Land Activities

Technical Tree Climbing

We are one of the few summer camps in the U.S. to offer technical tree climbing. The strong 100-foot Jeffrey Pines in our camp vicinity are perfect for this activity. Using techniques similar to those used by Forest Service arborists or scientists exploring the jungle canopies in tropical rain forests, campers learn the skills for climbing big trees with ropes and ascending devices. There is a chance to hang out in the upper branches for lunch with a bird's eye view of the lake. Advanced tree climbers learn how to rig tree boats (hammocks specially designed for living in the forest canopy) and can take their rest period 60 feet off the ground while reading a book or relaxing on a swaying hammock.

Rock Climbing

Deer Crossing is surrounded by awesome climbing sites. Our climbing program includes small 15-foot beginner walls, 50–and 75-foot intermediate walls, and 100+ foot big wall climbing.

Beginners start with an introduction to climbing where they learn about equipment, how to tie basic knots, climbing etiquette and safety principles. Then students move to the beginner's wall to learn how to set protection, belaying commands, and climbing techniques. When climbers are ready, they graduate to the intermediate walls at Frogstone and Cypress.

Safety, safety, safety. All climbs at Deer Crossing are belayed by qualified instructors using Gri-gris, a mechanical belaying device noted for its reliability. Even when campers are taught to belay, there is an experienced instructor in the loop. Climbers are protected with a top rope climbing system. When climbers practice rappeling, they have a second rope attached to an instructor's belaying system for security. Every climb has three solid anchor points, in a multiple-redundancy system. All equipment is inspected before each climb and all climbing sites have been choreographed multiple times. This means they are analyzed for the best way to set protection, then diagrammed, sketched and photographed, followed by an OK from an experienced safety officer. New routes become available only after careful analysis.

Deer Crossing is a great place for both novice and experienced climbers. Advanced campers can learn belaying, leading, equipment inspection, Hollywood climbing, Tyrolean traverse, and vertical rescue skills for both personal and team use. Our goal is to train well-rounded, safety conscious climbers.

This camp is awesome. They have some of the best rock climbing I have ever done.

Kevin Galanis, California


Choosing and perfecting physical moves is what bouldering is all about. Each rock is a climbable puzzle. Climbers stay within 3-6 feet of the ground, protected by a spotter, so equipment needs are minimal: a helmet, some chalk, and a good pair of shoes.

Bouldering is a separate sport from rock-climbing. It focuses on specific techniques rather than long climbs. We teach both sports. Campers can specialize in one or both.


Archery fits right in with our wilderness location. Using traditional bows, campers are instructed in safety and target shooting techniques. There's something about the solid "plunk" of an arrow going true to the target that makes this a popular activity at Deer Crossing. Campers also have a chance to participate in our informal archery competitions.

Mountain Biking

Learn the basics of mountain biking. We have a dirt track through the forest and around our lagoon that gives campers an introduction to riding on trail. We provide helmets, bikes, and other gear required for riding.


The orienteering program introduces land navigation using map and compass. We start on our mini-beginner course. Campers can advance to the level used by professional wilderness guides. Skills focus on course setting, taking bearings, triangulation, and backcountry travel.

Survival Skills

An introduction to survival skills includes shelter building, tracking, and how to build traps. No actual trapping of animals is done. Advanced survival techniques are included in the Leader-in-Training (LIT) program.

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