Isaac, a 14-year old camper at Birch Rock Camp in Waterford, was hot. Clad in long pants, a Birch Rock t-shirt, and hiking boots, he was tackling the Junior Maine Guide wet-day fire test. A billet of wood had soaked in a dishpan of water for five minutes. Now Isaac faced the challenge of using an axe and knife to cut that wood, then burn it under a small can of soapy water that hung above the fire pit. The goal? Burn the wood and boil the water to overflowing in 20 minutes.
The camp experience offers youngsters a broad range of benefits. Campers make friends, live in Maine’s natural beauty, and both learn new skills and advance the abilities they bring to camp. Teambuilding, collaboration, and developing independence are all part of the equation. But as camp leaders, counselors, and campers all know, camp can also involve conflict. Whether it’s sharing living space, feeling bullied or teased, or dealing with hurt feelings, campers don’t always get along.
Teens throughout Maine are spending their summer in a variety of ways – including work and relaxation. But dozens of teens currently enrolled at Maine youth camps are investing hours of study and practice in their quest to achieve certification as Junior Maine Guides (JMGs).
Kevin Prevost makes his living helping Mainers enjoy the outdoors – by helping reduce unwanted guests like mosquitoes and ticks. Among the clients served by his business, Top Leaf Tree, LLC, are more than half a dozen youth camps across the state. And those camps, says Prevost, are dealing with the consequences of a very wet spring, along with an early snowpack last winter. The result: abundant insects. Camps, however, are rising to the challenge, through a variety of strategies to beat the bugs and keep kids healthy. According to Prevost, camps’ focus on parents’ “peace of mind” often leads them to choose organic over synthetic pesticide application. In addition, he says, camp leadership is also sensitive to the...
Across the state, young adults and their mentors are gathering at scores of youth camps for annual staff training. As they anticipate the arrival of campers in the coming days, these staff members are building community and learning skills for engaging with, supporting, and teaching the campers who will travel from near and far for their summer camp experiences.
As Maine youth camp directors head into June, their preparations to welcome campers move into high gear. That includes getting ready for staff members — some new, some veteran — to arrive for pre-camp training. Whether it is a few days or more than a week, staff training sessions help equip camp employees with the skills, insight, and confidence to provide a positive experience for the youngsters they serve.
When representatives of the Maine youth camping industry make the trip to the State House, it is often with a particular issue in mind, an item of business for which they are advocating or to which they are opposed. But on May 1, more than 20 Maine youth camp directors, plus a handful of business members of the non-profit membership organization Maine Youth Camp Association (MYCA) set up tables and displays in the State House’s Hall of Flags. Their goal: to simply meet legislators, answer questions, and offer a look into the vast benefits of youth camping in Maine.
As Maine’s hundreds of camp professionals look ahead to summer — hoping to fill remaining staff positions, communicating with families, and crossing their fingers for warm weather and snow melt — many also set aside a few days in late March to attend the annual conference of the American Camp Association New England. The 2019 gathering, held March 28-30 in Manchester, NH, brought together approximately 900 camp personnel from throughout New England, says ACA New England Executive Director Bette Bussel. Vendors promoting a broad range of products and services at the conference Expo brought that number to nearly 1000, Bussel says. Between 80 and 90 presenters offered workshops over the three-day conference.
Summer at camp in Maine means many new experiences: new friends, first-time activities, living away from home. For campers, it also means leaving devices like phones and computers at home. But staff members also have an adjustment when it comes to technology. While their summers at camp aren’t completely device-free, staff members experience a marked – and, in many cases, ultimately welcome – reduction in screen time. For young adults in their late teens and early 20s, accustomed to socialization via text and social media, working at camp presents adjustments beyond living in cabins, teaching and guiding youngsters, and collaborating with fellow staff. Low-tech summers, camp directors say, can present challenges for staff members used to having a phone at...
As snow melts, mud emerges, and daylight savings time offers kids more outdoor playtime, families are beginning to think of summer. So are Maine’s hundreds of youth camps, which offer scores of opportunities for youngsters of all ages and interests. On Sunday, March 24, from 1 to 3:30 p.m., Maine Summer Camps, a nonprofit organization supporting youth camps throughout the state, will hold its annual Maine Camp Fair at East End Community School in Portland. Representatives from 60 Maine youth camps will gather at the school, located at 195 North Street in Portland’s East End, to share information, enthusiasm, and expertise about their programs. The variety will be broad: from golf camp to aviation camp to music to science to...