Summer Camps FAQ2020-08-26T11:34:21-04:00

Summer Camps FAQ

Manual para los Padres: Preguntas Frecuentes
What is Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont?2020-04-01T14:59:29-04:00

Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is a not-for-profit, residential education organization that provides 3- to 10-day programs for 90 schools and hundreds of summer campers each year. Tremont has a mission of “connecting people and nature.”

Where is Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont?2020-04-01T14:59:37-04:00

Tremont Institute’s campus is located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just 3 miles from Townsend, Tennessee, and a 45-minute drive from Knoxville.

Where will my child be staying?2021-09-30T10:11:36-04:00

For most camps, your child will be staying in a safe and comfortable dormitory. The dorm is heated and cooled with central heating and air and has private bathroom and shower stalls. In order to maximize social distancing and reduce COVID-19 transmission, our dorms will be filled at 25-50% of total capacity. Girls in Science campers will be sleeping in our tent village, whish will be filled at 50% of total capacity. During summer programs, Tremont’s faculty chaperone the sleeping quarters at all times. Learn more about our facilities.

Who will be working with my child during the trip to Tremont?2021-10-01T09:23:31-04:00

Tremont has an incredible professional teaching faculty that specialize in teaching outdoors and caring for youth in a residential setting. Many hold graduate degrees in education. All of Tremont’s full-time teachers are trained medical first responders, have passed a background check, live on-site in private housing, and are available to assist participants 24 hours per day. Learn more about Tremont’s faculty.

Do I need to send food with my child?2020-04-01T14:50:44-04:00

Students will be served 3 hot meals per day in our family-style dining hall. There is a cereal bar at breakfast and a salad bar at lunch and dinner. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options are available at most meals. Occasionally, students will pack a sack lunch to enjoy during an all-day lesson or hike. Learn more about food at Tremont Institute. Please do not send snacks or other food items with your child.

What if I don’t have everything on the packing list for my child?2020-04-01T14:51:50-04:00

Tremont has winter coats, hats, gloves, rain ponchos, sleeping bags, water bottles, backpacks, and shoes/boots available for students to borrow throughout their stay. View the packing list.

What will my child be doing at Tremont?2020-04-01T14:54:29-04:00

Each day’s schedule is built around lessons and activities that encourage participants to explore their personal connection to nature, and positively engage with their peers. Most activities will take place outside on Tremont’s campus. Students will also explore the history of the national park and Southern Appalachian communities. Catch a glimpse into student life at Tremont online. 

Will I be able to contact my child while they’re at Tremont?2020-04-01T14:55:33-04:00

There is no cell phone service at Tremont. Prior to the trip, you will be provided an emergency phone number to contact Tremont and reach your child. Tremont has landline and internet phones throughout campus that can be used to call home if needed. Typically, Tremont restricts calls home unless there is a behavioral issue or a camper becomes ill.

What is the wildlife in the area?2020-04-01T14:56:54-04:00

Tremont is a great place for exciting wildlife viewing opportunities. We often see river otters, owls, bats, salamanders, wild turkeys, deer, and great blue herons. When groups are out on trails for lessons, we occasionally see black bears in the summer months. Tremont’s faculty is well-trained to help participants respect wildlife and observe safely.

What happens during bad weather at Tremont?2020-04-01T14:57:46-04:00

Tremont programs take place outside unless unsafe weather conditions are expected. Lessons will continue outdoors during rain, cold weather, etc. Before each outdoor lesson, Tremont faculty will ensure that each participant has the appropriate clothing and gear for the expected weather conditions. If lightning, high wind, or other dangerous weather is predicted, the program schedule will be altered to keep all participants safe.

Will my child ever be left unattended during the program?2020-04-01T14:58:38-04:00

No. Tremont faculty will always be with your child, and no faculty member will ever be alone with your child. During activities, your child may participate in a ‘solo-sit.’ This is a time when the group spreads out in a fixed area to spend a few minutes sitting quietly and observing nature. During a solo-sit, campers are still being watched over by faculty. During all-day hikes, your child may participate in a ‘solo-walk.’ This is a time when each camper has the opportunity to spend a few minutes walking quietly and observing the beauty of the park. There will always be a faculty member in front of and behind the campers during the solo-walk.

What are campers saying about their time at Tremont?2020-05-06T11:12:29-04:00

“I have never had an experience like the one I had at Tremont. I think that we got to meet new people and get to know ourselves a little better. I will keep these memories forever, Tremont changed my life.” –Former Tremont Program Participant

“I want you to know that your program works. Please continue offering the type of experiences I had to children like me. I would not have found my passion for the sciences if it weren’t for this Institute.” –Former Tremont Program Participant

If I have to cancel my registration, when can I expect a refund?2021-09-30T09:49:12-04:00

We will do our best to process refunds within two weeks of your request. We ask for your patience at this time as we are still working from home, and all requests will need to be processed remotely.

What steps is Tremont taking to manage risk of COVID-19 transmission?2021-10-01T09:24:46-04:00

We are following guidelines provided by the CDC and American Camping Association to minimize risk of COVID transmission in our programs. Our practices include: 

  • Encouraging vaccination of staff 
  • Use of face masks when appropriate
  • Physical distancing
  • Frequent handwashing 
  • All outdoor activities 
  • Contact tracing and isolation procedures

Visit our COVID-19 response page for the most up-to-date information.

What are the most important things we would like families to know about camper safety?2021-09-30T09:59:41-04:00

Camp in a national park brings with it many risks associated with living, exploring, and having fun in nature. While we are taking many steps to prevent COVID-19 transmission amongst our campers, it is impossible to reduce the COVID-19 risk to zero. In particular, we want families to know where campers will be sleeping, eating, and doing activities so families can judge whether camp activities fall into acceptable levels of risk for their household. We don’t want there to be any surprises when you drop your camper off for the first day of camp! Take a virtual tour of our facilities and don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions.

The only way to guarantee your child will not be in contact with COVID-19 at camp is to stay home.  Enrolled but no longer comfortable with your child attending camp? Please contact us to discuss cancellation policies.

How much time will campers be spending outside?2021-09-30T10:01:33-04:00

In addition to being the best way to learn about our natural environment, spending time outdoors is one of the best ways to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. (Reviews of scientific literature say less than 1% of total COVID-19 cases WORLDWIDE were confirmed to be transmitted outside). During camp sessions, all meals and activities will be outside (except in hazardous weather conditions).

For Firefly and Family Camps, where will families be sleeping?2021-05-20T09:47:44-04:00

Firefly and Family camps will also use our dorm for sleeping. It is important to know that we cannot guarantee single-family sleeping quarters. Our dorms will allow space for families to physically distance, but please know that you will be sharing space and bathrooms with other households. The bathrooms include multiple stalls, showers and sinks (similar to what you might find at a campground). They are not single occupancy. There may be times when you will be sharing the bathroom areas others. 

We will be assigning sleeping quarters for families prior to arrival.

What is your policy in regards to wearing face masks?2021-07-28T10:21:46-04:00

In accordance with CDC COVID-19 safety guidance in Federal buildings, Tremont is requiring all visitors and employees, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask inside all buildings on campus.

Residents in our dorms will not be required to sleep in masks, but will be asked to wear masks in shared spaces of the dorms (like bathrooms).

We request adherence to our policy regardless of vaccination status. Like you, we are tired of wearing masks. We recognize that most of our time is spent outdoors, and therefore the mask policy is only specific to small portions of our day. Thank you for your understanding as we work to make our indoor spaces less risky for all.

This answer is subject to change. Visit our COVID-19 response page for the most up-to-date information.

What will happen if my camper gets sick while at camp?2021-05-20T09:54:22-04:00

We have areas set aside for the isolation and quarantine of sick campers. If your camper is showing signs and symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, we will immediately separate them from other campers and begin the process of getting them evaluated and potentially picked up to go home.

Please ensure you or another emergency contact will be available in case an early pickup is necessary.

Could camp be cancelled mid-session?2021-05-20T09:57:04-04:00

While we think that this is unlikely, there is always the possibility that we have to cancel camp mid-session due to camper illness. Please ensure you or another emergency contact will be available in case an early pickup is necessary.

What are special considerations for your backpacking camps? (Teen High Adventure, Wilderness Adventure Trek)2021-05-20T11:14:31-04:00


  • While in the backcountry, we will camp in 1-person tents, unless your camper traveled with a friend(s), in which case they may share a tent, if they wish.
  • While on campus (before and after the trip), we will either sleep socially distanced in a dormitory, OR sleep socially distanced in the large, screened platform tents. 

Travel to trailhead

  • We will travel by 15-passenger vans to the trailhead and will limit the vans to half-capacity occupancy. We will wear masks while in the van and roll the windows down, when possible.


  • On-campus, meals will be served cafeteria-style and most meals will be eaten outdoors.

In case of suspected COVID cases:

  • If a camper develops COVID symptoms while on trail, we will take appropriate precautions (masks, etc.) and we will evacuate the group, if deemed appropriate by the group leaders, and get the campers evaluated.

In the event of a suspected or confirmed positive covid case within the group, parents will be notified. Please ensure you or another emergency contact will be available in case an early pickup is necessary.

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