ourselves from harmful things in the environment. 

Part of our program is to continually educate the campers in how to enjoy and participate with the natural world in a safe way. This means learning what plants to touch and what plants not to touch, traversing uneven ground, how to interact with animals, and even how to enjoy different weather conditions. We also do our best to share our compassion for the natural world around us, how we can coexist with nature in a non-destructive way, helping things to grow and celebrating the flourishing of this beautiful world around us.

Sun 

The sun is hot and bright here on the farm, especially in July and August. It doesn't take long to catch a little bit of a sunkissed colour on your skin. We don't generally apply sunscreen to our campers instead asking them to come prepared with long sleeves, and a hat.

Rain

It's very simple -  if it's raining, but there's no lightning and no danger from wind, then we're outside. That means those long sleeve shirts and hats and maybe even a long sleeve light raincoat will get used. The most important thing is to stay dry and if we can stay dry we can stay warm. A little bit of rain can be a lot of fun and can even bring out new species of insect and animal behaviour which is definitely worth being outside for!

Lightning

Lightning is dangerous. Just like you're used to if you're at the beach or at the pool when there's lightning around, we will be inside. We have a shelter space dedicated to keeping everybody safe in the event of lightning and stormy weather. Typically though we find that storms pass through pretty quickly, and within less than an hour it's safe to be back outside. Of course we follow all weather broadcasts and alerts.

Wind

Wind can be amazing fun! There's lots to do on windy days, but we're very cognizant of staying away from the forest on these days. This is to avoid being near any trees that might come down in a windstorm, which does happen from time to time. So on windy days, as long as there's no lightning means we're outside enjoying the weather.

Biosecurity

When interacting with our animals basic biosecurity protocols will be in place (dedicated footwear, hand-sanitising). Our staff will provide direction at the time.

Campfires

Occasionally we will have an outdoor bonfire for the campers to enjoy. Part of our program is teaching how to create and manage a small campfire. It's important for us to share with campers fire safety so that everyone can feel safe and in control around fires. Our bonfires are contained safely by rocks or by a fire pit to prevent any spreading. And along with the fire we have buckets of sand or water at the ready in case of any emergency.

Communication

Our counsellors are equipped with two-way walkie-talkies that are powerful enough to communicate across our entire property. So if there's ever an issue or a concern, if someone needs help, or if we need to get a message across, we have direct access to our counsellors with walkie-talkies. And, of course, we do have cell phone signal across our entire property as well which lets us call them on their phone.

Ticks & Bugs

Your children will learn how to have fun outside and still be safe from ticks, but it’s still a fact that ticks are in Ontario. 

Here’s the short version of what we practise and what we’ll teach your child:

  1. We provide rain pants with elastic cuffs. 
  2. We use picaridin-based tick and mosquito repellant. Works great for up to 7 hours without the toxicity profile of DEET.
  3. We check for ticks. 
  4. We identify ticks. Thankfully the black-legged tick (the one that transmits Lyme disease) is not prevalent in our part of South Western Ontario.

Here’s our full protocol if you’re interested:

If you're going to explore outdoors anywhere these days you should have a good understanding of how to avoid being bitten by ticks, how to check for ticks, and how to remove ticks. Thankfully, if you can find and remove a tick within 24 hours of one attaching itself to you, you dramatically curtail your risk of Lyme infection. 

Our campers will be out in the fields and the forest on most days. So here's the full tick protocol:

Rain pants and long sleeves to avoid tick bites:

All kids will wear light coloured pants. We recommend shells to go over shorts so that when we're out in the forest or tall grass, we're protected, but we can remove them easily to stay cool when back near the main house. Shells have elastic pant legs (or we'll pull our socks up over our pant legs). Light colours are best too which makes ticks much easier to spot. Long sleeve, light coloured shirt. Kids should also wear light coloured long sleeve adventure shirts. Not only great to block the sun, they also work to keep ticks at bay.

Repel Ticks

We use a 20% Picaridin based repellant. It's free from DEET and effective as a tick repellant for up to 7 hours. It really holds the mosquitos at bay as well.

https://cps.ca/en/documents/position/preventing-mosquito-and-tick-bites

 

Check for ticks on your body

Tick Checks: At the end of each day we'll all do a quick tick check by having a good look behind the ears, at the hairlines, and any of any exposed skin and crevices. We'll teach parents and kids to do a proper check of armpits, groin, and skin folds.

 

If there's a bite, remove and identify the tick

The proper method for removing a tick is simply by grasping it, with a set of tweezers or a tick removing tool and pulling straight up, away from the skin, until the tick pops off. Our counsellors are trained on how to remove ticks and how to inspect for ticks, and any ticks found will be reported and documented.

Things a Parent or Guardian can do

By following these simple steps, we can very effectively manage risk of disease and can all enjoy nature.

 

Facilities

Co-Working - Work From the Farm!

We welcome parents to come and work in our co-working space. We have four spaces set up to work:

1. Main office space; Herman Miller desks and chairs, whiteboards, lots of daylight and windows facing out onto the farm. Couch and TV.

2. Break out room where you can take phone calls

3. Great room & Lounge; set up with bar height tables & chairs, modern couches and brick wood fireplace. Two large glass doors opens up onto the patio.

4. The Deck and Patio! An amazing space that looks out onto the property shaded by a large Maple, and with ample seating for all to enjoy.

Here are some of the amenities to help you work:

  • High Speed internet access (Starlink)
  • Dedicated co-working fridge.
  • High-end office furniture (Herman Miller)
  • Access to work from our patio
  • Access to a full gym; Olympic weights, power cage, and cardio including a shower.
  • Tea, Coffee, Espresso machine, and water. 
  • Free parking.

Washrooms & Toilets

Washrooms will be open and available in our outdoor porta-potty at all times. We have more than one placed around the farm and forest. We're trying to limit or even eliminate the need to have to come back to the main house.

  • We ask that your children be able to use the washroom independently prior to attending Provenance Farms programs.
  • Parents will be asked to remind children to use the washroom before their day begins. Once in the forest, in the event that a child needs to use the washroom, there will be a porta-potty nearby.
  • The children are also free to find a suitable place to relieve themselves and can ask an educator for help in doing so.
  • Water and hand sanitizer will be carried with the group at all times. Educators follow a Leave No Trace philosophy to limit the impact on the environment.
  • Staff have assigned regular washroom breaks throughout the daily schedule (approximately every hour). Children will be encouraged to use the washroom prior to any excursion to the back acreage and forest.
  • The toilets on site have stools to accommodate all ages.
  • We understand that accidents happen, especially if the child is just learning how to navigate the farm and forest. If a child does have an accident or is not able to make it to the toilet quickly enough, we will use the extra clothes that are sent with the child to school/camp (the parents/guardians will be asked to replenish the extra clothes for the following day that the child attends).

Food

Lunch starts at noon and goes for 30 minutes. There's a refrigerator available if you want to bring anything that needs to be put in the fridge for your children. We follow all the same rules that you would have at school, bring a packed high protein lunch that your child will enjoy eating, along with two high protein snacks - one for the morning and one for the afternoon. High protein meals/snacks will keep your child satiated throughout the day. We welcome (and encourage!) you to enjoy lunch with your child!

Low sugar environment

Eliana (a registered dietitian) works daily with patients to help them improve their health and to reverse chronic disease by firstly exploring sugar intake in the diet (it is everywhere and over-targeted to our children). As a result, our farm has become a low-sugar environment.

We request children only bring water and possibly white milk in their lunches (please no juice or sugar-sweetened beverages). We also request that you reserve any cookies, cake, cupcakes, chips or chocolates at home to enjoy with your family. 

Of course this is only while on the farm so feel free to bring something for the car ride. 

Nut Free Zone

The camp experience (outdoors and the locations where the children congregate) is a nut-free zone due to the prevalence of life-threatening nut allergies. As such, we ask that participants refrain from bringing products that contain nuts. Soy and sunflower seed substitutes for nut butters are welcome. Unfortunately, the kitchen (which only adults would be accessing) cannot be guaranteed to be nut free but is cleaned regularly throughout the day.

Snack-Sharing

In addition, we ask participants not to share snacks, as this practice contributes to the health and safety of the community.

Litterless Lunches

We encourage participants to bring snacks that are litter-free as much as is possible. Some examples of containers to use are beeswax wraps and Bento boxes (brand) lunch containers which have multiple dividers; you could also consider small, easy-to-open containers such as Systema (brand). We seek to empower even our youngest participants to carry their own snacks/water bottles on our adventures, which is possible with small containers.

Hand-washing and Drinking Water

Participants will be asked to wash their hands with soap and water before eating and after using the washroom. All participants will be able to refill their water bottles on-site. All water on-site is potable drinking water, designated as safe by Southwestern Public Health. We conduct water quality tests twice a year.

Time at RISE

Things to Bring

Warm Weather Clothing
  • Short or long-sleeved shirt
  • Durable and breathable pants
  • Sun hat
  • Closed-toed shoes or boots
  • An extra pair of socks in backpack
Rainy Weather Clothing
  • Waterproof shell, of hooded jacket and pants, or coveralls
  • Waterproof boots
  • And extra pair of socks in backpack
Other Items
  • Water bottle
  • Packed lunch

What a day looks like

Learn in the morning, do in the afternoon. This means our campers explore all morning based on the weekly theme, then take what they’ve explored and process it through building a craft and piece of art, and working towards their Thursday project. We give them ample room to express themselves in the afternoon. In between we play - sometimes free play, and sometimes structured sports depending on how the campers feel.

What a week looks like

Monday - Thursday project reveal then typical camp day
Tuesday - Typical camp day
Wednesday - Typical camp day
Thursday - Project show and tell - Parents invited - after camp bon-fire (weather permitting)
Friday - Open day - Campers will agree on where they want to spend their time exploring more deeply based on what they learned that week. Ends with a shirt signing ceremony and picture for all to take home.

Activities

  • Hot Composting (how to make compost in 21 days, not 12 months)
  • Tree planting
  • Starting seedlings from scratch
  • Setting up, taking down, and moving electric fencing. How it all works, how it’s easy to use, and how to work with it safely.
  • Identification of flora and fauna. Log booking via scavenger hunt our trees, plants, bugs, even microscopic organisms that make up the soil and drive the overall health of the farm.
  • The “Who Pooped” game (it’s just what it sounds)
  • Bird-song identification
  • Understanding our migratory birds. (We have many! We’re a migratory resting site for many species)
  • Historical discussion of how long the land has been inhabited, by whom, the changes over time, (our farm was a construction site in the 50s! - which is why we have so many ponds!) and how we’re finally rehabilitating the property
  • Arts and crafts projects based on what we’ve learned
  • Show and tell ( a little bit of public speaking never really hurt anyone)
  • Shelter building
  • Camp-fire building
  • Attracting owl population by setting up nesting sites. 
  • Discovering the contour of the land to understand how water flows underground and how we’ll use that to make sure our fields, orchards, and animals will always have water.
  • Explore the farm equipment SAFELY. At no time will farm equipment be operational without the camp director physically present. 

What we won't be doing

  • Swimming, boating, or any ‘on-water’ activities
  • There’s no on-farm processing of our animals, so while we might discuss the lifecycle of an animal and how they all eventually have their ‘one bad day’, we won’t be demonstrating any or taking part in any live processing demonstrations. (It’s a question we get asked a lot, so we thought it was important to include here)
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Pushing your children out of their risk-adjusted comfort zone.
  • Talking down, making fun, bullying, demeaning, being exclusive. 
  • Driving or using our farm vehicles to access any parts of the farm. All walking.

Ponds

Ponds are amazing places for frogs, snakes, plants, biodiversity and even fish. We will be spending time around ponds, however we are not going in them. We have signage around that says not to enter the ponds, and all our children and counsellors will be instructed in safe behaviour while around the ponds. At no time will kids be allowed on their own anywhere on the property and that certainly includes the ponds.

Animals

At the farm we will enjoy time with the farm animals, including chickens, horses, & the family dogs. Campers will be able to touch, pet, and observe the animals. They’ll learn what their natural behaviour is when in their natural environment.

Philosophy & Values

How we learn - Biophilia

Biophilia describes the human drive to connect with nature and other living things. Nature’s power for humanity can influence our mental health, our hobbies, our travels, and our homes and workplaces.

It’s a very natural instinct in children and we encourage this innate drive in them.

We hope to help them really understand the ‘mechanisms of action’ or ‘why’ something works the way it does, our campers “learn by doing”. This allows them to connect the dots, glean the principles that nature is teaching them, and apply them to other scenarios in life.

We strive to craft opportunities for just enough struggle and effort to build resilience and grit without losing hope - there’s a fine balancing act for each child that needs to be respected and we know when we’ve found it when our campers’ faces light up with joy over having discovered something for themselves.

In order to learn by doing, we’re big on project-based-learning. Each Monday morning, we will introduce campers to a theme-of-the-week based project. The rest of the week is used to scavenge, learn, explore, and gather what’s necessary. Thursday is the big reveal and campers get a chance to show us all about their projects! Parents welcome!

Our camp curriculum and values are based on emergent, experiential, child-lead, and inquiry-based approaches which incorporate Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia practices. Our goal is to provide your child with as many opportunities as possible to play and enjoy outdoor activities while building and exploring their own risk management.

Flow State and Group Flow

You know that feeling when you're working on something you really enjoy, where time disappears and you are entirely immersed in whatever it is you are creating? This is the flow state.

The next best thing is being in flow state as a group! Something magical happens when everyone is together focused on the same thing. We love the expansion that comes from being in the flow state. This is the place abundant with creativity, full of fertile soil ready for planting of the seeds of new ideas. This is the place where we can all learn and grow in such a fun and joyful way that we don't even know we are learning! We do our best to facilitate this flow state for all of the participants of the farm camp, for maximum enjoyment and the amazing expansion of us all.

Growth Mindset

We’ve all heard “That’s too hard! I can’t do that!”. We simply counter by adding the word “yet” to the end of those statements.

Eco-Optimism and Autonomy, not Eco-Anxiety

We don’t have to recoil in horror at the sight of a bug or the thought of getting a bit muddy, but we also don’t have to put the environment so high up on a pedestal as to never be engaged with. Somewhere in the middle lies a sense of being able to engage eye-to-eye with the world around us, and having the confidence to know we will be excellent stewards into the future.

Read more here: Future of Food

High Quality Communication

We love text messages and Twitter DMs as much as the next person, but high quality, synchronous communication is usually best. That means phone and video calls, and face to face interactions are highly valued. We make time and space for open, honest, and respectful conversation.

By all means we’re not asking you to never send us an email or even text message when you’ve got something to discuss! Asynchronous communication is great for structuring questions, and provides context for a live call. But we’re always looking forward to discussing in detail over a call when the subject warrants it.

Inclusion

As far as we’re concerned everyone should know that  they’re valued, safe, and supposed to be here. This extends to all backgrounds, orientations, and beliefs. We’re here to explore and connect together.

1:1 Support

While we don’t have the staff to provide one on one support, we’ll welcome a dedicated support worker to be with your child. Assuming they’re in agreement with our other policies and approach to learning, then a Vulnerable Sector Check would be all we need.

Integration & Accessibility

We’ll be honest here, and you might even think we’re not very well prepared at all, but given the nature of our property, wetlands, forests, changing water levels, and weather, there’s a good chance some of the daily experience won’t be accessible to campers with mobility or similar challenges.

That said, if you think your camper is ready for the experience regardless, then let’s talk it through! We’re very open to figuring out what could work, especially if it could extend to others.

Most importantly we’re always open to understanding how everyone can integrate and engage. If we can make it work, and you’re willing to partner with us, then we want to try.

Fun!

Play, joy, friends, and fun are markers of a successful camp experience. If we’re not having fun, we’re doing something wrong.

Smiling 🙂

Believe it or not, we train our counsellors, and each other, to make eye contact and smile as often as possible. Especially when there might be just a tinge of struggle or frustration in the air. Yes, things can be a bit rough at times, but we can always control how we feel about it and smiling is key to building trust, fruitful bonds, and is just great to see around the farm.

It’s amazing how often our campers will smile back. It’s a reflex, and we encourage it.

Questions?

If you have any questions we'd love to share more with you. We're always open for questions, suggestions & feedback so we can make this camp the best it can be. Feel free to contact us with inquiries and we can set up a call as soon as we can.