Group Policies and Procedures

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Touch of Nature Environmental Center has created the following policies and procedures for your safety, protect the integrity of our land and programs, and help ensure the success of your program or event. It is required that you read and comply with all of the policies and procedures as your program agreement is, in part, based upon these materials. Please note that other policies and procedures may apply depending on your program or event.

Program/Event Details

Before your group arrives, a program/event coordinator will be in touch to confirm your event details:

  • Check-in time. Please schedule a check-in time at least 30 minutes prior to your guests’ arrival so your event host can meet you at your scheduled facilities, walk through the facilities with you, confirm your event details and provide you with emergency contact information. If you realize you will be early or late for your check-in time, please contact your program/event host as soon as possible.
  • Number of overnight guests. Please let your program/event coordinator know the number of people you expect to have at your program/event. It is important that we know the number of male/female participants as well as the number of chaperones in your group so we can help you determine the most comfortable sleeping arrangements.
  • Adult/Youth Ratios.  For all teen and youth retreats, groups must have at least one adult for every 12 minor participants. All group participants ages 18 and younger must be accompanied by an adult at all times.  Groups of 100 or more participants must provide notification of ratio requirements to your Touch of Nature program/event coordinator at least two weeks prior to your scheduled arrival date.
  • Confirmation of final numbers must be submitted at least 14 days prior to the event.

Linens. Please note that only Little Grassy Lodge comes equipped with sheets, towels and toiletries. If you have rented cabins or dormitory-style lodges, your group is responsible for providing these items unless you make prior arrangements with your program/event coordinator. Additional charges apply if you would like us to provide sheets, towels and toiletries for your group or event.

Event agenda. If your group has a planned agenda, we recommend forwarding this information to your program/event coordinator so we can confirm all your event details.

Facility Set-up. We can provide customized set-ups for your group's needs.  Please ask your program/event coordinator if you would like us to assist you with additional amenities.  Additional costs may apply depending on the scale of your event.

Check-out time. Please allow fifteen minutes before departure to meet with a Touch of Nature host regarding your stay.

Audio/Visual needs. Technology that is built-in to a facility is included free-of-charge.  Audio/Visual Equipment.

Catering. Arrangements for meals should be made with your program/event coordinator. Please see the list of SIU approved caterers here.

Alcohol Service. Please notify your event coordinator if you would like alcohol service at your event. Please review Touch of Nature’s alcohol policy here.

Kitchen Usage. Please let your program/event coordinator know if you would like to reserve kitchen facilities for your upcoming retreat.  Customers must abide by all State of Illinois regulations and standards.  Since these facilities have commercial kitchens, guests must make arrangements for an orientation session prior to their event. Find out more about food handler training here.  For additional questions contact Program Director Alan Teska or call 618-453-1121.

Equipment Rental. Various other items may be rented from Touch of Nature upon request, including grills, linens, extra tables, etc. Please ask your program/event coordinator for a list of these items. Personal recreation equipment is permitted with permission of program/event coordinator. You, the client, are responsible for the security and integrity of equipment.

Cleaning Charges.  We anticipate that all lodging and meeting facilities will be left in clean and acceptable conditions upon departure. If the conditions of the facility require extensive cleaning or maintenance work, your group will be billed $50 per hour for these services.

Property Use. When conducting activities, please remember that other groups, as well as Touch of Nature staff members, are staying on property. To ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience, please:

  • Do not use facilities you have not made prior arrangements with your program/event coordinator to rent.
  • Observe Touch of Natures’ quiet hours from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. by returning to your overnight facilities and minimizing noise.
  • Please be respectful of staff residences that may be intermingled with guest cabins.
  • For group safety, please avoid challenge course areas and waterfront (including docks).

Head Lice

  • Anyone with active head lice should not attend programs at Touch of Nature until they have been treated appropriately. Groups should screen their participants before coming and discourage campers from close or direct head contact with one another. If head lice are found during a program at Touch of Nature, the affected individuals will be asked to remove themselves from programming until appropriate treatment has been initiated (as per the instructions of the treatment).


Parking is limited in some places on the property.  Please notify your program/event coordinator of the number of cars and/or buses you will be bringing to Touch of Nature so he/she can help you make appropriate parking and shuttle arrangements for your group.

For the safety of other visitors and wildlife, please adhere to the following rules:

  • Please observe the posted 15 miles per hour speed limit.
  • Limit driving through property during your event unless needed for shuttling purposes.
  • Participants are not permitted to ride in the back of trucks, tractors, four-wheelers or other non-passenger vehicles.
  • Clients must ensure that at least one vehicle remain on-site that may be used for group transportation if necessary.
  • Vehicles are to be parked in the designated parking areas only. Please consult your Touch of Nature coordinator to discuss parking options.
  • Touch of Nature reserves the right to ask your participants to move to another parking location should space and safety necessitate the need to do so.

Responsible Behavior

Please be aware of the following guidelines for responsible behavior:

  • Firearms and Weapons. No weapons or firearms of any kind are allowed on Touch of Nature property. View SIU’s firearms policy here
  • Animals/Pets. Touch of Nature does not allow any visiting pets on property for organized programs. Exceptions are made for service animals.
  • Lost/stolen items. Touch of Nature is not responsible for the damage, loss or theft of any items brought on the property. Please avoid bringing or wearing any expensive jewelry or devices that may get lost or damaged during your stay.
  • Campfires. DO NOT CARRY IN YOUR OWN WOOD. Wood can purchased for a fee. Campfires are allowed in designated fireplaces and campfire sites. A member of your group should be responsible for starting the fire, monitoring it and extinguishing it prior to leaving the campsite or fireplace. A five gallon bucket of water must be available within ten feet of all campfires. Campfires should not reach "bonfire" size.

First Aid and Emergencies

Touch of Nature does not provide on-site health services. Your group is responsible for providing their own first aid/emergency care services.

  • CPR/First Aid Provider.   Your group should have one person present who is CPR and First Aid certified from a nationally-recognized provider including training in Blood borne Pathogens (BBP). For your safety and convenience, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is located at Freeberg Hall, the Camp 1 Dining Hall and the Administrative Office.
  • Permission to Treat Forms. If renting our facilities Touch of Nature recommends that your group maintain a roster of participants and permission to treat forms in the event of an emergency.
  • Medical Treatment. Retreat groups are responsible for providing their own first aid kits, emergency care and transportation. Any programs run by Touch of Nature staff will include first aid kits.
  • Medicine dispensing and storage. Medications must be carried and dispensed by an agency representative only. Touch of Nature recommends that the group stores and secures all medications appropriately (locked, refrigerated when necessary, out of reach of children, etc.)
  • Emergency assistance. In the event of an emergency, 911 service is available to Touch of Nature. It can be accessed from any facility phone by dialing 911. If this type of emergency assistance is needed, please contact your Touch of Nature host for additional guidelines and support.
  • Weather Emergencies. Shelter locations for severe weather are included on the BERT posters in each building on property. If possible, please make your way to the preferred location. If weather will not permit or you determine it is unsafe to move that distance, please make your way to the alternate location. In cases of severe lightning or thunderstorms, please move to the nearest shelter or building and out of harm’s way.
  • Program Activities.  Our trained staff can assist during Touch of Nature program activities as needed. 

Fire Protection

  • Smoking limited to designated areas. In accordance with Southern Illinois University’s smoke-free policy, smoking is not permitted in any residence, facility, or on Touch of Nature property by clients, service providers, summer staff, and non-residential staff members. However, these individuals are permitted to smoke discretely in personal vehicles.
  • Flammable materials are not permitted at Touch of Nature.
  • Fires limited to designated areas. A member of your group is responsible for starting the fire, monitoring it and extinguishing it prior to leaving the campsite or fireplace. At least a five gallon bucket of water must be available within ten feet from all campfires. Please discuss campfire site options with your Touch of Nature representative prior to your arrival.

Environmental Stewardship

 Touch of Nature is Southern Illinois University’s Environmental Center and we value protecting the environment:

  • Recycling. We have provided recycling bins at various locations throughout our property. If you have trouble locating these bins during your stay, please contact your program/event coordinator.  We recommend groups bring re-usable water bottles and coffee mugs for the duration of the event to help Touch of Nature reduce waste.
  • Trail Usage. We encourage you to enjoy our trails. Please do use our trail maps to ensure that your group stays on the trails at all times. This will help to lessen the impact we make on our environment. Please do not harm or collect plants or wildlife.

Program Activities 

  • Touch of Nature offers its guests a host of outdoor recreation activities.  Some activities require programming staff and must be arranged through your program/event coordinator. Activities (i.e. swimming, canoeing, pontoon boat rides, high ropes course and zip lines, etc.) that require the use of program staff/lifeguards must be arranged a minimum of two weeks prior to your event. Swimming in Little Grassy Lake is not allowed without a lifeguard present. Likewise, use of our challenge courses and equipment is not allowed without trained Touch of Nature facilitators.
  • If your group has any Touch of Nature-facilitated activities planned for your stay (i.e. hiking, canoeing, swimming, climbing, etc.), each member of your group will need to complete a participant agreement form. Minors need to have this form signed by a parent/legal guardian. As a result, these forms need to be sent out to your participants prior to their arrival on property. Guests will not be allowed to participate in any Touch of Nature-led activities if we do not have a completed participant agreement form on file.
  • When requesting programming for your event, please fill out the group profile form and return to your program/event coordinator as soon as possible. This will allow us to meet and exceed your expectations as best as possible. Unless specifically requested, programming will be done in the outdoors. Groups must be prepared with appropriate clothing for the weather. Recommended additional items include sunscreen and insect repellant. Your program/event coordinator may recommend clothing appropriate for certain types of weather conditions.
    *Note: During activity periods all participants must wear closed-toe shoes. For water-based activities, sandals that stay on the foot or water shoes may be used.

For questions or clarification concerning any of these policies, please contact your program coordinator at 618/453-1121.