Camp FAQs

What is a “zero-waste lunch”?

A zero-waste lunch is a healthy lunch packed in a reusable container. Putting a sunbutter and jelly sandwich into a reusable container, for example, creates less waste than putting it into a baggie that will be thrown away. Another example is packing whole fruit instead of prepackaged fruit slices. A reusable plastic or metal water bottle creates less waste than a single-use juice box or pouch. Please note that whatever is left over after the meal is over (food scraps, wrappings, other trash) will be returned to the lunch bag. Also please note that we are a nut-free camp; do not send any nuts or nut butters/products to camp.

Do I have to bring a backpack?

Yes. Many groups have lunch out on the trail. You will need to be able to carry your full water bottle, lunch, and other materials mentioned in the packing section each day in your backpack. Please choose a backpack that is sturdy and has comfortable straps (not ropes or strings).

How early may I arrive at camp in the morning?

All camps begin at 9:00 a.m. The earliest a camper may be signed in, on-site at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, is 8:45 a.m. Prior to that, our staff is busy preparing for the day and unable to supervise campers. Campers are always welcome to come a little early and explore the gardens, watch for hummingbirds, or enjoy a trail together, as long as they are with a guardian or carpool driver.

If you are signing your camper in at the bus in State College [that will then transport your camper to Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center], the earliest a camper may be signed in is 8:00 a.m. Prior to that, we be preparing for camper sign-in and are unable to supervise campers.

How do I sign in or sign out my camper?

All youth programs run by Penn State require the minor be signed out each day by a legal guardian or someone designated by the legal guardian. This policy means that each day you will need to sign your camper(s) and out with an official ID. Thank you in advance for helping to make the safety of the campers our number one priority!

When should campers be picked up in the afternoon?

Wee Wonderers: Tuesday–Thursday camp ends at 3:00 p.m. On Thursday from 3:00–3:30 p.m., there is a camp showcase event for families to enjoy with their campers! We thank you in advance for being at Shaver’s Creek each day (and especially on Thursday) to pick up your campers at 3:00 p.m. After the camp day ends, there is still a lot left for the staff to do!

Discovery, Explorer, and Investigators: Tuesday–Thursday camps end at 4:00 p.m. Friday camp ends at 5:00 p.m. We thank you in advance for being at Shaver’s Creek each day (and especially on Friday) to pick up your campers at the time camp ends. After the camp day ends, there is still a lot left for the staff to do — and on Friday we are preparing for all the wonderful evening activities!

What happens if I cannot pick up/drop off my child at the standard times?

Due to the unique nature of our camp, in which groups are away from the main building, and being required by PSU policy to have two adults present with minors, it is disruptive to have campers arrive late and/or leave early. We want your child to get the most out of their week at Shaver’s Creek, so please do not schedule anything (including sports or school activities/practices/commitments, family visits, elective procedures, medical visits, other camps) during your child’s week at camp.

If there are circumstances that require you to drop off your camper(s) later than 9:30 a.m. or pick them up before 3:45 p.m. there will be a $20 fee charged per instance. Note that if your child is sent home from camp (for example, they become ill) this fee does not apply.

Additionally, please be aware that parents of participants enrolled in Shaver’s Creek Summer Camps will be charged $20 for each child per every 15 minutes beyond the camp’s published end time that they have not signed their child(ren) out. If you know you are going to be late, please notify Shaver’s Creek so we can let your child and our camp naturalists know. Late fee will still be charged.

These fees will be charged to your online registration account and will be due within three business days. Payment reminders will be auto-generated and sent to your registration email address.

How will I be assigned to a camp group?

Campers will be grouped according to their age and the grade they will be entering the next fall. We try to keep 6- and 7-year-olds together, 9- and 10-year-olds together, etc. If you request to be with a specific friend but you are younger, we usually place both campers in the younger age group. We have found that this works better than placing the younger camper in a group of older campers. We try to honor requests to be with friends, but can only take into consideration one “buddy” request when creating groups.

Who will the naturalists (staff) be and what are their qualifications?

Tesha (Skye) Omeis is the camp director for all summer camps at Shaver’s Creek. Tesha joined the staff full time in the fall of 2017, coming back to Shaver’s Creek after working in the environmental education and summer camp realm since 2005.

Our naturalists for all camps are college students or graduates hired for Shaver’s Creek internship program or specifically as summer camp staff. We carefully screen applicants and interview folks who have experience working with kids (previous camp experience, student teaching, volunteering, etc.). We also look for people who have a fun personality. All staff working at summer camp go through a two weeks of training that includes certification in First Aid, CPR, AED and EpiPens. They have also passed federal background checks, maintain current PA clearances to work with youth and complete Penn State’s Mandated Reporter training. In the spring, you can find the biographies of our naturalists on our Meet the Staff page.

Weather, safety, and communication at summer camp

Every day, regardless of weather conditions, each group has 2 adult naturalists present with them at all times; naturalists, directors, and the front office utilize digital radios to communicate regularly.

On days when we are expecting or experiencing stormy conditions, changes are made by staff and directors to ensure the continued safety of everyone. These modifications may include, but are not limited to: continual weather updates over the radio, requiring that groups stay closer to the main building or alternative indoor spaces, rerouting groups based on trail conditions, building a fire in a fireplace [if heat is a concern] for warmth physically and mentally, handing out old camp shirts for children to replace their saturated shirts with, changing pick up times specifically from Whipple Dam on Friday, decreasing beach time, and reducing the depth at which campers can wade into the water at Whipple Dam.

The directors spend the vast majority of their time out in the field to ensure that everything is being done to ensure the happiness and safety of everyone involved in our programs. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of this information, please contact the summer camp director, Tesha “Skye” Omeis at or 814-863-8521. If you reach out during the camp day, please note that your inquiry will be returned as soon as possible at the conclusion of the camp day. The front desk 814-863-2000 is available to take phone calls during camp and can reach a director via radio instantly.