Pretty Lake Camp
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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 60,000 at-risk youth from the Kalamazoo area. We provide a totally free residential camping 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 – at no cost to the camper or their family.

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 $500 per camper, camp is completely free to all 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 – at no cost to the camper or their family. Pretty Lake Camp provides everything at no charge in order to reduce the barriers that prevent children from being able to attend or afford summer 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 Adventure Centre programs, Farm programs, facility rentals. We also receive a small amount of USDA funding through the summer food service program.

Has Pretty Lake Camp ever skipped a summer?

No. Pretty Lake Camp has run continuously since its founding – not missing a single summer, even through the wars and Great Depression.

How many children does Pretty Lake Camp serve?

Pretty Lake Camp typically serves between 700-800 children in its summer camp program. Most sessions are six days, five nights in length, and campers can attend one of the sessions if they are chosen to participate. The maximum capacity per session is approximately 140 campers. To date, Pretty Lake Camp has served over 60,000 children.

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

The summer camp programs serve children currently in the 3rd – 11th grades, with the majority (more than 70%) being 3rd-5th graders.

How do children apply to the program?

Our online application typically opens in March each year. 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?

After the applications are collected, they are carefully reviewed and scored based on certain criteria, such as if the child receives free/reduced lunch at school, their living situation, if they have a parent with a life-threatening illness, etc. Children who demonstrate the greatest need are selected to attend a session.

All children who apply are either assigned a session (based on their score) or put on the stand-by list. Children on the stand-by list are welcome to show up at registration and may sometimes be selected to attend camp if registered children do not show up.

What do children do at camp?

Our summer program is full of many different fun and challenging activities for our campers. Activities include canoeing/kayaking, nature program, swimming, archery, arts & crafts, team building, campfires, games and much more! Pretty Lake Camp also provides programs that help support community and school initiatives, such as literacy (through journaling and checking out books from the camp library), being physically active, and the like.

What other programs does Pretty Lake offer?

Pretty Lake has grown beyond summer camp and now serves more than 5,000 people annually, including children and adults, through year-round programming at our Adventure Centre, Farm, and retreat and rental facilities.

Throughout the year, Pretty Lake works with all types of groups, from large corporations to families to churches and athletic teams. 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.