Camp FAQs

What is a “zero-waste lunch”?

A zero-waste lunch is a healthy lunch packed in a reusable container. For example, putting a sunbutter and jelly sandwich into a reusable container 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. Most 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 be on that camper’s list of authorized adults and sign the camper(s) 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?

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 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?

It is important to let us know if your camper’s attendance will be different at any time, especially if they are unable to attend a day. Camp runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday. On Friday night there is an optional, family-centered program that extends from 5:00 p.m. Friday through 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. Please come only a few minutes early to sign in/out your camper. Thank you in advance for parking your car in one of the gravel parking spaces, leaving your dog in your car if you have brought one along, and walking the trail with your camper to sign in.

Due to the unique nature of our camp, in which groups are away from the main building and being required by Penn State policy to have two adults present with minors, it is disruptive to have campers arrive late and/or leave early. As such, 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 charge per camper, per instance. These fees will be charged to your online registration account and are due within three business days. Payment reminders will be auto generated and sent to your registration email address.

Additionally, because Penn State Youth Programs require two authorized adults in the presence of minors, and there is only one camp adult able to break away during the day to assist with arrival/departure anomalies, the person picking up/dropping off the camper at a different time serves as the second required adult. That person needs to arrive with enough time to walk to the group’s location and get the camper, then walk back before departing with the camper. This extra amount of time is dependent on the group’s location and will be known through coordinating with the camp director; be aware that this additional time ranges between 15 minutes and 1.5 hours.

Example: if you pick your camper up at 3:00 p.m. to take them to a sports practice, you will need to arrive with enough time (specified by the camp director) to walk to/from their location, and you will also be charged $20.

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 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 the summer staff 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 the local beach area on Friday, decreasing beach time, and reducing the depth at which campers can wade into the water at the beach area.

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, but a more immediate response can be obtained by contacting the front desk at 814-863-2000.