Updated Spring 2021
My family has been going to Gull Lake Ministries since the late 80s and my husband and I met as summer-staffers and then worked full time there for 6 years as well.
Although I’ve shared a lot about our family vacations and life here on the blog I decided to do a full review so that if you’re looking to learn more about what to expect from family camp you can get a good idea! Please feel free to ask any questions as well in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!
Gull Lake Ministries Review
Family camp runs Saturday afternoon through Friday morning for 9 weeks in the summer. It’s high energy, but there is lots of down time as well! When you arrive on Saturday you’ll be greeted by enthusiastic summer staff and go through a check-in process that takes roughly 15-20 minutes.
Theme Nights at Gull Lake Ministries
4 nights of the week they have “themed” dinners: anything from Wild West to Olympics to Superheroes! (They change them up annually, but you find out beforehand what the theme nights are so you can prepare if you want!)
You can dress up for theme nights if you want to and one year my mom got the girls these matching Mini Mouse outfits for one of the theme nights! It’s fun to dress up, but it’s also totally OK to NOT. Sometimes just getting everyone clean clothes together for a week of vacation is enough, ya know?
All the family campers eat dinner together in the huge lakeside dining room (there are lots of counselors to help with kiddos at the buffet too). Then after eating there are games, skits, and other family interactive moments and activities to create memories and have fun together.
Some of these moments can be overwhelming to special needs kids and younger children. When our kids were little we often took them out part way through and relaxed at the nearby beach or playground. If your child has sensory or special needs you are able to share those with the staff before hand to make sure you and your child is prepared with accomodations and having fun right along with everyone else or in their own unique way!
Activities at Gull Lake
There are lots of activities at Gull Lake for all ages! Our favorites are the Beachfront activities: swimming in the lake (they have some super fun water toys!), kayaking, boating, and stand up paddleboarding.
We took the pontoon out for a little ride around the lake which was beautiful. All the kids took out hobie kayaks one day too, which are kayaks you pedal! We also went on a water rocket ride with the kids (they go as fast or as easy as you want to go!).
We also spent a lot of time on the beach playing and hanging out. Our kids love the water!
They also have a lot of Rec-Field Activities like a climbing tower, zipline, elevated ropes challenge, bouncy pillow, splashpad, BB guns and archery, and field games. You will not get bored at Gull Lake Ministries!
They also have indoor activities taking place at the Ministry Center: crafts (some free, but most for under $5), pickleball, bowling, indoor rock climbing, game room, and snack bar.
The Food at Gull Lake Ministries Review
We’ve ate really good in the dining room at GLM! We are pretty spoiled at Gull Lake to have a top-notch culinary team. They do not mess around in the kitchen and this is not “campy” food!
This was braised beef with mushrooms and onions, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, homemade bread, and salad with fresh fruit and candied pecans. Super delicious!! They also accommodate many special diets, which is awesome!
Family Time + Accomodations
We’ve also just spent a lot of time hanging out as a family! Our whole family (my 4 siblings, their spouses and kids and boyfriend/girlfriends, and our parents sometimes all stay in a large condo together or in two cottages. They also have smaller cottages and hotel style lodge rooms with shared common areas.
Most cottages come equipped with anything you need for light cooking: pots and pans, coffee maker (bring your own coffee and filters though), cutlery, and plates. If you love to drink a smoothie every morning for breakfast or need your pour over coffee just so–bring your gear from home.
I’d also suggest bringing a first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray, aloe–you can purchase many items in the camp store, but always nice to have your own right on hand. We also tend to bring just a couple toys for our kids and some board games to keep us entertained at night.
There are also no tvs in accommodations and Wifi is limited. This can be a great tool to help you unplug, but just be aware if you don’t have an unlimited streaming plan on your phone.
We stayed up too late playing cards, ate meals together, laughed together and always seem to have good conversations in the relaxed setting. The point of family vacation is to relax and connect and often that happens best without screens involved.
Children and Adult Classes
There is always a speaker for the adults as well as a mission organization that shares during the week some mornings and evenings. At the same time there are age-appropriate classes for kids and teens! I always joke that they don’t take attendance at the adult sessions, so if it fills your cup to go and receive teaching–awesome! If it fills your cup to sit on a beach chair and read while looking over the lake–awesome!
All of our kids have adored the camp counselors that they have in their class settings.
The college students are really fantastic, energetic and caring–you may find those relationships one of your favorite parts of the whole experience. It’s awesome to have other godly adults who don’t have it all together, but are pouring truth into your kids too.
All-in-all Gull Lake Ministries is a great option if you are looking for an all-inclusive, high energy family vacation with an emphasis on spiritual growth and family togetherness! I love that it provides lots of family togetherness and activity while also reserving time for adults to be together on their own while your kids are being cared for by trained staff who genuinely seem to care for them and enjoy spending time with children!
If you’re interested in an all-inclusive Christian Family Vacation at Gull Lake Ministries you can find more info at gulllake.org!
Have you ever been to a family camp? Do you vacation with your extended family?