General Policies and Procedures

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Line at 2017 pancake breakfast

The following general policies are for your safety, to protect the integrity of our land and programs, and to 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.

General Policies

Environmental Stewardship

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

  • Campfires. DO NOT CARRY IN YOUR OWN WOOD. Wood can be 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.
  • 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 reusable 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.
  • Wildlife. Touch of Nature has an abundance of wildlife on site. Please respect all wildlife and observe from a distance. Do not attempt to approach or pick up wildlife.

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 Emergency Response 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. 

Parking and Transportation

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.

General Building Policies

Alcohol and Tobacco Policy
Southern Illinois University Carbondale prohibits smoking including the use of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes or any other smoking device on SIU’s campus for all students, staff and visitors. All Registered Student Organizations and student groups are also prohibited from being in possession of alcohol at Touch of Nature. Departments and Off-campus groups may initiate events providing alcohol when a vendor is chosen from Touch of Nature’s Preferred Caterer’s List. This vendor must have the appropriate liquor license as required by Illinois law and the City of Carbondale, and the vendor must have filled out all appropriate paperwork with Southern Illinois University Carbondale. For further information, please see the below links:

Animals/Pets Policy
Only service or service animals in training are allowed in buildings at Touch of Nature. Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, and/or other mental disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.

Non-service animals and pets are not allowed in Touch of Nature buildings. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals and are not allowed in the facility unless otherwise approved by Touch of Nature Administration.

For more detailed information on service animals, please visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale Disability Support Service’s webpage

Hoverboards, Bicycles, Skateboards and Wheeled Devices
The use of bicycles, skates, skateboards, and other wheeled recreational vehicles is prohibited inside Touch of Nature buildings. Bicycles must be left outside.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale also prohibits the use, possession or storage of hoverboards or similar electronic self-balancing skateboards or scooters on property owned or controlled by the University. Hoverboards or similar electronic self-balancing skateboards or scooters are defined as a type of portable, rechargeable battery-powered scooter. They typically consist of two wheels arranged side-by-side, with two small platforms between the wheels, on which the rider stands. The device is controlled by the rider’s feet.

For more detailed information on hoverboards, please visit

Excessive Noise Policy
Excessive noise is not permitted in the buildings with the exception of approved programs, meetings and events. Volume level should be maintained so as not to disrupt other guests or groups using nearby spaces and facilities. The Center reserves the right to monitor and control volume.

Photography/Filming Policy
Photography and filming in the facility is prohibited without prior approval from Touch of Nature Administration. The express consent of those being filmed must be obtained. Touch of Nature staff reserves the right to dictate the locations where filming is permitted as to not interfere with the course of normal building operations. Media outlets may have access as long as these guidelines are followed.

Lost and Found Policy
All lost and found items are turned in to the Administration Office at the entrance to the grounds. For lost and found, individuals may call the Office (618/453-1121) to inquire about items. To claim a lost item, the individual must bring one of the following:

  • State ID
  • Driver’s License
  • Military ID
  • Passport
  • SIU ID card

The owner of the item must be the individual claiming the item. In the case of a minor, the parent/guardian must claim the item.

Per found items, after 30 days any item will become the property of Southern Illinois University. Items in usable condition may be donated to local charities. Purses and wallets will be given to the Department of Public Safety if the owner fails to claim item after contacted.

Emergency Procedures
The Center utilizes SIU’s emergency response plans within Touch of Nature. Emergency Response posters are hung in all major areas and provide proper responses to given scenarios. In the case of an emergency, please refer to the Emergency Response posters and receive direction from Touch of Nature staff.

  • In the case of a fire or fire drill, patrons should evacuate through the nearest or safest exit and/or per the instruction of a staff member.
  • In the case of any other emergencies (ex: weather, chemical), the staff will communicate proper procedures to guests. At no time may doors, fire exits, hallways, or foot traffic be blocked by individuals or their personal belongings.

Use/Possession of Firearms Policy
The possession, storage, and carrying (concealed or otherwise) of firearms on or in property, real and personal, owned or controlled by the University is prohibited except as follows:

  • The firearm is in the possession or control of an on-duty sworn law enforcement officer
  • When authorized in writing by the University’s Director of Public Safety
  • A person licensed by the State of Illinois to carry a concealed handgun may carry a concealed handgun on or about his or her person within a vehicle into a University parking area and may store a firearm or ammunition concealed in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view within the vehicle in the parking area; provided, however, that no handgun may be possessed or carried in any parking lot designated as a firearms free parking area

More information on SIU’s firearm policy can be found via the following link:

General Group Policies

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.

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).

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