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Camp Programs

Information for Camp CDS 2018 will be published early 2018. Please refer to the Camp CDS 2017 details below for a sense of what we offer while keeping in mind that programs vary from year to year.

Welcome to Camp CDS!

About Camp CDS

Session 1: June 19 - July 7, 2017 Session 2: July 10 - 28, 2017

Camp CDS is a fun-filled experience for young children. Since it was founded in 1964, NAEYC accredited Country Day School has dedicated itself to providing young children with wonderful opportunities to explore the outdoors, participate in creative and musical activities, and enjoy water play or swim lessons in a safe and child-centered environment. Camp is a relaxed time for exploration, self-expression and socialization in a variety of age-appropriate activities throughout our campus. The camp, staffed by experienced early childhood teachers and assisted by students, places children in small groups that ensures careful supervision as the children enjoy the best of summer.

Our Campus

Country Day School sits on three beautiful acres in the heart of McLean and offers many ways for young children to enjoy the best of summer. The campus includes nine playgrounds with numerous climbing structures, swings, slides, playhouses, and sandboxes, open fields for games and running, a nature trail for exploring, a child sized outdoor stage for creative endeavors, and a heated swimming pool designed for instructing younger children.

The program is designed to make the best use of our resources. Our playgrounds are transformed into outdoor classrooms where campers explore the world around them in a relaxed atmosphere, participate in art activities and games, have a picnic snack, read a story in the shade of a tree and enjoy lots of water play.

Country Day's air conditioned buildings provide a respite from summer heat and space to enjoy indoor activities and centers. Each classroom has a child-sized bathroom adjacent or nearby. A STEAM lab, Science & Nature room, and Library are also on campus and available to our campers.

Fun in the Pool

The Camp CDS swim program is built into the daily schedule of campers in the Garden Group, Ocean Explorers, Weekly Wanderers and Getting the Most Out of Play classes who are reliably toilet trained. Our swim instructors and certified lifeguards teach basic floats, kicks, and arm movements, and build confidence in the water. The program combines individual attention with group activity time in the pool. Each class combines structured instruction with free play in the pool, and Fridays bring a camper favorite "Fun Fridays" with games, pool noodles, and water toys.

Our on-campus heated pool is ideal for young swimmers who may or may not have prior swimming experience. Low steps lead into the gently sloping pool allowing children to sit in the water, stand comfortably, or venture into deeper water with teacher supervision and assistance as appropriate for their level. Private lessons are also available by reservation before or after a camper's day for an additional fee.

Traditions & Memories

Camp CDS is a magical and nurturing experience for young children. Alumni cherish fond memories of pony rides, fun in the sun, animal encounters and lasting friendships– even into adulthood! Campers in 4 & 5 day programs have weekly music and science classes, exciting experiences such as pony rides, and classroom experiments and projects. Campers in the Garden Group, Ocean Explorers and Weekly Wanderers participate in Camp Sing. The children practice fun songs and class cheers to perform at a group sing along in our Hickory playground amphitheater. Parents and loved ones are invited to join us for the final sing along of each session.

Learning in Nature

Campers during both sessions will be able to explore the beautiful grounds of the Country Day School campus. Our winding nature trail, butterfly garden, nine playgrounds, gazebo for stories, quiet places under old trees for cloud watching and enjoyment are just part of what CDS has to offer. Hardly a stone will go unturned as the campers search for the wonders of nature in a safe and nurturing environment. Our experienced teachers and counselors design outdoor learning and activity stations, as well as foster imaginative play and creative expression. Sightings of woodland animals like toads, our resident groundhogs, and even an occasional deer make for special moments in nature.

Program Descriptions

ProgramAgesApprox. Program Times
Terrific ToddlersNot yet 3 by 6/15/17Fridays 8:45-10:15 or 10:30-12:00
Forest Friends3 by 9/30/17Mon-Thu 8:10-11:10 or 12:20-3:20
Garden Group

4 by 9/30/17Mon-Fri 8:20-11:20
Ocean ExplorersEntering Kindergarten
or 1st grade
Mon-Fri 8:00-11:30 or 8:30-3:30
Weekly Wanderers4 by 9/30/17 through entering 1st gradeMon-Fri 12:30-3:40*
Getting the Most Out of Play4 by 9/30/17 through entering 1st gradeMon-Fri 12:00-3:20*

*Available by session or individual week, can stand alone or camper can add on to a morning program and stay for rest and lunch in between classes

Terrific Toddlers

For children younger than age 3 by 6/15/17 and a parent or caregiver. This once per week class for our youngest campers is held on Fridays for 1.5 hours. Our Director of Parent Education leads a parenting discussion for half the class tackling topics such as cognitive development, tantrums, facilitating newfound independence, and more. The other half the class session is time for parents to lead children in play modeled and facilitated by two teachers.

Forest Friends

For children age 3 by 9/30/17. This program is offered Monday-Thursday either mornings or afternoons. These younger campers spend their days in a nurturing environment having lots of fun with outdoor exploration, water play, art projects, games , stories, and music. It is a great time to build independence, learn through play, and make new friends.

Garden Group

For children age 4 by 9/30/17. Our Garden Group campers spend their busy days swimming in our pool, challenging themselves on our playgrounds, learning new songs, and investigating natural attractions. Their days are rounded out with art projects, stories, music and more. This program is offered mornings Monday-Friday.

Ocean Explorers

For children entering Kindergarten of 1st Grade. This program for our oldest campers embraces the best summer has to offer. Complete with pool time, music, stories, and playground fun, these campers engage in hands-on learning and complex projects. Past activities have included tie-dying, cooking projects, creating field guides, and other projects inspired by the campers’ interests. Ocean Explorers is offered either mornings or full days Monday-Friday. Our full day campers add focused hands-on literacy, math and STEAM activities into their longer day.

Weekly Wanderers

For children eligible for Garden Group or Ocean Explorers. These classes are offered Monday-Friday afternoons, and can stand alone or be added on to a morning program. Each week incorporates a different theme while engaging in creative projects, our swim program, and outdoor fun. Offered by session or individual week, themes include:

  • Pirates on the High Seas, June 19-23. Campers become buccaneers who roam the grounds in search of treasure, draw maps where X marks the spot, and engage in imaginative play indoors and out. Dogwood playground becomes the seven seas as the children help transform the playground equipment into a ship, pirate's cove, and more.
  • Junior Engineers, June 26-30. Early STEM skills are forefront in this program full of blocks, Legos, and other building tools. Campers will be challenged to design a variety of structure based on their interests, such as creating a habitat for the toad using natural materials found on the playground, or building spaceships using Lego blocks. Teachers also engage the campers in problem solving activities like "can we think of a way to suspend the hose to create a car wash for the bikes?" or "what materials do we need to build a fort on the playground?"
  • Cooking Up a Storm, July 3-7 (camp is closed July 4). Daily patriotic cooking projects incorporate hands-on math and science as children measure ingredients, count stirs, observe how ingredients change during the cooking process, and use their senses to smell and taste. Our young chefs develop a sense of independence as they help prepare and serve Independence Day treats.
  • Globe Trekkers, July 10-14. Around the world in 80 days? Try 1 week! Campers are led on a tour of the world as each day focuses on a different region of the world. The magic of imagination helps transform the classrooms into the polar ice caps, the Pyramids, or the Great Barrier Reef, for example. Music from around the world, learning about animals from different regions, and pretending to pack for the climate, and fly across the world make for an exciting adventure.
  • Frozen Focus, July 17-21. What better way to escape the summer heat than explore all things frozen. From building mini-igloos and "snowmen" in July to creating ice storms in a bottle, this is the perfect theme for any child who has imagined themselves as Elsa or Olaf.
  • Days and Knights at CDS, July 24-28. Whether as royalty, a brave knight, a silly jester or even a fierce dragon, there's a place for everyone at Castle CDS. Giving Tree playground transforms into a palace and is the perfect setting for campers to play outdoors with pool noodle horses and hand-made crowns.

Getting the Most Out of Play

For children eligible for Garden Group or Ocean Explorers. These classes are offered Monday-Friday afternoons, and can stand alone or be added on to a morning program. Taught by Dr. Rene Hackney, this play-based class reinforces a range of social skills such as entering ongoing play, managing emotions, and solving social conflicts. Children bring a lunch from home, and also participate in swimming, music and science. Offered by session or individual week.


When can I register for camp?

Registration opens on Tuesday, January 17th. Current CDS families receive priority enrollment through January 31st.

How do I register?

Please fill out our online registration form for each child attending. A non-refundable deposit, which will be counted toward your total camp payment, is also required and can be conveniently paid online. Once we have your registration and deposit, a signed copy of the contract we will send you along with full payment must be received by April 28th. All health forms, emergency and authorization forms, proof of identity, and applicable medication and allergy action forms are due by May 31st.

What are the dates of Camp CDS?

The first session of Camp CDS runs June 19-July 7 (there is no camp on July 4), and the second session runs July 10-28, 2017. Campers can enroll for one or both sessions, or by week in the Weekly Wanderers and Getting the Most Out of Play classes.

Does my child have to be a CDS student to attend Camp CDS?

No, while we have many CDS students at camp, we welcome campers from a number of other area schools and children for whom this is their first experience in a camp or school setting.

Does my child have to be potty trained to attend camp?

No, we welcome campers at whatever level of potty training they've attained. Each classroom has easy access to child-sized bathroom, most of which have changing tables. We do, however, require that children be reliably potty trained to enter the swimming pool.

What makes Camp CDS unique?

Unlike some other camps which employ an outside summer staff, each of our camp classes is staffed by experienced early childhood educators with experience at Country Day School, assisted by trained high school and college students. Our on-campus pool, designed for young children with steps and a gentle slope into shallow water, makes swim instruction safe and convenient, and allows for additional private lessons for those interested. Our numerous playgrounds provide a variety of physical challenges in the beauty of nature. Camp CDS offers a variety of class options to meet the different scheduling needs of our families, and provides memorable experiences like Camp Sing, pony rides, and much more!

What is a typical day like at Camp CDS?

Every class is different based on their schedule of enrichments, age and focus of the program, and the interests of the campers. All children arrive at their designated 10 minute carpool window and transition into their camp day. A typical day for a part day program might begin with playground time, followed by swimming or water play, after which children change into dry clothes and enjoy a camp-provided snack together. Each day incorporates either indoor or outdoor learning and play centers which include art projects, age appropriate toys and blocks, dramatic play, and more. Programs tend to end their day with a story and songs before their 10 minute departure carpool window. Children in 4- or 5-day programs also have weekly music, science and special activity times such as pony rides and/or Camp Sing. Children staying for a full day (either our full day Ocean Explorers or a combination of a morning program and Weekly Wanderers or Getting the Most Out of Play) also enjoy a lunch brought from home and a rest time at midday.

My child has allergies, can Camp CDS accommodate our family?

Camp CDS is an allergy aware program and we make every effort to safeguard children with allergies. Snacks provided by Camp CDS are nut-free, and children's lunches brought from home may not contain nut products. In the case of other life-threatening allergies we may ask parents to refrain from sending certain items, as well. All camp staff are trained in CPR, first aid, and administering emergency medications including epinephrine auto-injectors (ex. EpiPen). Children with allergies that require emergency medication kept on hand must have an Allergy Action & Medication Release Form on file and provide the medication in its original box with prescription label if applicable. Please note that our campus does have several nut trees on the grounds.

Where can I locate information about camp fees?

Our camp program prices are listed on the fees page.

My family travel plans overlap with one of the camp sessions, can I get a reduced rate for our absence?

Unfortunately we cannot offer reduced fees for absences in camp programs offered by the session. Our two afternoon programs, Weekly Wanderers and Getting the Most Out of Play, are however offered either by session or by individual week and offer more flexibility for a busy schedule.

My child has only ever attend morning programs, what can you tell me about your afternoon program options?

Our afternoon programs, which can stand alone or be added on to a morning camp class for the ages eligible, provide campers with the same general schedule as the morning part-day programs but with a themed focus unique to the afternoon classes. Depending on the week the children might be building mini-igloos in Frozen Focus, writing social stories as a group in Getting the Most Out of Play, riding pool noodle horses around the wooden castle on Giving Tree playground in Days and Knights at CDS, or following a treasure map around the grounds in Pirates on the High Seas.

Afternoons at Camp CDS tend to have fewer children on campus and thus allow for camp classes to roam the playgrounds and have the freedom to undertake larger-scale projects in unoccupied classrooms. Water play and swimming seem even more appealing under the afternoon sun. An afternoon program can also be a great option for children transitioning to a full day or afternoon program in the coming school year as it allows children a change to adjust to a new schedule in a relaxing environment. Each classroom has a cozy corner and our playgrounds have shady spots if a child who is growing out of nap time needs a place to rest. Many families also find that avoiding the morning rush is a nice choice, as well!

How do I sign my child up for private swim lessons?

An email with more information will go out to registered families closer to the start of Camp CDS. Private lessons are available for an additional fee per class Monday through Thursday after morning classes depart, before afternoon classes arrive, and at the end of the camp day. Swim lessons open to all campers who are reliably toilet trained. Individual swim lessons can be arranged for one or more lessons per week, and are scheduled through our Pool Manager directly.

Do you offer extended day in the summer?

If there is sufficient interest in an extended day program, we may be able to offer late day care for an extra fee from 3:30-5:00pm for children enrolled in afternoon and full day camp classes. If you are interested in this option please indicate so on your registration form.

Additional questions? Contact the CDS Camp Office at 703-356-9165 or camp@countryday.org.

Parent Seminars

As part of the Country Day community, you are invited to attend the evening parenting series workshops facilitated by Dr. Rene Hackney, CDS Director of Parent Education. These free workshops are held in the multi room on Wednesdays, 7:00-9:00pm. We hope that you will have an opportunity to attend one or all of Rene's workshops. Summer 2017 topics are listed below.

Summer Workshop Calendar

A Glimpse into Camp CDS

Click in the "i" in the bottom right corner for captions
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