frequently asked questions

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How do I know if spilled milk is the right summer camp for my family?

spilled milk social club is the perfect camp for parents who want traditional summer activities (field trips, arts-n-crafts, water play, etc.) mixed with “specialty” activities and projects (cooking, musical theater, creative/athletic competition!) at an affordable cost, and with flexible hours. We have a little something for everyone, and as long as your kid is up for trying new things, we feel confident that we are a great program that caters to many interests!

While our program is widely appealing, there are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to send your child to smsc:

smsc is NOT “day care”. In addition to the “free time” that kids need on a daily basis, we go on daily field trips AND work on group projects and activities throughout the week. We take great care in planning themes and curriculum that are worthwhile and fun, and executing them requires some amount of focus and self-discipline on the part of our campers. If you are looking for a camp where your child can be free to run around all day without the structure of group projects, small amounts of quiet “carpet time,” and daily outings, smsc might not be the best place for your child to be all summer.

Parents, along with their kids, have an important role! In order to keep the highest quality for our program, we count on parents to do their part- greet and get to know our staff and directors, read signs and schedules, bring what is needed each day, volunteer to help when available, etc. Give yourself 5-10 extra minutes in the morning (ESPECIALLY on your child’s first day of camp) to come in and chat with us. We want to get to know your child AND you!

We know that some children (especially 5- 7 year olds,) have shorter attention spans and less self-discipline than others. Our curriculum for the Pints reflects this knowledge, and so we don’t expect kids who attend camp to be robots, so to speak. If you are concerned about your child’s ability to adapt at camp, please don’t worry! Contact the directors so we can work together to figure out what will work best for your family. If you are unsure how your child will handle being at spilled milk, consider signing him/her up for just 2 or 3 weeks, instead of the entire summer.

What should I do if my child will be absent any day?

If you know your child will be absent, arriving late, or leaving at an odd time, please send us an email by 9a the day of, in order for us to plan accordingly. During the crazy months of summer, we don’t call families who haven’t arrived in time for a field trip or activity. If your child isn’t here by the arrival time on your weekly schedule, we’ll assume he/she is absent. That said, letting us know ahead of time makes our lives easier and happier.

We had a last-minute change to our summer schedule. What’s your cancellation policy?

During the summer, all penalty-free schedule changes must happen by the date of our Summer Meet-n-Greet event. We realize that things come up, but we reserve the right to hold you responsible for full tuition if you cancel after the Meet-n-Greet date. We'll reach out to families on the waiting list (in order of their application time stamp), and we'll give each family 24 hours to respond. Depending on how far in advance you cancel, many waiting list families will have made other plans, so give us as much advance notice as you can!

When is tuition due? What method of payment should I use?

Tuition is due on the 1st of every month. We’ll email you a statement before the 1st, and your bill will include charges for all sessions that fall within that month. Cash or check is our preferred method of payment, but if you need to pay with a credit card, you may do so through our website.

If you cannot pay by the 5th or wish to pay bi-weekly, please let us know so that we can make a plan with your family.

Do you offer partial-week care?

During the summer, we do not offer partial-week care. Because many of our projects take place over the course of an entire week, and because we always anticipate full enrollment, our program is best for campers who plan to attend every day.

What are the hours within which my child MUST arrive and get picked up each day?

DROP OFF: We open at 7:30a each day, but your weekly schedule will tell you by what exact time each day you must arrive, (usually between 9:00 and 9:45a).

PICK UP: Monday through Thursday, you may pick your child up any time between 3:45 and 6p. On Fridays, you MUST pick your child up by 5p.

*IF YOU ARRIVE LATE TO PICK UP YOUR CHILD, BE PREPARED TO PAY THE LATE FEE IN PERSON THAT DAY. The late pick-up fee is $1 per minute. (If you call us on the day of to let us know that you’re running late, we are more inclined to be flexible. That said, please don’t be late. We’ve been here all day.)

What are your child:staff ratios?

Under normal circumstances, we keep the following child:staff ratios:

At our facility- 13:1

Field trips- 12:1 (for Gallons,) and 10:1 (for Pints)

Swimming pools- 8:1

You just said “swimming”. What do I need to know/bring?

On your child’s swim days, kids should arrive with a swimsuit, towel and sandals/water shoes/flip flops, in addition to his/her dry clothes. Feel free to send an extra cover-up or shirt, as all kids are required to wear some sort of clothing over their swimsuits, when traveling to the pool. Kids may bring goggles and/or diving toys, but please leave any water-squirting toys at home.

We take each age group swimming 2-3 times per week, and we understand and expect that many campers (especially the younger campers) cannot swim. All our staff are certified in CPR/First Aid/Basic Water Rescue, and we keep very low child:staff ratios at pools, on top of the city lifeguards who are also present.

For the Pints, we choose pools with an ample shallow section, and we never allow Pints to wander outside of our strict (and shallow) boundaries, whether they’re strong or weak swimmers. Parents are welcome to send life-vests or floaties, but all children should be able to stand with the water at shoulder-level.

For the Gallons, we extend the boundaries to include the “deep end,” but only for campers who have passed a “deep water swimming” test, administered by our staff. Generally, more than half of the Gallons aren’t deep water swimmers, and we keep the strict and shallow boundary for those campers.

What kind of sunscreen and insect repellant do you use?

We use Rocky Mountain Sunscreen for Kids, (spf 50). In the last couple of years, we’ve encountered a small handful of kids who develop mild skin reactions to the sunscreen. If you know your child should use a special sunscreen that you want to provide, please let our staff know on your child’s first day of camp. Unless we get special instructions from you, we insist that our adult counselors apply sunscreen to all children before swimming and other outdoor field trips. Again, let us know if this presents a problem for your family.

We keep DEET-based insect repellant on site, but you are welcome to send a different kind or opt out of insect repellant for your child. Talk to our staff on your child’s first day of camp.

Do you provide any snacks?

Aside from a few special projects/field trips that involve food (read your weekly schedule!) you are required to send all food-- lunch AND snacks-- to last all day for your child. If your child runs out of food, we’ll contact you and do our best to make sure your child has enough to eat. Starting with the second occurrence, we’ll charge you a $5 “insufficient food” fee each time we are forced to supplement your child’s lunch/snack supply.

Besides food, what should I send each day?

Each day, send a water bottle, lunch and snacks, a field trip bracelet (they’ll get this on the first day of camp, and we encourage them to keep it on even at home, so they don’t lose it!) and anything needed for projects or field trips, as detailed on your weekly schedule (posted on our website by June 1st.) At the beginning of every week, ALL parents are asked to bring a donated item, (paper, tape, etc.) noted at the bottom of each weekly schedule. These donated items help us keep the cost of camp down. Please and thank you!

P.S. Be smart. Label anything you expect to return home.

Are you a nut-free facility? What about other allergies?

We are now a nut-free facility! Please do not send ANY nuts, nut products, or items that contain nuts in your child's lunch. Items that are "made in a facility that processes nuts" are ok. SUNBUTTER IS ACCEPTABLE, as it is made from seeds.

Please help us streamline this process of keeping ALL kids safe by communicating honestly with your child about what is in their lunchbox. Sneaking in sunbutter when they believe they're eating peanut butter causes confusion and stress on the part of our staff who are working hard to ensure that we're providing a safe environment for ALL kids.

What is your discipline/guidance policy?

Please read our OPERATIONAL POLICIES to understand our philosophy and general policy towards behavior and discipline. We make efforts to help children solve conflicts through peaceful communication and self-reflection.

In certain situations, (violent behavior, running away/hiding, etc.) or when less problematic behaviors become patterns, we will contact the child’s parent and set up a time to talk and create a behavior plan. If the undesirable behavior persists beyond a parent meeting and behavior plan, we may ask you to withdraw your child, with a reasonable amount of notice, (usually 1-2 weeks,) depending on the situation.

Are all kids required to participate in all projects?

We do not require that every kid participate in all projects. If you know your child might not be interested in the week’s project, please know that while we’ll make every effort to include your child, we won’t force it. Project time occurs over roughly 2 hours each day. During this time, children are expected to either be participating in the day’s project or occupying themself in the room (which is divided into centers: art, games, Lego, dramatic play, etc.)

Can my child bring their own toys? Phone? Electronic devices?

We ask that your child leave all toys, phones and electronic devices at home. We have plenty of toys here, and we believe that most kids have more than enough “plugged in” time outside of camp, so outside of special occasions, no electronic devices are needed. On top of that, we don’t want to be responsible for keeping up with your kiddos’ expensive toys and electronic devices, as we are too busy being responsible for your child.

How do I earn a gold star for “Exceptional Camp Parent”?

We’ve mentioned all of the following more than once, but you have NO IDEA how dreamy our lives would be if every camper’s family always adhered to these expectations, so we’ll tell you again:

Fill out your child’s enrollment form correctly! This means you CANNOT leave anything blank. Our childcare licensing inspections include representatives checking our forms. If you don’t complete your forms, we are in violation. Enough said.

Label EVERYTHING! Your child’s lunchbox, backpack, clothing, water bottle, towel, goggles… EVERYTHING! It’s incredibly hard to keep up with everyone’s stuff. If it’s all labeled, your child is WAY less likely to lose anything.

Don’t be late! Pay attention to your child’s schedule so that you arrive on time each day. Pick up no later than 6p, M-Th. Pick up no later than 5p on Friday!

Read all signs and your child’s schedule! You’ll know when/where to show up, what to bring, and how to prepare. You’ll be happy. We’ll be happy.

When/how are enrollment forms due?

A completed (with NOTHING left blank) enrollment form is due at the Meet-n-Greet. If you cannot make it to the event, you may snail-mail us the original (we can't accept a scanned copy!) or you may contact us about dropping it by in person on another day. We now require new forms for EVERY family at the beginning of each summer.

When is the Meet-n-Greet, and what should we expect?

The Meet-n-Greet is on Saturday, April 28th, from 10a to 2p. Families (parents and children) are invited to come to our facility in order to turn in forms, meet our staff and directors, and look around. You should plan on coming for 15-20 minutes within that time frame. If you cannot make it to the Meet-n-Greet, you MUST bring us enrollment forms (by snail-mail or in person) by the end of May.

Oh no! The week(s) we wanted are full. How do we get on the waiting list?

When you submit a camp application, we'll reach out to you within a week to confirm your enrollment OR to let you know we've added you to the waiting list (which we'll automatically do once the session fills up, in order of when applications are received). Between the opening of camp registration and our Summer Meet-n-Greet, spilled milk directors will reach out to people on the waiting list (in order) as spots open up due to families canceling their enrollment. After the cancelation deadline (the same date as our Meet-n-Greet), we'll reach out to ALL waiting list famliies, to confirm that they wish to remain on the waiting list. When enrolled families reach out, needing to cancel, we'll reach out to waiting list families (in order), and we'll give them 24 hours to respond.

I submitted my registration application on Valentine's Day. When can I expect to receive a response?

We process applications and enroll campers on a first-come, first-served basis (we promise). That said, we have to go through all applications manually, in order to prevent mistakes that have occurred in years past. This is why it might take a few days for us to send you a confirmation email. We apologize for the delay, and we appreciate your patience.

If I register right at noon on Valentine's Day, will I be guaranteed a spot in the camp sessions I want for my child?

Unfortunately, with the growing need for quality summer camps in central Austin (coupled with our very limited capacity) it's possible that some of our sessions might fill up very quickly. In 2018, we received over 180 applications in the first five minutes of registration opening, though not for every session (so please don't be deterrred by this info!) We will always do our best to accommodate as many interested families as we can, and we'll make every effort to get your child into camp at spilled milk.