Summer camps are communities unto themselves. Maine camps are both coed and single-sex, are residential and day camps, and they offer varied experiences and opportunities. Yet all those camps have common considerations, including attention to gender roles and gender role stereotypes. Last week, a noted psychologist, educator, and camp professional presented some of those considerations to Maine camp directors and leadership staff. Sponsored by Maine Summer Camps (MSC), a nonprofit membership organization providing a broad range of support to Maine camps, the program called on the expertise of Chris Thurber, Ph.D. Thurber, a clinical psychologist, has served at Phillips Exeter Academy for two decades, and in a variety of roles at YMCA Camp Belknap since 1980. He has written widely...
At this time of year, many Maine summer camps are operating with small year-round staffs, each person wearing many hats to recruit campers and staff and make preparations for the upcoming camp season. But a mid-coast non-profit organization, which operates Kieve Summer Camp for Boys in Nobleboro and Wavus Camp for Girls in Jefferson, has launched a program in recent years that provides young people in Maine schools with many of the same skills camp can provide.
State laws, licensing standards help ensure youth camps protect campers and staff alike Kirstie Truluck, director of girls’ Camp Wavus in Jefferson, says her best counselors demonstrate precisely what camps need: “how to model healthy boundaries while maintaining a connection” to their campers. Both elements are essential, she says, because they are in the best interests of staff and kids alike. “It’s subtle and simple advice. The kid should be setting the tone,” she says. Such protocols are common at Maine camps. camps conduct each summer prior to the arrival of youngsters. With licensing requirements promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services, plus the designation as mandated reporters of camp personnel over the age of 17, camps have...
Camp experiences offer participants the chance to develop new skills, foster relationships, and grow confidence and independence. Campers living with physical, emotional, or intellectual challenges stand to gain those same benefits from camp. And while some Maine camps are not equipped to serve campers who face such challenges, others camps are. The experience can be transformative.
Summer camps in Maine offer countless benefits. Just as tourists flock to the state each summer to take advantage of mountains, coastline, and the terrain in between, thousands of youngsters come to Maine for a camp experience. Skills and adventure, friendship and fun.
Maine offers camp opportunities that vary as widely as the children who participate in them. All of those camps operate thanks to robust summer staffs – counselors and instructors; healthcare and kitchen and facilities workers – guided by directors and senior-level employees. But operating a camp is a year-round effort; camps’ transformational work each summer relies on “off-season” preparation by camp professionals. In Maine, a cadre of young men and women has embarked on careers in camping. Some are native Mainers, others found their way here and decided to stay. A conversation with a few of such young professionals, regardless of their background or how they chose a career in camping, revealed a common theme: a commitment to kids, a...
It has been almost two weeks since Mark Lipof, founder, co-owner and director of Camp Micah, said good-bye to 296 youngsters on the last day of camp. Lipof founded Camp Micah, a co-ed Jewish camp located in Bridgton, in 2001. Since then, hundreds of campers have descended on the shores of Peabody Pond each summer. When the season is over, Lipof says, “I don’t get an after-summer lull.”
Every camper has a first-time camp experience and preparing for camp can include questions and anxieties along with excitement. At Camp Bishopswood, in Hope, Director Mike Douglass says that about 35 percent of the campers he greets each summer are there for the first time. Bishopswood sessions are as brief as a week long, and Douglass says he is committed to making that experience as positive as possible. That includes offering an “Open House Weekend,” where families can come for a night or two, and youngsters can try out camp activities. In addition, kids aged six to eight can participate in “Mini Camp,” a three-day, two-night immersion in an overnight camp experience.
Who said camp is just for kids? Across Maine, most youngsters have packed their trunks, said good-bye to their fellow campers, and returned home to family and friends and preparations for school. Counselors, too, are getting ready for their fall activities – school or college or jobs. But the pleasure and enjoyment of camp activities endure at many camps, specifically at family camp programs. These programs host children, to be sure, but they also make camp fun available to adults. Touting rustic accommodations, three meals a day, and an array of camp activities – ranging from weaving to paddle boarding to archery – Maine camps for decades have shared the fun of a camp experience with kids of all ages.
Across the state, summer camps are nearing the end of their seasons. For many directors and leadership staff that means looking ahead to closing up buildings, storing equipment, thinking about maintenance needs. But season’s end also means campers are going home, leaving the constant connection to friends, the immersion in new and favorite activities, and the hiatus from the use of technology and social media. For some campers, returning home means saying good-bye to best friends and acclimating to the relationships and realities of home and school. Kids face transitions when they come to camp, to be sure, but the transition home can be tough, too.