What is the cost of camp?  What is and is not included?

The average week of Wilderness Camp costs $360 this year, but tuition is less for Mini-Weeks and a bit more for Navigator Youth Week and Expeditions.  The deposit, meals, lodging, standard activities, theme T-shirt, camp DVD and a tent group photo are included in the cost.  Bus service and camper spending money are not included.

Is financial assistance available?

Financial assistance is available by application only and a $75 deposit is required to register.  If your application is not accepted for any reason, the $75 will be returned to you.  If you register but cancel, the $75 deposit will be considered nonrefundable. Click here for the Campership Application. Complete and submit it upon registering for your week of choice.

What are the facilities like in your Wilderness resident camp?

Large canvas tents are placed on a 16 x 16′ or 16 x 20’ raised wooden platform with 4’ tall side walls and an 8’ ridge in the center.  We have two distinct sleeping areas for the genders and 20 raised platform tents total.  Approximately eight campers sleep with their counselor(s) within the appropriate tenting area.  Each campsite has a cooking ring, picnic table and seating area.  There is no water or electric at any of the campsites. However, guys and girls each have access to two separate spacious bathhouses that are within a short walk of the tents.

There are plenty of sheltered areas around camp (pavilions, bathhouses, tents, snack shop, etc), but much of our program occurs outdoors or in open air buildings.  Insects, weather and animals can impact any outdoor camping experience, so it is important that campers come prepared for outdoor activity.  We take seriously our job to care for the physical needs of your child when at camp.

Because we are an outdoors camp, our activity areas are spread out and walking is a part of the daily routine.  It is about ¼ mile from the tents to the Wilderness Camp Pavilion. The Retreat Center swimming pool and snack shop are ½ mile  from the Pavilion.  The terrain can be rough and uneven in some places, so it is important that all participants be fully mobile to participate.

What are the accommodations like in your Expedition Program?

When on-site, Expeditions campers sleep in two raised Adirondack-style lean-tos and have access to Wilderness Camp facilities.  When off-site, campers use four-person A-frame tents at various campgrounds and primitive sites.

What kinds of activities do you have at camp?

We offer a wide range of activities such as sports, arts, outdoor recreation, and adventure programming.  Our highly developed adventure program features an extensive Challenge Course (group cooperative course), two Zip Lines, a Climbing Tower, a Power Swing (giant swing), Outdoor High Ropes and a Vertical Play Pen. Because of the high use of our Specialized and Adventure Programs, we are able to employ a number of year-round staff who are highly skilled, experienced and professional. The activities and choice will vary greatly depending on the age of the camper and the program you choose.

What is the daily schedule like?

The schedules will vary dramatically depending which week of camp you choose.  Visit On-Site Camps or Off-site Expeditions for more details.

Do you have any programs for children with special needs?

We do not serve special needs populations but are willing to discuss involvements on a case-by-case basis.  Our team members and training are not geared toward children with special needs or at-risk children, and all campers must be reasonably mobile in order to participate.
Spruce Lake Retreat provides the facilities for an excellent Family Camp each summer called Joni and Friends.  Their program is designed to provide a retreat for families which have a family member with special needs.  You can find more information about Joni and Friends family retreats by visiting http://www.joniandfriends.org/pg_retreats.php .

Do you have an open house when we can see the camp?

Spruce Lake offers an annual Open House the first Sunday after Memorial Day Weekend for you to explore not only Wilderness Camp but the Retreat Center as well. While this isn’t strictly focused on Wilderness Camp, the Open House is a great opportunity to meet our year-round Wilderness Camp team and learn about the program. If you call ahead, we’ll be glad to make arrangements for you to visit the Wilderness Camp area at almost any time of year.  The camp videos are one of the best resources for showing you what our program is about. Follow this link to see the videos from the summer.

Are there any camps I can do with my child/grandchild/family?

We offer a Parent-Child Mini-Week for children ages 7-10 to participate in with a parent or other significant adult of the same gender.
Spruce Lake Retreat also offers a variety of family camps throughout the summer.  Click here for more information on these events.

Do you offer any day camps or summer-long camps?

Spruce Lake Wilderness Camp is a resident camp with programs lasting three to six days with the exception of a few of our expeditions, which can last up to eight days. Spruce Lake Retreat also offers a day camp for children ages 5-13. Click here for more information.

Are you affiliated with any church or denomination?

Spruce Lake Wilderness Camp is a Christian camp affiliated with the Franconia Conference of Mennonite Church USA. This group of churches, located primarily north of Philadelphia, accounts for about 30% of our camper population and is the reason we exist. Our mission is to “Point Young People Toward Christ” regardless of denominational background. As a result, we do not spend much time on denominational distinctives. Instead, we focus on sharing God’s love, nurturing appreciation for the Bible, inviting young people to develop a personal walk with Jesus Christ, and helping them understand their call to serve others with the gifts that God has provided them.

Who are the counselors/guides?

Most Senior Counselors are at least 18 ½ and at least one year out of high school.  Most Expedition Guides are at least 21.  Occasionally younger persons may hold these positions if they have prior experience and proven maturity. All of our team members profess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Most of our counselors and guides are college students, although there are some that leave full-time employment or are employed otherwise as teachers.  Most of our counselors and guides have been campers at Spruce Lake and desire to give back to a ministry that impacted their lives.  Our counselors and guides choose to work at camp because they love young people and the atmosphere…it’s not the pay.

How do you screen and train your team?

Each summer Wilderness Camp employs over 30 team members from ages 16 and older.  A quality team is our number one asset at Wilderness Camp.  We seek to find solid Christian men and women who are living their faith authentically and with integrity, who possess the skills and gifting for the roles they are seeking.
Screening – Each team member at Spruce Lake Wilderness Camp is carefully screened.  We require each summer team member 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 team 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, FBI fingerprinting, and Social Security address verification.
Training – All team members are required to attend a 2-week summer training event that covers both general subjects and subjects specific to their roles.  Our general training involves sessions on Health and Safety, Risk Management, Age Group Characteristics, Organizational Mission, Supervision and more.  More specific training is offered for persons working with campers, leading expeditions, serving in the kitchen or as a supervisor and so on, depending on the role.

What is your camper to counselor ratio?

This ratio changes with age but on the average, we generally place seven to nine campers with at least one to two counselors in a tent.  There are nine tent units per gender. Each tent unit is supported by an experienced head counselor whose job it is to be available to and support senior counselors.  We have many other gifted and talented team members in supporting roles who are available to support counselors as needs arise.
Discoverer Campers (7-10) range from a 1:4 to a 1:5 ratio. Two counselors for each group of 7-10 campers.
Trekker Campers (10-12) range from a 1:6 to a 1:7 ratio with one counselor for 6-9 campers and minimum two assistants per gender.
Adventurer Campers (12-14) range from a 1:6 to a 1:7 ratio with one counselor for 6-9 campers and minimum two assistants per gender.
Navigators (14-18) range from a 1:6 to 1:8 ratio with one senior counselor for 6-8 campers.
Off site Expeditions (11-17) range from a 1:4 to a 1:6 ratio with two guides for 8-12 campers.

How do you group tent units?  Can we bring a group to camp?

Our goal is to provide a time to meet new people as well as enjoy existing friendships.  Here are our priorities in creating tenting assignments:
Honor one tent mate request for each camper.
Limit arranged tent mates to two or three.
Look for age compatibility within tent units.
Group together several campers coming without a tent mate request.
Groups are welcome at camp, but campers are still treated as individuals as mentioned above.   Youth group leaders are welcome to contact us about serving while youth from their church are at camp.

How do you handle lost-and-found?

We will do our best to return whatever was left at camp to your camper.  Contact our office to provide a description of the item lost, and 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 and then kept at Spruce Lake.
Our bus can be used to return lost items without cost so 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.

How does the camp handle homesickness?

It is common for children ages 7-11 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 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 these last two situations, we will call to discuss how we can handle the issue together.
Homesickness is a natural part of a child learning to separate from their home environment and develop independence.  In fact, when handled well, it can be a major growth opportunity for your child.  Here are a few things you can do to prepare your child for going away:
Practice by going overnight to a friend or relative’s house.  If they experience mild to moderate homesickness, coach them through, do not bail them out.  Taking them out of an experience where they can cope may weaken their will to push through homesickness and adversity in the future.
Help them know what to expect at camp and develop anticipation by watching a camp video together, talking about the activities, or visiting Spruce Lake as a family.
Do not overload your child’s summer.  A child who goes from camp to camp or vacation into camp often experiences an increased fatigue and longing for that stable home life.
Be sensitive to their readiness.  Readiness is a big part of the camp experience. While a parental nudge for the reluctant camper is very beneficial in getting a child to face a challenge, a parental push can often have the opposite effect.

How can I keep in touch with my child while they are at camp?

Letters and emails are the best way to communicate with campers, and we will faithfully deliver those messages to your daughter or son. Campers will be able to mail letters and postcards, but will not have access to outgoing Phone, Fax, or Email. In the week before your child’s camp begins, we will email you updates and reminders about camp, along with instructions for emailing your child. Emails may be sent using the contact form at this link; they will be printed and delivered daily to your camper. We will also email a link for you to see camp pictures.

May I visit or talk to my child while they are at camp?

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.  The reasons for this policy are many. They include authority confusion, camper security, homesickness, misunderstandings, and limited phone lines and computers.
Camp is really about the special relationships formed in the camp setting.  This is not to say that we will not allow contact if 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 son or daughter.
“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!
“Camper Checks” for expeditions are more involved because of reduced and delayed communication, but they are possible.  Our communication with expeditions involves leaving messages and waiting for call-backs.  Trip leaders are instructed to check messages nightly and provide timely call-backs as reception allows.
Visiting Spruce Lake – If you are visiting Spruce Lake or are a guest at Spruce Lake Retreat, 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 Huckleberry cabin in the Wilderness Camp area.  We will provide a VISITOR badge for you to wear until departure.  Visitors who come while the evening Fireside is in session may come directly to the pavilion because we will have the Visitor Sign-In Sheet available there at that time. Please sign-out upon departure.

Health Care at Camp

A registered nurse (RN) 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 members of the counseling team of health related issues.  Numerous team members are trained in CPR, First Aid, and Lifeguarding.  Hospital, 911 and clinic services are also available as needed with an approximate 20-minute response time.

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 such as Tylenol, Benadryl, Cough & Cold remedies and more.

Camper Health Form

This is a significant form needed to ensure your son/daughter’s well-being while at camp.  Along with emergency contact and health related information, it gives your permission to participate, and for medical treatment if necessary.


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 needs extra medical care, stays overnight in the nurse’s clinic, or is kept out of activities for more than half a day.

Accident Insurance

Each camper is required to have their own health insurance policy. The camp does not carry any type of accident insurance.

Health & Safety on Expeditions

When your son/daughter is on an off-site expedition, the following health care and safety measures are provided:
One or both trip guides will be certified in CPR and Wilderness First Aid.
On all trips but Parent-Child Adventure, an RN 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 hospitals 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.

What if there is an emergency?

If you have an emergency and cannot get through to Wilderness Camp on the phone, follow the emergency contact instructions on our message. As a last resort call 570-595-7505 or 800-822-7505 and ask for a Retreat Center staff person to contact Wilderness Camp by radio.
If there is an emergency at camp, we will do everything in our power to contact the guardians as quickly as reasonably possible.  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.  Also, check www.wildernesscamp.org for any updates posted on our status, whatever the issue may be.

What is Parents’ Place and how do I access it?

Parents’ Place is a web page specifically for parents with children attending camp, located at this link. The site is set up to provide the following services:
View and print parent information.
Use the feature for emailing your camper, available in the summer.
Complete parent evaluations of camp weeks attended by your children.

What do I pack for camp?

Each camp description will have a complete packing list for that week of camp. In addition to clothing items, some commonly overlooked items are plateware, sleeping bags, flashlights, and rain gear.  There will also be a list of common items not to bring.
Review the packing list at least one 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 son or daughter’s full name on them.

How much spending money should I send to camp?

All meals and standard activities are included in the cost of camp.
We recommend that campers bring $25-$50 for a week of camp to purchase snacks and souvenirs.  Campers will have the opportunity to buy snacks at the Retreat Center Snack Shop or buy both snacks and souvenirs at the Wilderness Camp Trading Post.

When does camp start?  What do I need for registration?

Registration is open Sundays 3:15 – 4:30 p.m. in the Wilderness Camp Pavilion.  Buses will arrive by 4:00 p.m.  Discoverer Mini-Camp registration will open Wednesday just after 10:00 a.m..  You should bring:
Any special notes or instructions
Medications clearly marked in original containers.
Camper Bank $ if not already sent.
Camper Health & Safety Form if not already mailed (This is required in order to participate at camp.)

How do I get to Wilderness Camp?

Map of the business locationThe Wilderness Camp entrance is located just off Route 447, about two miles north of the traffic light in Canadensis (the intersection of Routes 390 and 447).  Traveling north on 447, turn left onto Long Road by the wooden Wilderness Camp sign. Make your first right onto the dirt road through the woods, and proceed just under a mile to the Wilderness Camp Pavilion.  Click here for Google Map directions to Spruce Lake Wilderness Camp.

When does camp end?

Dismissal is generally at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays.  You are invited to attend the camp’s Closing Ceremony from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.  Dismissal for Discoverer Weeklong and Mini-Camps will be at 3:30 p.m. with a Closing Ceremony at 2:45 p.m.

What is the camper dismissal policy?

Only authorized persons will be permitted to pick up a camper from camp. Parents/Guardians will be asked to list the authorized adults who have permission to pick up their child/children.  Campers not riding the bus will remain at their tables 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, they will not be able to leave with your child until we contact you or another emergency contact person for permission.

May I pick up my child before camp is over?

Early Dismissal/Pick-up at unusual times – 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 cabin, to sign out the camper prior to departing.  Depending on the time of your departure, we may have your camper’s tent photo, unspent Camper Bank Money and a camp DVD.