As Your Camper Grows

Our daughter is growing so much through her camp experience!

– SLC Parent

As Your Camper Grows

As young people grow, Surprise Lake Camp grows with them. Our program—and our physical campus, with its two sides: Mainside (current 1st – 6th graders) and Teenside (current 7th-10th graders) — are designed to help young people take the lead in their own growth. We cultivate children’s skills and confidence so that they can gain increasing independence, safely.

Our whole staff is dedicated to excellent camper care, supporting campers’ physical and mental well-being. Our leadership team, our well-trained counselors, and our on-site Health Center social workers and staff partner with families to ensure that each camper has a successful summer, making a positive transition at each stage of growth.

Here are some of the kinds of transitions we see every summer, and how we approach them:

From Sibling to Camper

Younger siblings may already feel that camp is a familiar place, but they make the transition to camper even more easily when they get an introduction to camp like every new camper. Consider registering this child for one of our two Rookie Days, where future campers can try camp for a day. The five-day Get Your Feet Wet program is another easy introduction to get comfortable for the following summer.

From Get Your Feet Wet to a Mini-Camp Session

Get Your Feet Wet campers have Surprise Lake Camp to themselves after the regular season campers have gone home. In a subsequent summer, these campers can register for a short Mini-Camp session or for a 4-week session, both of which happen during our regular summer season. Either one can, at first, feel like a leap, with so many more options and people around. Because our Mini-Campers unit contains all first-timers, though, SLC makes it easier for these new campers to experience SLC together.

From a First-Timer Program to a Regular 4-Week Session

The transition from one of our introductory programs—Get Your Feet Wet or Mini-Camp—into the regular pace of Mainside is one that we carefully manage. Having a session of nearly four weeks allows a camper enough time to get fully past any initial homesickness. If you receive a letter from your camper about homesickness, please don’t panic! Often, by the time that letter reaches your home, your child feels entirely differently.

From Mainside to Teenside

Mainside (current 1st – 6th graders​) starts off with more structure, some choice, and lots of close supervision. Teenside (current 7th-10th graders) has a vibe all its own. Our aim is for the campers to experience a greater sense of independence and responsibility. The teenagers have more choice and more free time, with supervision that encourages autonomy and leadership. To bridge the transition, Mainside campers gain more choice and independence as they grow into being the “Seniors” on their side of camp. They also get to know the Lower Teens by sharing some special activities, like an amusement park trip.

Into SLC’s Leadership Development Experience

We have merged the best parts of our Leadership & Advanced Leadership programs into one awesome program for our oldest campers:  

  • Campers will spend time with their peers in regular camper program – they’ll participate in Specialty, Swim, Arts & Sports, and Evening Activities 
  • Campers will learn how to program plan for the younger campers in camp – and get to run activities for them 
  • Work hours will offer on the job training and weekly evaluations on how to improve 
  • Campers will have Workshops focusing on life skills, team building and measurable real-world skills (Ex – how to apply and interview for a job, how to weekly budget and meal plan, etc.) 
  • All campers will get a taste of work in different areas in camp!  This will help them determine what they might enjoy for future placement. 

Applicants must have finished 10th grade before the start of camp next summer. Admission is selective, requiring an interview in person or by video chat.