Pretty Lake Camp FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pretty Lake Camp?

Pretty Lake Camp is a non-profit organization founded in 1916 by Mr. Edward Desenberg. We have served more than 50,000 youth from the Kalamazoo County area. We provide a totally cost-free summer camp experience to all our campers. In addition, we provide everything a camper needs while at camp – clothing, linens and bedding, personal hygiene items, transportation to and from camp registration, food and activities.

This summer camp experience is made possible in part through rental revenue and voluntary contributions from people who believe in our mission and understand our community’s role in caring for its youth.

How much does camp cost?

While it costs Pretty Lake Camp more than $800 per camper, camp is completely free to the families or legal caregivers of the children who attend. We provide everything a camper needs while at camp – clothing, linens and bedding, personal hygiene items, transportation to and from camp registration, food and activities. Pretty Lake Camp provides everything totally cost-free to remove the barriers that would prevent children from being able to attend summer camp.

What do campers need to bring to camp?

  • Camp will provide everything your camper needs for the time they are at camp.  This includes: clothing, bedding, towels, food, health care, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant, sunscreen, shampoo, combs, postcards and postage to write home.
  • Please send your camper to camp in a comfortable pair of tennis shoes (not sandals).
  • If you would like you can send socks, underwear, and a swimsuit (girls one-piece only please) with your camper to camp.  Please make sure you write your camper’s name on all clothing items.
  • All medications, including over-the-counter medications and vitamins, will be turned in to our healthcare staff.  All medication must be in the original container with the camper’s name, dosage and times clearly stated.  If the label does not have the correct information, the healthcare staff will refuse to administer the medication unless a physician’s note is written for use with any administration changes.  Please consider which medications are necessary for your camper for the week they are at Camp and plan accordingly.
  • Be sure there is enough medication to last the whole time your camper is at camp.

 Please leave these items at home:

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

Pretty Lake is not responsible for any items left or lost at Camp.  

What are Pretty Lake Camp’s funding sources?

Pretty Lake Camp is largely funded by private donations and grants in addition to revenue from our Adventure Centre programs, hospitality and facility rentals.

Has Pretty Lake Camp ever skipped a summer?

No. Pretty Lake Camp has run continuously since its founding – not missing a single summer, in spite of the wars, Great Depression and pandemics.

How many children does Pretty Lake Camp serve?

Prior to 2020’s pandemic, Pretty Lake Camp has typically served between 600-700 children in its summer camp program. Most sessions are five days, four nights in length, and campers can attend one of the sessions if they are chosen to participate.  To date, Pretty Lake Camp has served over 50,000 children. Through the Covid-19 pandemic we were able to serve 800 children adapting our programs, camp sessions and through collaborations with other community organizations, allowing us to support our community and its children.

What are the ages of youth that Pretty Lake Camp serves?

The summer camp programs serve children at camp time from ages 8 to 13.

How do children apply to the program?

Our online application typically opens in February each year. Due to the pandemic the application process will open a little later than usual allowing us to follow gathering limits by Executive/MDHHS. Interested parents can learn more about applying online here. Call us at 269-375-1950 with any questions about applying for summer camp.

How are children chosen for the program?

Pretty Lake’s core summer mission is to provide a totally cost-free summer camp. We have general and specific eligibility guidelines campers must meet in order to be considered for the program.  Rules for acceptance and participation are the same for everyone without regard to race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, disability, national origin, or any other legally protected status.  The general requirements for our campers are: must be managed socially and behaviorally in a group with one staff and eight campers, independent in their self-care skills, and a resident of Kalamazoo County  or attending school in Kalamazoo County or Mattawan School District.  If your child requires special medical or health attention or care while attending camp please contact Camp Director to discuss how we can make camp successful for your child.  The specific requirements for each program are listed below:

Explorer Camp – Children at camp time ages 8-9.

Pathfinder Camp – Children at camp time ages 10-11.

Trailblazer Camp – Children at camp time ages 12-13.

Application Process

Applications are scored and children are selected to attend camp based on need – whether social, emotional or financial.  Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate every camper that applies.

Camp Activities

Listed below are some of the many activities we offer at Pretty Lake Camp. All activities are supervised by trained staff including certified lifeguards and instructors.

  • 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, corcls and tubing for lessons and leisure.
  • Campfire – skits and songs to delight campers of all ages.
  • Crafts – projects and lessons in arts using nature and other materials.
  • Field Sports – learning and playing field games such as disc golf and baseball.
  • 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.
  • Swimming – leisure in Pretty Lake.

What other programs does Pretty Lake offer?

In addition to Summer Camp, Pretty Lake provides year-round programming and rental opportunities to the community.

Throughout the year, Pretty Lake works with individuals or groups including but not limited to small businesses, corporations, families, churches and athletic teams to name a few. We are open during the winter and provide overnight lodging with guests staying in all-season cabins or in the Retreat Center. We also provide full food service that can be tailored to meet each group’s needs.

How big is Pretty Lake Camp, Adventure Centre, and Farm?

The organization comprises 250 acres and makes up 2/3 of the shoreline of Pretty Lake.

Where is Pretty Lake Camp located?

Pretty Lake Camp is located just ten minutes from Kalamazoo (southwest of the I-94/US-131 interchange) on Q Avenue in Texas Township. Complete directions are available here.

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