Liberty Lake Day Camp: Where Kids Learn & Grow Through Outdoor Adventures


It may be really cold outside, but now is the time to make those summertime plans to keep your kids occupied after that last school bell rings in June.(It will be here before you know it!)

For the past 23 years, South Jersey’s Liberty Lake Day Camp has been the answer for thousands of parents who want their kids to learn life skills, make friends and realize their potential – all while having fun playing outdoors. Led by Andy Pritikin, the camp’s founder and owner/director, Liberty Lake continues to run on a unique philosophy.

While the traditional camp model assigns its campers a schedule based on age and gender, at Liberty Lake Day Camp, kids get to choose electives in areas they’re interested in. It’s an empowering choice that  children (who are used to being told what to do) love and appreciate.

“We have coed programming where kids are in small camper groups based on their program preferences,” says Pritikin, who holds a master’s degree in education and taught and performed music for years before retiring at age 27 to ultimately become an industry leader in the summer camp profession. He is currently a spokesperson for the American Camp Association.

The elective categories – 60 in all – are diverse and include sports, applied and fine arts, STEM programs, performing arts, plus waterfront and adventure. All electives take place outdoors on the camp’s 60 acres, including a lake and 2 pools, where all kids get swim instruction and enjoy free-swim times. The camp also has a climbing wall, high ropes course, 4 playgrounds, mini golf and a giant swing. Pavilions and tents provide shelter on rainy days, or what the campers call “liquid sunshine.”

Each day is themed and might include superhero day, positive T-shirt day and PJs day. A favorite game is the chocolate pudding tug of war, which is just what it sounds like. On Friday afternoons, everyone gathers to watch performances by campers in music, theater arts, and dance. The week ends with the entire camp singing the Liberty Lake song.

“The older kids get, the more choice they get,” Pritikin says. “By age 10, half of their day is choice. Kids learn by being creative, and they seldom get the opportunity to just go outside and play.  And by giving them their choice, we’re not pigeonholing kids. Just because you’re a girl, doesn’t mean you need to go to dance – you can go to basketball.”

Campers entering 9th and 10th grade participate in their Teen Leadership program that pulls together the character values instilled in all of the camp’s participants – independence, teamwork, integrity, aspiration and friendship – great “tools for the toolbelt of life,” Pritikin adds.

Camp programs run weekly, Monday through Friday. Kids and their parents can pick from among such offerings as “taste buds,” theater, rock band and a business club elective where kids come up with ideas, similar to TV’s “Shark Tank.”

Working and playing despite challenges can help build a child’s character, Pritikin says, and the ability to face down their discomfort the first time on stage or when trying a new sport or meeting new friends, helps them become more comfortable with their innate strengths. 

“When you push kids a bit, wow – what they can do! A lot of potential gets tamped down in our schools, and we find that it’s unbelievable what they accomplish here,” Pritikin says.

He tells the story of a former camper who had never had a pet and tried the “Feature and Fur” elective, where kids play and work with the camp’s 2 Newfoundland dogs, Nigerian pygmy goats and chickens. “She fell in love with the animals and went on to become a vet.”

The Liberty Lake Foundation offers “camperships” to kids from South Jersey, Philadelphia and Lower Bucks County, not only to their camp but to several other camps too, giving out $20,000-$30,000 per year, for more than 10 years. They also offer 28 buses to transport kids who need it.

“While they play, the skills we’re honing here are vital,” says Pritikin. “They will grow up to get jobs that take creativity, communication, collaboration and resiliency – all those skills that used to be called soft skills and should be called hard skills now. Character is so important, and kids learn this from play and the new skills they are presented with every day. Outdoors & screen-free, our parents love camp as much as the kids. Liberty Lake is the right place at the right time.”

1195 Florence-Columbus Road, Bordentown