Help & FAQs.

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Summer Camp Help & FAQs— Updated January 9, 2019

How old do you have to be to attend camp?

Sunset Lake (SSL) has camp programs available for children and youth ages 8-17. Camp programs are arranged by school level, elementary, middle and high school. There is a 6 month grace period for the camp age ranges to allow campers to attend camp with their friends.

How old do you have to be to work at camp?

SSL has a junior internship program for students ages 15-17 who desire to serve the Lord by working at camp in the future. We have a variety of paid summer staff positions for ages 17+. Camp counselors are 18 or older and our area directors are typically 21.

When can I sign up my camper for camp?

Camp registration opens on February 1 of each year for the following summer. All registrations happen online through our UltraCamp registration portal linked throughout the sight. A $50 deposit is required at the time of registration for each session in order to reserve a spot. The remaining balance is due before your check-in date. Sessions are filled on a first come, first served basis, so it is important to register early to reserve the camp and class of your choice. Visit our camp registration page for more detailed registration information.

Can I Pay by Credit Card when I register?

Yes. We accept Visa, Mastercard and Discover. You may also pay by e-check.

Is Financial Aid Available

Yes. Our Worthy Camper Scholarship program provides up to 50% of the funding for a week of camp. You will be given the option of applying for a scholarship when you register. Scholarship are given based on need. You will be asked to submit your total Adjusted Gross Income from your latest tax return along with a reference letter confirming your need from an authoritative source such as a teacher, work supervisor or pastor. Please go to our scholarship page for more detailed information. You may also wish to consult with your local church to see if scholarship money is available. Some church provide financial aid for families with need.

If I must cancel, will I get a refund?

Every camper’s tuition must be paid in full no later than the day the camp session begins. The tuition is refundable, less a $50 processing and cancellation fee, if the camper’s enrollment is canceled not later than one week before camp session begins. If the cancelation occurs within a week prior to the start of your camp session no refund will be available except in the case of a physical injury, sickness or the death of a family member. Homesickness and dismissal from camp are not accepted as a basis for refund.

What does the price of camp include?

The prices listed next to each camp include just about everything your camper needs while at camp; food, lodging, and a ton of fun activities! Our specialty classes have additional charges that will be applied when you register your camper for camp. The only additional expense is spending money for the store. Consider putting an additional amount in your camper’s camp store account.

Where do the campers stay?

All campers stay in either the Timber or Cascade Village. The boys and girls campers stay in their own village. Each cabin can sleep up to 10 people and has a private shower room and a private bathroom. The campers sleep in bunk beds. A mattress is provided, but each camper should bring their own bedding and pillow. The cabins are supervised by a counselor who lives in the cabin with the campers. Our junior interns also provide additional supervision in the mornings and evenings.

What does a typical day look like for my camper?

Each day at camp is filled with new adventures. While some details may change during the week, here is a peak at a typical day at camp.

6:45      Good Morning!
7:30      A Word for the Day
7:45      Village Circle
7:50      Line Call/Flag Raising
8:00      Breakfast
9:00      Morning Worship
9:40      Classes Begin
12:20    Line Call/Mail Call
12:30    Lunch
1:30      Cabin Rest Time
2:30      Cabin Activities
5:40      Prepare for supper
5:55      Line Call
6:00      Supper
7:15      All Camp Game
8:00      Line Call/Flag Lowering
8:15      Evening Worship and Night Play
9:15      Village Circle
10:00    Lights Out – Good Night

What is the food like at camp?

Our Le Cordon Bleu trained chef and his team serves three vegetarian meals a day. Each meal is locally sourced, prepared from scratch and served buffet style. Fresh seasonal fruit purchased at the Ballard Farmers Market is a staple throughout the week. After more than 60 years of camp we have learned how to prepare food that kids love to eat and nutritionally balanced. While the food quality at meal is excellent, we know that not every meal will please the taste of every camper. At each meal we provide options so that no camper leaves the meal hungry. If your camper has not enjoyed a vegetarian diet before, we think they will be surprised with how great the food is. Some of our favorite meals include macaroni and cheese, home-made pizza, pancakes with fresh berries and whipped cream, and our famous cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning!

Will the camp be able to work with the dietary restrictions of my camper?

At every meal we provide dairy free and gluten free options. If your camper has food sensitivities or allergies please discuss this with us prior to your camper’s week of camp. We do our best to work with each situation, but there are limits to what is possible.

How do you ensure my camper’s safety at camp?

Many of the activities at camp incur a certain level of inherent risk. However, SSL does all we can to ensure your camper’s safety. High risk areas, such as challenge course, horseback riding and waterfront are led by trained and certified staff members. A minimum of two staff members are present at each activity area at all time. As an accredited member of the American Camp Association we adhere to the very highest standards of camp safety and must maintain accreditation through regular onsite visits. Our safety record is reviewed each year and adjustments to our camp program are made when necessary. Each of our staff members

I noticed you are a Christian camp. Will you push your religion on my camper?

We are proud to be a Seventh-day Adventist Christian camp, and therefore teach Christian values from the Bible in our camping programs and activities. We also hire mature Christian staff who we expect will model a Godly lifestyle that we hope campers will want to emulate. Each day begins with a short worship and time learning from the Bible. Each evening we share a continued drama that highlights the week’s theme. Throughout the week, we will give campers the opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ, and if they wish, indicate a desire to prepare for baptism at a future date. However, we recognize that it is a personal choice to become a Christian and fully respect each individual's decision. We do not force, manipulate or use scare tactics to try and make someone do something they don't want to do. We respect the role you play as the guide of your camper and will always seek to be a partner with you in his or her development. You will be informed of each decision your camper makes at camp and will be free to follow this up as you see fit. We provide resources that you can use to continue your camper’s spiritual journey.

Do I have to be a Seventh-day Adventist to attend your camp?

No! We love the fact that nearly 50% of our campers are either from other faith traditions or from no religious background at all. At SSL you belong, no matter who you are or where you come from.

What are the primary spiritual themes shared at camp?

During your camper’s camp journey from our Base Camps to Summit Camps we hope to address four central topics. 1.) Our identity as a child of God. 2.) The of joy belonging to the family of God. 3.) Our purpose as a disciple of Jesus. 4. How to become a Christian leader.

What do Seventh-day Adventists believe?

The Seventh-day Adventist Church presents a picture of Jesus that is simple, relevant for today and filled with hope for the future. We believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the only source of salvation and that through faith Jesus, His righteousness covers our sin. Eternal life is a gift that we don’t deserve and cannot earn. We believe that man was created perfect in the Garden of Eden and that after sin came into the world, it has been God’s singular goal to restore us to face to face communion with Him. We believe that God has set aside the seventh-day of the week as a day of worship and has invited us to experience a taste of heaven during this 24 hour period of time. As Seventh-day Adventists, we live in the joyful expectation that Jesus is coming soon. As we wait, we believe this hope should shape our actions towards a broken and hurting world. It is our desire to share the good news of Jesus’ soon return in both words and deeds. For a complete listing of our beliefs go to Adventist Beliefs.

How can I communicate with my camper while they are at camp?

Campers love to get mail and packages from home. Please address your camper mail as follows:

c/o Sunset Lake Camp
P.O. Box 90
Wilkeson, WA 98396-0090

You may also choose to send emails to your camper. To do so, please log into your UltraCamp account and click the “Additional Options” button at the top right of the page. Then select “Email a Camper” in the drop-down menu. You may also send family and friends a code that allows them to email your camper. Emails received by 10am will be distributed during that morning’s mail call. Emails received after that time will be held until the following day.

Can I call my camper at camp?

You are always welcome to call your camper if a need arises. However, keep in mind that a part of your camper’s camp experience is learning to live independently from home. We recommend that phone calls be limited to family emergencies or other important matters. Because camp is a time to step away from the hectic pace of life and focus on relationships, cell phones are NOT permitted at camp. Thanks for keeping your camper’s phone at home.

How can I prepare my camper for his or her week of camp?

To give your camper the best opportunity for an amazing week, begin preparing them at home for what they are going to experience. Here are a few tips:

1. Involve your camper in the decision to spend time away from home, so that they have a sense of control.

2. Speak openly of possible homesickness. Feeling homesick and missing family, friends and pets is normal. Knowing this, your camper may accept homesick feeling with less anxiety.

3. Arrange for a practice time away from home, such as a two-or-three-day stay with relatives. If they have reached high school without having gone to summer camp or more than a night away from home, this is especially important to prepare them for college or independent life.

4. Work with your camper to learn about the camp ahead of time, so they know what to anticipate. Heighten their interest by pointing out some of the exciting activities at camp, perhaps by viewing the photographs and reading descriptions on the Sunset Lake Camp website.  

5. Encourage your camper to make friends with others and seek out trusted adults to connect to. Talk with your camper about the role of their counselor. Let them know that this is a person who they can talk to if they have a question or concern.

6. Before the separation, avoid making comments that express anxiety about the camper going away. Even "I hope you'll be okay" or "what will I do without you" can leave a camper worried that something bad might happen to them or their parents, and make them preoccupied with thoughts of home. Rather, acknowledge in a positive way that you will miss your camper. For example, say "I'm going to miss you, but I know you will have a good time at camp."

7. When dropping your camper off at camp, take enough time to see the facilities, meet the counselors, then leave. This is not a good time to visit and watch activities. A cheerful, confident attitude on your part will get the week off to a good start.

How do you go about hiring your counselors?

Understanding that probably the most important factor in your camper’s camp experience is the camper/counselor relationship, we take great care in hiring the best possible counseling staff. Starting in January, we travel to 6 college campuses to meet potential staff. Our Director interviews applicants in person and narrows the search from there. Counselors are then required to fill out an extensive application that includes three references and three personal evaluation sheets that the references are required to fill out completely before the staff person is hired. As a final precautionary measure, all staff we hire undergo an extensive background check. After they are hired, our staff are required to participate in several hours of training before camp begins including a course on how to spot and prevent sexual abuse. Once at camp all our staff participate in 8 days of training including certification in first aid and CPR. Year after year we consistently hire top-notch staff and believe that your camper will be in the best hands when they come to camp.

How do I request a cabin-mate for my camper?

If you wish to have your camper in the same cabin as a friend you can request that they be placed in the same cabin during the registration process. The friend must be registered for the same week of camp. We cannot tell you if your friend is registered for camp, you will need to coordinate that between yourselves.

How much money should I put in the camp store for my camper?

Most parents put between $25 and $100 into the camp store. Your camper will visit the camp store once during their week of camp. They can also make purchases during check-in and check-out. The camp store contains a variety of clothing items, stuffed animals, toys and snacks at various price points which allows every camper, not matter how much money they have in the store, to make a purchase. Money that your camper does not use by the end of the week can be credited back to your account or you can donate it to our worthy camper scholarship fund.

Is SSL inspected by an outside agency?

As an American Camp Association (ACA) accredited camp, SSL must comply annually with all ACA standards. We receive an onsite visit from ACA every 5 years. Each summer camp is inspected by the Pierce County Health department. Our dining hall is licensed by the county health department and receives at least one unannounced inspection each summer.

What are the camper to counselor ratios?

The in-cabin ratios as mandated by the American Camp Association are:

Base Camps – 1:6

Timberline Camps – 1:8

Alpine Camp – 1:10

Summit Camps – 1:8

Most activity areas require at least two staff members to be present in order to run.

How do your staff manage behaviors at camp?

At SSL we strive to create safe spaces where campers can thrive and be themselves. Rather than focus on negative actions through punitive behavior management, we choose to focus on positive outcomes and encourage inclusive behaviors. Our five-finger contract forms the basis of our camp management system. When we ask campers to give us five they agree to live out the following behaviors.

  1. Pinky Finger – Safety (both physical and emotional): We don’t hit, kick, exclude, name-call or bully at camp.

  2. Ring Finger – Commitment: At camp we give our best to all the activities and discussions. While we may not like everything we are committed to being together and having and learning as a group.

  3. Middle Finger – Respect: At camp we value diversity. We listen before we react and seek to learn from each other. We treat each other as we would want to be treated and show respect to our leaders and to God.

  4. Pointer Finger – Responsibility: At camp we take responsibility for our actions and we will seek to help others who may be struggling with something.

  5. Thumb – Encouragement: At camp we recognize that our words and actions are powerful. In everything we do we will affirm and build up those around us. Making the world a better place begins with me.

How do you handle conflict between campers?

Active peacemaking requires direct, respectful, and creative communication. It can be hard. We aren’t perfect and strive to embrace difficult conversations, not run from them. Conflict is a natural and normal part of any community. We expect that conflict will occur at camp and have a system in place that will heal harm, prevent future harm and build community. The Circle System is a simple, three-step process we use when conflict arises.

  1. The small circle – is simply talking with the other person along with the help of your counselor to try and resolve the situation.

  2. The medium circle – is made up of the individuals in conflict their counselor and their village director.

  3. The Large Circle – involves the camp director in the process.

After any circle either party in the conflict can choose to call a circle of the same or larger size if they feel the conflict has not been resolved. At each circle the process is the same. It starts with listening to each other. Each party is asked, “How do you feel about what happened” and “what do you need to move forward?” Finally, all parties explain what they are asking for and agreeing to. Through the circle process we are better able to remove blame, shame and punishment. Instead we can partner with all members of our camp community to create a community where every individual is valued and respected.

What should my camper bring to camp?
You will receive a list of items to bring after you register. You can also find the list on our website HERE.

How do you handle my camper’s medication?
Be sure to fill out your camper’s health history form and note any pre-existing conditions or allergies. You can find the health history form and other camper forms HERE. At check-in, please bring all medications to the health hut in the pharmacy labeled bottles. DO NOT USE DAILY PILL BOXES. Be sure there is only enough medication for the week your camper is at camp. Scheduled medication administration times are typically after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, and before bed, unless a different specific time is required. All medications must be turned into the nurse with the exception of fast-acting inhalers and epi-pens. No medications are allowed in the cabins, including prescription meds, over the counter meds, vitamins and other non-prescription supplements. Over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Benadryl are supplied by the health center. Please do not send extras to camp. We do not stock aspirin or aspirin containing products.

How do I get to camp?
For detailed directions to camp check out the directions on our CONNECT page. For those of you who have been to camp in previous summers, remember that the bridge on Highway 162 has been indefinitely closed. You can no longer take Mundy Loss Rd. to get to camp, but instead must go into Buckley and take Highway 165 to Wilkeson. There are detour signs to remind you. Once you arrive at our main gate, drive to the top of the hill our staff will meet you there and direct you to where registration begins.

What time is check in and check out?
Check-in on the Sunday of camp is from 3-5 pm. Because our staff are preparing camp for a new week during the morning and early afternoon, early check-ins are not possible. Check-out time is the following Sunday. Please arrive at camp by 8:15 in time for our end of the week Awards Ceremony. You will pick up your camper in their cabin following this program. Be sure to bring your photo ID, we cannot release your camper to you without proof of identity.

What if my camper is staying over for a second week?
If your camper is staying over for a second week, a counselor will be assigned to provide activities and supervision during the transition time. During this time we will do their laundry so they have clean clothes and bedding for the upcoming week. The supervising counselor will walk them through any necessary registration areas and get them settled into their new cabin. If you wish to see your camper during this transition time, you will need to sign them out to your care and then sign them back in during registration.

Can I view camp photos while my camper is at camp?
During the week of camp we posted a limited selection of photos on Facebook and Instagram pages. We use SmugMug to store all camp photos of the weeks. On registration day you will be given information on how to download photos for digital use or print. The entire collection of photos from the week will be uploaded at the end of the week.

In what circumstances Sunset Lake contact me?
We value your role as a partner in the camp process. We will contact you in the following circumstances. If you wish to check on our how your camper is doing, please feel free to call. We will have our boys’ or girls’ director contact you with a report of your camper’s week.

  1. A camper becomes homesick and is struggling to function in the camp setting.

  2. A camper’s behavior has become detrimental to the community and we need assistance in how to deal with it or the problem is severe enough that we need to send your camper home. Our goal is to do all we can to avoid this outcome.

  3. If a camper comes to the health with a recurring issue, the medical team may notify you or ask for your consultation.

  4. If a camper becomes ill and is vomiting or running a fever.

  5. If a camper needs to be taken off-site for treatment.

What should I do if my camper comes home with a story or experience that concerns me?
We do all we can to provide your camper with an incredible week of camp. If at any time we fall short of that goal, we would love to hear about it. When you call we will provide you with the information we know or investigate the incident further in hopes of solving the situation. While we can’t always fix everything, knowing about problems enables us to avoid them in the future. We always value you input.

My camper left something at camp. What should I do?
Each Sunday at check-out time there is a lost and found table set up in the gym. Always be sure to look through the items there to see if you recognize anything. If you get home without an item, give us a call and describe what you are missing. We hold onto our lost and found items for 6 months after camp before sending them off to Goodwill.

What are your policies regarding camper safety?

  1. Sunset Lake is an accredited member of the American Camp Association. This accreditation process brings oversight and accountability to our camp experience and ensures that Sunset Lake is in the top-tier of camps.

  2. Sunset Lake utilizes MinistrySafe’s Camper Protect training program to educate our staff on how to recognize and prevent sexual abuse.

  3. All horsemanship and challenge course staff go through specialized safety training by outside organizations.

  4. Sunset Lake has emergency action plans for fire, earthquake, lost camper and active shooters and water front emergencies. These are drilled on a regular basis.

  5. Sunset Lake has two Registered Nurses on duty each week. Our health care procedures are reviewed on a regular basis by a doctor and are in compliance with all American Camp Association procedures.