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.

Camps are Opening, Thanks to Collaboration and Commitment

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Kids plunging into lakes, hiking Maine’s mountains, playing sports and making art. And, foremost, connecting with beloved camp peers and role models. It’s all back. In the coming days, thousands of youngsters will once again join friends and mentors in what many call their second home. Once again, Maine youth camps are opening. The majority of youth camps suspended their 2020 seasons. Now, having navigated a shifting landscape of pandemic protocols based on federal CDC guidelines, camp directors are committed to giving kids exactly what they need: time to play, connect, learn and unplug. In other words, the Maine camp experience that has helped children thrive for more than a century. It’s a given that COVID-19’s challenges have been extraordinary....
Making Camp Accessible: How Maine Camps Strive to Serve Disadvantaged Youth

Making Camp Accessible: How Maine Camps Strive to Serve Disadvantaged Youth

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More than 60,000 youngsters attend camp in Maine each summer. Each one of those kids needs a sense of belonging, camp directors say, and going to camp provides it. For many of those campers, that attendance is made possible by financial aid and campership programs. Several Maine nonprofit camps operate with a core mission of reaching out to underserved families. Take Camp Susan Curtis, located in Stoneham, which offers their program free of charge. The camp serves economically disadvantaged youngsters from Maine, all of whom are referred by schools or agencies. “It’s important to have the same opportunities as their peers,” said Director Terri Mulks. “Camp is such an amazing place of stability for them, learning new skills, and being...
Summer 2021: Teenagers Need Camp “More Than Ever”

Summer 2021: Teenagers Need Camp “More Than Ever”

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It’s been a hard year for teenagers. Between remote learning, curtailment of extracurricular activities, and socializing primarily via screens, adolescents’ lives have been upended for more than 14 months. Now, as summer approaches, there is a beacon for those teens. Camps are opening. And camp directors say teens need the camp experience more than ever. Matt Pines, and his wife, Monique, own and direct coed Maine Teen Camp in Porter. The camp, which suspended its 2020 season, exclusively serves teens, and Matt Pines says both campers and families tell him and Monique that summer 2021 “feels really profound.” Campers not only need recreation and the time away from home, Matt Pines said, but “It really is an opportunity that has...

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...

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