Blog Posts

Families have chosen Maine camps for their children for more than a century.

Learn about camps from the inside! Camp directors and staff, plus parents, address everything from beating homesickness to favorite camp foods to how camp fosters resilience and independence, all in blogs dedicated exclusively to Maine summer camps.

Beyond the Self: Camps Fostering Spiritual Growth

Beyond the Self: Camps Fostering Spiritual Growth

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  Camps in Maine serve a vast range of purposes: building skills and community, creating lifelong friendships, plunging into nature and unplugging from technology. While each of those purposes can touch a child’s spiritual side, there are camps in Maine that purposefully seek to help kids look beyond themselves and into a world where God or a greater power plays a role. Here’s a look at three such camps. Pilgrim Lodge Take Pilgrim Lodge, located on the shores of Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner.  Started in 1925, the camp has stood in its current location since 1956, and is operated by the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ. Its philosophy is one of inclusion, and states in part that...
Camp POSTCARD: Giving Kids a Camp Experience and a New Look at Law Enforcement

Camp POSTCARD: Giving Kids a Camp Experience and a New Look at Law Enforcement

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Every summer since 1994, law enforcement officers from around the state have exchanged their uniforms for shorts and t-shirts to spend a week in an unlikely role: camp counselors. Camp POSTCARD (Police Officers Striving To Create and Reinforce Dreams) was founded in a joint effort of the Maine Sheriffs Association, the Maine DARE Officers Association, and Volunteers of America Northern New England.  Its mission? To give 5th and 6th grade boys and girls in Maine a week of fun, a break from stressors, and a chance to see law enforcement in a different light.  The camp, offered free of charge, is entering its 24th summer, and will bring together more than 75 law enforcement officers and volunteers to host about...
Camp Leadership Programs: Teaching Skills for Camp, College, and Life

Camp Leadership Programs: Teaching Skills for Camp, College, and Life

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  Across the state, camps of all kinds serve youngsters well into their teens.  But what happens when kids “age out” of camp, or when teens who’ve never been to camp want a new experience? Traditional CIT (counselor-in-training) programs exist, yes, but in addition to molding future counselors, many camps offer leadership training programs intended to teach skills useful for college, employment, a lifetime. Many of these programs foster an environment where youngsters’ leadership skills can emerge organically. Jessica Decke, director of the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning at Tanglewood, in Lincolnville, which has had a leadership program for several decades, says their program “allows natural leadership to come out.” “They realize they had it all along,” Decke...
Planning for Summer? Consider Attending March 19 Camp Fair in Portland

Planning for Summer? Consider Attending March 19 Camp Fair in Portland

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With hopes of spring on folks’ minds, it’s actually time to start thinking about summer plans. For many families, those plans include camp. It may be a day camp or overnight camp, traditional or specialized; the state boasts nearly 200 summer camps. For parents and kids looking for different camp options, the Maine Summer Camps’ 8th annual camp fair will provide a fine opportunity. The fair, which will feature more than 70 camps, will be held on Sunday, March 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the East End Community School, 195 North Street, in Portland. Many of the camps in attendance offer financial assistance to eligible families. Ron Hall, executive director of Maine Summer Camps, a membership organization serving...
Why Camp? From Nature to Friendships to Skills, The Real Questions is “Why Not?”

Why Camp? From Nature to Friendships to Skills, The Real Questions is “Why Not?”

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There is still lingering snow on the ground. A brief respite from the cold is forecasted to end this weekend.  The vernal equinox is still three weeks away. But for parents considering their kids’ summer vacations, it’s time to think ahead. For many youngsters, summer means camp – day camp, or sports or arts camp, or traditional residential camp. Thousands of kids from Maine and afar enroll in Maine camps, and camp directors say the experience has a broad range of benefits. From reducing screen time, to sharing Maine’s natural beauty, to teaching communication and collaboration, camp offers time and activities that complement learning activities of the academic year. Catriona Sangster is a director of Camp Wawenock, a traditional, residential...
Pine Tree Camp: A Camp Experience for Adults and Children Facing Intellectual and Physical Challenges

Pine Tree Camp: A Camp Experience for Adults and Children Facing Intellectual and Physical Challenges

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“We never think about what we can’t do, we think about what we can do.” Dawn Willard-Robinson is director of Pine Tree Camp, which is operated by the Pine Tree Society, and is the only overnight camp in Maine serving adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities. Willard-Robinson says the camp “is really a traditional summer camp, just everything is barrier-free.” That means the adults and kids who attend get a true camp experience. Music, drama, arts and crafts. Boat, swimming, fishing. Even a challenge course. All on a mile-long stretch of North Pond in Rome. With seven six-day sessions, and between 80 and 90 campers per session, the camp – just like any other camp – can make...
Camps Giving Back: Identifying and Helping to Meet Their Communities’ Needs

Camps Giving Back: Identifying and Helping to Meet Their Communities’ Needs

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In small, mostly rural, communities throughout Maine, summer camps bring together thousands of youngsters for activities on land and water, in art studios and on playing fields, and through the mountainous regions and waterways of the state. But while these camps are hosting kids – helping them develop new skills and added confidence and independence – many are also serving the communities in which they reside. Take three summer camps in Raymond, for example. When Raymond town officials last summer were on the verge of canceling their recreation program’s summer swim instruction offerings because they had no lifeguard, several camps came to the rescue. The effort was spearheaded by Pat Smith, a former director of Camp Wawenock in Raymond, who...
Maine’s Oldest Summer Camps: Maintaining Values, Adapting to Change

Maine’s Oldest Summer Camps: Maintaining Values, Adapting to Change

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Scattered throughout the state, on pristine sites of woods and water, there are more than handful of Maine summer camps that were established more than 100 years ago. Many of them have been owned by the same families for generations, passed on in transitions that have demanded a delicate balance of maintaining decades-old traditions while adapting to an ever-changing culture. Camp Timanous-  Camp Timanous is celebrating 100 Years. On the shores of Panther Pond, in Raymond, Camp Timanous is a boys’ camp founded in 1917. Director Dave Suitor is a second-generation owner whose parents purchased the camp in 1942 from the Gulick family, a legend in Maine youth camping. Luther Halsey Gulick’s work with camps began in the late 19th century....
From Lyme to Lice: A Presentation on “Things That Bite At Camp”

From Lyme to Lice: A Presentation on “Things That Bite At Camp”

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Summer camp in Maine brings together thousands of kids from all over the world ready to enjoy all of the state’s beauty. Maine’s insects, however, can be uninvited but omnipresent guests. That’s where Laura Blaisdell, M.D., M.P.H., and her husband, Andy Lilienthal, come in. Lilienthal is owner and director of Camp Winnebago, in Fayette. Blaisdell is a board-certified pediatrician and medical researcher who practices in Yarmouth, and is Camp Winnebago’s medical director. On Tuesday they teamed up to conduct a webinar for Maine camp administrators on a topic all too familiar for anyone who spends time in Maine’s outdoors – bugs. The hour-long presentation reached about two dozen camp directors and focused on ticks, mosquitoes, and lice – all of...

Healthy Camp, Healthy Campers: Mental Health Issues at Camp

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Camp can be a world unto its own. Campers can unplug from technology, forge new relationships, take on unfamiliar challenges. For staff, too, camp can be a welcome escape into the woods and wild. But mental health issues – particularly anxiety – can arise for campers and staff alike. On Tuesday, Maine Summer Camps, a non-profit serving more than 120 Maine member camps, hosted a Boston-area clinician who shared wisdom with camp administrators from all over Maine. Robert B. Ditter, M.Ed., L.C.S.W., is a familiar face to camp personnel, and once again he imparted both knowledge and wit in a three-hour workshop at Portland’s Italian Heritage Center. The morning program, sponsored by Androscoggin Bank, brought together camp directors from a...

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