On the River: Water Sports at SMA

Our location in central Pennsylvania provides us with a number of rivers including the Little Juniata, the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata, the Raystown Branch of the Juniata, and the mighty Juniata River herself. No matter what the activity, fun on the water is guaranteed!


White Water Rafting

Sleepaway-Camps-for-teens-SMANothing compares to the exhilaration of powering through rapids, so once per session we launch our whole camp into the Class III rapids of the Lower Youghiogheny River (the “Yough” or “Yock”) for a seven-mile whitewater rollercoaster ride. In an all-day activity towards the end of each session, the whole camp makes the trip out to the Yough, which is a world-class intermediate whitewater river perfect for young teens and first-timers. After every stretch of white water there is a stretch of calm where we can regroup and prepare for the next rapid. Everyone wears helmets and life jackets for safety, and professional guides ensure a safe and exciting journey. Our guides even provide us with a hearty lunch halfway downriver, and some lucky days they even let us body surf “Swimmers’ Rapid,” a small, standing wave in the middle of the river. As one of the most exciting activities we do at SMA, whitewater rafting is an absolute highlight of camp that reaffirms the bonds everyone has made with each other and gets our hearts pumping!


Canoeing is a favorite camp activity on a hot summer day at SMA. Sometimes we take a slow, playful trip along a winding river and other times faster trips present opportunities for campers to command their crafts through small rapids. It all depends on the location of the trip, the height of the water, and the mood and skill level of the group of campers. With enthusiastic and experienced counselors giving instruction when needed, canoe trips at SMA are always full of hearty laughter and good times as we navigate our way downriver. Our staff will teach:

  • General canoe strokes (sweep, draw, correction, rudder, etc.)
  • Ferrying across the river
  • River safety & communication
  • Righting a capsized canoe
  • “Reading” the river
  • River songs & local lore



Canoe Overnights

Several times per session we offer Canoeing overnights. During these trips campers will depart camp after lunch for the river, where they’ll put in with their canoes and spend the afternoon paddling down the river. We send a van ahead to a campground on the river, so all camping supplies will be safe from the water and waiting for the campers when they arrive. Darkness brings dinner, a campfire, s’mores, stories, and a well-deserved rest in a tent or out under the stars. In the morning, we’ll pack up our site and set off once more to finish our canoe journey before returning to camp for lunch with many stories to tell. 



We provide the fishing rods and the bait, while campers provide the courage to put the worm on the hook and the patience it takes to “catch the big one!” We offer fishing on many of the local rivers in central Pennsylvania. Many of these are tributaries of the Juniata River which flows into the Susquehanna and is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. We mainly fish for trout, bass, and catfish at SMA. A peaceful morning or afternoon spent with a rod in the water while cooling your feet in the river can be the perfect respite from other adventure activities at camp.