Tips for parents
Ovronnaz is located at an altitude of 1400 meters. The temperatures in summer are between 14 to 25 degrees in Ovronnaz but during excursions in the valley temperatures can be up to 32 degrees.
Luggage + belongingsEach student’s articles should be clearly labelled with his/her full name. A supply of extra labels is also recommended for any new purchases (sport equipment or other).
ID card / PassportEach student has to come to the camp with an ID card or passport
- 3 pairs of trousers / pants
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 6 T-shirts
- 6 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of pyjamas
- 2 sweaters
- 1 Rain jacket (compulsory)
- 1 pair of hiking boots (compulsory)
- 1 pair of tennis shoes
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 bath towel (for the pool)
- 1 bathing suit (speedo type for boys – not surfing shorts)
- 1 pair of ski gloves for the ice rink
- Small backpack
- Phonecard (if necessary).
- Toiletries including a toilet-bag, High protection sun cream, sun glasses, slippers, dressing gown.
Your child will be very excited to head off to camp. It’s in your best interest to help him/her pack. While he/she may be able to do this on his/her own, you will save yourself the inconvenience of forgotten items if you oversee the packing. But, be sure to enlist your child’s help – this is a wonderful teaching moment.
- Packing List – Create a camp packing list using the recommended list from the camp and other necessary items that your child may need, i.e. his/her medication
- Try Items – Highlight all of the items on the list that you will need to purchase for your child. You will need your kid/teen to try on items that may have become too small over the past year so that you can highlight them if needed
- Label – Label all of your child’s items with his/her name
- Recheck – The day before camp starts recheck the list, pack up all of the gear and close the bag
Pocket money for the camp
Upon arrival, students may deposit their pocket money in the camp bank at the reception for safekeeping and withdraw money as needed.
They can ask the director for the money depending on their needs each day.
Spending money is generally used for the purchase of souvenirs and small purchases in the town shops including postcards, postage stamps, batteries, lollypops, etc.
It is recommended that each student bring about 50 Swiss francs of spending money for each week they will reside in camp.
Before departure, any unspent money will be returned directly to the student.
This is a difficult question. Kids all have different needs and they don’t spend the same amount during the camp.
Everything is included in our camps so they only need pocket money for shopping, to buy souvenirs…
Thousands of kids and teenagers go on holiday without their parents every year and they have a great – and perfectly safe – time.
Many of the risks that are associated with children flying alone can be overcome by using common sense and taking a few basic precautions. The following tips will help both children traveling solo and those responsible for the child to deal with many of the problems that may be encountered.
11 Frequently Asked Questions
How and where do you welcome children coming by airplane?
HCS welcomes campers in the arrival hall of Geneva Airport (GVA).
On arrival and departure days, a camp representative will welcome and accompany the campers at the airport. At their departure, the children will be assisted with check-in and customs formalities. If they are travelling as a UM (unaccompanied minor), PLEASE INFORM US BEFORE. For organizational purposes, information concerning the arrival and departure of the participants must be confirmed in writing at least two weeks before the date of the journey. Individual arrangements and last minute changes will be invoiced accordingly.
Our camp can be easily reached within 2h00 after leaving Geneva airport.
Can I accompany my child to the camp?
Yes! We are always very happy to meet the parents when they visit the camp. We can arrange the welcome and transfer for the parents as well. You can also drive your child to the camp. We will of course provide you with directions.
If I accompany my child to camp, can I stay the night nearby?
Absolutely. We can recommend some of the beautiful hotels in the resort. You may also wish to spend your holidays in Ovronnaz to enjoy the peace of the Alps or to discover the region.
Are there any preferred arrival or departure times?
Participants should arrive on Sunday at 5 pm at the camp. Campers leave at 1 pm on the last Saturday of their session; but because kids arrive from all over the world, the time of the arrival depends on the flight possibilities. HCS handles this in a very flexible way. In any case we will arrange the transfers according to the flight times of the children.
Should your child fly alone?
The unaccompanied child: Airlines call a child who flies alone an unaccompanied minor (UM). Generally, a child must be five years old to fly alone, and each airline has its own policies, restrictions and requirements. The airline will request from parents the name and phone number of the pick-up person. We would provide you all this relevant information if required. Once the child boards the plane, he is in the care of a flight attendant. If it is a non-stop flight, the flight attendant will transfer the child to the adult waiting at the arrival city. If the child will be making a connection to another flight, the flight attendant will accompany the child to the gate agent or airport employee who will then take the child to the appropriate gate.
There should be an adult airline or airport employee with the child at all times. Depending on the number of stop-overs on the trip, the child may be under the care of several different adults. If the child will be spending some time in the airport, the airline may have special kid-friendly lounges for UM’s. These may not be in every airport or available from every airline. The reservation agent will know if there is one in the airport a child is traveling through.
When is a child ready to fly alone?
Parents are the best judges of that. Is the child comfortable around strangers? Is he/she able to keep track of their belongings, follow directions and entertain themselves quietly for extended periods of time? The responsibility that goes along with flying alone can give kids a great sense of independence and confidence. But, if a child is unsure of himself, shy or scared, flying can be a frightening experience.
Parents can help alleviate some anxiety by preparing the child ahead of time. Like so many other parenting situations, children pick up on their parents’ feelings. The child should know what will happen at the airport, through security, on the plane and at the destination. If he will be changing planes, parents need to stress that he follows the directions of the flight attendant or gate agent.
Is the Pre-boarding different?
On the day of travel, parents should allow extra time at the airport to fill out paperwork and pass through security. Some airlines ask parents and UM’s to arrive three hours ahead of time. The reservation agent can provide that information. Parents can go through security to the gate with their child but won’t be able to board the plane with them.
Not all airlines charge a UM service fee, but many do. Charges can vary depending on whether the flight is domestic or international and if there are connecting flights. If two or more children are flying together, the fee is usually charged just once.
Airlines ask parents to stay at the gate until the plane has pulled away from the gate since mechanical problems or weather delays could result in passengers deplaning. The plane should be well on its way before adults leave the gate. At the destination, the child should have names and phone numbers of the persons he may need to call.
I arrive by plane. Which information must I send to HCS in advance and how will my pick-up be done?
Please let us know your full flight details in writing no later than 2 weeks before the camp starts by filling in the transfer form.
An HCS representative will greet you at the arrival area, once you have passed the Customs. The driver will have a panel with your name. Watch out for our HCS logo!
I am waiting at the airport and cannot find an HCS staff member. What should I do?
In general, our staff will be waiting at the airport before your plane lands. If you cannot find our HCS staff, you can call the director’s number, sent to you before camp.
When your child is ready to fly alone, you have every reason to expect it will be a positive experience. A little bit of preparation and careful planning can make it a pleasant journey – an opportunity for your child to spread their wings and fly!
Summer Camp and Security
Given all the factors to consider when choosing a summer program, parents should look at the security of the Summer Camp. There are several things that must be considered: Location, facilities, staff, medical support and activities are points to consider as safe.
Choosing a great Summer Program: Advice for parents
What is a good program?
Good summer programs encourage kids to learn new things about themselves and to explore unfamiliar activities. As you begin to research programs, you should ask how a program will influence your children now and in the future.
What about HCS’s program?
“At HCS Camps, we offer holidays and vacations with a multitude of activities and a complete language teaching program, all in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Children have the possibility to develop their linguistic skills and discover new activities and cultures.
Our language programs not only offer an opportunity to learn a foreign language but also encourage campers to discover new cultures, to make new friends from around the world , to value different activities, to learn to live and work with others, to get involved with an international community and, most importantly, to blossom with this success.
Everything is designed to establish an atmosphere of confidence and we encourage the campers to be active in their own learning, creating the desire to continue to learn and to communicate.
9 questions to ask to evaluate the security of the camp
Parents often ask about the ratio of campers to counselors. While that’s a valid question, the maturity and experience of the staff is of utmost importance. Here are 9 important questions concerning safety at HCS and our answers.
What is the ratio of counselors to children?
The staff/child ratio is above the current requirement by the Swiss government. We have one adult for five children maximum.
How do you select counselors?
All our counselors have been carefully selected in accordance with HCS criteria for skills and experience in working with children. Our team members are selected for their experience with children, for their age and their training.
All the service providers are qualified in their relevant activities (mountain guide, ski instructor…). Our dedicated and enthusiastic team of staff is 100% focused on the safety of the participants and the smooth running of the activities programs. Our staff are typically aged 18 to 28, and are fun, outdoors loving people from all over the world. All activity staff must be able to provide us with a copy of a police statement from their country of origin showing a clean record.
Is there medical personnel on the staff?
Our camps have a nurse and we have a doctor just near the camp.
What would happen in the event of an emergency?
In the event of illness or accident, we are only minutes away from our doctor. We have a hospital in Sion only 20 minutes away or just 5 minutes by helicopter.
Do your counselors carry mobile phones in case of emergency?
All our counselors carry a mobile phone at all times that allows them to react very quickly in case of emergency.
Is health insurance and accident coverage included?
Our company and our team are covered in case of: accident, civil responsibility, defense and assistance. However each camper must have an accident and illness insurance (proof of insurance must be provided).
Repatriation of minors is not covered. We recommend you take out repatriation insurance.>/p>
How do you deal with weather conditions?
Sports and activities are practiced only in suitable conditions and we are well informed of any weather condition changes. If necessary we modify the day’s program according to the weather conditions.
How are the kids supervised?
Security is an essential part of our camps: the children are supervised 24 hours a day. There’s always a counselor with them.
How to prevent homesickness?
Homesickness is one concern children might develop before and while attending holiday camp. Be assured that this is normal! We would like to give you some advice on how to deal with this type of concern.
Please see below a few tips provided by our experienced staff
How to deal with homesickness and anxiety before and during summer camp?
For kids that have anxiety about going back to camp, or kids that are first time campers, this time of year can be difficult for them. Anxiety is building and they need to work on it so by the time camp comes they are ready to enjoy a great summer!
Keep an eye open for less noticeable signs such as changes in sleep patterns (trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep) or difficulty separating from you.
8 tips to help kids relax and have a positive camp experience
Talk about HCS with your child in the weeks before summer camp starts! Try to find out if your child has any fears or concerns about being away from home. All our staff at camp would be more than happy to answer any questions.
Focus on the FUN side of summer camp at HCS and try to highlight it in daily discussions with your child before camp starts.
Remind your kids of the awesome games, crafts and sports in which they’ll participate. Show your child our camp brochure with cool pictures or go on our website, and discuss what a typical day at HCS will consist of – hiking, rock climbing, swimming, many visits, lots of laghs and many, many more different outdoor activities!
Keep the farewell brief and do not make it dramatic. Also for parents, it can be hard to say good-bye. When children feel the pain of their parents, they will be more likely to get homesick during the time at camp.
Please do not make any rescue promises to pick-up your child if they do not like the camp. This could have an adverse effect and they may not try to integrate.
- Summer camp at HCS is a great way for kids to become independent and to grow up. While your child is at camp, try to keep the contact to a minimum in order to maximize this effect. Even if it is hard for you, please keep phone calls, text messages or emails short.
Express confidence in your child’s resilience and admiration for his or her courage in going to camp.
Tell your child that you are sure he or she will get help from counselors and friends when needed. All the staff at HCS work here because they love working with children and want them to have a great time!
Bookings / Payment
How far ahead should you book camp at HCS?
We advise you to book as early as possible to make sure that there are still available places.
Which currency do my children need during camp?
In Switzerland you need Swiss Francs. Money can be changed at a bank in Ovronnaz.
When do I need to pay the balance of the camp?
A deposit payment of CHF 1500.- should be done upon receipt of the invoice. The balance should be paid before April 30th for enrollment before this date. For enrollment after April 31st, please arrange full payment immediately. We advise you to pay the full amount in one payment to avoid additional bank charges.
Can I extend the stay of my kids at HCS?
Should there be available places, it is possible to extend his stay at HCS. However, it is not guaranteed. We ask you to inform the Camp Director as soon as possible so that we can do the necessary bookings.
What exactly is included in the course fees?
The course fees include tuition, course material, accommodation, all meals as described, standard leisure program in the afternoon and evening, 2 day excursion/week.