Below are some answers to questions we get asked a lot by prospective participants for our summer adventure programs…

I have been to “camp” for the last 5 years. I do not want to go to a camp again. What is Basecamp and will I be staying there very much?

Deer Hill, and its beautiful 130-acre Basecamp, is not a “camp”. Deer Hill is a wilderness and service program for those who want a fun, challenging and fulfilling summer experience. Each trip begins and ends at Basecamp, setting you up with all the food and gear your group needs for your program. Our Basecamp staff then resupply your group with all that you need while you are in the field. These resupplies actually allow you to spend more time in the backcountry, and less time shopping and travelling, compared to other programs. Most (not all) groups will return to Basecamp once during their program, and that’s a great time to relax, swim in the pond, shoot some hoops, enjoy the peace and great views, get a shower and refuel. Basecamp allows us to run smooth multi-element programs, and it is one of the things that makes Deer Hill unique among teen adventure programs.

“One of the best parts of Deer Hill was how personal the staff all were. From the second I arrived at Basecamp until the moment I left, I could not have felt more at home.” Sarah, Fayetteville, NY

Should I come to Deer Hill alone or with a friend?

You can certainly come with a friend. Many choose to come alone. Just remember that your Deer Hill experience is a chance to let go, be yourself, and make lots of new friends.

“Something I will always cherish is how easy it was to become close to the leaders and the other participants. I have had the same friends since elementary school. Thinking back on how easy it was to make new friends at Deer Hill and love them just as much, I will remember that for the rest of my life.” Meryl, Rye, NY

What will my group be like?

It’s hard to say exactly – every group is different -  but a big part of Deer Hill is having a great experience as a group. We can say that it will be a small group (usually 12, maximum 16), that it will consist of people from all over the U.S., some even from other countries, and different backgrounds. Through our admissions process and our experienced leaders, we do everything possible to create groups that bond and work well together. Click here to read in detail about a typical group from 2009.

“Last year, I went to a camp of many hundreds of people and made only a few friends. I made friends with everyone in my group of 12 at Deer Hill.” Renaud, Paris, France

What will I do on a service project?

We seek service projects in which we can make a real difference, to the environment, and/or for a native family or community. Our cross-cultural service projects are collaborative in that you’ll work alongside your hosts and other community members, on projects which are important to their traditional ways of life.

Working in a cornfield with Zuni elders, building a hogan with a Navajo family, or whitewashing the plaza in a Hopi pueblo, you will forge friendships while learning an incredible amount about their lives and culture, and gaining real skills you can take with you. On a conservation service project, you’ll  work hard and learn a lot while doing something that is important to your public lands: building or repairing a backcountry bridge to restore access, making a campsite accessible to the less able, or restoring a wild area damaged by overuse – you’ll be surprised how interesting, and how fun, these projects can be.

“The service was the most amazing thing I have ever done because I saw and felt the results of my work. Phil Bluehouse is the most amazing person I have ever met. I will always remember the different ways in which a hogan and a sweat lodge can be used.” Ari, Sebastopol, CA

Can I get school credit for my service work at Deer Hill?

Yes! Deer Hill service hours have been accepted to meet graduation requirements at hundreds of schools. Deer Hill will furnish your school with written verification of your work upon request. Check with your school counselor. If they have any questions, have them give us a call.

What is something I can do at Deer Hill that I can’t do anywhere else?

There are lots of answers to this question, but here’s one of the best things. As a culmination to your program, Deer Hill participants have the rare opportunity to take part in a sweat lodge ceremony back at Basecamp. For Native Americans, and many other cultures, this is seen as a purification ceremony following an important event in one’s life. Every Deer Hill group since 1985 has participated in this essential part of the Deer Hill journey.

How much gear will I need to buy?

We will give you a list of gear you will need well before your trip. If you wish to buy your own equipment you may, but the only thing you must bring with you is your own footwear. Our Outfitting Store stocks everything you need from dependable name-brand suppliers at modest rental prices, saving you many hundreds of dollars and hours of shopping. So, you don’t need to buy gear that will get dirty, that won’t fit next year, or that you may not use again. We fit the pack to your back and select your clothing layering system for each expedition and environment. Brands we carry include Lowe Alpine, The North Face, Helly Hansen, Sierra Designs, MSR and Osprey.

Please note: each summer participant pays a $250 Store Deposit to cover any rentals or purchases they will make during their program. The balance is refunded at the end of the summer.

What will my leaders be like?

Leaders are a vital aspect, perhaps the most important, of any summer program. It’s a great idea to look into what each company offers in this department. Our leaders are experienced, inspiring, motivated, passionate, playful, and grounded. They are great listeners, experienced educators, talented banjo players, pilots, outdoor fanatics, world travellers, and most importantly, fun to be around! See our staff pagefor more info.

“The instructors were amazing. I have had a lot of leader-type people, but these were by far the best. Ryan, Liz and Emily are pretty awesome.” Kaitlyn, Los Altos, CA

“The leaders listen to your problems and always work at making the group better and closer. They encourage you to go higher and are always proud of you no matter what. That’s what leadership is.” Dolla, Chelsea, MA

What will I eat?

Great food has always been a key part of the Deer Hill experience. We’ll turn you into a “camp gourmet”! While in the field, you’ll learn to prepare surprisingly delicious meals. We start with a hearty breakfast: anything from sausage and eggs to fruit pancakes, with plenty of hot drinks. Lunch might be sliced meats and cheese served with bagels, or pita bread with hummus and a tabouli salad. Cookies are always on the menu. Dinner is hot and tasty: dutch oven lasagna, or a make-your-own burrito spread, followed by a delicious dessert like cinnamon rolls or chocolate brownies. We carry plenty of roasted nuts, trail mix and other nutritious snacks so you’ll never get hungry. At Basecamp, the meals are legendary (ask our alumni) with plenty of options, including vegetarian.

“The food was so, so GREAT! Good variety. Great creativity.” Zanny, Pasadena, CA

“The food was amazingly excellent – a highlight of the trip. Uniquely delicious.” Skyler, Seattle, WA

How difficult is Deer Hill? Do I need to be in great shape to attend?

While you don’t have to be an athlete to join us, you should be in good physical shape. Life is very active at Deer Hill, and you will have a better time if you are reasonably fit when you arrive. However, a positive attitude and a willingness to take part are the most important things to bring with you. Remember, most people who come to Deer Hill have little experience. They succeed and you can, too.

What about showers? I’m worried about not being clean!

If you have ever spent any time in the backcountry, you will know that the everyday luxuries of home, like grabbing food out of a fridge, or taking a shower every morning, seem much less important once you are out enjoying nature and its beauty. Having said this, personal hygiene is very important at Deer Hill, and a daily cleanliness routine is scrupulously followed. Washing in the cool water of a mountain stream, or brushing your teeth down by the river as the sun comes up over the canyon wall – these will become treasured memories of your program. Unlike other backcountry programs, participants at Deer Hill get to enjoy the comforts of our Basecamp at the beginning and end of the program, and normally return to resupply at least once. Most groups will also stop at a pool or other facility to shower while in the field. That means at least one hot shower each week, which you will appreciate like never before!

How do I apply?

It’s easy! You can apply online here.  Or, simply download the application form, or fill out the form in the catalog, if you have one. Return the application with a $700 deposit. It may take a several days to process your application. We will check the references you provide and get back in touch with you as soon as we can. Please note that we ask you to answer a couple of questions about yourself, to help us to get to know you. This is the beginning of your Deer Hill journey.

“If someone is wants to go to Deer Hill, but is nervous about it, I would say “GO!” Of course you’re nervous at first, because everything’s new, but after a while it all works out just great – and it worked out awesome for me. I’m so glad I came.” Jenna, Durango, CO

If you have any more questions, just give us a call. We are a small and friendly staff, and we love to chat with potential participants and their parents about their goals, experience, and which program would suit them best. Chances are, if you call, Doug or Beverly Capelin (owners), or maybe Jason or Richard (directors) will pick up the phone.