Accreditation and Affiliation

Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA)– Spruce Lake Retreat is a member of CCCA, which proclaims the power and benefits of the Christian camp and conference experience, and provides leaders at member organizations with ongoing encouragement, professional training, and timely resources. CCCA has over 1000 member camps and organizations and can be found at www.ccca.org.

Franconia Mennonite Camping Association (FMCA)– Spruce Lake Retreat is owned and operated by an association called FMCA. More information can be found on the web at www.sprucelake.org.

Mennonite Camping Association (MCA)– Spruce Lake is a member of MCA, which serves as a clearinghouse for directing and promoting Christian camping among Anabaptist/Mennonite conferences and congregations throughout Canada and the United States. See www.mennonitecamping.org for details.

Contacting Wilderness Camp

Mailing Address:
SPRUCE LAKE WILDERNESS CAMP
5389 ROUTE 447
CANADENSIS, PA 18325
Web & email at www.wildernesscamp.org
Phone: 570-595-7505 OR 800-822-7505, extension 2
Fax: 570-595-0328

Contacting Wilderness Camp when camp is NOT in session

Since we operate primarily for three months, we do not have year-round office hours. Leave your message and we will return your call in a timely fashion. We can also be reached by e-mail through the contact-us feature on our website www.wildernesscamp.org.

Contacting Wilderness Camp when camp is IN session-

While camp is in session, we maintain the following office hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.,
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

We check messages twice on weekday evenings, twice on Saturdays (mid-morning and late afternoon), and once on Sunday morning. We encourage you to anticipate needs for upcoming weeks of camp (busing changes, directions) before the weekend prior so that you can take advantage of our regular office hours.

Please contact us in a timely fashion when:
You are aware of camper wellness issues that arise after submitting the Health & Safety Form such as a recent injury or illness, psychiatric issues, or traumatic events (parental issues, death)
You are responding to our call when your child is here a camp.
You have travel-related issues that affect your arrival at the drop-off or pick-up times.
You made arrangements for a person not listed on the Registration Form to pick up your child.
You are planning to visit camp, for any reason, while it is in operation. Let us know in advance – and please understand that visiting with your son or daughter is not permitted while camp is in session.

Emergency Communication

If you have an emergency and cannot get through to Wilderness Camp on the phone, try the Emergency (Director’s) Cell Phone:215-933-9521. As a last resort, call the Retreat Center at 800-822-7505 or 570-595-7505 – and ask if they would contact Wilderness Camp by radio. Please be assured that in the event of a communications breakdown such as a power outage, regional crisis, or national incident, we are doing everything in our power to care for your child. When you register, you can sign up for Text Updates from the director. Also, check www.wildernesscamp.org as there may be an update posted on our status, whatever the issue is.

Health Care and Accident Insurance
  • Camper Health and Safety Waiver – These are significant forms that we need to help ensure your son/daughter’s wellbeing during their time at camp. The Health Form includes emergency contact and health-related information. The Safety Waiver gives your child permission to participate and gives us permission to dismiss your son/daughter to someone other than yourself.
  • Health and Safety policy – A completed health form is required for your child to participate fully in camp. The health form provides us with information required to care for your child.
  • Please mail the Camper Health Form at least 3 weeks prior to your son/daughter’s week. You may also complete/update the health form online.
  • You may attach a copy of your child’s immunization records and both sides of your insurance card.
  • You are responsible to provide health and safety updates after the form has been mailed. Updates include changes in your child’s health, emergency contact information, adults permitted to pick up your child, and any other information that would help us in caring for your child.
  • Medications at camp – All medications must be sent in the original container with the original label. In an effort to reduce the number of medications that a child needs to bring, Wilderness Camp stocks many common over-the-counter medications (Tylenol, Benadryl, Cough & Cold remedies, etc). Help us reduce the amount of vitamins and drugs to administer by sending only what is essential. If your daughter/son has a medication that needs to be with them at all times (bee sting kit, inhaler, etc.), please provide a fanny pack for your child.
  • Health Care at Camp – A camp nurse is on the premises at all times while camp is in session. They are responsible to administer medications, provide care under our standing orders, and inform counseling staff of health-related issues. Numerous staff members are trained in CPR, First Aid, and Lifeguarding. In addition, 911, hospital, and clinic services are available as needed with an approximate 20-minute response time.
  • Accident Insurance – Your child needs insurance while at camp. There are plans available that provide coverage for one week while your child is at camp that can be purchased independently. Please contact our camp office if you need one of these.
Staff Screening and Training

Each summer Wilderness Camp employs over 30 staff ages 16 and older. A quality staff team is our key asset at Wilderness Camp! We seek to find solid Christian men and women who are living their faith authentically and with integrity, and to place them in roles that match their passions and skills.

  • Staff Screening – Each staff person at Spruce Lake Wilderness Camp is carefully screened. We require each summer staff to go through the application process annually, even if previously hired. We review applications, screen at least three confidential references, review employment/education history, and conduct personal interviews. All potential staff members are required to sign a voluntary disclosure statement giving us permission to complete background checks with the Pennsylvania Sexual Abuse Registry, Pennsylvania Criminal History, F.B.I fingerprinting and Social Security address verification.
  • Staff Training – All staff are required to attend a 2-week summer staff training event that covers both general subjects and subjects specific to their roles. Our general training involves sessions on Health and Safety, Abuse Prevention & Reporting, Risk Management, Age Group Characteristics, Organizational Mission, Supervision and more. More specific trainings are offered for staff working with campers, leading expeditions, in the kitchen, supervising others and so on, depending on the role.
Web Features

Each camp week will have a web page where details can be found. A printable version of this information is also available.

  • Forms: The Health Form is the only one that MUST be printed and mailed to camp OR filled out online.
  • Busing Info: Explains registration-loading, chaperoning, dismissal-unloading, directions and times. Go to our website, www.wildernesscamp.org for a variety of helpful information. (Certain links are accessible only with the user name and password you used to register.)
  • You will be able to email your camper and see their pictures in the following manner: (1) We will email you with information about camp. One of those emails will give instructions for emailing your camper by following the link in that email; (2) Within the first several days of camp, we will email a link to view your child’s tent photo; you can revisit it to see other photos during the coming week and forward this link to others to see the photos as well; (3)  After camp, we will email you a link to complete the Parent Evaluation of the camp week/s attended by your child.
Contacting/Visiting Your Camper
  • Camper Contact Policy – Parents/friends are asked NOT to have direct contact with campers while camp is in session. While we support good parent-camp communications, we do not support direct camper-parent phone calls or direct camper-parent visits while camp is in session. The reasons for this policy are many, and include authority confusion, camper security, homesickness, misunderstandings, and technology issues. Camp is really about the special relationships formed in the camp setting. This is not to say that we will not allow contact when we or you have special circumstances, but we ask you to trust Spruce Lake with checking on and reporting to you the well-being of your daughter/son.
  • Letters and emails are the best way to communicate with campers, and we will faithfully deliver those messages to your son or daughter. Campers will be able to mail letters and postcards, but will not have access to outgoing Fax or Email.
  • Email – Emails received by 9:00 a.m. will generally be delivered the same day. We cannot accept attachments, and please do NOT email campers at the business email address. Please respond to any emails we send you noting your child’s name.
  • Mail – If you are mailing a letter to your camper, please allow 3-4 days. Some parents choose to drop off notes at registration. Generally format your letters to campers as follows:
  • CAMPER NAME, TENT# (If known)
  • CAMP SESSION NAME
  • SPRUCE LAKE WILDERNESS CAMP
  • 5389 Route 447, Canadensis, PA 18325
  • “Camper Checks” During Camp – We will gladly check in on your son/daughter and let you know how things are going. If you request a camper check for the Wilderness Camp program, our male or female Head Counselor will speak personally with both your son/daughter and his/her counselor to see how the week is going. Then, shortly after the next meal, they will give you a call personally and update you!
  • Visiting Spruce Lake – As already mentioned, family and friends are asked not to visit with campers during camp operation. If you are visiting Spruce Lake or are a guest at the Retreat Center, we ask that you not visit with your camper. If you desire to visit or become acquainted with our Wilderness Camp, please make arrangements with the office. All visitors are asked to come to the office upon arrival, which is located in the Huckleberry Chalet in the Wilderness Camp area. We will provide a VISITOR badge for you to wear until your departure. Visitors who come while the evening Fireside is in session shall come directly to the pavilion because we will have the Visitor Sign-In Sheet there at that time. Please sign out upon departure.
Financial Statement

The statement shows all charges and credits that are applied to your child’s account. Please use this statement to confirm the following information and let us know if you see any discrepancies:
• The name and dates of the camp that we are expecting your daughter/son.
• Transportation details from Franconia Mennonite Church or William Penn Hwy (To Camp and/or Home From Camp)
• 10% discount offered ONLY to campers registered by January 1.
• 50% Refer-A-Friend discounts for new campers will be deducted on the referred camper’s bill once they register for camp.
• Camper Bank Deposit is money available to spend at camp. Expedition campers need to bring cash.

If there is a balance due, return the payment slip with payment at least 3 weeks prior to camp.

Tent Assignments
  • Camp is a time to meet new people as well as enjoy existing friendships. We ask that you communicate well with other parents and be prepared to help us find good tenting solutions when tent mate ideals are in conflict. Tenting assignments are done 1-2 weeks prior to your week of camp and it is our goal to:

1. Honor as many tent mate requests as we can.
2. We will honor requests of no more than 3 campers together. All 3 campers must request each other.
3. Look for age compatibility within tent units.
4. Group several campers coming without a tent mate request together.

Packing For Camp
  • The camper details for your son/daughter’s week can be found at www.wildernesscamp.org, under the name of that week’s camp (Discoverers, Trekkers, Adventurers, Navigators.) Included in the Printable Details is a packing list. In addition to clothing items, some commonly overlooked items are plateware, sleeping bags, flashlights, and rain gear.

• Please look over the packing list at least 1 week prior to camp.
• Please help your son/daughter plan what to take, making sure they are bringing an appropriate amount and style of clothing, noting the modesty request.
• Make sure that luggage and important items have your daughter or son’s full name on them.
• Campers in a week for ages 12 and up are asked to bring dark pants and a long-sleeved shirt for an evening game. Navigator campers are asked to bring a casual dress outfit for the theme dinner.

Money at Camp
  • Please send Camp Store Deposits prior to camp. Wilderness campers deposit spending money into the “camper bank” where a computerized “bank card” system will then be used to keep a record of each time a camper makes a purchase. Money not spent will be refunded to your son/daughter in whole dollars only. Most Wilderness campers find that $25-$50 per week is sufficient. Common purchases are:

• Wilderness Camp apparel (Sweatshirt, $24, T-shirt $12)
• Miscellaneous Gift Shop items ($0.25 – $15 per item)
• Retreat Center Snack Shop money ($1 – $4 per day for a drink and/or snack
• Certain activitiessuch as Leather Crafts, Tie Dye and Wilderness Art may require $1 – $7 for a project.
Freewill Offering – campers are invited to participate in a freewill offering to support the Wilderness Camp’s Compassion children in Haiti. The one-time offering is taken Thursday evenings.

Directions to Wilderness Camp
  • The Wilderness Camp entrance is located just off Route 447 North, about 2 miles north of the traffic light in Canadensis (intersection of Routes 390 and 447). Turn left onto Long Road by the wooden Wilderness Camp sign. Make the first right at the sign for Wilderness Road, then follow the gravel road just under 1 mile to the Wilderness Camp Pavilion. For more general directions to this area, visit our website at www.wildernesscamp.org and click on the Directions link at the top of the screen.
Registration/Arrival
  • Registration opens Sunday after 3:15 p.m. in the Wilderness Camp Pavilion. Buses will arrive by 4:00 p.m. Discoverer Mini-Camp registration will open Wednesday just after 10 a.m. To register, campers must have:

• Any special notes or instructions
• Medications clearly marked in original containers
• Camper Bank money if not already sent
• Camper Health Form & Safety Waiver, if not already completed. These are required to participate at camp.

Wilderness Camp Contacting You
  • Non-emergencies and routine questions make up the vast majority of our phone calls. But we do ask you to be thoughtful in providing emergency information on the health form so that we are never without a method to contact you or a designated emergency contact during a camp week.

Typical reasons we may call:
• Following up on financial balances, lack of bank money, lost & found, or incomplete information on the Health Form or Safety Waiver.
• If there is any question about how (bus or car) and with whom your child will be departing camp.
• If we need higher medical care than we can offer within the camp setting for your child.
• In response to a request for us to check on your camper.
Other reasons we may call – As a parent, you are entrusting us at camp to make reasonable decisions with regard to your child’s welfare. Understand that we will not call home about every circumstance, but you are welcome to request camper checks at any time throughout the week, and we will give you an open, timely response. We generally call to get your perspective on a situation or when we feel the situation is uncommon. Below are some examples of how we deal with situations at camp:
Homesickness – It is common for children to miss their parents and home, especially in the later hours and less structured times of day. In these situations you probably would not get a call. It is uncommon for a child to be homesick throughout whole days or cry or be withdrawn consistently. It is uncommon for children to become demanding, inconsolable, or shut themselves off from the counsel of others. In such situations, we will call. Please know that you can help children avoid homesickness by helping them to know what to expect at camp and then sending timely and upbeat correspondence to them while they are at camp. When possible, avoid vacations directly prior to camp experiences for younger children.
Illnesses/injury – It is common to have many children see the nurse about a range of issues that are easily managed. If the nurse sees the same child about similar issues repeatedly without progress, we will call. We will also call if your child would need extra medical care, stays overnight in the nurse’s clinic, or is kept out of activities for more than half a day.
Behavioral issues – It is common to have disagreements among campers or for a camper to feel uncomfortable within a new setting. But it is uncommon to have relationships with ongoing, increasing tension or for a child to feel continually out of place or out of sorts. Therefore we would call home to keep you informed and ask for your perspective. Also, if a behavior happens that gives us concern for the physical or emotional well-being of your child or another child, we will call.

Dismissal & Dismissal Policy

Dismissal is Friday at either 3:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Parent-Child Mini-Week, Trekkers, Adventurers and Navigators are dismissed at 6:30, and you are invited to attend the Closing Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Dismissal for Discoverer Mini-Week and Discoverer Weeklong will be at 3:30 p.m. with a Closing Ceremony at 2:45 p.m.
Camper Dismissal Policy – Only authorized persons will be permitted to pick up a camper from camp. Parents/Guardians will be asked to list, on the Safety Form/Registration, all authorized adults who have permission to pick up their child/children. Campers not riding the bus will remain at their table with their counselor and wait for an authorized adult to sign them out. If the person picking up your child is not on the list of authorized persons, (such as a friend or sibling), they will not be able to leave with your child until our staff contact you or another emergency contact person for permission.
This procedure also applies to the Bus Drop-Off Locations. You or the authorized person will be asked to sign out your child/children prior to departing. If you arrive early, you can sign out before the bus arrives.
Early Dismissal/Pick-up at unusual time – If your camper needs to be picked up for any reason at a time other than the normal dismissal, we ask that you make arrangements with the office ahead of time. You or your designated authorized person should come to the office, located in Huckleberry Chalet, to sign out the camper prior to departing. Depending on the time of departure, we may have ready your camper’s tent photo, unspent Camper Bank Money and a camp DVD.

Lost and Found

We will do our very best to return whatever was left behind at camp by your camper. Contact our office to provide a description of the item lost. We will contact you to let you know whether the item has or has not been found.
• Items with Full Camper Names written or sewn in help us return lost articles with more success.
• Returns will occur at the cost of the camper family.
• Items left on the bus or in the luggage truck will be returned to Spruce Lake on the following Friday or Sunday bus run, then kept at Spruce Lake.
• Our bus can be used to return lost items without cost as long as you contact us and are willing to meet the bus at the scheduled time of arrival.
• Lost items not claimed before October of the same year may be redistributed to a thrift store, disposed of, or set aside for future camper use.

Transportation By Bus
  • Bus registration and Fee for service – Add bus transportation to your registration if desired. We cannot guarantee a spot on the bus if a seat is not reserved and paid for at least 3 weeks prior to the week of camp. There is an $18 fee each way for the Franconia bus and a $14 fee each way for William Penn bus. Your transportation needs (to camp and to home) and location (Franconia, William Penn Hwy) are indicated on the Statement of Accounts. Please confirm the details and contact us to make changes.
  • Pre-registration/Loading the bus – A camper bus registration table will be set up only at the Franconia location. Campers and parents/chaperones will visit the table prior to loading the luggage or the bus to verify necessary information and to receive a name tag for your camper. Campers must remain with their parent/guardian until they board the bus. Please have your camper visit the restroom before boarding the bus to which they are assigned. A water bottle may be carried on.
  • Unloading the bus – Unloading is more involved … for your camper’s security, we cannot release a camper to any person not authorized by the parent or guardian. You or the authorized person will be asked to sign out your child/children prior to departing.
  • Chaperoning for the bus – We need chaperones on Sundays and Fridays to accompany the campers. If you indicate an interest in chaperoning, we will call you if we are in need of a chaperone for that week. Please note that ONLY if you are a confirmed chaperone will you receive a reimbursement for the bus fee.
  • Bus Supervision/Rules – Chaperones are asked to supervise the passengers, which enables the driver to concentrate on driving.  Rules that campers should follow include:
  1. Following the directions of the driver or chaperone.
  2. Always staying seated while the bus is moving.
  3. Keeping heads and hands inside the windows if opened.
  4. Maintaining a noise level acceptable to drivers and chaperones.
  5. Being safe in your actions while loading, unloading.
  6. Never throw anything out an open window – passengers may be cited for littering or held liable for damage to other vehicles on the road.
  7. Treat others with respect, the way you like to be treated.
  8. Snacks are permitted as long as trash is put in its proper place.  For beverages – we prefer water bottles rather than juice boxes.
  9. Vehicles may not exceed the passenger seating capacity established by the manufacturer.
  • Consequences for Breaking the Rules
  1. Verbal warning by the chaperone or driver.
  2. Camper is assigned to a seat in the front of the bus.
  3. Camper is sent to the Director upon arrival and parents notified.  If it is a return trip, the Director and parents notified.
Franconia Bus Location & Time
  • Bus location – Bus service is provided to camp from Franconia Mennonite Church, located on Route 113 between Harleysville and Souderton (30 miles North of Philadelphia). Please use the Route 113 main entrance, NOT the Meeting House Road entrance.
  • Directions from PA Turnpike: Take the Lansdale, PA Route 63, exit #31 of the NE Extension, PA turnpike. Turn right onto Route 63 West. Continue 4-5 miles to the intersection of Route 113 & 63. Turn right at the light onto 113 North and continue about 2 miles. Turn left from Route 113 onto the main entrance of Franconia Mennonite Church.
  • Directions from Route 309: Travel PA Route 309 South from Quakertown or 309 North from Lansdale to the Souderton, PA/Route 113 exit. Take 113 South and continue on 113 South to the Church. (Note: within 2 miles, Route 113 South crosses a RR track and turns right. Within 6 miles it passes Bergey’s GMC and Allentown Road.) Turn right into Franconia Mennonite Church.
  • Bus times – It is important that you arrive at least 20 minutes early to Franconia to pre-register.
  • Franconia Bus Departs: Sundays at 2:00 p.m., EXCEPT Discoverer Mini-Camp departs Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
  • Franconia Bus Returns: Friday around 8:45 p.m., EXCEPT Discoverer Mini-Week & Weeklong, which return Friday at 5:45 p.m.
William Penn Highway Bus Location & Time
  • Bus Location – Bus service is provided from the William Penn Highway Park-n-Ride, a public parking area on the Northwest corner of the intersection of PA Route 33 and William Penn Hwy.
  • Directions from Route 309: Travel PA Route 309 North to I-78 and travel East approximately 10.5 miles to PA Route 33 (Pocono Exit).
  • Directions from I-78: Exit PA Route 33 (Pocono exit) 4 miles west of the PA-NJ border. Travel 33 North approximately 2.5 miles to the William Penn Hwy exit and follow signs.
  • Directions from Rt 22: Exit PA Route 33 (to I-78) 4 miles west of the PA-NJ border. Travel 33 South for approximately 1 mile to the William Penn Hwy exit and follow signs.
  • Bus times – It is important to arrive at least 15 minutes early to the William Penn Hwy Park-n-Ride. We cannot guarantee that the bus will wait beyond the scheduled departure. Cars may not be parked overnight and there will be no formal pre-registration.
  • William Penn Hwy Bus Departs: Sundays at 3:00 p.m., EXCEPT Discoverer Mini-Camp departs Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
  • William Penn Hwy Bus Returns: Friday around 7:45 p.m., EXCEPT Discoverer Mini-Week & Weeklong return Friday at 4:45 p.m.
Expedition Specifics
  • Wilderness Expeditions are very different from the on-site resident weeks of camp, since the majority of the camping experience will take place off-site. We ask that you read the following exceptions and special procedures if your daughter/son is involved in an Expedition. Also see the web page for your camper’s specific expedition for more Printable Details, as they provide a detailed packing list and other helpful information.
  • Communicating with Off-Site Expeditions
  • The expedition team has a cell phone with them; however, it is for emergencies only and often kept off to preserve the battery. Prior to each trip, the team communicates the general timing of when they plan to call to update our Wilderness Camp Office. The calls or messages are noted and available for you if you call to get the team’s previous message.
  • Specific “Camper Checks” are more involved because of reduced and delayed communication, but they are possible. Our communication with Expeditions teams involves leaving messages and waiting for call-backs. Trip leaders are instructed to check for messages nightly and to provide timely call-backs as reception allows.
  • Health & Safety on Expeditions
  • When your son/daughter is on an Expedition, the following health care and safety measures are provided:

• One or both trip guides will be certified in CPR and Wilderness First Aid.
• Guides who are driving have had their driving records checked that year, have taken a driver safety course, and have experience driving the vehicle with which they are transporting campers. Each vehicle is checked by an experienced maintenance staff before leaving the site.
• Guides leading aquatic activities will be fully certified as a Lifeguard and be trained in rescue.
• On all trips (except the Parent Child Canoe trip when offered),  a Registered Nurse will screen campers and meet with guides prior to the trip to discuss medical/food issues related to the campers on the trip.
• At least one cell phone accompanies all trips providing more immediate contact with camp, 911, local hospital and clinical services. Each guide will carry a logistical contact sheet with them that includes emergency contact information, local medical care facilities, and logistical contact information. Note that cell reception may not be available in some areas.

  • Expedition Registration/Arrival/Departure
  • Register at the Pavilion – Registration timing is Sunday 3:15 – 4:30 p.m., just like Wilderness on-site Camps. Upon arrival, you may take your luggage to the Blueberry Pavilion, a smaller pavilion located to the right and slightly uphill from the main pavilion, but then you will need to go through the registration line in the main pavilion.

Departure – Most trips dismiss Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.

Bus Service for Expeditions  – Bus service for most weeklong expeditions is available by the same schedule and locations as Wilderness on-site camps. Depending on the dates, some trips may not have bus service provided, or may have bus service that does not travel at the traditional camp times. Please refer to the details for your child’s expedition or contact the office to confirm transportation options.