Adding a summer day camp is a natural progression for Camp Susque

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TROUT RUN — A local youth camp, and staple natural and spiritual getaway for the region, is branching out from residential camps by adding a day camp element to its repertoire.

Founded 70 years ago, Camp Susque, 47 Susque Camp Road, kicked off its day camp this pas week. The second camp session begins Monday through Friday, and there still is time to sign up and join.

Sessions are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The camp’s mission is to provide an atmosphere where campers can experience outdoor activities while learning more about God through nature.

Camp Susque has offered many other types of summer and winter camps in the past, but this is the first time it is offering a purely day time option.

“We realized, hey, we could do a great day camp that could be a lot of fun, taking the fun elements of our residential camp and adding some educational elements, to make a day camp,” said Peter Swift, camp director. “Frankly, it can be expensive to go to a residential camp.”

He said that enrollment has been so high for the residential camp, where campers stay overnight, that they were unable to increase the size of the camp to accommodate rises in enrollment. The day camp is a great option to allow campers a taste of what Camp Susque has to offer without requiring them to spend the night, he said.

“We were looking for ways to expand … and a day camp became a very obvious one,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to commit to a week at day camp than it is to commit to sending your kid away overnight for seven days (a normal week at Susque).”

Davis Swift, program director, said that it also can be beneficial with schedules.

“Kids are involved in so many different things, especially in our area,” he said. “Our goal with the day camp is that in the future we can offer flexible schedules.”

He said he hopes that next year, the camp can offer a three day or two day option as well.

“That way, children won’t have to choose between interests,” he said. “We’re hoping that the day camp can help fill in the gaps and serve a lot more campers.”

Peter Swift said that often the busy schedules can happen in the evenings, and the day camp won’t interfere with those hours.

“We needed another outlet to get campers involved in what we do, and the day camp was a solution,” he said.

Davis Swift said the camp’s standard residential experience can stress out parents or worry campers who may not want to spend a night away from home.

“A lot of parents are worried about the perceived risks of sending a child away overnight, so we’re really hopeful that our day camp will provide a means for people who may not have ever considered a camp to consider us,” he said.

He said the day camp can also be a stepping stone to let participants try out what Camp Susque has to offer before committing to an overnight camp.

Peter Swift said that going camping in nature and participating in activities like the day camp really can change lives, even in a week’s time.

“When your kid has been at camp for a week, it’s hard to believe the amount of changes that can happen in their personality, their demeanor, their self confidence and their belief system,” he said. “You don’t expect people to change that quickly, but when you put them in this environment, it’s like a pressure cooker for personal growth.”

He said that it’s something that has to be seen to be believed.

“It’s amazing what can happen in one week. It’s greater than the transformation that can happen over a year of school,” he said.

He added he often hears from campers that the changes and friends made at camp can impact campers for their whole lives.

“We are a Christian camp,” Peter Swift said. “We are nondenominational. We accept campers from any background.

Because we’re a Christian camp, that doesn’t mean we only serve Christian campers. Anyone is welcome here, and we treat everybody the same.”

He said the camp hopes to help people with their personal journey in Christianity.

“One of our goals is for campers to feel closer to God through their time here,” he said. “We firmly believe that God created them, God created this environment and we want them to experience that, to get to know and develop a personal relationship with their Creator.”

More information can be found online at www.susque.org/day-camp or by calling 570-998-2151.

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