Camp Thunderbird for Boys and Camp Thunderbird for Girls are located in the north woods of Minnesota, about seven miles outside the town of Bemidji. The two camps are on opposite sides of Lake Plantagenet.
Where are most campers from?
One of the great things about T-bird is that you get to make friends with people from all across the country and the world. Campers come from the Midwest, the Northeast, the West Coast and the South, and some are even from countries like Mexico, Canada, China and England. Check out this cool map to see all the places where our campers come from.
How do campers travel to camp?
Most campers get to camp via the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. We meet all arriving campers as soon as they step off the plane at their airport arrival gate. From Minneapolis, it's about a 4-hour bus ride to Camp Thunderbird. We provide chartered buses, lunch from a sandwich and T-bird staff on each bus. The airport and bus ride are exciting parts of the camp experience, and we recommend that parents do not drop off first-time campers at camp, as this shared travel experience is a fun and healthy way for kids to begin their T-bird summer.
Is Thunderbird co-ed?
Thunderbird is not co-ed. We believe strongly in the benefits of a single-gender camp environment. Our camp for boys and our camp for girls have completely separate facilities and each employs its own staff. We have a co-ed event once a session as well as opportunities for siblings and cousins to visit each other at opposite camps. However, many of our camp families have both sons and daughters at Thunderbird. Because the programs at each camp are so similar, siblings are able to have shared experiences and a shared camp spirit, while still getting the benefits of an all-girls or all-boys summer camp environment.
What's the food like?
The food at camp is delicious! We eat our meals family-style in the lodge three times a day. For breakfast, we serve things like pancakes, waffles, eggs, hash browns or french toast. There's always cereal and fruit to accompany breakfast as well as a daily hot cereal option of oatmeal or cream of wheat. Lunch favorites include things like grilled cheese & tomato soup, sub sandwiches, baked potato bar, and mac 'n cheese. Dinners are usually kid-friendly favorites such as spaghetti, tacos, pizza or hamburgers. There's always a vegetarian option and we can also accommodate most food allergies or restrictions. While camp is a great place to try new foods, we always provide an option of peanut butter/cream cheese and jelly sandwiches for those with extra particular eating habits.
How do you make cabin groups? Will everyone in my cabin know each other except me?
We make sure that all cabin groups are made up of campers from different cities, as well as a mix of new and returning campers. In cities where we have a large camper population, we make sure that we don't have too many campers from the same grade and school; this way camp remains a place for new friends and new possibilities.
Is Thunderbird a religious camp?
Thunderbird is not religiously-affiliated and there is no religious programming at camp. Once a week we have what we call "services," a quiet time to reflect and share readings and songs centered around camper-generated themes such as Friendship, Nature, Kindness, or Goal-setting.
How long are your sessions? Why don't you have a 2-week session?
We have two sessions that are each three and a half weeks long (26 days to be exact). Many campers also come for the full seven and a half week season. While some camps offer a two-week session, we feel that two weeks is not long enough to truly build our close-knit community and help campers develop independence. For some campers, it may take a week or so to truly settle in and be comfortable at camp (that's normal, and our dedicated staff are trained to help homesick campers adjust happily to camp life). Three and a half weeks of camp versus two can really make a difference in terms of friendships made, goals reached, and personal growth accomplished during a summer. We promise the weeks will fly by!
How do parents and kids communicate with each other during the summer? Are phone calls allowed?
For campers, an important part of the camp experience is learning to cope with being away from their parents and working through the daily ups and downs of living in a group environment. Experience shows us that phone calls home don’t alleviate homesickness and in many cases creates (or re-creates) homesickness. Campers are allowed to call home on their birthday. We do encourage frequent letter-writing from parents. (Receiving letters is one of the most exciting parts of being at camp.) Campers are required to write a letter home at least twice a week, but many write more often than that. We encourage parents to send letters that are positive, supportive and filled with news from home. We also allow reading material only packages.
Do parents visit camp during the summer?
We recommend that only parents of eight-week campers visit camp. About 70% of our eight week parents visit in a given summer. If parents of a four-week camper want to visit, we suggest that they pick up their child at the end of the session. This allows campers to show off their accomplishments and introduce their parents to the camp friends.
What is the weather like at camp?
Although weather can vary from day to day in northern Minnesota, it's most often warm and sunny (75 to 90 degrees during the day). Evenings can get chillier, so sweatshirts and jackets are also on the packing list. We do get rainy weather every so often which means fun rainy-day activities in the lodge followed by an opportunity for puddle-jumping!
Is there a uniform or dress code at camp?
We do not have a camp uniform. We encourage campers to bring casual, comfortable clothes such as t-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts and jeans or sweat pants. There's never a need to wear anything "nice" at camp, so bring old clothes that can get dirty. We have Thunderbird clothing and gear available for purchase at our online camp store. We also encourage campers to bring their fun, goofy costumes from home, since there are many opportunities for silly "dress-up" events.