Crystal Lake Camps is a Christian Science camp located in the Endless Mountains of Northcentral Pennsylvania. The property spans over 960
acres of wooded land and includes 2 lakes, Crystal and Wild Rice.
The Girls' and Boys' Camps together, located on opposite sides of
the Dining Hall, hold a capacity of 100 campers which gives Crystal
Lake a small family feeling.
We offer a variety of traditional camp activities at Crystal Lake,
including daily activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, swimming, fishing,
soccer, pottery, arts and crafts and archery. Campers also participate
in camping trips, all-camp games like Capture the Flag and a variety
of evening activities such as talent shows and barn dances. Campers
ages 12 and up have an opportunity to try out our High Ropes Course,
a course which is located 25 feet up in the trees.
Christian Science is an integral part of daily life and activities
at Crystal Lake. Campers and staff read the Bible lesson daily and memorize
a thought for the day which they later repeat at a short, inspirational
assembly given each day after breakfast. Sunday School and weekly
evening testimony meetings are attended by the
entire camp. Campers and staff are encouraged to apply Christian
Science to their daily activities.
One of the most unique aspects of Crystal Lake Camps is our International
Program. We have staff members and campers from all over
the world, from countries such as Mexico, Kenya, France, Canada, Columbia, Botswana, India, Grenada and Russia. This allows campers an amazing opportunity
to experience other cultures and languages firsthand, as well as
a chance to make friends from all over the world.
The property of Crystal Lake Camps was owned by Mrs. Bessie Laughlin,
widow of J. Page Laughlin of Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation.
Mrs. Laughlin was a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Washington,
DC and lived in Leesburg, Virginia. The Laughlins used the property
as a summer home. During the 21 years they owned the property, they
made many useful improvements by building Tawanka, White Pine and
Kiya. Laughlin Lodge, formerly known as Bena Lodge, had been built
around 1900 as a hunting lodge.
1948 - Mrs. Laughlin decided to sell her Pennsylvania summer home.
With two lakes, surrounding forests and several cabins, she felt
it would make an ideal camp. That summer she placed an ad in the
Christian Science Monitor, offering the "famous Crystal Lake
property - suitable for a summer camp." This is how Charles
Alford found this unique property. When he told Mrs. Laughlin about
his idea for a camp for Christian Scientists, she was very pleased
and sold the property to the Alfords in November 1948 at favorable
terms and with her blessing for the new venture.
1949 - Crystal Lake Camps was founded by Mr. and Mrs. Charles
C. Alford of Washington, DC. The founders, Uncle Charlie and Aunt
Kay, as they were affectionately known, brought to their work a
love of young people. During the 1920's, they had directed camps
in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and on Cape Cod. One of these camps,
Camp Chocorua, was exclusively for Christian Scientists. The Alfords
sent their own two children, Joe and Mary, to summer camps beginning
at age eight, and early gave them increasing responsibility at
Crystal Lake Camps.
Crystal Lake Camps opened with about fifty campers, using existing
buildings for sleeping quarters and dining hall. From the beginning,
the idea of having two camps - one for girls, the other for boys
- seemed natural. For one thing, there were two lakes, Crystal and
Wild Rice, and two groupings of buildings on each. This suggested
a camp program in which boys and girls would be free to pursue their
individual interests at certain times and unite in activities of
mutual interest at other times. The name Lenape was chosen for the
boys camp, being the Indian name (leni-Lenpe) for the Delaware tribe
meaning "real men" or "he-men." Later it was
learned that a well-established private camp in Pennsylvanie was
named Camp Lenape so this name was not used in advertising but only
in "the camp family." Camp Canoya, the girls' camp, received
its name from the Canoy tribe of Indians. Both camps united under
the name Crystal Lake Camps, named for the jewel-like lake which
the camp property embraced.
1961 - After seeing Crystal Lake Camps grow for twelve summers,
the senior Alfords turned over ownership and operation of the camps
to their son Joe and his wife Dottie. With the loving support of
a consecrated staff, the camp continued to grow.
1970 - A new dining hall was built and named Alford Hall
in honor of the founders of Crystal Lake Camps.
1984 - A non-profit corporation known as Crystal Lake Camps,
Inc. was set up to operate the camps. Joe and Dottie Alford leased
the camp property to the corporation, served on the board of Trustees
of the corporation, and served as Camp Directors until 1997.
1997 - Joe and Dottie's daughter, Anna Alford, and her husband,
Hal Jordan became Directors of Crystal Lake Camps.
1999 - Crystal Lake Camps celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
2001 - Major facilities renovations began. Four new cabins were constructed, and all buildings on the property were renovated.
2002 - Jessica Henderson, an alumna of CLC, was hired to
be the new camp Director of Crystal Lake Camps. After co-directing Summer 2002 with Oscar Ceron, Jessica began working full-time and year-round for the camp.
2006 - Elizabeth Hall was hired to be the Executive Director of Crystal Lake Camps.
2007 - Nathan Bowen joins the camp in the role of Camp Director.
2012 - Nathan Bowen becomes Executive Director and Tim Holzworth Camp Director.