Department of Parks and Recreation

Parent Handbook


Parent Handbook

Get Ready for Arlington's Summer Camps!
Have fun, enjoy new challenges and be safe! That's what's happening in Arlington this summer. Arlington County programs offer lots of choices, safe and inviting environments, and the chance for children to develop strong bonds with their community. Arlington's quality programs encourage youth to get involved, develop their sense of self and community, show positive sportsmanship, be creative and learn from those who have different life experiences than they do. We call it "asset building." Summer is the perfect time to bring people together by nurturing a healthy development that helps young people grow up confident, caring and responsible.

Please review our Parent Handbook to be sure your child is prepared for an Arlington County Summer Camp.

Summertime spells fun for families and kids of all ages. The hot, lazy days of summer bring activities such as summer camps, family vacations and outings, neighborhood gatherings, and cookouts. Keep the good times rolling all summer long by reviewing safety information with your family. Have a fun, safe, and healthy summer!

Boy Smiling in Swimming Pool

Summer Safety Checklist
 • For parents - English, Spanish
 • For kids - English, Spanish
 • American Academy of Pediatrics

Fight the Bite
 • Bed Bugs
 • Bee Stings
 • Insect Guide
 • Lice
 • Mosquitoes
 • Rabies
 • Ticks

Fight the Germ
 • Flu Prevention
 • Food Safety
 • Hand Washing
 • Hand Washing for Kids
 • Recreational Water Illnesses
 • Swine Flu Facts (H1N1) - English, Spanish

Injury Prevention
 • Barbecue Safety
 • Bicycle Safety
 • Camping Safety
 • Food Safety
 • In and Around Cars
 • Kids and Car Safety
 • Lawnmower Safety
 • Open Water Safety
 • Playground Safety
 • Pool Safety
 • Sports-Related Injuries

Sun Safety
 • Dehydration (PDF)
 • Hydrate
 • Sun Protection
 • Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness

More Information
 • American Association of Poison Control Centers
 • Arlington County, Public Health
 • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Safe Child
 • Home Safety Council
 • KidsHealth
 • Safe Kids
 • Virginia Department of Health

Parent Handbook Text Version

Summer Camp Numbers to Know

Camp Registration & Information (703) 228-4747
Habla Español (703) 228-4747
Job Opportunities (703) 228-3327
TTY Number for All Programs Use Relay 711
Inclement Weather Hotline (703) 228-4715
Inclusion Support (703) 228-4740
Volunteer! (703) 228-4724
Summer Camp Hotline (703) 228-1856

For Specific Camp Questions Contact:
Contracted Camps (703) 228-1856
AC Tot Programs (703) 228-7785
AC Elementary Programs (703) 228-4773
AC Arts Programs (703) 228-6492
AC Sports Programs (703) 228-1809
AC Teen Programs (703) 228-4729
AC Therapeutic Recreation (703) 228-4740
AC – Arlington County run camp

Table of Contents

Department of Parks and Recreation
Office of the Director
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 414
Arlington, VA 22201
703-228-7529, Fax 703-228-3328, TTY 711

Dear Parents and Guardians:

It is our pleasure to welcome your children in our camps this summer!  Our Summer Camps offer are safe and inviting environments led by highly qualified and caring staff who will ensure that your child will have a great experience.

Our commitment to your children is to encourage their individual growth and learning through fun recreational experiences.  We are committed to ensure that all youth, regardless of their abilities, will have an enjoyable, safe and successful recreational experience. Your children will be encouraged to explore their creativity, supported in developing new skills, make new friends and have fun!  

Please read over our Parent’s Handbook for more information.  This handbook is to serve as a guide for you for all aspects of our summer camp programs. Please take the time to read it – it will answer most of your questions before camps begin. We look forward to serving you and your children and making this an experience to remember!


Jane Rudolph

Arlington County Vision

Arlington will be a diverse and inclusive world-class urban community with secure, attractive residential and commercial neighborhoods where people unite to form a caring, learning, participating, sustainable community in which each person is important.

Arlington County Mission

Building community through quality services.

Parks and Recreation Vision

Arlington will be the happiest, healthiest place to live, learn, work and play.

Parks and Recreation Mission

The Department of Parks and Recreation promotes dynamic programs and attractive public spaces that:

  • Cultivate wellness and vitality throughout the community
  • Offer healthy and fun recreation, sport and leisure choices
  • Develop and protect natural and cultural resources
  • Provide opportunities for creative expression and intellectual growth

Parks and Recreation Values and Guiding Principles

  • High Quality Service
  • Diversity
  • Commitment to Employees
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Empowerment

Asset Building

Our approach to positive youth development is based on the Developmental Assets* framework.  DPR summer programs are designed to build participant's developmental assets in a safe, fun, challenging and enriching environment.

Our quality programs encourage youth to get involved, develop their sense of self and community, show positive sportsmanship, be creative and learn from those who have different life experiences than they do.  Our staff is selected for their skills in nurturing a healthy development that helps young people grow up confident, caring and responsible. You can expect staff to model positive and responsible behavior and hold high expectations by encouraging youth to do well.

Our program planning standards guide staff in selecting, creating, planning, and implementing a variety of activities to meet physical, social, intellectual and emotional needs.  For more information about our programming standards and/or to review our policies and procedures training manual, please contact on-site staff.  

* Search Institute has identified 40 developmental assets that are building blocks proven to help young people grow up healthy, caring and responsible. For more information:

Camp Information

Signs will be posted at each camp location indicating which entrance to use and directions to the camp location (tot camp, Summerfest, art camps, sports camp, etc.).

Each camp will have a parent information area at the camp entrance.  Posted at this site will be notices, reminders and locations of the camp activities during the day.  Field trip locations will be posted and visible at the camp site.

You will receive an e-mail the Thursday before camp starts directing you to your camp calendar. Parents/guardians are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the daily activity calendar so they are aware of field trip dates, special needs and schedule changes.

What to Bring to Camp

Storage is at a minimum at all camp locations and secure storage for personal items is not available. We request that children do not bring money or personal belongings to the camp location and bring only those items requested for special activities and trips. Children who attend full-day camps should bring their lunch, a snack, and a beverage in a refillable water bottle.

What to Wear to Camp

Children should wear cool, comfortable play clothes that can get messy and closed-toe athletic shoes (tennis shoes, sneakers, etc).  Laces or Velcro must be tied snuggly on the camper’s foot. Socks should also be worn. Flip flops or sandals may only be worn at pools and are not acceptable to be worn during the camp day.  Campers wearing inappropriate footwear will be unable to fully participate for their own safety. DPR Staff will consult with a parent when improper footwear is worn. Paint materials are water-based, but sometimes still stain clothing.  The County is unable to replace or reimburse for damaged clothing.

Food Policy

Children who are enrolled in full-day camps must bring a lunch, snack and beverage each day.   We recommend all campers bring a reusable water bottle to camp each day. Children enrolled in extended hours should also bring an additional snack each day.  Children who are enrolled in Tot Camp must bring a snack to the camp each day.

Refrigeration is not available for participants’ lunch, so please do not include any food that is subject to rapid deterioration or spoilage (such as mayonnaise).

With an ever-increasing number of peanut allergies among young children, we strongly discourage participants from bringing any “nut products” to camp.  We appreciate your consideration to ensure all our kids remain safe and healthy while participating in our camps.  If your child has a severe food allergy please contact the camp they will be attending at least two weeks prior to the start of camp so the camp can provide accommodations for the food allergy if necessary.

Please send food in sealed containers and clearly label your child's lunch with his/her name and date.

Arriving to Camp

We encourage all children to arrive on time for the start of the day’s activities.  Upon arrival at the camp, the accompanying adult must sign the child in on the daily attendance sheet.  Do not drop-off your child outside of the building.  Children enrolled in camps after summer school may sign themselves into the camp.

Staff will greet each child and guardian when he/she arrives.  Please do not drop off your child before the camp start time; staff are busy preparing for the day and are unable to provide supervision.

Departing from Camp

Parents are required to sign their child out at the end of the camp day unless the parent completes a walk home permission slip.

Please note that the Department of Human Service’s guidelines state that youth 8 years and younger should not be left alone. If you wish to have your older children walk to or from the camp, please inform the staff accordingly and indicate the exact dates your child will be walking.

Junior Jam campers are encouraged to stay at the camp site, but it is a drop in camp that allows teens to come and go.  Campers in Junior Jam are not required to have a parent sign them in or out.

Staff members will release your child only to those authorized individuals who are listed on their Participant Information forms. They will not honor verbal instructions given to them by an unauthorized individual who may arrive to pick up your child.  If you have an emergency, please contact the Camp Director regarding the situation and notify them as to who will be picking up the child.  Staff requires adults picking up the child to show proof of ID that matches parent instruction.

Late Pick Up Policy

We ask that children be picked up promptly at the end of the camp day.  Camp staff is not paid to remain after the camp is finished for the day and they cannot transport children in their own vehicles.  If you are running late please call the camp location and let the staff know what time you will arrive.

Parents will receive a warning letter after the first late arrival. Parents who are late again will receive a second letter which will serve as a final warning. If a parent is late after receiving the second letter, the child will be suspended from camp for 3 days. Continued delays in picking up your child may result in your child being removed from the camp and/or a referral to Child Protective Services.

Summer Camp Weather Policy

When the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has issued a Code Red or Code Purple advisory;

  • Summer Camps will cancel outdoor activities when Code Red/Purple is in effect. Alternative indoor activities will be offered.
  • If a Code Red/Purple is forecasted for the day field trips will be moved to an indoor location.
  • For more information regarding Code Red, please visit the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments webpage at

Access and Inclusion

Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation is committed to the American's with Disabilities Act which guarantees non-discrimination and equal access for individuals with disabilities in all programs, services, and activities, and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request.

We utilize a variety of approaches to provide access to facilities, programs, and services.  Accommodations are based on individual needs and may include the following:

  • Adapted equipment and techniques
  • Technical support to staff
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Accessible facilities, parks and playgrounds
  • Large print and Braille brochures
  • Additional staff to provide program support

We proudly endorse the National Recreation and Park Association's Position Statement on Inclusion of 1999.  We are dedicated to the four inclusion concepts of:

  • Right to leisure for all individuals
  • Quality of life (enhancements through leisure experiences)
  • Support, assistance and accommodations
  • Barrier removal

Access and Inclusion services are designed to promote the idea that all community members; regardless of physical, intellectual and/or emotional abilities, can have an enjoyable, safe and successful recreational experience.  We believe in providing opportunities in settings where people of all levels of ability can recreate and interact together.

For assistance in coordinating access to facilities or inclusion in recreation/camp programs, please contact our staff in the Therapeutic Recreation Office at 703-228-4740, or email at  Please request accommodations at least two weeks in advance so staff have the opportunity to provide support for your child.

Please note: To provide high quality service, it may be necessary to change a participant's placement if support, assistance and accommodation can best be provided at an alternative site.

Code of Conduct

We strive to provide a welcoming, safe, supportive and enjoyable environment for program participants. We believe that all individuals have the right to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of abilities or limitations.  We are committed to promoting positive participation to ensure a successful and fun recreational experience for all. 

Sample behavioral expectations for all program participants:

  • Respect staff and campers
  • Respect property
  • Follow Directions
  • Make new friends and try new activities
  • Stay within program boundaries

Unacceptable behavior and actions involving:

  • Intentional verbal abuse including; teasing/taunting, harassment and/or profane language
  • Hitting a person - fighting
  • Intentional damage to property
  • Possession of instruments either construed as a weapon or known as a weapon (knives, blunt objects, sticks, etc.)
  • Inappropriate sexual touching
  • Creating a risk of contagion or illness
  • Any action which exposes participants or staff to danger
  • Consistent disregard of program procedures (i.e. not following directions, consistently picking up a participant late from a program)

Staff will make every effort to encourage positive participation and utilize strategies & available resources in response to unacceptable behavior. In the event that all measures have been exhausted, we reserve the right to implement any of the consequences listed.

Consequences shall be related to behavior, respectful and reasonable, and administered relative to the degree of unacceptable behavior.

Camper will receive a warning about inappropriate behavior

Camper may be suspended from program for the remainder of day, up to three days

Camper may be removed from program if behavior results in extreme disruption, or intentional harm to self, others, or property

(No refund will be given if child is removed from program)

For more information, please ask camp staff for a Code of Conduct Brochure

Field Trips

At the beginning of each camp session the parent/guardian who registered the camper will receive an e-mail directing them to the camp calendar which will list the specific field trip location along with additional items your child should bring with them on that day.   In general, most camps will take at least one field trip a week.

If you do not wish for your child to go on the scheduled field trip, please make alternative arrangements for the day.   Children may not be left at the camp location because there will be no staff left on-site to supervise children not attending the trip or latecomers.

If the camp has departed for a field trip before the child’s arrival, the parent/guardian is responsible for transporting the child to the field trip location, if desired.   Once the parent/guardian has arrived with the child he/she should locate the camp staff and sign the child into camp.

Parents are welcome to meet their child at the field trip location; parents are responsible for their own transportation and admission fees.  For a full list of frequented trip locations and other camp specific questions please speak with your Director prior to field trip day.

If DPR staff feels that a child is a safety concern to self or others, a parent/ guardian will be required to accompany the child on the trip.  The child will not be allowed to go on the field trip if a parent/ guardian is unable to attend.  These decisions are made on a case by case basis.

Trips may be cancelled or relocated due to inclement weather or code red.  Trip relocations are limited to inside the beltway or the DC mall museums.

Administration of Medication

  • All medication must be labeled with the child's name, the name of the medication, the dosage amount and the times to be given. Keep all medication in the original container with the prescription label or direction label attached. All medication will be kept in a locked container and the key will not be accessible to the children.
  • If possible, avoid bringing medications to programs by arranging the time of the dosage so the child receives the medication at home.  Parents can speak to their child's doctor regarding time release medications or dosages that can minimize the need to give medication during the program.
  • All Directors may administer prescription, and non prescription medication.  This also includes sunscreen and insect repellant.
  • Written permission is required from parents on the Authorization for Medication Form before staff can administer any medication, sunscreen or insect repellant to children.  A parent signature is valid only for short term medications that are taken less than 10 days.
  • A physician's signature is required on the Authorization for Medication Form for long term medication administration required for longer than 10 days and for any “as needed” emergency medication such as inhalers, and EpiPens.
  • No expired medication will be accepted by the staff.

Sun Screen and Insect Repellant

Use of sun screen or insect repellent requires written parent authorization on the Authorization for Medication Form noting any known adverse reactions.

Staff members can apply sunscreen to children under age 9 accompanied by written authorization from parents. Children ages 9 and older can administer their own sun screen with staff supervision.

Sunscreen and insect repellent may be left at the camp site for the child’s use.  It must be in the original container labeled with the child’s name.  Sun screen and insect repellant will not be kept or used beyond the expiration date of the product.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.

We ask that you apply sunscreen to your child prior to dropping them off at camp.  Camps will take scheduled sunscreen application breaks, as recommended by the CDC, when they have been in the sun for more than 2 hours and after campers swim or participate in activities that make them sweat.

In addition to the sunscreen, the CDC recommends wearing sun-protective clothing, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect against UV radiation.

Children's Health

We care deeply about the health and welfare of your child and of all the children who are in our care each day. It is our responsibility to safeguard all of them and to do what we can to protect them and prevent the spread of disease.

A child shall not be allowed to attend a camp for the day if he or she has:

  • A temperature over 100 degrees
  • Recurrent vomiting or diarrhea
  • A communicable disease

If your child develops any of these symptoms (temperature, vomiting or diarrhea) while at the camp, the staff will contact you and ask you to take the child home until the child is healthy enough to return to the camp. If you cannot be reached staff will call your emergency contact to come and pick up your child.

Reporting Communicable Disease

The parent/guardian must inform the camp staff within 24 hours or the next business day after his/her child has developed any reportable communicable disease, as defined by the State Board of Health except for life threatening diseases which must be reported immediately.

Camp staff will consult the Arlington County Public Health Division at (703)-228-5580 if there is a question about the communicability of a disease.

When children in the camps have been exposed to a communicable disease the DPR staff will contact the parents of all the children in the camp within 24 hours or the next business day.  Confidentiality will be maintained; staff will not reveal the name of the child or member of the immediate household.

The "Selected Infectious Diseases" list describes the communicable diseases that must be reported to camp staff.

Selected Infectious Diseases

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Arboviral infection (e.g., dengue, EEE, LAC, SLE, WNV)
Chickenpox (Varicella)
Chlamydia trachomatis infection
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease if
Diseases caused by an agent that may have been used as a weapon
Escherichia coli infection, Shiga toxin-producing
Granuloma inguinale
Haemophilus Influenzae Infection, Invasive
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B (acute and chronic)
Hepatitis C (acute and chronic)
Hepatitis, other acute viral
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
Influenza  (report INFLUENZA A, NOVEL VIRUS immediately)
Influenza – associated deaths in children <18 years of age
Lead, elevated blood levels
Leprosy (Hansen disease)
Lyme disease
Lymphogranuloma venereum
Measles (Rubeola)
Meningococcal Disease
Mycobacterial Disease (Including AFB), (Identification of Organism) and Drug Susceptibility
Ophthalmia neonatorum
Outbreaks, all (including but not limited to foodborne, healthcare-associated, occupational, toxic substance-related, and waterborne)
Poliovirus Infection, including Polimoyelitis
Q Fever
Rabies, Human and Animal
Rabies treatment, post-exposure
Rubella, including congenital rubella syndrome
Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Smallpox (Variola)
Spotted fever rickettsiosis
Staphylococcus aureus infection,
invasive methicillin-resistant (MRSA) and
vancomycin-intermediate or vancomycin-resistant
Streptococcal disease, Group A, invasive or toxic shock
Streptococcus pneumoniae infection, invasive, in children <5 years of age
Toxic substance-related illness
Trichinosis (Trichinellosis)
Tuberculosis (TB), active disease
Tuberculosis infection in children <4 years of age
Typhoid/Parathyphoid Fever
Unusual occurrence of disease of public health concern.
Vaccina, Disease or Adverse Event
Vibrio Infection
Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
Yellow Fever

Emergency Plans

All programs have an emergency preparedness plan for shelter-in-place and emergency evacuation. The plan addresses the most likely to occur emergency scenarios including but not limited to natural disasters, chemical spills, intruder or potentially violent situations.

Shelter in Place Procedures

In the event of a natural emergency, i.e. tornado, severe storms or hazardous airborne chemicals outside the program facility, the children, staff and other occupants of the building will shelter in place in a prearranged designated safe location in the building. The building will be locked and secured. Water and food supplies will be available. Shelter in Place may last a matter of hours in order to isolate people while the effects of the incident dissipate.

Evacuation Procedures

In the event of an immediate area threat (i.e. bomb threat, fire, flood, other major building problem, etc.) the children, staff and other occupants will leave the building and gather at a predetermined location within walking distance. If there is a more widespread threat such as a chemical spill, or widespread fire, it may be necessary to transport children by County vehicle further away from the building or to a mass shelter determined by the Arlington County Government.

Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

Employees of the Department of Parks and Recreation are mandated to report both via telephone and written documentation, any suspected abuse or neglect to children enrolled in summer programs, preschool programs and after-school programs to the Arlington County Division of Social Services, Child Protective Services and to the Virginia State Department of Social Services 703-228-1500.  Professionals in those offices will determine the validity of the complaint and whether or not further legal action is necessary. 

Parent Feedback

We value your feedback! The Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation appreciates your assistance in evaluating your child's experience in our programs. Your feedback will help us improve our services. Parents have several options:

  • Paper/pencil surveys can be picked up at program locations, completed and returned to the program location.
  • Take an online survey at, go to "GET IT DONE ONLINE."
  • Take an online survey automatically sent through direct email, if you registered online.

For more information or to request a questionnaire, contact the Program Supervisor, Recreation Division Chief or Program Coordinator.  Phone numbers for supervisors are found on the camp calendars.  We welcome feedback about our programs, staff, facilities, and anything else regarding our services.

We recognize that parents may want to express their appreciation for our staff through gifts; however Arlington County employees may not accept favors, gifts, gratuities or benefits received for actions taken as an Arlington County employee.  If you would like to thank specific employees please consider sending an e-mail to their supervisor recognizing them for their outstanding work.

Secondary Accident Insurance

Arlington County provides coverage for the following: Creative Preschool Programs, Tot Camps, Camp Horizon, General Recreation Camps, Specialty Recreation Camps, Sports Camps, Teen Summer Camps, Gymnastic Camps, Therapeutic Recreation Camps, Community Center Based Camps, Evening Park Programs, County Nature Camps and the Boxing Program.  This insurance is secondary over any other collectable insurance.

This is a broad overview of the general coverage terms and conditions; the insurance company will determine specific claim issues.

Coverage is provided while a currently enrolled participant is taking part in sponsored camp activities.


  • Loss of Life, Limbs or Sight (Principal Sum): $2,500
  • Medical/Dental Expense: $10,000 subject to a & b below
  • Deductible Amount: None
    • A. Medical/Dental expense Benefits payable under this policy shall be reduced by any amount(s) paid or payable to or on behalf of a participant under any: group, franchise, Blue Cross, Blue Shield; or other insurance or prepayment plan or policy arranged through an employer, union, trustee or association; or by a plan or policy under any federal, state or provincial law.
    • B. The term paid or payable shall mean amount of benefits that have been paid or would have been paid by a participant's primary insurance carrier(s) as described in (a) above had participant utilized such insurance to its fullest extent. Failure by a participant to follow the terms and conditions of his/her primary insurance and to utilize it properly will not in any way, increase the County's liability under this policy.

This policy does not provide benefits for:

  1. Suicide, while sane or insane; or intentional self-inflicted injury;
  2. Sickness, disease or infections of any kind, except: bacterial infections due to an accidental cut or wound, botulism or ptomaine poisoning;
  3. The insured's commission of or attempt to commit a felony;
  4. Declared or undeclared War, or any act of declared or undeclared War;
  5. Participation in any team sport or any other athletic activity, except participation in a Covered Activity.
  6. Serving in the armed forces of any country or international authority;
  7. Riding as a passenger or otherwise in any flying device;
  8. Any condition for which the insured is entitled to benefits under any Worker's Compensation Act or similar law.
  9. The insured being under the influence of drugs or intoxicants, unless taken under the advice of a physician.

Please call the Risk Management office at (703) 228-4444 if you have any questions concerning Arlington County's Accident Insurance.

Summer Camp Numbers to Know

Camp Registration & Information (703) 228-4747
Habla Español (703) 228-4747
Job Opportunities (703) 228-3327
TTY Number for All Programs Use Relay 711
Inclement Weather Hotline (703) 228-4715
Inclusion Support (703) 228-4740
Volunteer! (703) 228-4724
Summer Camp Hotline (703) 228-1856

For Specific Camp Questions Contact:
Contracted Camps (703) 228-1856
AC Tot Programs (703) 228-7785
AC Elementary Programs (703) 228-4773
AC Arts Programs (703) 228-6492
AC Sports Programs (703) 228-1809
AC Teen Programs (703) 228-4729
AC Therapeutic Recreation (703) 228-4740
AC – Arlington County run camp

Last Modified: April 14, 2014
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201 Tel: 703-228-3000 TTY: 703-228-4611