Blog

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.

A Virtual Pivot: Maine Camps Go Online Prepping for Summer 2021

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With screens now a norm, and the sprint to summer underway, Maine camps haven’t skipped a beat. Maine Summer Camps (MSC), a nonprofit with more than 150 member camps, recently joined efforts with an online events platform to host both its annual business networking and a job fair (with a second in the works). Camps rely on a full spectrum of goods and services – not to mention talented and committed staff members – for successful operations. Going virtual to help meet these needs was all in a day’s work for MSC. Virtual Job Fair Reaches Students Far and Wide: While in-person job fairs typically reach only students enrolled at the host college or university, MSC enlisted the support of...
Day Camp: Serving a Vital Role for Kids – and Families

Day Camp: Serving a Vital Role for Kids – and Families

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“I like to think of camps as so much more than childcare.” Helen L. Bren᷉a, president and CEO of the YMCA of Southern Maine, affirms the critical importance of day camp for working families. Yet Bren᷉a says the five different day camps operated by the YMCA of Southern Maine offer programs where children “are not just being babysat.” Rather, she says, “They’re our future leaders. [Camp] helps them to set out on a good path to be our future leaders.” “We do that at all five of our camps,” she said. “We’re proud of the impact we have.” That pride extends to the Y’s commitment to providing financial assistance for camp tuition to families in needs. More than half of...
Maine Summer Camps’ Emerging Professionals: Creating Community and Connection Amid the Pandemic

Maine Summer Camps’ Emerging Professionals: Creating Community and Connection Amid the Pandemic

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Halsey Gulick Award Winner Rich Deering Featured in Launch of Bi-Monthly Virtual Gatherings A few years back, a group of emerging Maine camp professionals decided to build connections with each other, and serve those in need, during off-season months. Their volunteer efforts reached several Greater Portland nonprofits, including Preble Street Resource Center. Then, enter COVID-19. The group, which is part of Maine Summer Camps (MSC), a nonprofit representing about 150 camps throughout Maine, is now refocusing its efforts. Community Connections, an evolution of that MSC Outreach Committee, is a virtual collaboration enabling these same professionals to continue to develop friendships and professional connections. Specifically, the group is reaching out to more seasoned camp operators, both colleagues and mentors, who are...
Camp Counseling, Career Prep: Creating a Win-Win for Camps and Staff

Camp Counseling, Career Prep: Creating a Win-Win for Camps and Staff

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“We want to make it more intentional.” Meg Kassen, who alongside her husband, Peter, owns and directs Hidden Valley Camp in Freedom, knows the value of being a camp counselor. But, she says, the camp wants to help counselors better understand that value and learn to frame their experiences in the multitude of ways that can inform future career endeavors. Being a camp counselor is truly a 24/7 responsibility, demanding skill sets that camps simply cannot compensate on a par with other summer job experiences. Skilled lifeguards at camp, for example, do not just carry the enormous responsibility of supporting safe and successful waterfront operations. They likely also team up with co-counselors to support the cabin life of up to...
Agassiz Village Summer Camp: Aiming to Share Its Mission Locally

Agassiz Village Summer Camp: Aiming to Share Its Mission Locally

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  “Everything we do is intentional. Social emotional learning (SEL) is why it’s intentional.” Ash Bahi, camp director of Agassiz Village, a youth camp located in Poland, Maine, smiled as he said this in a recent virtual meeting. Camps statewide serving children from Maine, the nation, and the globe, are similarly mission driven. And Bahi, who took the helm as Agassiz Village’s camp director in 2019, wants to share that intentionality, make it a “shining beacon” for the hundreds of campers in residence for two-week sessions come summer 2021. Since its founding in the mid-1930s, Agassiz Village has provided children from underserved communities with a camp experience. With a geographical focus on greater Boston, its first campers included newsboys and...
Camp, COVID, Three Directors’ Commitment to Open in Summer 2021

Camp, COVID, Three Directors’ Commitment to Open in Summer 2021

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“Kids need this so much right now.” Sue McMullan knows. As director of Alford Lake Camp, a traditional residential girls’ camp in Hope, McMullan has for decades committed herself to the camp’s mission in hosting campers and staff from around the world. Today, she says, a summer 2021 camp experience is absolutely vital for youngsters. COVID-19 may have put camp on hold in 2020, but McMullan says summer 2021 will be different. “We say to families, ‘we plan it to be all systems go, but the way I answer a question today may be different [another day],” she says.  “We want to be together, celebrate friendships and relationships, and have fun.” “What is happening in the world” particularly points to...
COVID and Curriculum: Schools Collaborate with Camps, Outdoors Educators to Take Learning Outside

COVID and Curriculum: Schools Collaborate with Camps, Outdoors Educators to Take Learning Outside

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The Wonders of Wolfe’s Neck Farm “Who doesn’t love collecting eggs and going in with the cows?” Andrew Lombardi, public programs manager at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, sees local schoolchildren’s exuberance for learning outdoors firsthand. “Animal husbandry is most popular,” he says. “The stuff with the critters.” At Wolfe’s Neck Farm this fall, about 200 children from three RSU 5 schools are learning about those critters, among many other topics, in an outdoor learning collaboration designed to help meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The five-week program, which concludes on Dec. 18, serves students from Freeport’s Mast Landing and Morse Street schools, along with Durham Community School. With a total of about 200 students – divided into two...
Camp and Good Health The 2020 Season

Camp and Good Health The 2020 Season

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Last spring, with the 2020 camp season approaching and COVID-19’s unpredictable impact, camp owners and directors across Maine may have been certain of only one thing: uncertainty. Camp professionals faced the challenges of assessing CDC and state COVID-19 guidelines, the daunting task of evaluating their programmatic and physical capacities considering the virus, and the difficult reality of financial ramifications posed by the pandemic. Uncertainty may be an understatement. Only around 20 of the state’s more than 200 youth camps opened their doors for the 2020 season, but their strategies to best ensure healthy campers and staff worked. Camp 2020 certainly included program modifications and strict adherence to safety protocols, but camp directors say the efforts reaped huge rewards. Kids had...
Camp Bishopswood: A Unique Summer of Connection  

Camp Bishopswood: A Unique Summer of Connection  

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Like scores of Maine youth camp organizations, leaders of Camp Bishopswood in Hope weighed the coronavirus pandemic’s potential impact this summer and chose to suspend its season. But the coed camp, part of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, was far from idle. With a crew of fewer than 20 staff members living, working, and embedded onsite, Bishopswood’s operations were undoubtedly different. The camp’s spirit, however, was as robust as ever.
Camp CenterStage: Celebrating its Second Season at Livermore’s Maple Lane with Gratitude and “A Lot of Time to Walk Barefoot in the Grass.”

Camp CenterStage: Celebrating its Second Season at Livermore’s Maple Lane with Gratitude and “A Lot of Time to Walk Barefoot in the Grass.”

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In the summer of 2019, Camp CenterStage embarked on a new adventure in its arts and leadership youth camping program. Camp owners Steven and Alexis Dascoulias opened the camp’s doors on property they could call their own. After almost a decade of renting boys’ Camp Agawam – holding camp after Agawam’s summer season ended – the couple opened CCS in Livermore, after purchasing former nine-hole golf course, Maple Lane, in 2018.

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