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Camper FAQs

What's so special about Camp Ma-He-Tu?

You’ll know when you experience our camp firsthand. It’s a place where our campers have fun playing, laughing, singing, and growing all summer long. You will be able to challenge yourself, try new things, experience the great outdoors, and make friends that last throughout the year and probably for life! Ma-He-Tu has been ‘girls-only’ for over 80 years because we believe that it gives campers a chance to discover their personal strengths, become more confident, and be free to express themselves without pesky boys around.

Something magical happens at Ma-He-Tu each summer, and we hope that you get to experience it soon!

Where is Ma-He-Tu?

We are located in Harriman State Park, in Bear Mountain, New York. In a beautiful natural setting, our site is on Lake Kanawauke and isolated from any other commercial or private land use. Our only neighbors are other camps. Camp is a 45 minute drive from New York City; 40 minutes from Newburgh, NY; 35 minutes from Paramus, NJ. The closest town is Sloatsburg, NY.

What kinds of activities are available at Ma-He-Tu?

Camp Ma-He-Tu is a traditional summer camp that does not have one main focus or activity that dominates the program. Our activities typically fall into a few categories – sports (e.g., tennis and kickball), creative arts (e.g., painting and jewelry making), performing arts (e.g., drama and dance), adventure (e.g. hiking and zip-line), and waterfront activities (e.g., swimming and kayaking). You can see more examples on our Camp Life page.

Will there be other new campers at Ma-He-Tu this summer?

New campers are welcomed every summer by our staff and returning campers. They find out about Ma-He-Tu a number of different ways including through their friends, churches, family, or from visiting our website.

How many campers are there?

We accommodate a maximum of 110 campers during each of the 2-week sessions during the summer. In the camping industry, this is considered to be a small camp. This allows for a personal experience for all girls.

Where do the campers come from?

Our girls come from all over the country, but most come from the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut).

What about the counselors?

The vast majority of our counselors were former campers, including our Director! They come up through the ranks from camper, to counselor-in-training, to counselor. Some years we may hire additional staff from an international partner that we’ve been aligned with for the past 25 years, and they are typically from the United Kingdom!

Is camp religious?

Camp Ma-He-Tu was founded on Lutheran principles and still honors those roots. You could say we are more spiritual than religious and do not exclude anyone based on their beliefs. We sing a grace before every meal and many of the songs we sing are founded in Christianity. On Sunday, we use our outdoor chapel to hold a counselor-run service. We usually focus on non-denominational themes like the Golden Rule, friendship, respect for each other and nature, conflict resolution, family, and living healthy lives. Our campers come from diverse religious backgrounds - all are welcome!

What is the first day of camp like?

When you arrive, you will be greeted by counselors to find out what cabin or tent you will be living in. Counselors will unpack your car and guide you through the rest of check-in which includes talking with the Director and Nurse. You’ll meet the other campers in your bunk, and get acclimated to camp with a full tour, and review of camp rules. The whole camp comes together for dinner and that’s where the real fun begins!

Are bunk requests allowed?

One of the best parts of camp is meeting new friends! But, of course we understand that sometimes it’s comforting to have someone you know in your same living unit, so we do our best to make accommodations within the same age group if the two campers' birthdays are within 9 months of each other. In this case, the older camper will move down to the younger cabin. Don't worry - you will be able to see your friend a lot throughout the day at Camp, all while meeting a new group of friends!

What should campers bring with them?

A complete list of suggested clothing, linens, and accessories can be found on our Packing for Camp page. Avoid bringing anything expensive that could be easily damaged. Laptops, cell phones, or any other Wi-Fi enabled devices are strictly forbidden.

What are meal times like?

Meals are actually a lot of fun! We eat family-style for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which means we sit at smaller tables that have six campers and two counselors. The food is served to the whole table so all can share. Campers help out during meal time too – each girl has a job – to set the table, bring food back, or clear the dishes at the end. Each camper has an assigned table which rotates weekly, so no one is ever left out.

Meals aren’t just for eating! We sing a LOT of songs including traditional camp songs, cheers, repeat-after-me songs, and beautiful folk songs. Campers play the cup game, “wanna buy a duck” and any other table-banging silliness! We wrap up each meal with camp-wide announcements.

Okay, but how is the food?

Don’t worry, camp food has come a long way! We have professional cooks that plan out and prepare every meal so that it is healthy and satisfying. Each meal includes a main dish, side dishes, a vegetarian option, and dessert. During breakfast, we have a continental cereal and yogurt bar, and during lunch and dinner we have a fully-stocked salad bar. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh fruit are available at every meal.

If you have food allergies, dietary restrictions, or any other food-related concerns, let us know on your Health Form and we will make sure you are taken care of.

Where do campers sleep?

Camp is divided into three main areas. Our youngest campers live in a section called Lower Camp. They live in large, three-room cabins with three staff members, and up to 7 campers in each of the camper rooms. The cabins have plenty of space to spread out. Outside of the lower camp cabins, there is a shared play area with tether-ball and a picnic table to hang out.

When you get a little older, you move to Upper Camp. There, the cabins are smaller, with only about five campers and one counselor. Both upper and lower camp cabins are screened in and have electricity.

The oldest girls in Camp get to live in platform tents with five fellow campers and one counselor. It's an honor to live in a tent – they are breezy, open and allow you to fall asleep under the stars. The tents don’t have electricity, but a battery-powered lantern or regular flashlight works just fine!

All of the bathrooms and showers are in separate buildings spread throughout each living area.

What other facilities are available?

In addition to the living units, there are also 5 well-lit, private shower/bathroom buildings, a nurses cabin, dining hall with a professional kitchen, recreation hall with stage, arts & crafts cabin, dance and movement studio, camper den/canteen, basketball court, tennis courts, playing field/meadow, archery range, low ropes course, zip line, boat house, multiple docks, outdoor chapel, and main campfire circle, and a variety of trails. In addition, we have the wealth of resources and facilities of Harriman State park surrounding us.

What is the waterfront like?

The lake is the coolest place to be on a hot summer afternoon! Every day, our campers have two opportunities to swim. First, we have instructional swim where you work with a dedicated lifeguard to improve your swimming, diving, and water-safety skills. The lifeguard will work through the curriculum with you to help you improve and pass to the next swimming level.

In the afternoon, you can also participate in General Swim where you can simply have fun! Advanced swimmers can use the diving board and small craft kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes. All campers can enjoy noodles and kick-boards to play games or relax.

What is a typical day like?

During a typical day, the cabin or tent group will follow a schedule that includes 5 scheduled activities and 1 choice activity. The day might include anything off the list on our Activities page. During the choice activity, campers get to choose what they want to do! That's also the time during the day when we have free swim. See an example daily schedule here.

Our evening programs are always a surprise. They may include a game of capture the flag, a counselor hunt, a social in camp or with a neighboring camp, or a special theme event.

What happens on rainy days?

Though we prefer to be outside, there is plenty of indoor space to keep campers entertained during poor weather. Campers can play games, make arts & crafts, learn a new dance, you name it!

Does Camp have any special days?

There is never a dull moment at Ma-He-Tu! We have all kinds of special activities like Carnivals, Color Wars, Olympics, Harry Potter World, and more! Campers are often treated to hikes, to a nearby beach or even out for ice cream! In addition to the activities that the counselors plan, each living unit gets to design their own special day.

Which session is the best?
Ask three experienced campers, and you are bound to get three different responses! In fact, many of our campers come to more than one session – or even all three! Each two-week session is so unique – the best way to figure out your favorite is to try them all. If you aren’t sure which one sounds the most appealing to you, pick the session that works best with your family schedule. You’ll have a great time regardless of which session you choose. For more info, visit the session descriptions page.

Can I bring a cell phone?

No. Cell phones are not allowed at camp. We feel strongly that the best way to experience camp is unplugged. Unplugged means no other devices that connect to data or Wifi as well. Any devices found will be confiscated and kept safely in the Director’s office until check-out day.