Deer Crossing Camp

The lodge on Loon Lake
Big granite walls in our backyard
Climb tall trees!
Fun on the water
Great winds for sailing
Windsurfing on a leash
Exploring the backcountry

Teach Outdoor Skills at a True Wilderness Summer Camp in California's High Sierra

Deer Crossing Camp stands out from other summer camps due to our emphasis on skill building and wilderness safety, focus on developing resilient youth, and wilderness location. Our talented staff teach beginner through advanced activities: sailing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, rock climbing, technical tree climbing, arts and crafts, backpacking.

Located in California's High Sierra at 6400' elevation on Loon Lake, there is no road into camp; campers hike in and all supplies, gear, food, etc. are boated in. It is a true wilderness living experience, completely off-the-grid, with limited access to Internet, no cell phone reception. At our back door is beautiful Desolation Wilderness with 100+ lakes to explore and numerous peaks to climb.

About Deer Crossing Camp

"Deer Crossing Camp is a life-altering environment for the kids and instructors alike. Every day was a new chance to get the kids stoked on the outdoors, teach important life lessons, and build their self-confidence. The kids blew me away with their wit, adventurous spirit, and work ethic. The other instructors became my family, forged from hard work and a shared goal to stoke the fires of adventure in the campers. Each day felt like a learning experience and left me exhausted from sheer volume. Working at Deer Crossing has been my most rewarding experience to date, and it felt like my first opportunity to make a real difference." - Connor, Rock-Climbing and Archery Instructor, Assistant Director  

The outdoor adventure that is Deer Crossing Camp offers a unique opportunity for campers and staff alike to learn and grow in California’s High Sierra. Deer Crossing was founded in 1983 on two key principles: (1) through competency comes greater self-esteem, and (2) true leaders first learn to lead themselves. That focus on competency means we hire Instructors, not Counselors--people who love the outdoors and have serious skills in activities such as rock-climbing, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, technical tree-climbing, and kayaking. Campers learn wilderness safety and staff improve their teaching, public speaking, and mentoring skills. Special challenge activities, memorable stories, and camp traditions build resiliency and leadership skills in campers. Our camp is a real wilderness camp--off-the-grid, no-road-access, and no cell phone service. Campers hike in and gear, supplies, food, etc. are boated in.

The Employee Experience

Working at Deer Crossing makes you part of our wilderness family. We're a small camp with a maximum of 50 campers and 16-19 staff. Everyone, staff and campers alike, helps with chores and maintenance.

You will be challenged. You will learn new skills, habits, and insights about yourself and others. You will tell stories to the entire camp. You will appreciate naps. You will feel the satisfaction of a student finally windsurfing without falling, completing her first kayak roll, or climbing a bigger wall. You will be grateful for being part of a team. You will make new friends. You will definitely have fun! 

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate brings a positive attitude, zest for life, and serious skills in one of the key activities taught at camp--rock-climbing, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, canoeing, and technical tree-climbing. Our staff love to share their passion for the out-of-doors with kids and thrive in the wilderness with no cell access and limited wi-fi. Be open to new ways of seeing, saying, and doing. Be willing to follow camp rules. Be ready to be challenged.

Room and Board

Room and board are provided to all staff at no charge. Staff sleep in two-person platform tents (with mattresses) near the lodge, scattered among camper tents. We provide blankets when night-time temperatures drop. Meals are served in the lodge overlooking the lake. Separate staff and camper bathrooms with hot showers are located in the lodge.

Employee Perks

  • A Zoom-free summer in California's High Sierra
  • Access to fantastic granite cliffs and a beautiful mountain lake with perfect sailing winds
  • The joy of engaging campers in the outdoor activities that you're passionate about
  • Enhanced leadership and teamwork skills, from story-telling to creative problem-solving to guiding out-trips
  • The opportunity to learn new skills from other staff
  • Certification in Wilderness First Aid, Lifeguarding, Professional CPR

Getting Here and Getting Around

Deer Crossing is in the wilderness. There is no public transportation to camp from ... anywhere.

Bringing your own vehicle gives you the freedom to go into town or Lake Tahoe on your day off. Vehicles can be parked in the wilderness parking lot or across the lake. Vehicles are usually safe in both locations as long as there's nothing that smells like food, looks like food, or looks like it might contain food in the vehicle (bears are quite clever at getting into vehicles). If you're willing to do errands on behalf of camp, we'll ask to see your driver's license, vehicle registration, and insurance, and we'll check your driving record. We'll also reimburse you at the federal mileage rate.

Don't have a car? No worries. If you fly to San Francisco (SFO), we'll arrange and pay for a shuttle to camp's Bay Area Office. If you take the train or bus, we'll pick you up at the local station. You'll stay in the Camp Director's home overnight. We'll feed you. You can do laundry or last-minute errands. Then we'll drive you to camp. At the end of camp, we'll get you back to the Bay Area and let you stay overnight before heading off on your next adventure. No charge.

For Fun

Our wilderness location is undeniably special. 100 square miles of national wilderness behind us. National forest all around us. Star-filled nights. Sunny days. The sound of wind in the trees. And in the sails. Trout to catch. Trails to hike. Fabulous granite walls to climb. Cool lake water to swim in. Tall trees to climb. Wild animals from marmots to deer to the occasional bear.

Days off are often spent hiking in the national forest, climbing previously unexplored walls, lazing at the camp beach, or learning a new skill by joining the campers and taking a class from another instructor. If you have a car, you can go to Placerville (1.5 hours) or South Lake Tahoe (1.8 hours). If you don't have a car, you may be invited to join a car-owning staffer for the day. If the Camp Director is going to town to do errands, you might get to go along. 

How to Apply

Submit an online application. We may ask for more details on your activity background. We may schedule an interview. And we'll go from there.

Contact Deer Crossing Camp