Frequently Asked Questions
We'll answer all the questions you are dying to ask!
About Ma-He-TuBoard of Directors has kept Ma-He-Tu ‘girls-only’ for over 80 years now because we believe that it gives our campers a chance to discover their personal strengths, become more confident, and be free to express their self without having to impress any boys!
Something magical happens at Ma-He-Tu each summer, and we hope that you get to experience it soon!
We are located in Harriman State Park, in Bear Mountain, New York. In a beautiful natural setting, our site is on Lake Kanawauke and isolated from any other commercial or private land use. Our only neighbors are other camps. Camp is a 45 minute drive from New York City; 40 minutes from Newburgh, NY; 35 minutes from Paramus, NJ. The closest town is Sloatsburg, NY.
Camp Ma-He-Tu is a traditional summer camp that does not have one main focus or activity that dominates the program. Our activities typically fall into a few categories – sports (e.g., tennis and kickball), creative arts (e.g., painting and jewelry making), performing arts (e.g., drama and dance), adventure (e.g. hiking and zip-line), and waterfront activities (e.g., swimming and kayaking). You can see more examples on our Camp Life page.
New campers are welcomed every summer by our staff and returning campers. They find out about Ma-He-Tu a number of different ways including through their friends, churches, family or from visiting our website.
Our girls come from all over the country, but most come from the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut).
The vast majority of our counselors were former campers, including our Director! They come up through the ranks from camper, to counselor-in-training, to counselor. Other counselors are recruited through friends or apply on our website. Some also come from an international partner that we’ve been aligned with for the past 25 years, and they are typically from the United Kingdom.
Counselors apply each year, regardless of how many years they have attended and are individually evaluated by the Board of Directors based on their experience with children, their desire to be a role model, leadership, maturity, skills, creativity, and sense of humor. Our staff is completely dedicated to making Ma-He-Tu a special, safe, and memorable experience for our campers. The staff meets for an entire week prior to the start of camp for training, to prepare for the arrival of campers, and to ensure we meet or exceed the American Camp Association (ACA) standards for overnight camps.
We accommodate a maximum of 115 campers during each of the 2-week encampments during the summer. In the camping industry, this is considered to be a small camp. This allows for a personal experience for all girls.
We have a minimum of 1 counselor to 5 campers in our living units and during activities, which is above and beyond the coverage required by the American Camp Association (ACA). The ACA requirements are 1:6 for 6 - 8 year-olds, 1:8 for 9-14 and 1:10 for 15-18 year-olds.
Camp Ma-He-Tu was founded on Lutheran principals and still honors those roots. You could say we are more spiritual than religious and do not exclude anyone based on their beliefs. We sing a grace before every meal and many of the songs we sing are founded in Christianity. On Sunday, we use our outdoor chapel to hold a counselor-run service. We usually focus on non-denominational themes like the Golden Rule, friendship, respect for each other and nature, conflict resolution, family, and living healthy lives. Our campers come from diverse religious backgrounds -all are welcome.
Life at CampCheck-in is on Sunday between 2:00 and 5:00pm. When you arrive, you will be greeted by counselors to find out what cabin or tent you will be living in. They will direct you where to park and will help you unload your car and get settled in the bunk. You will need to come to the Dining Hall to check-in with the camp directors and visit with the nurse. You will also head to the waterfront for a swim assessment. At 5 o’clock, we ask that all parents and family members say goodbye to the campers so we may begin our encampment :) Counselors will help girls get acclimated to camp with introductions to bunk-mates, a full tour of camp, and review of camp rules.
One of the best parts of camp is meeting new friends! But, of course we understand that sometimes it’s comforting to have someone you know in your same living unit, so we do our best to make accommodations within the same age group if the two campers' birthdays are within 6 months of each other. In this case, the older camper will move down to the younger cabin. We will only consider requests for new campers. Don't worry - you will be able to see your friend a lot throughout the day at Camp, all while meeting a new group of friends!
A complete list of suggested clothing, linens, and accessories can be found in our parent manual. Avoid bringing any expensive electronics like iPads or cameras which can be damaged outside in a variety of weather conditions. Laptops, cell phones, and any mobile cellular devices are strictly forbidden.
Campers should NOT bring cash or any other valuables. Parents can set up a Canteen account during check-in to cover any expenses that the camper incurs during her session, such as offsite trips, candy or soft drink purchases in canteen.
Canteen is the camp store, always open during check-in, check-out, and open periodically during the encampment for snacks or soft drinks. Visit canteen for any forgotten items like toothbrushes, deodorant, flashlights, or swim caps during check-in. The latest Camp Ma-He-Tu fashions in tee-shirts, shorts, and sweatshirts are also available for purchase.
Our laundry facilities are extremely limited and are reserved for "emergency" use. The best approach is to bring enough clothing to last the entire two-week encampment without needing to do laundry. We also recommend that each camper bring a laundry bag to easily separate soiled from clean clothes and linens.
Meals are actually a lot of fun! We eat family-style for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which means we sit at smaller tables that have six campers and two counselors. The food is served to the whole table so all can share. Campers help out during meal time too – each girl has a job – to set the table, bring food back, or clear the dishes at the end. Each camper has an assigned table which rotates weekly, so no one is ever left out.
Meals aren’t just for eating! We sing a LOT of songs including traditional camp songs, cheers, repeat-after-me songs, and beautiful folk songs. Campers play the cup game, “wanna buy a duck” and any other table-banging silliness! We wrap up each meal with camp-wide announcements.
Don’t worry, camp food has come a long way! We have professional cooks that plan out and prepare every meal so that it is healthy and satisfying. Each meal includes a main dish, side dishes, a vegetarian option, and dessert. During breakfast, we have a continental cereal and yogurt bar, and during lunch and dinner we have a fully-stocked salad bar. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh fruit are available at every meal.
If you have food allergies, dietary restrictions, or any other food-related concerns, let us know on your Health Form and we will make sure you are taken care of.
Camp is divided into three main areas. Our youngest campers live in a section called Lower Camp. They live in large, three-room cabins with three staff members, and up to 7 campers in each of the camper rooms. The cabins have plenty of space to spread out. Outside of the lower camp cabins, there is a shared play area with tether-ball and a picnic table to hang out.
When you get a little older, you move to Upper Camp. There, the cabins are smaller, with only about five campers and one counselor. Both upper and lower camp cabins are screened in and have electricity.
The oldest girls in Camp get to live in platform tents with five fellow campers and one counselor. It's an honor to live in a tent – they are breezy, open and allow you to fall asleep under the stars. The tents don’t have electricity, but a battery-powered lantern or regular flashlight works just fine!
All of the bathrooms and showers are in separate buildings spread throughout each living area.
In addition to the living units, there are also 5 well-lit, private shower/bathroom buildings, a nurses cabin, dining hall with a professional kitchen, recreation hall with stage, arts & crafts cabin, dance and movement studio, camper den/canteen, basketball court, tennis courts, playing field/meadow, archery range, low ropes course, zip line, boat house, boat dock, main swimming dock, outdoor chapel, and a variety of storage cabins, campfire circles and trails. In addition, we have the wealth of resources and facilities of Harriman State park surrounding us.
The lake is the coolest place to be on a hot summer afternoon! Every day, our campers have two opportunities to swim. First, we have instructional swim where you work with a dedicated lifeguard to improve your swimming, diving, and water-safety skills. The lifeguard will work through the curriculum with you to help you improve and pass to the next swimming level.
In the afternoon, you can also participate in General Swim where you can simply have fun! Advanced swimmers can use the diving board and small craft kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes. All campers can enjoy noodles and kick-boards to play games or relax.
All of our waterfront staff are American Red Cross Certified lifeguards. Several of our lifeguards are additionally certified as American Red Cross Water Safety Instructors, which means they are experts on swim instruction. On the first day, our lifeguards are required to do a swim competency check with each camper to determine what level she will be assigned for instructional swim. The evaluating lifeguard should be made aware of any concerns so she can make sure the camper is at ease while completing the swim check. We have a variety of lake areas, including deep water lake for our most advanced swimmers, and two shallow lake areas for our up-and-coming or first-time swimmers.
At the waterfront, we follow several safety precautions. All swimmers are required to turn an assigned “buddy tag” when entering and exiting the water and use a swim buddy during general swim. Buddy checks are done several times throughout the swim period to account for all swim-buddies. We also require that all girls wear white swim caps. If you forget to pack one, they are for sale at the Canteen. These processes make sure our waterfront is as safe as possible.
During a typical day, the cabin or tent group will follow a schedule that includes 5 scheduled activities and 1 choice activity. The day might include anything off the list on our Camp Life page. During the choice activity, campers get to choose what they want to do! That's also the time during the day when we have free swim. See an example daily schedule here.
Our evening programs are always a surprise. They may include a game of capture the flag, a counselor hunt, a social in camp or with a neighboring camp, or a special theme event.
Though we prefer to be outside, there is plenty of indoor space to keep campers entertained during poor weather. Campers can play games, make arts & crafts, learn a new dance, you name it!
There is never a dull moment at Ma-He-Tu! We have all kinds of special activities like Carnivals, Color Wars, Olympics, Harry Potter World, and more! Campers are often treated to hikes, to a nearby beach or even out for ice cream! In addition to the activities that the counselors plan, each living unit gets to design their own special day.
Ask three experienced campers, and you are bound to get three difference responses! In fact, many of our campers come to more than one encampment – or even all summer! Each two-week session is so unique – the best way to figure out your favorite is to try them all. If you aren’t sure which one sounds the most appealing to you, pick the session that works best with your family schedule. You’ll have a great time regardless of which session you choose. For more info on our encampments, visit the session descriptions page.
Health and WellnessEach camper is required to have a health examination with her physician prior to attendance. The forms must be completed prior to check-in and can be found on the forms page. The examination must be within one year of her date of attendance. Upon check-in, the nurse will conduct a short health screening with each camper at which time you can discuss any health issues. If a camper requires prescription medications, they must be given to the nurse in the original packaging at that time. Any medications will be administered by the nurse as directed.
We have a live-in nurse to tend to all routine and emergency medical needs. In addition, many of our staff members are first aid and CPR certified. We have a physician available for office visits and Good Samaritan Hospital is easily accessible nearby in Suffern in case of emergency. The camper’s health insurance will be her primary coverage while she is at camp.
Almost all of our staff members are former Ma-He-Tu campers, so they understand what it is like to be away from home. We have a very positive support group to help campers adjust to camp life, and any homesick campers are treated with extra sensitivity and positive reassurance. Most campers who feel a little homesick during the first few days are the same girls who don't want to go home at the end of the encampment! Homesickness is normal and easily cured at camp.
Parents and guardians can help by sending reassuring letters (lots of them!) and making sure they let their camper know that if they stick with it, they will have a great time at camp.
Keeping in TouchNo. Cell phones are not allowed at camp. We feel strongly that campers should be unplugged from technology to enjoy the full camping experience. Cell phones will be confiscated and kept safely in the Director’s office until check-out day.
Unfortunately, if we let every camper call home even once, the phones would be tied up, and we need our lines open for safety reasons. Email is not available for camper use either. The best way to communicate is through postal mail. Everyone likes to get a handwritten letter :)
The office is open from 8:00am to 10:00pm while camp is in session. The phone number is (845) 942-4508. We will be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you might have. During meals or all-camp activities an answering machine may pick up your call.
Yes! We encourage friends and family to write to our campers often. The mail is typically delivered once a day around lunchtime.
By Mail: Campers love to receive mail, so please write to your daughter as often as possible. Please keep correspondence newsy and lighthearted. Please use our PO Box listed below.
Packages: Everyone loves a care package! However, please do NOT send food, candy, or gum to camp. Magazines, comics and games are just as appreciated, and these items don’t attract wildlife or insects. Any food sent to campers will be confiscated and not returned.
UPS and FedEx are able to make deliveries directly to camp – so please send heavy and large packages through either of these two services. ONLY UPS and FedEx can deliver to the Bear Mountain address!
One of our staff members picks up the mail from the PO Box in Sloatsburg during weekdays only. (If you are ordering through Amazon.com, please use the PO Box address)
Use this address for LETTERS and Amazon packages sent by US Mail (USPS):
Your Daughter’s Name
Your Daughter’s Cabin or Tent Number
PO Box 195
Sloatsburg, NY 10974
Use this address for PACKAGES sent by FedEx or UPS:
Your Daughter’s Name
Your Daughter’s Cabin of Tent Number
520 Seven Lakes Drive
Bear Mountain, NY 10911
If you can’t make it to an Open House or find the answer to your question on our website – please let us know! We want to answer your questions and make sure we are providing the best information possible on our website. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our registrar, Marion, at 631-351-1657.