What are the hours of operation?

Drop off – 8:00 to 8:30

Program day – 8:30 to 5:00

Pick up – 5:00 to 5:30


Where do I drop off and pick up my child?  AOK meets for drop off and pick up on the playground at Ramsey Park, at Burnet Road and W. 42nd St.


How will campers be transported?  AOK will travel in climate controlled vehicles, such as vans or SUVs, from 6 passenger to 12 passenger size.

What will campers do to pass time in the vans?  Sing, play travel games, use activity books, draw, answer trivia questions, talk to one another, read.


How do you keep everyone from wilting in the Texas heat?  While our program day runs from 8:00-5:30, we are not in the sun the entire day.  Travel time, lunch, and swim breaks are spent out of the sun.  We also use pavilions for crafts and games during some trips.  We break from activity every hour and 20 minutes to apply sunscreen and drink water.  When temperatures exceed 99 degrees we require campers to wear swim shirts.  Toward the end of our season we go to some indoor locations.  At the swimming holes, we swim in cold, spring fed rivers and pools where shade is available on the bank, while swimming, or both. 


What is the screening process for staff?  Staff must provide references and pass criminal background and sex offender checks.  Staff must have prior experience working with large groups of children in a camp, child care, or school setting.


What is the staff to child ratio?  The maximum staff to camper ratio allowable by law is 1:10, though the actual operating ratio of AOK may be lower, depending on enrollment. When visiting large locations such as Schlitterbahn, AOK will maintain a staff to camper ratio of 1:6 or less.    


How long has Austin Outdoor Kids been in business?

2015 will be the fourth season AOK has been in operation.  Kate Smith, the owner and director of AOK is a former public school teacher with over 20 years of experience working with children and families in child care, youth camp administration, Girls Scouts, elementary schools, and business ownership.


How many children attend camp with Austin Outdoor Kids?

AOK is still in the growing phase.  During our first season, we operated with 5-11 campers each session.  During our second season we were at capacity with 16 campers and were full or nearly full each session.  In 2014 most sessions ranged from 21-28 campers.  For 2015 our max number will be 30.


Are children grouped by age?  We have not found it necessary to group children by age during the camp day.  Campers group themselves according to their activity interests and the friends they make, and the groupings change throughout the day depending on what activity a camper chooses and who else has chosen that activity at the same time. 


For instance, when at a park campers will choose from a variety of activities such as four square, badminton, drawing/Legos/games at picnic tables, or the playscape.  Younger campers often choose to use the playscape, while older campers tend to choose games with rules, and all ages enjoy Legos.  A younger camper may play with same age playmates at the playscape and then decide to build with Legos where campers of all ages are interacting.  Groups are fluid throughout the day as campers come and go to activity areas.


How will campers be kept safe?  Counselors maintain direct supervision of younger campers at all times.  When counselors are unable to monitor campers visually, as in the case of single use facilities such as restrooms and changing areas, a counselor will be stationed outside the single use area. The Buddy System will also be utilized and campers will visit restrooms, water fountains, etc. with a buddy.  Older campers with permission to use waterparks without a chaperone are required to stay with other campers and check in with the director at intervals of 1:20.


How are campers kept safe during swimming periods?  A large part of the AOK day involves swimming.  Campers must have swimming experience and be capable swimmers to attend.  Campers will be assigned a swim level based on a demonstration of swimming skills on the first day of each session.  Swim level assignments will designate areas and depths where a camper may swim.  Before campers swim, the director will review swimming rules, the procedure for checking in/out of the water, and dedicated swim areas for all swim levels.  In natural bodies of water, campers that are not strong swimmers will wear a PFD or swim where the water is level to their armpits and no deeper.  A staff member that is a certified lifeguard will supervise all swim periods.


How do you keep from losing campers and your sanity at Schlitterbahn?  This is, by far, the question we hear most from parents.  Kids love to go to water parks and parents want their children to have fun, but it’s hard to turn your child over to someone else and not worry.  I’ve tried to cover all the bases of this question (so it’s a long answer), but if you have a question about a water park detail that isn’t covered here, please feel free to ask.


First, please keep in mind that people in careers that involve working with groups of children have a different tolerance level for noise, activity, and things that interest children than many adults.  People who work with children are also accustomed to working in a loud and busy environment.  We make a habit of spending A LOT of time throughout the day counting children and also do a lot of advance planning to ensure preventative steps are taken to avoid problems.


At the larger water parks, we break into small groups of up to 6 children with one adult or up to 12 children with two adults.  Groups reconvene where we have placed our belongings several times a day to reapply sunscreen and eat lunch and snack. 


Every child that attends camp with AOK wears a wristband with the camp’s cell phone number on it every day.  The number is embedded in the rubber of the band so it cannot wear or wash off.  On the first day of every session, we talk with campers about safety and have a drill to practice what to do in an emergency.  As part of our safety discussion, we talk about what will happen if someone gets separated from the group. 


We assure campers that we will look for them if they are separated from AOK and we tell them what they should do: Stop moving.  Turn in a circle and look. Go if you see the AOK group or the first aid backpack.  (The first aid backpack is the “meeting spot” where we gather all personal belongings.)  If you do not see the group or the backpack, talk to a park employee, or a family with children if an employee is cannot be seen, for help calling the AOK phone number on your wristband.  If these options are not available, stay where you are.  We will be looking for you and will not leave you alone in the park.


Children know already that they don’t want to be separated from their group.  They know it would feel scary.  Further, we discuss how an emergency would impact all of us and they understand that an emergency, including an accident due to unsafe behavior, would not be fun and would bring an end or at least a major interruption to our camp day.  Children choose AOK because we have tons of fun and nobody wants to miss out on that fun.


We hope we never have to employ the emergency procedures we practice, however, AOK is an active program and we do move around from place to place.  While the first priority of the AOK staff is to watch campers carefully to ensure they are with us and safe so that emergencies do not occur, it is not impossible that a child could become injured or separated from the group and we discuss safety and practice emergency procedures so that staff and campers are prepared if a problem occurs.


We do not visit water parks until mid week so that we’ve had a chance to get to know our campers’ personalities, observe their behavior, and learn which children are capable of following directions the first time they’re given and which will need to hear directions more than once.  That being said, it’s impossible for us to know a child as well as the child’s parent does. 


If you are worried about your child attending camp because s/he has a tendency to wander or has difficulty focusing on or following directions, it’s probably better to wait a year or two before enrolling in AOK.  If your child is capable of following directions most or all of the time, this would be a good time to try AOK.  


Are there additional entrance or activity fees?  No, all entries and activities are included in the price already.  


Why is there an added fee of $12 per session when paying with a credit card?  AOK is a small program with a small budget. By the time wages, park entries, equipment, vehicle rental, gas, and licensing fees are paid for there is not a lot left.  In fact, AOK's first season was a break even venture and a true labor of love. While I (Kate) love sharing summer camp experiences with AOK's happy campers, like everyone else, I have responsibilities that require me to earn money and AOK must become profitable to maintain operation. I want to offer parents the convenience of credit payment, but am unable to absorb the cost of fees charged for credit processing. 


There is more information about the AOK program and policies (medications, food, what to bring, etc.) in the Registration Packet, available on the Registration page.


If you have a question that is not answered here, please feel free to contact the AOK director, Kate Smith, at aokids@live.com.