Facilities

Camp Sancta Maria is blessed to occupy 96 acres of natural wooded property.  We are located six miles west of I-75 in the city of Gaylord, on M-32. Our grounds border two inland lakes: Lake 27 and Martin Lake.

Since CSM’s beginnings in 1933 there have been many changes to our buildings and facilities.  We continually strive to renew and upgrade our grounds and facilities.

We tackled a number of projects in 2016:  

  • The “FOH” as we call it, saw some nice improvements this summer.  Thanks to some benefactors, our kids and families quickly found the carved stone out front as a photo op!
  • Thanks to students from nearby St. Mary’s, hundreds of seedlings were planted this Spring.
  • Other benefactors struck again and, as a result of their generosity, we were able to add a pair of World Cup regulation size soccer goals.
  • Our archery range was demolished and reconstructed and, thanks to the State leadership of the Knights of Columbus, we augmented our target sports with the gift of some air rifles.  We built a second range in the proximity of our archery range and our senior campers thoroughly enjoyed this new program!  Canopies have also been donated by another generous benefactor and will bring shade to these areas next summer.
  • St. Luke’s received a makeover this summer with the addition of new porches, new doors, new paint and new flooring.
  • Thanks to the generosity of the people from St. Thomas More Parish in Troy, Michigan, we added 100 new camper mattresses and new shelving units in many of our camper cabins.  The interior of St. Charles cabin was completely renovated and brought back into use.
  • 2016 was a hot summer and that made the waterfront area popular.  Not realizing the heat that was headed our way, our seminarian volunteers installed a drinking water line and fountain at the beach this spring.  Thanks to generous benefactors, our kayak and canoe fleet has grown.  Combined with the donations of a new water volleyball net and new bouncer and mini launch pad, the beach area was a favorite.
  • Perhaps the lion’s share of work happened on our ropes course.  We added all new climbing equipment this year and refreshed a lot of our climbing elements.  The ropes course will be fresh for years to come!

Of the 50 plus projects completed this 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 major renovation project for 2015 was our Mess Hall.  The north wall of the Mess Hall had experienced water penetration and thus needed to have the parapet wall above the roofline rebuilt and the mortar around the chimney stones repointed.  We also updated the flooring and tables.  

In the spring of 2014 the projects centered on the infirmary and the bathroom/shower facilities.  The infirmary received a new roof along with new doors, windows, tile flooring and a thorough cleaning and painting on the inside.  The bathroom/shower facility received ventilation fans, updated stalls including new doors and hardware, new seals and plumbing work, along with a thorough cleaning and fresh paint throughout the inside. The sign on the CSM arch and FOH basketball courts we also refreshed.

These improvements are made possible as a result of donations from CSM’s families and supporters.  If you are able to help us with this, more information about these activities can be found under the “Donate”  menu.

Central to our camp day is our chapel, dedicated to St. Gerard Majella.  The whole camp community gathers to begin each day with Mass, which is led by our resident chaplain.  The homily of the day is aimed at young people, taking into account their life experiences.  We are blessed to enjoy the Lord’s Risen Presence in our tabernacle and all our chapel liturgies enjoy a very powerful expression of sacred music.  Campers participate at Mass, also helping out as sacristans, servers, lectors, and choir members.  We make every effort to ensure that campers understand what is happening during Mass and feel comfortable when they are in chapel.

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.

At the end of every day, we meet up again in chapel to reflect on our busy day in a short prayer service, with includes a talk by one of the senior counselors. Campers benefit from seeing their counselors–the ones who made them laugh in the mess hall or helped them on the sports field–as a prayerful young Christian.  On Thursday nights we enjoy Exposition and Benediction.

Our expression of faith is not confined to our time in chapel.  Twice per day, before lunch and before dinner, we stop to pray the Angelus, a prayer invoking our patroness, Our Blessed Mother, and recalling that Jesus came among us in the flesh.

It has been our experience that CSM helps campers develop, renew and grow their faith.  Living in such a close community of people highlights the times that we fail in generosity and give in to selfishness.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered daily.  Campers are guided each day to examine their own actions.  Those who follow the nightly examination of conscience grow immeasurably in self awareness and self knowledge during their stay at camp.

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

Cabins are very simple, yet sound, structures.  Camper cabins prove that one can have great joy in the midst of simple surroundings!

In 2016, thanks to the generosity of the people from St. Thomas More Parish in Troy, Michigan, we added 100 new camper mattresses and new shelving units in many of our camper cabins.  The interior of St. Charles cabin was completely renovated and brought back into use.

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 horsemen.

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.

Safety is a #1 concern with all of CSM’s activities.  Our corral instructors are all 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).

CSM Beach is one of the busiest places at Camp.  We enjoy our own 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 General Swim to Swim Instruction, and from Boat and Fish to Beach Volleyball, there are plenty of opportunities for each camper to cool off from the hot summer sun.

All activities are supervised by Red Cross trained and certified staff to ensure the safety of our campers. The beach operates under a buddy system.  This ensures that campers look out for each other and it enables staff to account for all campers at all times. A buddy whistle and head-count is carried out in regular intervals.  Campers check in and out of the beach area under staff supervision only.  All campers are made aware of the beach procedures before ever stepping onto its sand.

2016 was a hot summer and that made the waterfront area popular.  Not realizing the heat that was headed our way, our seminarian volunteers installed a drinking water line and fountain at the beach this spring.  Thanks to generous benefactors, our kayak and canoe fleet has grown.  Combined with the donations of a new water volleyball net and new bouncer and mini launch pad, the beach area was a favorite.

CSM’s Ropes Course includes 22 elements, or stations, that enhance team building skills, teach group problem solving, and help campers–young and old–overcome their personal fears. Our ropes instructors are all trained by and supervised according to the State of Michigan standards in Ropes Course licensing.

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 campers are able to experience every aspect of the ropes course including “belay” training and how to care for the facility. 

In 2011, the ropes course went through some improvements: two new high ropes elements and several new low ropes elements were added.

In 2016, we added all new climbing equipment and refreshed a lot of our climbing elements.  The ropes course will be fresh for years to come!

The CSM Mess Hall, the Maria cabin, can seat up to 200 people at a time. Meals at camp are served family 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.

Renovation work occurred in the Mess Hall for the 2015 camp season, including remediation of the north wall, which had seen some water penetration, and new flooring was added.  New tables and paint for the walls were also part of the renovation.  This will promote greater ease of cleaning and an even more enjoyable dining experience.

Since our campers play hard, they need nutritious food for their bodies.  Our vision is to supply both nutritious and good tasting food.  Our kitchen staff makes much of the food we serve from “scratch” and brings in considerable healthy, whole foods from local farms.  It is not an exaggeration to say that most of our campers will probably 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, Schnitzelbank and other camp songs and chants.  

CSM is happy to meet the needs of retreat groups who wish to use the Mess Hall or kitchen to cater for their own groups.  The design of the building allows us to move furniture and use the Mess Hall for indoor programs.

CSM understands the responsibility we have to care for our campers’ well-being. Our health center is staffed with a nurse and Red Cross trained assistants.  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 short 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 times.  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.