Crystal Lake Camps logo
back to camp info main page

What's inside.

Section Links



special programs

rates & dates

enroll a camper

family camp



equipment list

top ten parent questions

top ten camper questions


full-time staff

board of trustees



Site Links

Camp Info





Lodging & Retreats






About Us



American Camp AssociationCrystal 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.