Facilities 

Camp Sancta Maria is located in Otsego County, Michigan. Seven miles Northwest of downtown Gaylord on State Highway M-32. CSM is centrally located in the heart of Northern Lower Michigan, approximately seventy-five miles from the Straights of Mackinaw, Traverse City, and Alpena. 

We are blessed to occupy 96 acres of some of Michigan’s most beautiful wooded landscape. Our grounds are bordered by two inland lakes: Lake 27 and Martin Lake and is weaved with over two and a half miles of scenic horse trails and hiking paths. Our campers enjoy a 14 acre Sports Field, an 8 acre private bay on Lake 27, and a 2-acre ropes course!

For a virtual tour of camp, please take a look at the tab menus below!

The atmosphere of Camp Sancta Maria is the product of the last 80+ years. The beautifully forested landscape of 96 acres has been planned with the preservation of its natural beauty, providing an excellent environment for recreation and relaxation. Since our founding in 1933, there have been many changes to CSM’s grounds and facilities.  We continually strive to renew and upgrade our Camp.

Of the many projects completed each year, everything we have done at CSM is in service to our children and families. All the attention to the grounds, all the renovations, and upgrades to our facilities, serve to keep our children and families safe, happy, healthy, and holy!

The Camp buildings are primarily of log-cabin or chalet construction to insure a rustic alpine atmosphere and complement many fine buildings that are reminiscent to the first beginnings of Camp Sancta Maria. The residential/living facilities of camp are nestled on what we the Top of The Hill or Cabin Area. Among these buildings are Maria Cabin (Mess Hall), St. Louis Cabin (Rec. Cabin), St. John’s, (Bathroom/Shower facility), St. Thomas (Craft Cabin), and the Camper Cabins which are in number!

Campers at CSM stay in a cabin with other campers of their own age. Cabins house between 10 and 24 individuals and campers sleep in bunk beds. Each camper is provided shelving to store personal items. Campers are responsible for keeping their area of the cabin clean and tidy.

The beauty of cabin life is that campers come from all different sizes of family, from city to suburb to country, from being only children to one of a dozen siblings and everything in between—and they’re all in the cabin together.

Current Camper Cabins: St. Ignatius, St. Robert, St. Patrick, St. Charles, St. Ambrose, St. Francis, St. Lawrence, Sts. William and Gregory, St. Stephen, and St. John Bosco.  As of the Spring of 2019, our Camper Cabin Restoration Program was completed ensuring that all cabins have power, all new bunk beds, mattresses, and shelves, as well as polished floors.

The Cabin Area is also home to our beloved Marian Grotto. Constructed from fieldstone that was found on the property, the Grotto was built in 1939 and still stands triumphantly over Camp to this day! The statue of the Blessed Mother is 8 feet tall and weighs 1000 pounds!

St. John’s is the bathroom and shower facility for both campers and counselors with age-restricted

areas for adults and minors. As of the Spring of 2020, we are proud to say that St. John’s has gone

through a total remodel!  With a new taller roof, tiled floors, and brand new shower and toilet stalls

St. John’s is now state of the art for both campers and staff. Each shower stall includes a private

changing area with hooks for towels and clothing as well as a shelving unit for soaps and shampoos

The heart and soul of our spiritual life at camp is found in our Chapel. Dedicated to St. Gerard Majella in the mid-1950s, the whole camp community gathers here every morning and evening to begin and close our day.

We are proud to say that Camp Sancta Maria has everything a traditional summer camp has, but we have even more! From Morning Mass, grace before and after every meal. Night Prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, Praise and Worship, Chapel Talks, and the Angelus, twice daily reconciliation opportunities – it is true that CSM is steeped with the Catholic faith.

We are blessed to have a resident Chaplain on campus all summer who is available whenever a camper wants to talk.  We make every effort to ensure that campers understand what is happening during Mass and feel comfortable when they are in the chapel.

Knowing that our faith is alive and that our expression of faith is not confined to our time in chapel we bring Christ with us to every moment of the day.  Twice per day, before lunch and before dinner, we stop to pray the Angelus, a prayer invoking our patroness, Our Blessed Mother. We teach Christian values that campers can take out onto the sports field, down to the beach, onto the basketball court and into the mess hall.

One of our campers’ favorite places at camp is the Corral, which is dedicated to St. Paul.  At the corral, we house approximately 20 horses throughout the summer.  Many of our counselors came to camp as 8-year olds with no riding experience and are now accomplished riders!

The corral caters to riders of all abilities.  Whether a camper has years of riding experience or has never sat on a horse, they are sure to spend some of their most exciting hours at camp learning about, caring for, and riding these magnificent animals. The longer a camper is at Camp Sancta Maria the more likely their riding ability will improve from year to year!

A big draw for our returning campers is the coveted Wrangler & Bronc Ride! These best-of-the-best riders enjoy a day of riding either to Huffman Lake or the Jordan River Valley. After working up a man-sized appetite, they feast on delicious chuckwagon dinner before making their way back to the corral!

With over two and a half miles of on-property horse trail, every riding level will get to view the outstanding beauty of Northern Michigan. During a regular mini-camp or two-week session campers typically enjoy two rides a week, but if your camper is raring to join the adventure of the wild West; be sure to check out our Horse Camp! We offer single-gender week-long horse camps where campers get comfortable around the horses, learning the do’s and don’ts.  As the week progresses, many aspects of caring for a horse are taught: brushing, feeding, bridling, saddling, and even mucking the stalls!  Of course, your camper will also have ample time riding!  During Horse Camp, campers typically participate in two riding programs each day, with each lasting at least one hour

Safety is a #1 concern with all of CSM’s activities.  Our corral instructors are trained according to the Equestrian Management, ACA, and State of Michigan standards. Campers are always supervised by a trained staff member and appropriate safety equipment is worn whenever riding, including an ASTM, approved riding helmet. (CSM provides helmets; however, campers may wear their personal helmet if it is ASTM approved and deemed in good condition by CSM’s riding staff).

St. Peter’s is one of the busiest places at Camp! We enjoy our own 8 acre private bay on Lake 27.

Almost every program of every day, a waterfront activity is scheduled for both large and small groups to enjoy. From swimming to kayaking and canoeing, from fishing to the water trampoline, from water volleyball to beach Olympics, the beach is a great way for our campers to cool off from the hot summer sun!

As a special privilege for our oldest campers, canoe skills are taught in Lake 27, but the real challenge is putting these skills to the test on our overnight canoe trip! Campers enjoy the challenge of a 2.5-hour paddle on the sturgeon river in Wolverine, Michigan. The evening culminates with an overnight in one of Michigan’s state campgrounds with a campfire, hot dogs, and dessert!

Safety is a #1 concern with all of CSM’s activities. All activities are supervised by Red Cross trained and certified staff to ensure the safety of our campers. All campers are made aware of the beach procedures before ever stepping onto its sand! Before campers are allowed to enjoy the refreshing waters of Lake 27, everyone must partake in a swim test. This swim test helps the lifeguard staff assign an appropriate swim level per each camper’s individual skills.

With 6 different swim levels and the buddy system, campers learn to look out for each other while enabling the staff to account for all campers at all times. A buddy whistle and head-count are carried out at regular intervals.  Campers check in and out of the beach area under staff supervision only. Lifejackets in all sizes are available for use, however, campers may wear their personal life jacket if it is U.S Coast Guard approved, type III, and deemed in good condition by CSM’s beach staff. To check for U.S.C.G approval and type please refer to the information panel printed inside every lifejacket.

CSM understands the responsibility we have to care for our campers’ well-being. Our Health Center is staffed with a Registered Nurse and/or Red Cross certified Health Officer.  We keep a full stock of supplies to safely deal with all minor cuts and scrapes and treat coughs and colds.

CSM has a good working relationship with the local walk-in clinic and Otsego Memorial Hospital, a 15-minute drive away.  Should the need occur, parents would be informed of any occasion when the camp nurse feels a camper should be referred to either of these facilities.

All medication brought to camp is left with the camp nurse on check-in day and is locked away inside the infirmary.  On check-in day, we receive parent instruction and administer camper medication accordingly.  CSM has put procedures into place to ensure that campers receive their medication at the correct time.  Records are kept according to the standards set by the American Camping Association.

Campers are given a tour of the grounds at CSM on their first day.  This includes a visit to the health center and a short introduction to and meeting with, the camp nurse.  This is the point at which the nurse reviews the camper’s health form and health history with each camper and makes sure that each camper knows what to do if he/she feels unwell at any time during his/her stay at camp.

CSM’s Ropes Course includes over 25 elements that enhance team-building skills, teach group problem solving, and help campers–young and old–overcome their personal fears

In addition to the low ropes course and high ropes courses, we also have a rock wall and zip line.  Much like the love for the CSM corral, many campers love the rush of climbing to the top of the climbing wall and zipping back to the ground. In 2010, Ropes Adventure Camp was started. During this week-long camp, campers are able to experience every aspect of the ropes course including “belay” training and how to care for the facility.

Every year our ropes course instructors are all trained and supervised according to the State of Michigan and American Camp Association (ACA) standards in ropes course licensing through a third-party vendor Experiential Systems. (They designed and built our ropes course!)

The residential and living facilities of Camp overlook the Front of The Hill – or as we call it the “FOH”. It is here where our 14-acre athletic field is located. With a large multipurpose field, our campers partake in a friendly competition of football, ultimate frisbee, basketball, kickball, baseball and soccer with World Cup regulation size soccer goals! 

One of the most memorable spots for campers is our Sig Field. Sigmund Zech (“Ziggy”) was one of the camp’s first cooks and greatest supporters. In the 1940s, he would drive his truck into Gaylord pick up some of the local kids and bring them to camp to compete with our campers in a great game of summer baseball – it wouldn’t be a complete day at the field without Ziggy’s own chili dogs! Our caps are off in gratitude and memory of him. 

The FOH is also home to our archery and pellet gun ranges – St. Sebastian and St. Gabriel Possenti respectively.

The CSM Mess Hall, the Maria cabin, can seat up to 150 people at a time. Meals at camp are served cafeteria-style, with counselors seated at each table with campers. Our kitchen staff is ServSafe certified, and we currently enjoy high ratings in our health inspection. Some of the standards of the American Camp Association (ACA), through which we are inspected and accredited, are stricter than the State’s standards.

Our Camp Nurse works closely with the kitchen staff to ensure that all camper’s needs are met. That includes allergies and diets! Hot meals are on a rotational menu with a salad bar always available. Vegetarian and gluten-free meals are available with advance notice. Some parents prefer to bring allergy specific meals for their campers – please contact us for more information.  

Since our campers play hard, they need nutritious food for their bodies.  Our vision is to supply both nutritious and good tasting food. It is not an exaggeration to say that most of our campers will say they eat better at camp than they do at home.

The Mess Hall is more than a place to get a good meal.  It is the setting for many fun memories.  Anyone who has eaten here will recall, with a big smile, Baked Alaska, Schnitzelbank, and other camp songs and chants. 

Once campers arrive at CSM their first stop is Saint Luke’s, which serves as our summer office and welcome center. Here campers receive a “Welcome Home!” from our Executive Director, receive their cabin assignments, review spending accounts, and meet with our infirmary staff. 

For more information regarding the check-in process and what paperwork you need to bring, please click here.

As one of the patron Saints of historians, St. Lukes also serves as our archive center. Guests are welcome to explore a visual history of Camp Sancta Maria and reminisce on many wonderful memories. We always welcome Alumni to visit during regular business hours and love to hear the stories of the decades gone by.

All visitors must check-in with the Office Manager before exploring the grounds. 

Saint Lukes is also home to the coveted Honor Camper Award – the highest award given at CSM! Since 1934 Camp Sancta Maria has had the privilege of bestowing this prestigious award on the best-of-the-best campers that perfectly exemplify the T-K-O formula – that is Try Hard. Be Kind. Be Obedient. These characteristics come straight from scripture and were perfectly exemplified by Christ, whom we are called to imitate.   

At every moment of the day, on every program, and at rest campers are called upon to live this formula out in their lives not only at camp but at home too. The seeds of T-K-O and the roots of faith instilled at CSM have a life long impact! An example of this would be a young camper from 1963. His name, Brian Walch.

DISCLAIMER: LONG, BUT AN AMAZING STORY OF THE FUTURE SAINT OF CSM!

Growing up, Brain had everything a young teenager ever wanted. A nice house, fancy clothes, a full wallet, an expensive car, and all of the gizmos and gadgets a teen could dream of. Yet, Brain still had his struggles. Like many teenagers, Brain struggled with the weight of peer pressure and slowly started to fall into a very different way of life than what was experienced at camp. At the end of his senior year, and to the surprise of his highschool classmates, Brian announced that he was entering the seminary.  

While Brian did not have a sudden and immediate change of heart, the door of his heart slowly started opening to the Heart of Christ. At the end of his first year, Brian and his classmates entered a 10-day silent retreat and Brian announced another surprise. During Mass the priest allow the men to voice their own intentions and the door of Brian’s heart swung open as he said:

“Lord I want to tell You that I’m really sorry, that I realize I have wasted my talents, I’ve wasted the gifts you’ve given me. I’ve been a great sinner and I want to change my life and turn my life over to You.”

Brian began to drastically change his life. He gave all of his money to the poor and sold his gizmos and gadgets and started to dedicate his life to prayer. As one of his former classmates recounts a memory of an interaction with Brian in the chapel,

He came out and as he saw me he walked over to me and he said, “Tim, have you ever thought how wonderful it is that Jesus always remains with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament?”

And I remember looking at him and thinking to myself, “No… I’ve never thought this. But I believed it; and yet his face was on fire with love for God, and he had such a beautiful expression, he looked like an angel.

At the end of his second term, Brian was given the summer assignment of a poor parish in St. Louis, Missouri. It is here where Brain found his true called. Brian lived to serve the poor, he gave everything he had and at times even began to give away items that belonged to parish out of his simple and profound love for the poor. At the advice of the parish priests, Brain left the seminary in order to peruse a religious community – The Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.

In Calcutta, Brian joined the service of Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta and she sent him to aid in the evacuation of Saigon at the Vietnam War. After completing his work in Vietnam, Saint Teresa sent him to assist the people of Cambodia. Shortly after his assignment, Brian wrote a letter to his classmates saying:

“This time if I am asked to leave, I will stay, because I feel called to mix my blood with the Blood of Christ for the salvation of these people’s souls.”

Brian didn’t leave and that letter was the last that Brain ever sent. While teaching Catechism to the faithful of Cambodia, Brian lived in hiding from the Cambodian government. One early morning on his way to Mass, the communists discovered his secret route and followed him into the church and Brain was arrested. He was brought out of the cathedral and was martyred at the age of 23.

Several years later when then Mother Teresa was visiting the United States, she opened Brain’s cause for canonization. He is a man of our own time with his own struggles. He died for others. He died for Christ. We like to believe that CSM helps lay the foundations of future Saints of Church – all through the simple seeds of T-K-O and faith.

Rentals

Looking for camp space to rent? Camp Sancta Maria is available to rent both pre-season and postseason for groups interested in hosting special camp sessions, team building sessions, seminars, meetings, retreats, outdoor training courses, school programs, picnics, reunions, and more. For additional information, contact us at 248-822-8199 or filling out the form below.

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