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Camper - Parent Guide
for Summer 2021

Penikese Science + Nature Camp

Download 2021 Camper Parent Guide

Camp Announcements

Click here for Penikese Science + Nature Summer Camp Announcements.

2021 Camper Parent Guide

Please scroll through the below topics for 2021 Camper Parent Guide and download a printable copy for your convenience.

Arrival & Check-In

We can’t wait to meet everyone!

Special preparations for Arrival Day at camp are described at our website in the Announcements section. These include three brief but essential tasks for parents to take care of in advance. Please click here to access this important Arrival information.

Where? On opening day, parents should bring campers to the Penikese Island School Shore Office location at 565 Woods Hole Road in Woods Hole.

What time? You will sign-up for a specific check-in time after clicking the link above. We will have designated parking spaces available for the time slot you sign-up to arrive.

Coming by ferry or on foot? Our Shore Office building is a short walk (uphill) from the Steamship Terminal in Woods Hole. We can send a vehicle to assist with camper baggage if needed...just text us at 833-548-7276

Departure & Check-Out

Please plan to pick up your camper at the 565 Woods Hole Road location between 4:30pm and 5:00pm on closing day. There will be no formal sign-up for check-out. Weather and other variables may affect our return to the mainland. We appreciate your patience, especially on a Friday afternoon on the Cape!

Getting to Penikese Island

The trip from Woods Hole to Penikese Island takes about one hour. Campers are transported aboard Richard S. Edwards, a 36’ US Coast Guard inspected vessel, operated by a licensed captain. She is a safe and comfortable vessel for up to 24 passengers.

All campers will always wear lifejackets onboard the boat. We will have Dramanime tablets available at check-in; parents may want to consider this if your child is prone to motion sickness (not a fun way to start camp!)


For many reasons, we urge campers to be vaccinated if possible.

Our detailed COVID-19 protocols are posted in the Announcements section of our website. There are different pre-camp steps for vaccinated and unvaccinated campers. Please read our COVID-19 posting thoroughly and let us know if you have questions or concerns.

Medications Check-in

If your child is bringing prescription or Over-the-Counter medications to camp, please prepare the meds to be logged-in upon arrival:

  • RX medications should be in original pharmacy container with label attached showing name of patient, name of medication, dosage instructions, prescribing doctor’s name and phone number. Please also provide a note with the quantity of medication in the container, and any pharmacy medication info sheet. Place all medication containers in a single ziplock bag labeled with your child’s name.

  • OTC meds should arrive in original manufacturer’s container clearly showing the name and instructions. Please place all OTC containers togethjer in a single ziplock bag labeled with your child’s name.

Woods Hole Science Tour

Camp will start with an “insider” walking tour of the world famous scientific institutions in Woods Hole Village. We’ll meet scientists, & visit their laboratories and eat a picnic lunch with Rachel Carson!

Tour itinerary & details are available at Announcements section of the Penikese camp website.

Please be sure to submit your camper’s lunch menu selection when signing up for a check-in time!

Our Island Home

The “Saltbox,” our main living quarters, is modeled on a 19th century New England farm house and was built, in large part, using salvaged beams found on and around Penikese Island.

The house uses solar panels for nominal electrical needs and wood for heating and cooking. It has hot and cold running water, indoor & outdoor showers, and a clean composting Clivus Multrum (CM) toilet facility. It can be used in any season of the year. The upstairs dorm space has twin beds arranged in a cozy, inviting set-up. We can comfortably accommodate 19 residents at any time of year .

A short distance away from the Saltbox is a one-room building which serves as our Infirmary.

We additionally have a spacious workshop/studio building, a large productive garden, a ball court, and acres beaches and of rolling grassy terrain to explore.

Suggested Packing List

Penikese Island is a very rustic place so campers should bring clothes that are not precious. Shoes can take a beating, white shirts, shoes, or shorts get grey quickly, and the big black cast iron stove can leave marks on shirts of aspiring chefs. Also flip flops are great for around the house but NOT on the paths!

Items to Bring for 5 days, 4 nights:

  • Sleeping bag or twin sheets (we have clean extra blankets)

  • Pillow & pillowcase

  • Underwear (x5)

  • Shorts (x2)

  • T-shirts (x4)

    (everyone also receives a Penikese T-shirt at camp)

  • Long sleeved shirt (x2)

  • Comfortable walking shoes

  • Socks

  • Water shoes

  • Sweater/fleece/jacket (something warm for cool night-time weather)

  • Rain jacket

  • Pajamas

  • Swimsuit (x2)

  • Pants or sweatpants (x2)

  • Sun Hat or cap

  • Sunglasses

  • Sunscreen

  • Water bottle

  • Beach towel

  • Washcloth

  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap)

  • Feminine products, if needed

  • Plastic bag for dirty/wet clothes

Items NOT to Bring:

  • No phones or electronic devices

  • No jewelry or anything precious


Island-made meals (and one take-out picnic) eaten together three times a day are at the heart of the camp program. Starting with lunch the first day (Monday) and ending with lunch on closing day (Friday), we provide plenty of healthy, kid-friendly food in a cozy family-style setting, with two snack breaks each day on the island.

We can easily accommodate most special diets, including vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and most food-related allergies; please enter special food needs on your camper’s Medical History Form, and contact us in advance if your child requires any particularly unique accommodations.

An example of a typical day’s menu consists of: pancakes, cereal and fruit for breakfast; build your own wrap (turkey, ham, cheese, vegetables, tofu, and/or Wowbutter & jelly), carrots & celery, trail mix, and cookies for lunch; and pasta with a choice of vegetarian or meat sauce, salad, and bread for dinner.

No soda. We serve water, reduced fat milk, lactaid, and of course, BUG JUICE.

Standards of Conduct

We ask parents and campers together to please review our behavior expectations before arrival at camp.

At Penikese, we embrace positive attitude. Campers and staff alike are expected to treat each other with respect and dignity at all times and to help each other achieve the best possible camp experience. Everyone is responsible for working together as a team while on the island.

Our guiding values at camp are:

  1. Honesty: Being honest and trustworthy is at the core of all relationships and interactions at camp.

  2. Helping: Look for ways to lend a hand or provide support; show initiative; volunteer. Be a giver.

  3. Respect: Show respect for oneself and each other, for camp facilities, for animals and the environment.

  4. Thoughtfulness: Think ahead. Consider and anticipate possibilities and outcomes. Be pro-active.

  5. Responsibility: Set & follow good examples, be accountable. Demonstrate independence.

  6. Kindness: Show caring and compassion to others at camp. Be inclusive & forgiving.

  7. Cooperation: Work together, share, and embrace teamwork. Show enthusiasm.

Should a camper’s behavior severly infringe on others, or our core values, we will redirect the camper to more appropriate behavior. Inappropriate behavior may result in a camper’s dismissal from camp.


For Campers:

NO ELECTRONICS: No phones, no tablets, no smart watches, etc. Leave them safely at home. We have high quality cameras with video capabilities for campers to learn about and use.

For Parents/Guardians:

  • Our Policy: No visits or phone calls. Your child has just 5 days to settle in & enjoy camp life. If you have concerns or need to talk during camp, please contact us.

  • Please DO NOT pack food to send with your camper, we will have plenty! Food at camp invites pests to your camper’s bunk.

Homesickness: Camp can be a huge growth experience for campers. While they may experience some discomfort being away from their home turf at first, we will be right there to support and nourish them through it. There will be no calls home—consider no news to be good news!

For some parents, YOU may feel more pangs than your child does after they head off to Penikese. Giving your camper the tremendous gift to spread their wings can be an even a bigger step for parents. Trust that your child is being extremely well taken care of and cared for. Know that we are very well trained in what we are doing. Have faith that they are happy & having a’s CAMP!

Safety & Wellness

At Penikese, we are safety experts. We have safely housed hundreds of youth and have ferried thousands of visitors to Penikese Island over our 48 year history. The Massachusetts Department of Early & Secondary Education (DESE) even commended us on our health, safety and emergency protocols.

We are remote and we are prepared. Our staff is certified in First Aid, CPR, and AED. We have two Health Care Supervisors (HCS) on island at all times, both of whom are certified Wilderness First Responders. The island and boat are equipped with extensive first aid and safety equipment; our staff has been trained how and when to use it. We have run trainings with Boston Medflight for helicopter evacuation and with the US Coast Guard (Base Woods Hole & Base Menemsha). We have practiced and proven protocols for medical, fire and severe weather emergencies.

House Doctor: Dr. Alan Steinbach, an experienced local Family Practicioner is our Consulting Physician. He is on call 24/7. We additionally have an highly experienced Licensed Mental Health Counselor on call to assist us if needed.

Daily Care: We conduct personal health screenings for every person every day, so we always know how everyone at camp is feeling. HSCs & counselors are aware of camper allergies and are trained to recognize and handle an allergic crisis. Medications are dispensed at meals. All Health Center visits at camp— even for a blistered toe from new sneakers—are logged in detail. If a camper is just not feeling themselves, they may rest in their bunk or the infirmary at anytime, with an HCS attending.

Urgent Care: In case of serious camper illness or injury, should a child need to be transported off island, the parent/guardian will be contacted immediately by the Camp Director and will be put in direct contact with the HSC, Dr. Steinbach, and at an appropriate time, with the camper. Our boat will bring the patient to the nearest suitable port, according to medical need. Parents are responsible for all medical charges that may be incurred.


CampBrain Parent Portal: Registered families can log in to their secure CampBrain hub account at anytime to access, complete or update enrollment forms, view payment and billing detials, edit contact/emergency or camper medical information:

Announcements & Updates: We share news and announcements via direct email to parents, often linking to further information in the Announcements section of our website. 

Photography and Videography

We will snap photos and videos during each Science + Nature Camp session. Please understand we do not have paparazzi on staff. Photographing camp activities is a second priority to running them well. Media will be shared with families online a couple of times during each session—we will do our best to post multiple photos of everyone. Please don’t panic if you don’t spot your child in a group shot, or if there is not a clear face shot of your camper, or if your child does not happen to be smiling in a particular photo!

Campers will also be taking their own photos at camp, learning photography basics using high quality digital cameras. The camper’s images will all be put in an album that they can share with families after camp.


Questions about camp? Concerns?

Families are welcome to contact the Camp Director at any time. During camp, the Director is generally based on shore and stays contact with the island on a daily basis. The Director is always willing to answer questions or investigate concerns for parents. Please call, text or email and we will respond promptly.

Penikese Science + Nature Camp Director

Phone or Text: 833-548-7276
Shore Office Address:

    Penikese Discovery

    565 Woods Hole Road

    P.O. Box 161
    Woods Hole, MA 02543

"Penikese Science + Nature camp must comply with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and be licensed by the local board of health."


Nicolette Sowder

“While our society is busy wondering & theorizing about what children need most, Mother Nature simply holds a space for the child to discover that for themselves.”

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