An amazing, magical place to be. My son counts the days 'til returning each year.
– SLC Parent
Thank you for getting to know Surprise Lake Camp! It’s my favorite place to be. I hope it will become yours, too.
These days, all of us—kids and parents alike—spend far too much time in front of a screen. At SLC, we invite you to choose a different kind of experience for your child. Here, we help campers 100% unplug, connect, and grow. Fun, fresh air, and friendships fill each day. Skills, maturity, and independence emerge. Connections flourish: to others, to nature, and to our own selves and our shared Jewish values. And we are committed to tuition assistance that makes SLC possible for each family, regardless of ability to pay.
Surprise Lake Camp offers a warm, welcoming community and a program that nurtures campers’ growth.
Our program balances structure and choice, with more opportunities for activities and fun electives and independence as kids grow older. It’s like two camps in one: Mainside (ages 7-12) and Teenside (ages 13-15).
Each side has its own atmosphere and approach to daily living–and its own cabins, waterfronts, dining rooms, and sports fields. They share the climbing tower, ropes courses, zip line, gymnasium, heated swimming pool, and organic farm, and more. Shabbat morning services and many events and performances bring the whole camp together.
Mainside (ages 7-12)
For our youngest campers, Mainside starts off with more structure, some choice, and lots of close supervision—and they get more choice and independence as they grow.
Mountainview (ages 7-9) Groups live together in a large, shared-room cabin which has bathrooms and showers inside. The counselors live in the cabin, too, in an adjoining room.
Seniors (ages 10-12) Groups live in two 6-person cabins or in a single, multi-room cabin where each bedroom accommodates 4-5 campers. Recently-renovated washhouses with showers are nearby. For nighttime convenience, each cabin cluster has an attached restroom. Counselors cabins are connected to the camper cabins. We help Seniors get to know the younger teens on Teenside so they transition smoothly the following summer.
Teenside (ages 13-15)
On Teenside, campers experience a greater sense of independence and responsibility. The teenagers have more choice and more free time, with supervision that encourages autonomy and leadership.
Groups of 8-9 campers live in two cabins connected by a porch, with 4-5 campers to a cabin. Counselors live in attached rooms. Restrooms and showers are nearby, in recently renovated washhouses.
For Work Program, SLC’s Leadership Development Experience, groups of 10 split into separate cabins with up to four campers in each. Counselors live in separate cabins very close by.
Surprise Lake Camp sits on 460 beautiful acres surrounded by an enormous expanse of undeveloped state parkland. Our sparkling, private, half-mile-long lake is nestled between two rugged mountain ridges. We hike our miles and miles of gorgeous trails, enjoying breathtaking views of the Hudson River. We host cookouts and overnights at our well-established campsites.
Located only 60 miles from New York City, SLC is easy to reach—and yet a world away. The environment creates a vision of rustic beauty that dances in the heads of visitors years after they’ve been to camp.
Surprise Lake Camp is intentionally rustic. Spread throughout our large, picturesque site, each cabin sits tucked into its own scenic forest setting. Through screened windows, we listen to frogs on the lake, watch fireflies twinkle at night, and feel the mountain breeze.
We live simply but comfortably, with hot showers and flush-toilet washrooms.
Our cabins are designed to support increasing degrees of independence as children grow. Staff live as part of camper cabins, always in their own staff room, not in an open room shared with children.
Each camper lives and explores all that camp offers from a close-knit home base with an excellent camper:counselor ratio. Campers are placed into a Unit based on their age as of the camp season’s opening day. Units get divided into 3-7 smaller Groups, which live together and share a cabin or set of cabins, creating cohesion. Take a look at a day in the life here.
Mainside Units break into Groups of 10-12 campers with two counselors. Each Unit also has 2-3 floating counselors and/or counselor aides.
Teenside Units break into Groups of 8-9 campers with one counselor, plus 2-3 floating counselors for the Unit. Work Program, SLC’s Leadership Development Experience, open to Upper Teens (age 15), has slightly more independence, with Groups of up to ten campers and one counselor.
Specialists, social workers, Health Center nurses, and camp leadership are accessible to all campers. Our entire well-trained staff is dedicated to the health and wellness of our campers.
So Many Activities
With more than 50 activities and electives available, campers at SLC enjoy a summer of spectacular adventure—all 100% unplugged from phones and screentime!
Many parents appreciate that our program offers balance that provides “the best of both worlds” when they choose this camp: Campers get age-appropriate structure—and increasing variety and independence as they grow. They can try many “Choice” elective options—and dig deep into a “Specialty” skill. They can get sporty on the fields, courts, and rinks, and in the lake and the pool—and get creative in our studios and one of four full musical productions each summer. They can compete in inter-camp tournaments—and enjoy plenty of camaraderie and free play, too.
Judaism at Surprise Lake Camp is joyful, fun, and values-based. Our inclusive community welcomes campers from all kinds of Jewish families, backgrounds, and experiences. By living and celebrating together as a community, in harmony with nature, campers build deep bonds with each other and the world around them.
Our meals are kosher. Camp-style services on Friday evening and Saturday morning are awesome, full of music, singing and spirit. And each summer about 20 campers hold their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs during camp in a program unique to SLC.
“Nestled ‘neath the shady trees, Lies our camp so dear…”
If there’s one moment that encapsulates the SLC experience, it’s what we call “nestling,” when we are gathered in the evening as a community—as Mainside, Teenside, or the whole camp together—to hold hands and sing the camp song. We cherish these special occasions, on the shores of our lake, as the sun goes down, with voices rising to the sky. It feels, as one person called it, “like a big group hug.”
Alumni cherish chances to come back to camp “to nestle.” As one alum explains, “Each time it reminds me how lucky we are to have this place. As a camper, nestling helped me reflect on how awesome it was to spend the whole day here—and to get to do it again tomorrow.” Nestling is one of many beloved traditions at Surprise Lake Camp, resonating on nights at camp and for years beyond.