Huntington Lake Overnight Camp
What makes this program unique?
Kennolyn Camps has been in operation since 1946. We know how to run summer camps and we have done it extremely well for a long time. The structure, facilities, and program of Kennolyn Camps Huntington Lake have been designed to capitalize off of that experience. This camp is unique in that the small camp size coupled with experienced leadership, allows us to fully support and encourage each child. Your child will walk through camp and be known and know everyone else. Not just their cabin group. But the cook, the head lifeguard, and the director. And that person will have the TIME and the BANDWIDTH to engage with your child. We’re not pumping kids through the program. This is a strong, relational experience that your child will co-design.
In the education world, study after study have shown that as class sizes are reduced, student performance improves. And those gains are stronger the longer the child participates. It’s the same in the camping world. All the typical benefits of a summer camp cabin group are here – acceptance, connection, and excitement. Our small camp size supercharges that feeling of belonging and empowerment as other counselors and camp leadership focus on the child as an individual. Like small classes, a small camp gets down to the needs of each child and improves their emotional and interpersonal intelligence. And the small size allows the child to have the confidence to speak up without the competition of a larger group knowing they’ll get instant feedback. Along the way, campers discover they have the TIME and BANDWIDTH to express (and sometimes form) their own unique individual identity.
Our program has been designed to reinforce the value of a small camp size with opportunities for your child to just be themselves such as:
- Open Mic Night – on their own (or maybe with a buddy) do their thing on stage – sing, dance, play, tell jokes, perform some magic, read a poem – all to a resounding applause and call for an encore performance.
- Open Lunch – our counselors spread out and campers sit where they want to allow for relationships outside the cabin group.
- Flexible scheduling – campers create their own schedule each evening allowing them to choose their own adventure.
- Long activity periods – remember the days of having the time to create or let the sun dry your skin after a dip in the lake? Weaving a friendship bracelet from start to finish in one sitting? Those days of yesteryear are here every day. Activity periods are 90 minutes long to allow campers to really get into what they’re doing – cooking, rappelling the waterfall, paddling to Thursday Island, perfecting jumping the wake, reading a good book in a sunny spot, you name it.
Where is camp located?
Huntington Lake is 45 miles south of Yosemite Valley as the crow flies. We are in the heart of the Sierra National Forest 60 miles north east from Fresno. Our location is truly one of the best kept secrets in California. The road past the lake literally ends 24 miles later over a high boulder strewn pass. Our location is an ideal jumping off point as the wilderness playground is our back yard!
Huntington Lake is at 7000 feet and covered in snow in the winter. It was constructed in 1912 as a part of the enormous Big Creek Hydroelectric Project and is 7 miles long and one-half mile wide with four dams. This clear alpine lake is known for the High Sierra Regatta – an annual sailing race – which takes advantage of the consistent light afternoon breeze. The town of Lakeshore is charming and tiny. It is comprised of a post office, general store, and restaurant all within a few hundred feet. Other than a small gas station and volunteer fire department station the rest of the area is privately owned cabins and public camp grounds with a couple places to rent boats. Think Lake Tahoe in the 40s and 50 – this amazing place is a relatively unknown gem – and ours for exploring
What is the weather like?
The weather is ideal for an active day and it’s the reason why San Joaquin farming families since 1920 have flocked to the lake to escape the valley heat. During the summer the temperature can range from the low 70s to the high 80s. And since we’re at 7000 feet, at night it can cool down to the mid-50s, but is typically in the mid-60s. The lake water temperature is typically in the mid 70s.
How many campers are there?
We have enough beds for up to 64 campers (32 boys and 32 girls). With a small camp, we don’t take the one size fits all approach; we focus on each and every child.
What are the cabins like?
Our cabins are simple but functional with bunk beds and electricity for those bed-time stories. Bathrooms and shower houses are detached and just a few steps away. Cabins sleep up to 18 people: 2 counselors with their group of 6-8 children each.
How are cabins assigned?
Campers are placed according to gender and grade. Groups typically have a combination of two grades (eg 5th and 6th graders). We do our best to honor requests to be with a friend and will discuss this with you if requests cannot be honored. We understand that part of camp is going back summer after summer to be with camp friends or to go to camp for the first time with a friend from home. Campers also come not knowing anyone at all. We take all the factors into consideration when forming groups – new, returning, home town, requests – and create a group that will be tight-knit and inclusive. While talking over camp with your child, keep in mind that it can be very beneficial for campers to be separated from friends from home. We have heard numerous times that campers have enjoyed the camp experience MORE by coming on their own. Camp is an opportunity for a fresh start socially, and we appreciate your support in making each cabin group balanced and unique.
What if my camper has dietary needs?
We accommodate gluten-free and vegan diets but are not a nut-free camp. The kitchen has been in service for many years and may have trace amounts of allergens. If your child has serious food allergies, then this camp is not a good fit.
How do activities work?
The activity program is design both to introduce campers to the major waterfront activities AND give them the flexibility to choose their own adventure. By limiting enrollment, we are able to give campers the best of both worlds. The way we do that is keep cabin groups together for the first four days of camp. In this way, they have time to bond and feel comfortable quickly. During that time, groups experience activities together to maintain the highest degree of support and encouragement possible. After those “Cabin Days”, campers create their own schedule after dinner each day for the remainder of the session. During the “Choice Days”, campers do what they or try something new with a friend.
How does camp communicate with families?
Counselors send postcards or emails weekly and a letter at the end of the session to review camper growth and development. Campers also send weekly postcards or letter home to highlight the fun they’re having. The photojournalism class (with help from the counselors) also send out photos via email and post to a private Facebook account. Parents may send snail mail or emails that we print and deliver. Care packages are a nice idea but can create unintended issues. Because of that and that the post office in Lakeshore is tiny and poorly staffed so we do not allow care packages.
What is the best way for first-time campers to come to camp?
We recommend that first-year campers take the bus to camp. In fact, most campers travel to camp by bus. Good-byes are easier at the bus stop and campers have the opportunity to get the full camp experience with songs, games, and new friends right away.
How do you handle camper health and meds?
The camp nurse is our super-mom! She provides first aid, dispenses required medications, and gives a little TLC to those that need rest in the Health Center. The majority of our staff are also CPR and Lifeguard certified. We are also very well connected to the Emergency Services at Huntington Lake (the local Fire Department keeps an engine on the camp property.) However, more routine medical care like ear infections or respiratory illness may require a trip to Clovis (a 90 minute drive.) For this reason, we will always contact parents and our camp doctor when we see potential problems on the horizon. It is very important that each camper have someone available who can make the journey to Huntington Lake if illness or injury requires a medical visit or the camper needs to go home. If parents are out of town, the emergency contact must be someone capable of making decisions and available to pick up the camper within a reasonable amount of time.
Do you have a sickness policy?
Yes. Communal living is an amazing thing and protecting the health of all campers is vital. When campers become sick, they typically just need time to rest and rehydrate in the Health Center. We have several rooms and tents that are left open for this purpose. If a camper should become sick, we will communicate with families to discuss symptoms and treatment plan. If the illness is severe or persists beyond 24 hours the family will be asked to pick the camper up or some sort of reasonable accommodation made with the families help. We screen campers prior to admitting them on the bus or upon arrival at camp as well to set a healthy baseline for our camp community. Huntington Lake is at 6955 feet above sea level. Because of this, some campers may experience some discomfort (headaches, tiredness, trouble sleeping) for a day or two as we all acclimatize. Please keep your campers well rested, well fed, and well hydrated a few days prior to camp. This will help with the adjustment. Also, please make sure you have indicated in your health history which over the counter medications we can offer your camper. Ibuprofen will be our go to for any headaches.
Do you allow screens or smart phones?
Yes and no. It is a long ride to the camp so we will allow campers to have their phones and other technology items on the bus. However, we will collect all items as we disembark at camp. As with our established programs, we truly believe that periods of time away from screens and technology is developmentally appropriate for children and teens. Our main goal is to be sure we can control what materials our campers are exposed to. For that reason, when considering technology to be used at camp after the bus ride, please send only the simplest music listening or reading devices without video and internet capabilities. We reserve the right to decide the appropriateness of any item and confiscate anything that is inappropriate.
Ready to get started?
Kennolyn Camps, Huntington Lake takes place on a site that is operated under a Special Use Permit from the USDA Forest Service on the Sierra National Forest, California. The camp operates on a non-discriminatory, equal opportunity basis.