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 Upham Woods Adult Orientation

The adult orientation by Upham Woods staff clarifies our expectations for the participants and serves as a good introduction to the facility.  This orientation is generally given at the same time but at a different location than the youth orientation.  All adults should be present but if this is not possible, please arrange for those adults that don’t attend the adult orientation to read a copy of this document.


Upham Woods was donated to the University of Wisconsin in 1941 by the Upham sisters, Elizabeth and Caroline.  The sister’s goal was to have the youth of Wisconsin enjoy and appreciate its natural surroundings.  Environmental education and the acquisition of youth development skills have been the focus for the 12,000 youth that use the 310 acres each year. The Upham sisters also wanted 210 acres (Blackhawk Island) of the total 310 acres to remain in its natural largely unaltered state.  To accomplish this goal, all participants are encouraged to develop a respect for themselves, for each other, and for the land and facilities that they will be using during their stay.

Upham Woods is owned and operated by University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension.  Being a part of the University System, Upham Woods must follow all university and state government regulations. Our goal is to give visiting youth a unique “learning by doing” educational experience that is fun and safe. To accomplish these goals we need your help in the following areas:

Cabin Hill:

  • Cabin Supervision – No youth in cabins without adult supervision at all times.
  • Adults to Youth – State law requires that a one to ten ratio of adults to youth be kept at all times.  Waterfront activities require a one to eight adult to youth ratio.
  • Smoke Detectors – If smoke detectors in cabins are beeping the battery needs to be replaced. Let your Upham Liaison know and they will replace the batteries.
  • Exit Lights & Outside Lights – Let your Upham Liaison know if the emergency exit lights or outside lights are burnt out and they will replace them.
  • No Food in Cabins or Dorm – To keep mice from entering cabins or dorms everyone should keep food out of the cabins or dorm rooms.  All snacks should be kept in the refrigerator that is located in the back of the dining hall.
  • Moving in to Cabin Hill – Participants may use the service road ONLY to move possessions up to cabin hill.  At all other times, participants should use the lighted stairs to cabin hill near the craft building.
  • Restroom Use – An adult should be made aware of any youth leaving the cabin to go to the restroom at night. The youth needs a buddy to accompany them to the restroom.
  • Sleepwalkers – Sleepwalkers should be assigned to the lower bunks.
  • No Moving Bunks – The bunks are set up to meet state guidelines and should not be moved.  If you need additional bunks see your Upham Liaison and they will arrange to have you get cots from a near by storage area.  Adults in the cabin need to make sure the cots are returned to their original storage area before leaving camp.
  • Campers Sleep Head to Toe – State law requires that campers have their heads at opposite ends of the top and bottom bunks. (This is to avoid sneeze/spray/throw up issues overnight.)
  • Blocking Doors – Adult cabin & dorm supervisors should make sure that youth are not stacking bags and other gear in front of emergency doors.
  • Cabin Visits – Adults ensure that campers stay in their assigned cabins or dorm rooms and do not visit other cabins or dorm rooms.
  • Wood – Wood can be hauled by campers but fires are started and tended by adults only. Adults should have youth keep combustibles at least 3 feet away from the stove. Burn ONLY wood and paper, NO TRASH!
  • Back Up Electric Heat – The circuit breaker box will be open for control of heat.  The switches are marked with yellow or orange circles.  Please note that the heat is either on or off – no adjustment exists.
  • Fans – Each cabin is assigned fans.  Please keep them in their proper cabins.
  • Brooms & Pans – Each cabin is assigned brooms and pans.  Please keep them in their proper cabins.
  • Clean Up Procedures (cabins) – Clean up procedures are posted in each cabin. Four things should be done: 1) Sweep the floor, 2) Empty the trash into the Pelican by the Bathhouse, 3) Wipe down the mattresses with the soapy water buckets (set out by the Pelican by your Liaison or in proper bath house side in cold weather), and 4) (winter only) empty the ashes from the wood stove into the ash bucket in your cabin, and spread ashes outside (away from buildings) when cooled completely.
  • Clean Up Procedures (dorm) – For clean up of the dorm, four things should be done: 1) Move all personal belongings and luggage out of the dorm, 2) Sweep the bathroom, hallway, rooms, and basement (if used), 3) Empty the trash and any recyclables into the trash and recycling containers located next to the main lodge, 4) (if linens were used), pile the linens at the end of the hallway nearest the parking lot.  Please leave the doors of the used dorm rooms OPEN when you leave, so cleaning staff knows to mop.
  • Energy Conservation – Please turn off lights when leaving a room. Close windows at the end of your stay. Keep windows closed during winter months.
  • Cabin and Room Assignments – Adults in cabins & dorm floors should know the numbers and names of those assigned to their sleeping quarters.


  • 911 Telephone – There is an emergency phone located in the Infirmary in the Lodge (look for the Red Cross). This phone is only available for emergency use. Emergency services will ask for the address of Upham Woods.  The address is posted on the wall next to the phone.
  • Camp Bell & Siren – If camp bell or siren is sounded everyone should meet in lower level of lodge.  Adults or counselors should count the number of campers. The camp bell or siren may sound for the following type of events:
    • Lightning and thunder – Bring youth indoors.  If on the water get off as soon as possible. Normal programming will commence 20 minutes after the last lightning is seen or the last thunder is heard.
    • Lost Participant – Upham staff calls 911 as soon as a lost participant is reported.  Everyone should report to the Dining Hall and a confirming head count should be performed.  If a participant is determined to be missing, the Group Leader, First Aid Coordinator, and (if possible) four adults should report to the Kiwanis Room to receive instructions on search procedures.  Remaining adults should keep youth calm and in the Dining Hall until further notice.
    • Fire – Upham staff will inform group what to do once the group is in the lower level of the lodge.
    • Tornado Warning – Upham staff will inform group what to do once the group is in the lower level of the lodge.
  • Contacting Upham Staff – Use your Upham Woods supplied walkie-talkie to communicate with your Liaison.  If your Liaison can not be reached via walkie-talkie in an emergency situation, you should knock on the door of the duplex building.  The duplex is the brown building with a garage, located immediately across the driveway from the Welcome Center.  Upham staff may also be reached in the duplex after normal operated hours.

First Aid Coordinator:

Visiting groups will provide a health supervisor who is certified in a minimum of emergency first aid and CPR.  A copy of their certifications must be left at Upham Woods in the group’s file.

  • Medications – All meds are to be in a locked and secure location. A med lock box is provided for each group. The only exceptions that can be used on the trails are prescription inhalers, epi-pens, insulin syringes or other medication or device used in the event of life-threatening situation.
  • Adult Meds – Should be kept at a location separate from the youth medications and inaccessible to youth at all times.
  • Medical Log – Each time the group First Aid Coordinator or another group member treats a person or administers medications, a written report of treatment must be made by the by First Aid Coordinator.
  • Health Form – All health forms including the adult forms should be kept by the First Aid Coordinator adjacent to the location of the locked youth meds.
  • Night Location – The group leader and First Aid Coordinator should let the Liaison know where they are sleeping at night so they can be reached in an emergency (and vice versa).


  • Set Boundaries – North boundary is the Wisconsin River, south boundary is Highway N, west boundary is Varney cabin, and east boundary is the nature center.  Visiting group should notify the Liaison if any activities will be going out of those boundaries. Groups wanting to go to Sunset Rock need to access a throw ring that is stored on the front side of Varney Cabin, in an emergency situation, before they can go.
  • Specialized Program Areas – Swim Beach, Peanut Butter Mountain Low Ropes Course, and Archery Range have limited access to the group available only when programming is occurring led by a trained and qualified adult.
  • Winter only – The frozen river is OFF-LIMITS at all times unless you are accompanied by Upham Staff.
  • Supervision in Boundaries – Youth should be under adult supervision at all times, including within the cabins.  State law requires that a one to ten ratio of adults to youth be kept at all times.  Waterfront activities required a one to eight adult to youth ratio.
  • Fences – Fences are extremely delicate and should never be sat upon.  Adults should enforce the fences as boundaries and ensure that they are not used as benches.
  • Appropriate Dress – Please check before leaving cabins and between meals to ensure that youth are properly dressed for the weather (rain gear, hats, gloves, boots, etc.)  Inappropriately dressed youth will be sent back to the cabins before an activity begins or may be unable to participate in a program.  Please encourage youth to carry water bottles on hikes to prevent dehydration or overheating.
  • Discipline Procedure – What is your group’s procedure for discipline?  What is your procedure for signaling the group’s attention?  We will try to remain consistent with your policy if possible. Overall behavior management and discipline is the responsibility of the group and Group Leader.

Dining Hall:

  • Upon Arrival – Please get updated meal count to the Food Service Director or your Upham Woods Liaison as soon as possible after arrival.  This will ensure that the correct amount of food is prepared for the groups first meal.
  • Standard Meal Times – 7:30 or 8:00 am breakfast, 12:00 pm lunch, 5:30 pm dinner.  Groups have the option of requesting alternate times but this must be done before arrival.
  • First Meal – Upham staff can give the dining hall procedures at the first meal.  The Dining Hall Supervisor (DHS) will lead the procedures for every meal after.
  • Set Up – Groups eating “Family Style” must assign 5-10 participants to dining hall set up and clean up duty for each meal.  The set up crew should report to the Dining Hall 15 minutes before the scheduled time of the meal.  The set up crew should wash their hands with soap and water as well as use the hand sanitizer located below the dry erase board.
  • Meal Time – Everyone else should report to the dining hall about 5 minutes before scheduled meal, with hands washed and sanitizer used.  Please be on time!  Students should NOT enter the dining hall until instructed to by DHS.
  • Clean Up – Announcements should be given after the clean up carts are moved into the dish room.

Tobacco Products/Smoking:

  • Smoking is allowed only in designated areas, please check with your Liaison; please make sure all ashes and cigarettes are placed in the ash can located directly in front of the camp map.

Programming Specifics:

  • Orientations – Adults teaching any class or activity where Upham equipment is being used need to meet with an Upham staff member for an orientation on set up, clean up, and rules of equipment use.
  • Foot Wear – Youth should wear close-toed shoes for Peanut Butter Mountain, Archery, Conservation Service-Learning, Blackhawk Island and North Shore hikes.
  • CheckIn/Check-Out Procedure for Waterfront – State law requires a check-in/check-out procedure for all waterfront activities.  This applies to Blackhawk Island hikes, Voyageur Canoe, and canoeing.
  • Hazing/Harassment – Please do not engage in any initiations or activities that might be detrimental to the emotional health and safety of a camper.  Activities or skits where campers may be surprised or put on the spot are not appropriate for the positive youth development goals of camp.

The Upham Woods Liaison Will:

  • Hand out radios to the Group Leader and First Aid Coordinator; instruct them in use and location of new batteries.
  • Give the Participation & Billing Form, User Evaluation, and Group Clean-up Checklist to the Group Leader.  The Participation & Billing Form must be filled out and returned to the Liaison prior to group departure.
  • Meet with the First Aid Coordinator to:
    • Decide where the Health forms and medications will be located.
    • The First Aid Coordinator should keep the key to the medication lock box.  When leaving, the key should be left hanging in the lock.
    • Show the Medical log to the First Aid Coordinator.  Minor injuries and medications dispensed must be recorded in this logs.  For major injuries, an Incident Report form and Accident Report form (located in the Infirmary) must be filled out and returned to the office before departure.
    • All group health forms (or a copy) must be left with the Liaison or the main office prior to the group’s departure.


Upham Woods Youth Orientation

While you are here at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, one word should guide all your behavior.  That word is RESPECT.


  • Before you do something be sure it is safe.
  • SPEED LIMIT at Upham Woods is walking. Please do not run.
  • If you are hurt or sick, tell an adult.
  • Stay within the boundaries described by the staff.  Boundaries are the cabins, the Nature Center, the road and the river (Peanut Butter Mountain with staff members only).
  • Use the stairs to go to the cabins, not the road.


  • Help each other when you can.
  • Be careful not to do anything that would hurt the feelings or injure another.
  • Come to programs and meals prepared.  Being prepared means having on the proper clothing for activities; washing hands before entering the dining hall.
  • Be on time for meals and activities.
  • Table setters arrive 15 minutes before the meal.


  • Listen carefully to instructors.
  • Always let an adult know where you are. Travel with a buddy and adult always.
  • Raising your hand when you have a question or comment allows everyone to hear.


  • Keep food, gum, and beverages out of the cabins and dorms.  Food should be stored in the dining hall.
  • You will be in charge of cleaning the cabins and dorms before you leave.
  • Be careful not to break anything.
  • Please tell us about anything that is broken.
  • Do not sit on the fences; they are not strong enough to hold your weight.
  • Do not ring the camp bell.  It is for emergency purposes only (such as tornadoes, fire, etc.) The staff will continuously ring the bell in these situations.


  • Stay on the trails (erosion, poison ivy, etc.)
  • Pick up any litter you see.
  • Turn off trail lights and close doors to save electricity and fuel.
  • Observe and share pieces of nature, but no collecting.
  • Stay away from wildlife, enjoy from a distance.  If an animal approaches acting aggressive or docile, tell a staff member.