Deerfoot Lodge’s core program has remained the same for over 85 years. It’s a world away from the breakneck, technology-driven pace that consumes so much of life. Campers are prohibited from bringing any portable electronic devices. The music at Deerfoot comes from our own voices and acoustic instruments. The activities at Deerfoot make the most of our environment: a beautiful lake, forest, wildlife, fellowship, challenges, and excellent staff. Most of the camper evaluations we receive indicate that campers love being “away from it all.” To keep Deerfoot the special place it has been for decades, campers and parents should cooperate with the following policies and procedures.
Deerfoot is a high-energy environment.
Walking, hiking, running, and/or swimming is a part of nearly everything we do. Deerfoot celebrates healthy competition that is fun for everyone. We keep score in our games, but winning and losing are not important enough to divide us. The Deerfoot culture thrives on age-appropriate challenges to help us grow. We intentionally seek to “stretch” campers and staff beyond the ‘comfort zone’ because that is when growth is most likely to occur. Everything—the setting, instructional areas, games, hikes, and activities—are designed with age-appropriate challenges (physical, emotional, and spiritual) for the purpose of growth.
There is no guarantee that each camper will succeed in overcoming each challenge, but even in “failure,” we learn and grow. The camper and staff community is designed to foster deep and meaningful relationships. Counselors have one-to-one time with each of their campers to get to know them personally and encourage them in their growth. These one-to-one times are conducted with appropriate accountability.
Our core mission is to build godly men. We believe that a commitment to the Biblical message—that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to earth in human flesh to die for sins and bring salvation to everyone who believes—is at the heart of what it means to be a godly man. Deerfoot boys are taught the truths of Scripture in a clear and relevant way. They are encouraged, but never pressured, to respond in discussion and commitment. Our goal is to meet boys where they are in their own faith and to help them understand Scriptural truth and its meaning for their lives.
Registration Check in: Registration for incoming campers is at 3:00 pm on Sunday. Check-in day can be stressful for parents and campers, who may be travel-weary and (understandably) nervous about coming to camp. Sending forms and payments ahead (even camp store fund deposits) will help minimize the time spent in lines and allow you to be free to support your camper’s first day experience. Your positive attitude and patience makes an impression on your campers and contributes to a strong start, and may even minimize homesickness. Parents are encouraged to stay at camp until 5:00 pm, when the whistle will sound, campers will line up on the ball field, and parents will be kindly encouraged to leave!
Forms: Submit all forms and balances at least four weeks before you arrive. This will help us prepare for your camper and expedite the registration process. We reserve the right to give your space to a camper on the Waiting List if we do not have your forms on time. Departure: Arrive at 9:45 am to meet your camper. Luggage, Trading Post balances, medications, and lost & found will be ready on Saturday morning between 10:00 and 11:30 am at the Trading Post. The Circle of Friendship will be at 11:00am. All departing campers are asked to leave before noon to facilitate traffic flow and next session preparations.
Departure Procedure: We cannot release a camper to anyone other than the authorized custodial parent or guardian unless we have written permission (you will be asked to provide this information in the “Important Info and Logistics” form on CampInTouch). A road check will be employed to verify that campers are released only to the adult listed on the form or custodial parent. If someone other than the authorized adult is to pick up your camper, written instructions from the custodial parent or guardian must be sent to the camp office prior to departure.
By nature, there is risk involved in wilderness activity and the Deerfoot program. Our programs and trips require living in tents or open cabins/lean-tos, washing in the lake (no showers), physical challenges, wild animals, uneven terrain, wild forests, severe weather, and riding in vans on both highways and dirt roads. Backpack and canoe trips into the wilderness may involve swimming at sites not inspected by New York State and with remote access to emergency medical facilities (24 hours or more).
Trip food is prepared by counselors and campers. Eligible dietary restrictions are accommodated by staff members who are not food service professionals. Staff and campers assume these risks together, recognizing that valuable growth comes from learning how to identify hazards and adapt behavior, not only at Deerfoot, but also for a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors.
At Deerfoot, we teach the recognition and management of risks and hazards in the wilderness. Three weeks of staff training includes certification in Wilderness First Aid, Lifeguarding, CPR, and emergency procedures, as well as skills for leading wilderness activities. Deerfoot has a Registered Nurse who lives at camp and manages the camp infirmary.
All waterfront activities are supervised by a certified Lifeguard or Water Safety Instructor. A doctor’s physical exam within two years is required before coming to Deerfoot and camper medications must be packed individually by unit dose. Deerfoot operates under a permit granted by the New York State Department of Health, which inspects the camp annually. Inspection reports are filed at 11 Saint Bernard Street, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. Parents are required to sign the Risk Disclosure Statement annually.