At Vanderkamp You Can Recreate Your Summer Camp Memories in the Wilderness
July 6, 2022
Picture this: You step out the sliding glass door of the bedroom at your rental for the weekend. Take a few steps and sit down in the Adirondack chair on the deck overlooking the private lake. Watch as a great blue heron flies low over the lake. Listen to the bullfrogs croaking in the cattails. Watch as the sun sets over the trees in the distance. Everything is perfectly peaceful. This is exactly what it’s like to stay at the boathouse at Vanderkamp in Cleveland, New York.
Nestled on 850 acres of private land, Vanderkamp is a true oasis in Upstate New York. Years ago, the land was home to summer camps and retreats for local youth groups and organizations. In May 2021, Dan Cramer and Troy Evans partnered to purchase the property. Together with Joe Sisko, they have made it their mission to bring life back into the buildings.
A few weeks ago I was invited to come check out the recently renovated boathouse. I called up one of my friends and planned for a midweek girls’ night away. Sitting in a boathouse on Vanderkamp Lake sounded like the perfect escape where we could be immersed in nature, without being far from home. When I arrived at the boathouse, I was awestruck. I couldn’t believe just how beautiful the building is. The bones of the building are over 100 years old, yet modern touches bring it into the 21st-century. My ideal place. I wish I could stay in the boathouse forever.
Two bedrooms and a large bathroom make up the first floor. Each bedroom has a sliding glass door that opens up to the deck; meaning you are literally steps from Vanderkamp Lake. Upstairs you’ll find the kitchen and living area, along with a sunroom. Every window provides beautiful views of the lake and surrounding forest. The designer mixed black industrial accents with the natural rustic elements, keeping a neutral palette of creamy whites and blacks. On one hand you have the wide plank, original wood floor, but you still have a glasstop stove and TV with Wi-Fi. I spent most of the first day there in the sunroom, working on my laptop and enjoying the views. When my friend arrived a few hours later, she claimed the hammock next to me.
Other Rental Properties at Vanderkamp
While the boathouse is the most recent building to be renovated, it is not the most popular. In fact, the most popular building at Vanderkamp is the largest. The Frank Soule Lodge has seven bedrooms and can comfortably sleep 16 people. It’s the perfect spot for a family reunion, or week/weekend getaway with a group of friends.
Additionally, there are several other small cabins scattered throughout the property. These are currently being renovated and will be available to rent soon. As of now, you must be at least 25 years old to rent a property at Vanderkamp, and no pets are allowed.
Events at Vanderkamp
With so much land to explore, Vanderkamp also makes a great spot to events. Weddings, company retreats, banquets, graduation parties… If you have an event to plan for a large group of folks, this makes a great spot. The commons building is nearly done being renovated, with over 1100 square feet of event space and commercial bathrooms. The design mimics the wood and stonework found in the lodgings.
PS the common building is far enough from the lodging, so there’s no disruption to your privacy.
Activities at Vanderkamp
When you pay for your rental at Vanderkamp, you are paying for more than just your lodging. As a guest of the camp, you have access to the lake, common areas, and hiking trails throughout the property. From the boathouse, the boat launch is just a short walk away. There you will find kayaks and canoes available for you to use to venture out on the lake. Definitely take advantage of the watercraft, because it truly amplifies your experience. Sitting out on a canoe in the middle of the lake with almost no one else around brings me a joy that is hard to describe in words.
There are several miles of hiking trails through the woods. So grab your sneakers and your bug spray and go explore the relatively untouched nature. The trails are also fantastic for birdwatching, so if that’s your thing, don’t forget your binoculars and camera.
Since the owners want to maintain a level of natural wilderness and serenity, no motorized vehicles or boats are allowed on the trails or the lake.
Packing List for your weekend away
Both of the rental properties that are currently available have all of your basic amenities and then some. But there are still some items that you should bring for your trip.
Pack a cooler of food. The rentals have fully functioning kitchens, each including a microwave, fridge, freezer, and stove. So whether you are planning to cook or just enjoy peanut butter and jelly all weekend, remember to bring food with you.
A bathing suit or clothes you can get wet. If you were going to take advantage of borrowing a kayak or canoe, make sure you have clothing that’s appropriate for the lake.
Bug spray. This one should be a given. Since you will be in the middle of the woods, there will be bugs. Nobody likes it, but we deal with it. Just bring your bug spray.
Sneakers or hiking shoes. Make sure to plan some time to walk the trails, even for just a little bit. There is no sharp change in elevation or difficult terrain, so sneakers will be just fine.
A camera and or binoculars. As previously mentioned, it’s a great spot for wildlife viewing and birdwatching. If you’re the type to want to see animals up close, or capture the memories, bring your gear.
I truly can’t say enough positive things about my experience a Vanderkamp. In fact, my friends and I are already brainstorming about when we can go back and visit.
The only downfall? The rental prices are higher than I typically pay. But this is one of those instances where I support splurging. Because the experience is worth every penny.