Summer Camp at Pretty Lake

Summer Camp at Pretty Lake

Pretty Lake Camp’s core summer mission is to provide free summer camp to eligible children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in a summer camp program. For over a century, we have welcomed tens of thousands of children!

Why Camp?

During their time here, campers are given the chance to be outdoors, play, try new activities, learn to swim, have fun, and meet new people. All of this helps to build a child’s self-esteem, independence, skills, and ability to care for others.

Summer camp can be a powerful experience in a child’s life. It can be a time to explore, laugh, learn and develop independence. Pretty Lake Camp provides a unique overnight camp experience that resonates with children throughout their lifetime.

Goals for our campers:

Over the years, Pretty Lake Camp has identified a number of goals for our  camp program and our campers.

 Camp should foster…

  • positive self-concept development of campers.
  • the opportunity to develop a more positive attitude and the realization of individual capability.
  • greater personal independence.
  • personal awareness and relationship with the natural environment, a chance to be “unplugged” from electronics to better appreciate the natural world
  • opportunities for social interaction and development of social skills.
  • development of outdoor recreational skills.
  • opportunities for fun in a safe environment.

The goals of Pretty Lake Camp are achieved whenever the camper…

  • indicates to others in some way that they are having fun and a good time.
  • is able to socially interact harmoniously with cabin mates, fellow campers, and staff.
  • develops positive relationships at camp, whether that be a friendship with another camper or a mentoring relationship with a staff member.
  • acknowledges in some way an appreciation, awareness, and understanding of the significance of the natural environment in their life.
  • is able to perform at least one or two new physical skill which they could not perform before coming to Camp, or which they now perform at a higher level.
  • has contributed as a member of the cabin group in decision making, choosing activities, creating a schedule, and participating in camp life.
  • has participated in a new challenge or adventure.
  • expresses that their expectations, hopes, and interests they wanted met at amp were fulfilled in some way.


No Cost to Kids (or their Families)

We are able to provide everything at no cost because of the support of others. Camp is made possible through financial donations of all amounts from others, in-kind donations from our wish list, and income from renting our facilities for meetings, gatherings or events. We rely on others passing the word about our programs!

What to Expect at Camp

Age Groups at Camp

Camp is currently open to local children, ages 8-13. 



Camp Activities

Pretty Lake Camp. All activities are supervised by trained staff including certified lifeguards and instructors.  Here are just some of the activities that a camper may try this summer!

  • Archery – learn proper use of equipment and go for a shot at the bull’s-eye.
  • Biking – riding mountain bikes around the camp property.
  • Boating – canoes, kayaks, pontoon boat, and corcls for lessons and leisure.
  • Campfire – skits and songs to delight campers of all ages.
  • Climbing activities – Our older campers will have the opportunity to tackle our 35-foot rock wall or try other climbing activities, wearing a safety harness and helmet, under the supervision of our highly trained adventure center staff.
  • Crafts – projects and lessons in arts using nature and other materials.
  • Field Sports – learning and playing field games such as disc golf and baseball.
  • Fishing – learn how to cast a fishing pole and catch a fish off a dock.
  • Performing Arts – playing instruments, singing and even dancing at Camp.
  • Environmental Education skills – learning about the natural environment and outdoor skills using our beautiful facility.
  • STEM – learn about science, technology, engineering, and math in a camp setting.
  • Swimming – All inpost campers will participate in swimming lessons while they are at camp. There will also be plenty of time for free swim in Pretty Lake!
  • Team Building & Low ropes course –under the guidance of our Adventure Centre staff, all campers will be able to participate in a series of team building and problem-solving games specially designed for their group, to help each cabin develop communication, cooperation, and understanding in their group.

    Daily Schedule

    At Pretty Lake, no day is exactly like any other.  There is so much to explore here that every day brings new adventures.  Each day will include some activities that a whole cabin goes to together, some activities that allow more individual choice, and some activities where the whole camp community comes together.  Here is a sample schedule to give you an idea of what a day at camp might look like. The specifics of the schedule will change depending on the age of the camper and the kinds of activities scheduled.


    7:30 a.m.             Rise ‘n’ Shine

    8:00 a.m.             Breakfast: a yummy meal prepared by Chef Jai and her team

    8:45 a.m.             Cabin Clean-up

    9:00 a.m.             Activity #1 – for example, going to the farm to harvest vegetables or feed the animals

    10:00 a.m.          Activity #2 – for example, shooting arrows at archery, or going for a bike ride

    11:00 a.m.          Activity #3 – for example, team building activities with our adventure center staff

    12:00 p.m.          Lunch: a yummy meal prepared by Chef Jai and her team

    12:45 p.m.          Rest Hour – time to relax horizontally and unwind after an eventful morning

    1:50 p.m.             Specialized Activity – a cabin activity specially chosen and planned for that group

    3:00 p.m.             Snack

    3:25 p.m.             Activity #4 – for example, arts and crafts or playing basketball

    4:30 p.m.             Activity #5 – for example, instructional swim followed by recreational swim in the lake!

    5:45 p.m.             Dinner: a yummy meal prepared by Chef Jai and her team

    7:00 p.m.             All Camp Activity or cookout with cabin

    8:30 p.m.             Flag Lowering – a chance to reflect on our day and set goals for the next one

    9:00 p.m.             Showers

    10:00 p.m.          Lights Out


    What are meals like?

    Our fantastic dining hall staff, led by Chef Jai, cooks three meals for our campers every day.  Menus are designed to be nutritious and kid-friendly, with enough options to make sure that every child has enough to eat.  Our tasting experts (children just like yours!) say that food at camp is some of the best they have ever eaten.  Our kitchen can also accommodate many special diets, so if your child has particular dietary needs, just ask.

    In addition to meals, campers also have a snack every afternoon to help them keep up with the active days at camp!

    What are the Cabins like?

    Our 8 – 13-year-old campers stay in cabins that we affectionately refer to as our “Inpost.” These cabins have electricity and inside bathrooms including toilets, sinks, and showers.  Cabins are cozy buildings that have climate control but also windows to let in natural summer air.  Every cabin also has its own screened porch that provides a great place for a cabin group to spend some time outdoors right by their cabin, no matter what the weather may be like.
    Our Inpost cabins are currently set up to house fifteen campers and three counselors.  Campers sleep in bunk beds, and each camper has their own cubby to keep their belongings.


    Parent Information

    Summer 2024 Dates and Rates

    Summer camp is provided for free to all eligible children who are invited to attend a session.

    The dates for our 2024 sessions are as follows:

    • To be announced!


    Camper Eligibility

    To be eligible to attend Pretty Lake Camp in 2024, prospective campers must meet the following criteria.

    • Between the ages of 8 and 13 at the time that they attend camp
    • Resident of Kalamazoo County, or attending school in Kalamazoo County or Mattawan School District
    • Member of a household experiencing financial circumstances such that the child would otherwise be unable to attend a summer camp program
    • Independent in their self-care skills: able to take a shower, get dressed, eat meals independently, etc. (Counselors will provide guidance and reminders to campers, but the campers must be able to complete these activities by themselves.)
    • Able to successfully engage socially and behaviorally in a group with one staff member and eight campers. At this time, we are unable to provide one-on-one behavioral support for our campers.

    Based on this information, please contact us at if you have questions about whether a session at Pretty Lake is right for your child.

    Decisions about eligibility are never based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, height, weight, ability, or any other legally protected status.

    Eligible applicants are accepted on a first-come basis. We may not be able to accommodate every eligible camper who applies.


    Who will be taking care of my child?

    At Pretty Lake Camp, we pride ourselves on the incredibly strong group of staff who join us each summer.

    Our summer staff is made up of college students and young adults who join us both from the Kalamazoo area and from around the globe. Many of our counselors were campers right here at Pretty Lake when they were younger. Others have joined the Pretty Lake family more recently but share our vision for creating amazing opportunities for all of our campers. Our staff choose to spend their summer at camp because they enjoy and respect children, and because they share a passion for mentoring youth and for building a summer community based around compassion, embracing diversity, and enjoying the natural world.

    To ensure the safety of our children, all of our staff are thoroughly vetted through interviews, reference checks, and multiple criminal background checks.

    Once hired, our summer staff members go through an extensive orientation and training program at the beginning of the summer to learn not only how to plan and lead amazing camp activities but also topics in child development, risk management, conflict resolution, health and safety, and more.

    Our staff’s main priority is the safety and well-being of our campers, while creating a community that encourages campers to develop confidence, self-esteem, respect for themselves and others while having a fun and memorable time at camp.


    How do I apply for my child to attend camp?

    Summer camp registration will open in late winter each year.

    When you are ready to enroll your child, please click on this link, which will take you to the registration page.

    At the bottom of that page, you will either sign in using your email and a password you have previously created, or you will create a new account if no one in your household has attended Pretty Lake Camp before.

    Once you have logged in, you will be walked through the camper application process.


    My child has applied to come to camp this summer. Now what?

    In the late spring, we will contact each family that has registered children for camp to inform them of whether their child has been accepted and to invite the child to a particular session of camp.

    This letter will include specific information about what you and your child can expect during their session.  You will learn about how to prepare for the session, and we will give you information about opening and closing days, including details about when and where to drop off and pick up your child for their week at camp!


    What should we pack to come to camp?

    Pretty Lake Camp provides almost everything a camper needs to make their week at camp a success, free of charge, in order to remove any barriers that might keep campers from being able to attend camp. Please see the packing list below to see what you should bring to camp and what you should leave at home.

    We provide the following:

    • Bedding and towels
    • Clothing, socks, underwear, and swimwear
    • Personal hygiene items (toothpaste/brush, deodorant, sunscreen, shampoo, etc.)
    • Transportation to and from camp from designated site in Kalamazoo
    • All food including meals and snacks
    • All basic health care
    • All program materials and supplies, including sports equipment, arts supplies, etc.

    Packing list—Here is what you SHOULD bring:

      Your child should wear good-fitting close-toed shoes (e.g., gym shoes, sneakers, running shoes, tennis shoes, etc.) when you drop your child off on opening day. Please don’t wear sandals.
      If this provides a financial challenge for you, please be in touch with camp.

    If your child takes medication, it must be brought to drop-off in its original packaging.  Pretty Lake Camp will only administer unexpired prescriptions to the child whose name is on the container’s label. We must also give your child the dose that is listed on the container.

      If you prefer, your child may bring their own underwear, socks, and a bathing suit (modest bathing suits only). However, it is not required. We will supply these items to campers. All campers will also be able to bring home several new pairs of socks and underwear that they were issued at camp.
      If your child does bring these items, please label each item clearly with their full name.
    • OPTIONAL-COMFORT ITEM, as needed:

    Your child may bring one comfort item (e.g., teddy bear) as needed, if it will help them to feel comfortable at camp.  It must be labeled with the child’s full name.

    • Your child does not need to bring anything else with them to camp.
    • If campers bring anything else, it will be sent back with parents/guardians on arrival day.

    Please leave these items at home:

    • Alcohol, illegal drugs, fireworks, money, weapons
    • Cell phones, tablets or other electronics
    • Expensive or brand name clothing/shoes/jewelry
    • Digital cameras, video cameras and any music or MP3 players
    • Personal sports equipment
    • Animals

    COVID-19 for Camp Parent Resources

    We will share the specifics of our 2023 plan for addressing COVID 19 at camp  when we send out our invitations to join us for a 2023 session. In the meantime, you may be interested in the following resources, which we will consult as we make our plans.

    Pretty Lake Camp COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan

    American Camp Association COVID-19 Resources for Parents

    State of Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs: Guidelines for Camp Operations During COVID-19

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Suggestions for Youth & Summer Camps

    Kalamazoo County Health Department COVID-19 Resources

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