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Camping for Rookies

Camping 101 LogoIt’s Back!  Family Camping 101.  Join us this year at one of the family camping events at your Indiana State Parks.  Register today to secure your spot.  These programs are being brought to you by Camptown, Inc. and the Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs.

These events are designed specifically for first time campers only. Register early to ensure spaces for your family! All Payments are Final.  No Refunds.  Camp will be held rain or shine. 


Prophetstown State Park; West Lafayette, IN  – August 29-30
Ft. Harrison State Park; Indianapolis, IN – September 26-27
Shades State Park; Waveland, IN  – October 3-4

What’s provided
* Campsite and tent
* Sleeping bags and pads
* Assistance with camp set-up
* 3 meals (lunch and dinner on Saturday, breakfast on Sunday)
* Campfire cooking program and evening campfire program with s’mores
* Time to explore, hike, visit the nature center and more
* Lots of fun and great memories

$15 per person

Register Here!



Natural Wonders Day Camp Volunteer

Mary Rigg (14)Each year volunteers help us bring nature to hundreds of inner city youth.  Our Natural Wonders Day Camps are designed to provide inner city elementary age children a one day nature experience.  Campers get to try their hand at fishing, take a nature hike, paddle a canoe, and play outdoor teambuilding games.  A Natural Wonders Day Camp provides for many of our students a once in a life time experience.  For others, it opens the door to a whole new world – a world outside, one they have not even imagined before.  One of our partners shared this last summer after their Natural Wonders Day Camp, “I truly believe that Camptown was the greatest experience the girls had.”  We need volunteers to make this happen.  No experience necessary.  Camptown staff will train you and be there to support you during the day.  We need station leaders, assistant leaders, and guides. For more information visit our Volunteer Page.

Get On Board

Interested in serving on a board?
Christel House 8th  Water Camera (19)Camptown is looking for Christian men and women to become board members. Help set the direction for Camptown’s growth and provide the resources needed to reach more youth.

For more information on becoming a board member at Camptown, Please visit us at


Hole-in-One Golfer Gives to Non-Profit

What would you do after winning $25,000? One very lucky golfer in attendance at the 11th Annual Tom Lehman Golf Tournament fundraiser, Toby Shurden, earned the opportunity to ponder that very question after sinking a hole-in-one from the 17th tee. [Read more…]

Outdoor Tip: Lightning Safety

LightningIn 2013, 23 lightening fatalities were reported in the United States by the National Weather Service.  Florida and Arizona tie for the highest number of fatalities.  Although the odds of you being stuck are slim, even if you survive being struck most injuries are serious and lifelong. A direct hit by lightning is very rare and only accounts for 3-5% of lightening fatalities.  A person is more likely to be injured or killed by ground current that spreads out through the earth, rock or water from the point of lightning contact.  If you spend anytime outdoors it is important to learn and understand lightning safety.

The National Weather Service states that “NO PLACE outside is safe when lightning is in the area.” The best place to be during a lightning storm is inside.  If you cannot get indoors there are some things you can do to survive a lightning storm.  If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning.

Guidelines for Avoiding Lightning Strikes

If you find yourself caught in a lightning storm, do not panic. Stay calm and take the proper immediate precautions. Immediately leave open fields, elevated mountain tops, or watery areas. Get away from tall or isolated structures and never use trees as shelter. The idea that electronic devices and metal on your body attract lightning is a myth, so don’t take the time to remove these. Find shelter to ride out the storm.  If you are driving stay inside the vehicle, on or under a vehicle is bad.  If no shelter can be found, sit on an insulated pad or other object to reduce contact with ground current.  Spread your group out to avoid a multiple-casualty strike.  If moving toward safety keep moving.  Avoid open areas where you are the tallest object.  Do not hold wire fence, wet rope, or other conductors.

Because the charge simply passes through the body, a lightning strike victim does not carry an electric charge after being struck. If they are not breathing or have no pulse, start performing CPR chest compressions until they regain consciousness or help arrives. Treat electrical burns as you would any other type. Neurological and internal injuries are possible, however, 80% of people recover after being hit by lightning. It is also possible for someone to be hit by lightning and be practically uninjured.

Family Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger HuneYou might have missed our family camps this fall but it is not too late to get out and enjoy nature.  Join us on our next family event at Shades State park on November 16th.  Our Shades of Death Family Photo Scavenger Hunt will have you discovering parts of Indiana that you never knew existed.  Come meet other families and enjoy a fun day out in nature with your family.  There is no charge for this event.  You may have to pay a park gate admission of $5 (or use your Indiana State Park Pass).  Please register at  We hope to see you there!

We just got back from a weeklong backpacking trip with (40) 8th graders.  For this adventure, I was leading the base camp trek.  The base campers quickly created a team identity as the Rockhopper trek as these 12 kids could not pass a pile of boulders without climbing all over them.  The teacher in my trek and I decided to also give each of the students a nature base trail name.   One student was a quiet gentle leader that climbed hills with incredible strength; we named him “Ram.”  “Ram” also  has autism.  He is 17 and in the 8th grade.  With me, “Ram” was quiet, I had to coax him to talk and he usually looked at the ground when he did talk.  I did not really realize how closed off he was.  On the second day of the trip, the teacher told me that he had talked more in the past 2 days than he had in the past 2 years in her classroom.  The following day, while waiting their turn to depart on the solo hike, “Ram,” “Flat Rock,” “Birdman,” and myself were talking and sharing riddles.  “Birdman” also pointed out that he had heard “Ram” talk more on the trip than he had ever heard him talk and “Flat Rock,” “Ram’s” tent mate and friend, said that he had seen him smile more and laugh more on the trip as well.  After rafting, I saw “Ram” having lunch with one of the other students from our trek.  He was eating, smiling, conversing, and making eye contact.  Later, “Ram” told his teacher that the trip was a turning point for him. He was not going to let autism rule over him anymore.  When I asked him how he felt about the trip, his response was “I feel accomplished.”

What we do matters!  This trip made a powerful impact on the lives of 40 students, 4 teachers, and 4 staff.  This is only one of at least a dozen of stories.   I hope that when you read this story, and reflect on your support of Camptown, you too can say, “I feel accomplished.”

Thank you,

Cynthia  “Flower”

Camptown Recieves Grant from Sprint Foundation

Camptown announces it has received a $15,000 grant from the Sprint Foundation in support of its outdoor programming.  “With this grant Sprint will help Camptown bring outdoor education and adventure to over 500 underprivileged youth in central Indiana” says Executive Director Don Schafer.  Through day, overnight and weeklong programs youth will experience for the first time outdoor activities such as canoeing, hiking, backpacking, and camping.

“Sprint is pleased to offer this grant to Camptown, to the Indianapolis community and to the young people whose lives will be touched,” said Ralph Reid, vice president-Sprint Corporate Responsibility. “The Camptown program directly and positively influences three of four focus areas established for the Sprint Foundation: education, youth development and community development. Sprint is proud to be a part of this important, creative program and all the good it makes possible.”

The youth that will benefit from this grant include inner city elementary students, middle school students, and special needs students.  Camptown introduces area youth to the outdoors who might not get the opportunity to connect with nature.  The typical participant is 8-18 years old, lives in a single-parent household, with income below the poverty level.  Programming is paid for through donations such as the Sprint Grant and makes an impact that is felt by the entire community.

Since 1991, Camptown has been leading youth to a better path by providing outdoor adventures and nature programs that challenge, mentor, and teach youth about nature and life.

Camptown partners with other youth organizations in Central Indiana to offer these exciting and unique programs to their students to build life skills, character and confidence.  Camptown is the only organization of its kind in Central Indiana and is well-recognized for its efforts.   Camptown received Best Nature Outdoor Program in 2000 from the National Park and Recreation Association and received the Indiana Achievement Award in 2010 for exemplary non-profit management.


For more information please contact Don Schafer at 317.471.8277 or

Walking to School

When I was in elementary school I lived a few blocks from the school.  During good weather days I would walk or ride my bike to school every day.  During the summer I would ride my bike to a summer program that was also held at the school.  I was talking with my father who grew up in the 1930’s and in elementary school they did not serve lunch but were expected to walk home for lunch and then return to school.  Fast forward to today where many schools prohibit walkers and bike riders to school.  Even where it is not prohibited it is not common in many communities to see children riding their bikes or walking to school.  Aside from the physical exercise that is missed, there is also the sense of accomplishment, confidence and independence that a child can get by walking or riding their bike to school.  Oh sure, I understand that we live in a different society today, but too often in the name of protecting our children we limit their growth and spirit of adventure.

I don’t often write about gear, but I do have an opinion.  I have always been very particular as to what gear we use on our Camptown programs.  The reason is that we are very hard on gear, so it needs to be durable.  We are also working with first time adventurers who need the gear they use to be easy to understand.  There are certain things I look for in a piece of gear durability, functionality, features, and fit.  I want to mention my all time favorite day back, the Bungalow by LL Bean.  It is now discontinued but it still continues to be a favorite in my household.  I have had my Bungalow now for about 5 years.  Other than a few scrapes from getting drug through a cave, it continues to do the job.  Features include: a roomy main compartment large enough for our group med kit, my extra clothing, and room for my lunch, an easy accessible top pocket, two water bottle holders that you don’t have to wrestle with to retrieve your bottles, built in rain fly that is easy to get to when the time comes, a hip belt with coin pocket, and a whistle built into the sternum strap buckle.  This was a top rated pack for years.  I liked mine so much I bought my wife one.  I wanted to get one for my daughter when I found out it had been discontinued.  Please bring back the Bungalow.