Camp Fire He​art of Iowa

Camp Fire Frequently Asked Questions:

 General Questions:

Q: What should my camper be able to do in order to participate in Camp Fire Iowa programs?

A: Your camper(s) must be able to attend to their personal needs, be able to move independently from place to place, and must be capable of effective interactions in group based programs.

Q: What happens in the case of inclement weather?

A: Camp will be held in inclement weather unless dangerous to participants and staff. Camps have access to shelters and buildings to utilize throughout the program day. All programming is weather dependent, including horse riding, field trips, swimming, and other activities.

Q: How is discipline handled at Camp Fire?

A: Camp Fire is interested in the welfare of all children. Participants in Camp Fire programs are expected to follow the rules of the program and obey the direction of the staff. A child's failure or inability to follow rules or obey directions may cause a serious discipline problem. A serious discipline problem may also occur when a child hampers the smooth flow of the Camp Fire program by requiring constant one-on-one attention, inflicts physical or emotional harm on other children or their self, abuses staff, or is otherwise unable to conform to the rules and guidelines of the Camp Fire program.

If a child becomes a serious discipline problem, the staff will notify the parents of the situation and discuss a solution. If improvement does not occur, or a solution cannot be determined, the staff may recommend that a child be dismissed from the program. The staff will discuss the dismissal procedure with the parents, should a serious discipline problem occur. However, acceptance into the program is conditional on the above policy and right to dismiss a child from the program as outlined above. A child exhibiting behaviors that endangers himself/herself or others will have their parents called and will be sent home immediately.

Q: I have a child with Special Needs. Can they attend camp?

A: Camp Fire is an all-inclusive organization. We accept any child that can maintain an 8 to 1 child to staff ratio and does not require medical needs beyond the capabilities of staff trained in basic First Aid.

Q: What if my child is on prescribed medication that needs to be taken during a Camp Fire program?
Medication can be given if it is in the original container with the prescription directions clearly labeled and a signed Health and Consent Form has been received. Camp Fire does not recommend campers be taken off any medication during a summer program that is taken during the school year as your child will typically spend as much, or more, time at camp as they spend at school. However, please consult with your physician to make any short term medical changes for your child. 

Q: How are injuries and illnesses handled at camp?
All of our staff are certified in First Aid and CPR/AED. Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, each situation will be handled on a case by case basis. Campers will be sent home if they are vomiting or have a fever of higher than 100 degrees. Parents/guardians will be notified as soon as possible in the event of an emergency.

Q: What if my child does not want to swim while at Camp Hantesa?

A: For Camp Hantesa and Equestrian Day Camp, swim lessons are part of the camp program. If your child is not swimming, they will need to have a letter from the parent/guardian, or a doctor's note excusing them from swim lessons. If a camper does not participate in swim lessons, they will not be permitted to participate in free swim that day.

Q: Are refunds given if my child cannot attend a week of camp that I have registered for?

A: Refunds, not including the non-refundable deposit, can be given with three business days' notice prior to the program start date. If no notice, or notice of less than three business days' prior to a camp session, is not given, refunds will not be given.

Q: What are the qualifications of camp counselors/staff?

A: All of our summer staff are 18 years of age or older; Site Directors and bus drivers are at least 21 years of age. Counselors  must be able to lead and actively participate in sports/games with children, be able to effectively monitor behavior while using appropriate discipline techniques, and develop age appropriate activities.

Q: Is a child's grade determined by what grade they are completing this year, or what grade they will be in next Fall?

A: For school year programs (Fall, Winter, and Spring), it is determined by the child's current grade level. For summer programming, it is determined by the grade each camper will be in for the following school year.

Q: How much money should my child bring for canteen at Camp Hantesa and what is available?

A: For canteen, no products cost more than $1.50 and we only allow children to purchase a maximum of one food item and one drink per day. Fresh fruit is available for children not purchasing items at canteen. Canteen is available daily. Items in Camp Store range from $1 to $20.

Q: What do I do if someone other than a parent will be picking up my child?

A: Please notify the Camp Fire Service Center for Des Moines or Ames programs and drop sites, or the Camp Hantesa office for Boone programs, in advance. Please also inform the person picking up the camper that they may be asked to present photo identification when picking up the camper.

Q: Is there a waiting list if a camp is full?

A: Yes, you can sign up to be on a waiting list through our online registration system by choosing the product you want to register for and clicking the button that says "Add to waitlist". There is no fee or deposit required to be added to waitlist. Once a spot becomes available, you will receive an email notification and the spot will go to the first family that registers for it.

Q: How  can I register for camp?

A: You can register online through our website by clicking the "My Account" button, or by going to the Programs tab and selecting which program you are interested in. You may also register over the phone, in person, or by fax, mail, or email.

Q: How can I learn more about Camp Fire and see where my child will be attending?

A: Please visit our website at or for more information. Camp Hantesa is available for director interviews and tours by appointment by calling 515-432-1417 or emailing For specific questions regarding our Ames and Des Moines program, please call the Camp Fire Service Center at 515-274-1501.

Q: What should my child NOT bring to Camp Fire?

A: Use of electronics and personal items are only allowed during transport and/or drop off and pick up times. Counselors, Camp Fire, and Camp Hantesa are not responsible for lost or stolen items. Please leaving trading cards, such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh at home, as they tend to be the result of much conflict among campers and there has been incidences of theft in the past.

Q: What forms are required for registration and where can I find them?

A: Once registered for a Camp Fire program, you will have received an email confirmation which contains all the information you should need. Please make sure to scroll through the entire email as most forms are sent as attachments at the bottom of the email. You may also get forms off our website by clicking the forms/resources tab.

Q: How can I let Camp Fire know my child will not be attending a day/session, needs to arrive late, or will be leaving early?

A: For Des Moines and Ames programs, please contact the Camp Fire Service Center at 515-274-1501 before 8:00AM on any day you are scheduled to attend a program. For Boone programs, please contact the Camp Hantesa office at 515-432-1417.

Q: How can I locate things my children have lost at camp?

A: You can search the Lost and Found at your child's drop off location or  you can contact the Camp Fire Service Center or Camp Hantesa by phone or email to ask for specific items. Please note that we highly recommend marking all of your camper's belongings with their full name prior to attending any program. Any lost items not claimed at the end of each summer will be donated to the Goodwill after Labor Day weekend.

Q: How old does my child need to be to attend camp?

A: Each camp has an age requirement based off the grade of each camper. All campers must at least be in Kindergarten or entering the 1st grade to participate in a Camp Fire program. Please refer to individual camps on our website or marketing information to see the grade requirement, or you may call the Camp Fire Service Center at 515-274-1501.

Q: Where is the Camp Fire office located?

A: 5615 Hickman Road, Des Moines, IA 50310. We are on the North side of Hickman Road between Ace Hardware and Hillis Elementary.

Q: Is there any financial assistance available?

A: We have a scholarship program called "Camperships" that are available on a financial need basis during our summer programming. You can apply by filling out a Campership Application and providing proof of income. The application can be found on our website under the Forms/Resources tab, or you can get one at the Camp Fire Service Center.

Q: When can I pick up and drop off my child?

A: The pick up and drop off times vary for each Camp Fire program and drop site location.  Please refer to your confirmation email for more specific information on times and locations. This information can also be found on our website and marketing information, or you may call the Camp Fire Service Center at 515-274-1501.

Q: How can I donate to Camp Fire?

A: Click the "Donate Now" button on our website, send a check to the Camp Fire Service Center, or bring in a donation in person.

Q: What is your adult/child ratio?
Staff/camper ratios that are based on the recommended ratios set by Camp Fire and the American Camping Association are followed. General recommendations are found below:

- 5 years and younger maintain a 1:6 ratio for day programs and 2:10 ratio for overnights

- 6-8 years old maintain a 1:8 ratio for day programs and 2:12 for overnights

- 9-14 years old maintain a 1:10 ratio for day programs and 2:16 for overnights

- 15-18 years old maintain a 1:12 ratio for day programs and 2:20 for overnights

Q: When is payment due for Camp Fire programs?

A: A deposit is required at the time of registration and the remaining balance is due 3 business days prior to the start date of the program attending.

Q: How do I apply for a job with Camp Fire?

A: You can apply for a job through our website by going to "Career Options" under our "About" tab.

Q: Who can I contact about Club Programs?

A: Contact Marilyn Bagley at 515-274-1501 or

Q: How do I start my own club?

A: Contact Marilyn Bagley at 515-274-1501 or

Q: How do I register for an After School Program?

A: Contact Jennifer Radley at 515-274-1501 or

Q: What is Camp Fire's tax ID #?

A: 42-0680459

Resident Camp FAQ's

Q: Is there a way for my child to do laundry at resident camp?

A: Laundry facilities are only available for campers staying multiple, uninterrupted weeks.

Q: What will you do if my child becomes home sick?

A: The first thing that is important to note is that homesickness is very common for campers attending resident camp. Homesickness can happen with first time and returning campers. All of our counselors are extensively trained on how to deal with homesick campers. It is also important to note that fewer than 1% of all homesick campers return home early. In very rare occurrences do we allow the camper to call home. In most cases, calling home only makes homesickness worse and will only be used as a last resort. Please do not make deals with your child, such as, "If you get homesick, you can call home and I will come and get you." These type of deals often paint the camper into an emotional corner and are frequently self-fulfilling prophecies.

Q: What does my child need to bring to residential camp?

A:  A resident camp packing list will be included on your confirmation email and can also be found on our website under the forms/resource tab.

Q: What types of activities do you do at resident camp?

A: Resident campers participate in a variety of activities such as arts & crafts,  swimming, boating, camp crafts, climbing wall, orienteering, high and low ropes, hiking, photography, newspaper, equestrian, target sports, team games, and much more.

Q: Can campers request bunk mates?
Yes, but they are not guaranteed. Bunk request emails should go to the Camp Director, Michael Johnson at If you do not have access to email, you can call 515-432-1417.

Q: Can I contact my camper while they are at resident camp?

A:  Campers cannot receive phone calls; however they can receive mail or email that will be delivered to them at dinner time daily.

Day Camp FAQ's

Q:  What type of transportation is provided to take my camper(s) on field trips and/or to their Day Camp sites?

A:  Camp Fire vans and buses are used to transport campers and can vary for each program, depending on the size of the camp/program and how many participants are enrolled. Camp Fire owns a number of 15 passenger vans and buses of various sizes that will are used to transport campers. All vehicles receive a DOT inspection prior to each summer as well as a daily inspection by the driver of the vehicle. For specific transportation questions, please contact the Camp Fire Service Center at 515-274-1501.

Q:  Do you have to pay extra for field trips?

A: Most field trip costs are included in the program fee; however, there are a few field trips that do require an additional fee. These will be expressed in the program brochure, at the time of registration, or by communication from camp staff.

Q: What does my child need to bring to day camp?

A: Campers are responsible for items brought to camp and we suggest parents write camper's full name on the items they bring to Day Camp. Please ensure your camper arrives at camp wearing closed toe shoes each day. Campers are also recommended to bring a back pack for swim items, a water bottle, and a non-perishable sack lunch including a drink. Hantesa and Equestrian Day camps swim every day that weather allows for it. All other Day Camps require swim gear only on Tuesdays and Thursdays unless otherwise noted by Camp staff or the newsletter. Lunches are only provided for Hantesa and Equestrian programs, and Pioneer Columbus and Riverview Day Camps.

Q: What type of activities do you do at day camp?

A: Day Camp activities vary greatly for each program and also depend on the theme of the week. They can include arts & crafts, field trips, games, swimming, etc.

Q: Do I need to provide lunch for my child to attend Day Camp?

A: If you are attending Pioneer Columbus, Riverview, Hantesa, Hantesa Outrageous, or Equestrian Day Camp, a lunch is provided. All other summer programs require a sack lunch each day. 

Q: What if my child cannot swim? 

A:  Campers will need to be able to pass a swim test in order to swim in any water above their shoulders. If they cannot pass the test, they will not be allowed in water above their shoulders at any time. There is an area for every camper to swim in, regardless of their height or swimming abilities.

Q: What if my child has food allergies, is a vegetarian, or gluten free?

A:  Please let Camp Fire know about any allergies. Camp Fire will provide alternatives for food allergies and vegetarians.