Take a Tour of Camp Sancta Maria

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 Mackinac, 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!

Grounds

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!

Cabins

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 call 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 numerous Camper Cabins.

Campers at CSM stay in a cabin with other campers of their own age. Cabins house between 10 and 24 individuals. Campers sleep in bunk beds and each camper is provided shelving to store personal items.

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.

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!

Bathrooms & Showers (St. John's)

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

Chapel (St. Gerard Majella)

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. 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.

Corral (St. Paul's)

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 dinners 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 our #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).

Beach (St. Peter's)

St. Peter’s is one of the busiest places at Camp! We enjoy our own 8-acre private bay on Lake 27. A waterfront activity is scheduled at the beach 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 our #1 concern with all CSM’s activities. All activities are supervised by Red Cross trained and certified staff to ensure the safety of our campers. We assign each camper to one of six different swim levels that matches their skill level. Safety is our #1 concern with all CSM’s activities. All activities are supervised by Red Cross trained and certified staff to ensure the safety of our campers. All With 6 different swim levels and the buddy system, campers always learn to look out for each other while enabling the staff to account for all campers. A buddy whistle and headcount 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.

Infirmary (St. Bryan's)

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.

Ropes Course
(St. Simeon Stylites)

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!)

 

Athletic Field

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.

Mess Hall

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.

Main Office (St. Luke's)

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. 

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.   

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