Camps across Maine are beginning their summer sessions. Youngsters from Maine, the U.S., and all over the world are gathering for experiences both familiar and new. And supporting those youngsters are parents and camp personnel working together. Parents are in a unique position, camp directors say. They are entrusting their kids to camp staff, and both before and during camp, parents play a meaningful role in helping their kids have a summer of fun, growth, and empowerment. At Alford Lake Camp, a girls’ camp in Hope, Certified Camp Director Sue McMullan says parents have a direct relationship with camp leadership. By reassuring parents that “we can’t wait to hear from them, they can call any time,” McMullan says parents feel...
Across the state, camp directors are assembling their staffs, making last-minute maintenance repairs, watching the forecast, and awaiting the arrival of thousands of youngsters for another camp season. Regardless of the type of camp – coed and single gender, day and residential, arts and sports, traditional and tripping – camp personnel are putting in long hours in preparation for even longer ones. Camp is fun and challenging, a chance for kids to grow and learn. And for those who operate camps, the time has come – a culmination of months of off-season work to give youngsters experiences that make those months away from the classroom active and enjoyable and, yes, educational.
Program promotes hard work and practical skills Each summer, on a 750-acre island two miles off the coast of Milbridge, as many as 50 boys beginning at age 12 live in community to work together for a common goal. Founded nearly 70 years ago, Camp Berwick is a program of the Berwick Boys Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts whose goal is to “help teenage boys develop physically, mentally, and morally through experience in living and working with their peers.” The program philosophy promotes hard work, independence in conjunction with collaboration, and teaching specific practical skills all designed to build “responsible, determined and socially minded, contributing adults.”
The Maine Seacoast Mission’s EdGE Program: Teaching Skills and Resiliency to Kids in Washington County
Educational Opportunities Outside the Classroom Across communities in Washington County, kids are getting the chance to develop skills, take positive risks, and learn resiliency. And for four weeks each summer, while they are outside their classrooms, they are building on those educational opportunities. The program is called EdGE, and it is operated by the Maine Seacoast Mission, a Bar Harbor-based nonprofit organization founded more than a century ago. EdGE, or Ed Greaves Education, is named after Ed Greaves, an Addison resident and Mission trustee who advocated for education and leadership opportunities for Downeast youth. EdGE turns 15 this summer and in that decade -and-a-half has provided afterschool and summer programs, plus leadership training for kids throughout Downeast Maine. The program...
Connecting Youth to the Outdoors Despite Maine’s enormous natural beauty – from woods to lakes to coast – not all kids get outside. One organization, in conjunction with the Appalachian Mountain Club, is trying to change that. The Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District, based in Dover-Foxcroft, will offer its Teen Wilderness Expedition to kids aged 12-16 this summer. The program, launched four years ago thanks to a Maine Community Foundation grant, takes participants into the Maine woods for three days and two nights. The hope, says Educational Coordinator Kacey Weber, is to impart an appreciation for Maine’s outdoors, and maybe even plant the seed for career ideas campers hadn’t previously considered.
Farm Camps Can Teach Sustainability Camps in Maine boast an enormous range of activities for kids of all ages. One subset of those camps are farm camps, where kids learn first-hand about the day-to-day activities that make a farm tick. From the 622-acre property of Wolfe’s Neck Farm to a small demonstration farm at Farm Camp in Cape Elizabeth, farm camps provide a unique opportunity to teach sustainability literally from the ground up.
Respect for the Environment at Camps Sustainability. As one camp director puts it, the term means many things to many people. But one fact is certain. Camps throughout Maine are seeking to implement and teach practices that show respect for the environment. From utilizing solar installations to planting trees to serving locally sourced foods, camps are on board when it comes to promoting sustainable living. Solar Panels, Composting and Pigs Kieve-Wavus Education, Inc. operates Camp Kieve and Wavus Camp for Girls, both on Damariscotta Lake. Executive Director Henry Kennedy says Camp Kieve boasts a number of hot water solar installations, while at Wavus, a barn has recently been outfitted with solar panels that will supply about 11 percent of electricity...
Skill Development at Camp Camp offers a broad range of benefits to kids, from participating in outdoor activities, to being in nature, to making new friends. In providing these opportunities, camp also presents an environment for developing a wide variety of skills. While swimming or sailing, creating art or music, pitching a tent or navigating a challenge course, kids learn to problem-solve. Camps of all kinds provide a unique setting for learning it.
Being a Camp Counselor Teaches Life Skills High school and college can be stressful, no doubt, full of decisions about academics, job experience, and careers. And the pressure is great. It comes from school and peers and parents, and is a huge factor in how young adults choose to spend their summers. Now more than ever, students are faced with questions about how to build a resume and how to prepare for the next step. For some former counselors, now launched into the next step of their lives, there was no better place than to spend consecutive summers working with campers.
Top-notch Staff is Essential Every summer, thousands of parents put their children’s care into the hands of camp staff members. From day camps offering a single week of activities and instruction, to summer-long residential camps hosting kids for as many as eight weeks, Maine camps depend on their staff for providing an enriching – and fun – experience for children of all ages. Camp directors and leadership professionals agree that a top-notch staff is essential to providing quality camp programming.