My son says he had the best summer of his life, full of trying new things.
– SLC Parent
Activities & Fun
Families often tell us they like how Surprise Lake Camp balances structure and choice, offering the best of both. Bond with your Unit and group in shared activities like Waterfront and Pool. Then follow your own interests, hone your skills, and/or try something totally new!
Campers get to pick a Speciality elective for 3 times/week and explore more than 50 Choice options. As campers grow, their amount of Choice also grows. We’re always adding special experiences, too, such as Balloon Animal Making, Juggling, or Young Scientists. With so many options, campers will find lots to love!
Daily Schedule At-a-Glance
|Mainside (ages 7-12)||Teenside (ages 13-15)|
|7:30am||Wake up, campers!||Wake up, campers!
|8am||Round-Up (songs & cheers) |
|9am||Clean Up||Clean Up
|9:45am||First Activity||First Activity
|10:50am||Second Activity||Second Activity
|11:55am||Third Activity||Third Activity
|1:45pm||Hafsakah/Rest Time||Hafsakah/Rest & Free Time|
|3pm||First Afternoon Activity||First Afternoon Activity
|4:15pm||Second Afternoon Activity||Second Afternoon Activity
|5:15pm||Third Afternoon Activity||Third Afternoon Activity
|7:15pm||Evening Activity||Evening Activity
|8:30pm||Back Up to Cabins||Open Curfew: Games & Free Time|
|9:30pm||Lights Out||Back Up to Cabins|
Explore Your Options
Ever played 4-Square on a playground? Now make it bigger, and put it up in the air (like volleyball) for the awesome game of 9-Square. You can play with a big group or just a few friends. At SLC, we play it during activity periods and in free time.
Bullseye! Learn to use a bow and arrow. Archery combines strength and precision as you aim for your personal best.
Have a ball under the lights outside or in our modern Belle Abramson Gymnasium–which has a scoreboard, bleachers, lockers and showers. Coaches offer instructional fun, and you can play during free time, too, in games for all ages. Go casual, with pickup camper-vs-staff games during hafsakah (rest hour), or advance your skills in progressive tournaments as a specialty elective. SLC also competes in intercamp tournaments, with home and away games.
Perfect your spike, or learn the rules of the game, whatever your experience level, on our sandy court.
Try your hand at ceramics, including learning to use a potter’s wheel. We’ll fire your pieces in SLC’s kilns, so you can take home your masterpieces. This activity is available to Teenside campers.
Learn modern dance, jazz, hip hop, and so much more. Build skills in choreography and have an opportunity to perform in camp, whatever your prior skills and experience.
Pump it up! Whether you want to build strength for your coming sports season or learn proper technique, you can use SLC’s weight room and fitness gym for lifting and building muscle. This activity is available to Teenside campers.
Israeli dodgeball is a camp favorite. Played in round courts, the rules are simple–but they keep you on your toes!
Hiking & Camping
SLC is situated on 460 wooded acres surrounded by undeveloped state parkland. Miles of trails—and our experienced guides who know this land—take you on adventures where you’ll connect with nature…and yourself. Overnight camping trips (using SLC tents) create lasting memories. After all, everything tastes better when shared by a campfire.
On SLC’s street hockey rinks (on both Mainside and Teenside), you’ll learn stick-handling and teamwork.
In the Pool
Jump into our heated, modern swimming pool—or take a ride down the waterslide. Campers have free swim several times a week. Sometimes we turn on the lights for an evening pool party! An accessible pool lift means that everyone can enjoy a swim.
The land of Israel is a special resource for Jewish culture and pride, and campers will feel a love of Israel throughout camp. A cohort of Israeli counselors and specialists, including some bunk counselors, lead songs and spirit days. Campers get to know them and their stories one-on-one, too.
Music, Guitar & Drums
Sing. Play the drums. Play the guitar. Just let the music move you! At SLC, you can learn to read music, create a beat, and strum a chord. Camp provides guitars, an array of African drums, and music. No experience necessary; all levels welcome. Our music program is sponsored by singer-songwriter (and SLC alum) Neil Diamond.
Write for The Times of Surprise Lake. Published four times each summer, The Times features stories and artwork by SLC’s intrepid reporters who get the inside scoop on the people and activities of camp.
On the Lake
Use the stand-up paddleboards, or choose from our fleet of canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats, and windsurfers. On hot days, bounce and slide in from the water trampoline. Have you ever pedalled a giant-wheeled Aquacycle? This is your chance!
Check out the chickens! Then get your hands in the dirt in SLC’s organic vegetable garden, vineyard, fruit orchard, butterfly garden, and extensive flower beds. Examine the intricate work of bees in our apiary (beehives). Learn about sustainable agriculture, food justice, and responsible stewardship of the planet’s ecosystems, and how these ideas are rooted in Jewish law and tradition. Campers get to plant, cultivate, harvest and eat what we grow.
Photography & Videography
Learn to use the technology of digital cameras, video cameras, and computer graphics. You will get to take pictures of all aspects of camp life, and then help put together the end-of-session slide show and video.
Ropes, Climbing Tower & Zip Line
Take your strength and confidence to new heights! SLC offers both low and high ropes course, with individual challenges and teamwork opportunities. Learn to climb and belay at the climbing tower. A highlight for many campers: whoosh through the trees on our own zip line!
Fields on both Mainside and Teenside mean that a soccer game is never far away. Coaches run drills to build skills for campers who choose this specialty elective, while campers and staff scrimmage and play games during hafsakah (rest hour) and pick-up games during free time. SLC also competes in intercamp tournaments, with home and away games.
A game on the SLC diamond is always a home run in Mainside and Teenside games for all ages. Batter up in pickup games during hafsakah (rest hour), or get coaching and more intensive skill-building in the softball specialty elective. SLC also competes in intercamp tournaments, with home and away games.
Enjoy a steady stream of special programs, including SLC’s very own Olympics, Carnival, Israel Day, parties, and celebrations. Special guests often come to camp for a performance or to lead a special activity.
Fun Fact: a young Neil Diamond was inspired to write songs after seeing Pete Seeger perform for campers in a special event at SLC!
Have fun honing your game with our talented tennis specialists. Learn to serve, volley, forehand, backhand, and smash like the pros. Bring your racquet if you like, or use one of ours.
Meet and help care for SLC’s bunnies and goats. Learn outdoor and camping skills, such as using a compass and building a campfire. Explore the natural world, including how to recycle or “upcycle” what you might otherwise throw away. Get to know SLC’s spring-fed lake, including the fish that live in it and the creatures such as lizards and frogs that live on its banks.
If you like to be on stage or behind the scenes, you’ll love theatre at SLC. Perform in a show, or work backstage on set design, lighting, and sound. We put on four full musicals each summer! Each session, Mainside and Teenside each rehearse, create, and present a show to the entire camp on the stage of the huge Eddie Cantor Theatre overlooking Surprise Lake.
Mainside’s 2018 shows:
The Little Mermaid
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Tournaments & Away Games
Interested campers can join SLC’s sports teams and take part in tournaments and matches with other camps–some hosted at SLC and some away. These games give campers a chance to use the skills they’ve gained in practice with our coaches and specialists while having a great time bonding with their teammates.
Trips Out of Camp
Every camper gets to go on trips out of camp.
All campers get a trip to an amusement-style park once each session. To promote bonding for the following summer, the oldest Mainside campers (Upper Seniors) and the Lower Teens take their trip together.
Teens get a second trip, too: they get to choose one of three options, such as attending a minor league baseball game (schedule dependent), crossing the Walkway Over the Hudson (the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge), or touring a real dairy/farm.
During Session 2, the Upper Teens (our oldest camper unit) go on a three-day, two-night trip away from camp, an experience which is always a highlight of their summer.
Fees for all day trips are included in camper tuition already; there are no extra costs except for any spending money you may wish to provide directly to your camper for snacks and souvenirs. The exception is the Upper Teen 3-day Session 2 trip, for which there is an additional $350 trip fee.
Select from a variety of projects & media. Explore sculpture, copper work, painting, drawing, jewelry, and much more in our studios.
At the beginning of each session, our lifeguards and swim specialists assess each camper’s swimming skills for placement into the most appropriate instructional level. Every camper gets weekly American Red Cross swim instruction. Swimmers who achieve a new swim level receive an American Red Cross swim card.