Maine Camp 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.

Camp Susan Curtis: Offering Transformational Experiences, Tuition-Free

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Situated on 100 acres of conservation land and a lake all to itself, a camp in Maine is changing youngsters’ lives by the thousands – completely tuition-free. For more than 40 years, Camp Susan Curtis in Stoneham has hosted economically disadvantaged children from all over the state. Kids participate in traditional camp activities, to be sure, but in putting its mission to work, Camp Susan Curtis is also giving kids a whole new perspective on their path ahead. The Susan L. Curtis Charitable Foundation – and Camp Susan Curtis – were established in the 1970s after the death of Susan L. Curtis, the daughter of then-Governor Kenneth M. Curtis and his wife Pauline B. Curtis. The Curtis family and those...

Individual, Group, Nature: The “Trinity” Offered by Camp Wilderness Trips

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Going to camp requires adjusting to a new environment – from food to friends to a vast range of other experiences. But for many kids, going to camp also means wilderness trips, which present a whole new level of unfamiliar adventures. Whether on land or on water, camp trips programs offer the opportunity for kids to challenge themselves, work in a close-knit group, and grow even closer to Maine’s natural beauty. Garth Altenburg, director of Camp Chewonki, a boys’ camp in Wiscasset, calls it a “trinity,” an experience of campers’ personal growth gained by working, with a group, in nature. Trips at Chewonki range from one-night outings for the youngster campers to weeks-long odysseys in the subarctic of Canada. But...

Crafts and Campfires and So Much More: The Remarkable Range of Maine Camp Offerings

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“There’s a camp out there for everybody.” Catriona Sangster, director of Camp Wawenock, a traditional girls’ camp in Raymond, is president of Maine Summer Camps, a non-profit organization with 125 Maine member camps. She knows Maine camps.  Yet parents looking for camps for their kids may be surprised at just how much today’s camps have to offer.  Whether it’s a specialty camp with a particular niche, or a more traditional camp, the variety of activities for kids is vast. Take Hidden Valley Camp, a co-ed camp in Freedom.  From llama care to glassblowing, the camp’s programming promotes variety of activities to attract a diverse community. Peter Kassen, who has directed the camp with his wife, Meg, since 1989, says Hidden...

The Junior Maine Guide Program: Confidence Beyond the Woods

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Confidence. Junior Maine Guides  – those certified decades ago, as well as more recent candidates –  agree that the outdoor living program, which culminates in a rigorous five-day outdoor test encampment, gave them confidence. And not just in the woods. During the program’s nearly 80-year history, more than 2600 youngsters aged 14 to 18 have been certified as JMGs. Co-sponsored by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Maine Summer Camps (a non-profit organization with 125 Maine camp members), the program builds that confidence by teaching participants outdoor living skills across the board: canoeing, wielding an axe, building shelter and fire, using a compass, and many others.  But certification goes beyond that, JMGs say. “It shaped me,” says...

The Junior Maine Guide Program: Outdoor Living Skills and Much More

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Every summer, deep in the woods of the Stephen Phillips Memorial Preserve in Oquossoc, Maine, as many as 75 teenagers gather for a five-day encampment with one goal in mind: to become certified as Junior Maine Guides. From paddling a canoe to wielding an axe to cooking over an open fire, these candidates demonstrate their skills to a panel of testers – many of whom received the JMG certification as youngsters themselves.

Living in Maine’s Beauty: Guiding Campers, Creating Environmental Stewards

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“Camps take place in beautiful natural areas. It’s one of the great treasures of camp.” Setting, however, is just the starting point for helping kids learn to love their environment, says Jessica Decke, summer camp director of Tanglewood 4-H Camp in Lincolnville. Decke and other camp directors agree that camp offers an ideal opportunity for youngsters to appreciate the natural world in the moment, and also develop a spirit of stewardship that can last a lifetime. “Kids are really drawn in and really concerned by what’s happening to the planet,” says Garth Altenburg, director of Chewonki Camp for Boys in Wiscasset. Camp offers the chance for first-hand participation in taking care of that planet. “It applies to the majority of...
Being Unplugged at Camp – Life Without Technology

Being Unplugged at Camp – Life Without Technology

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No Facebook. No Twitter. No email. No technology at all. For many kids who attend summer camp in Maine, cell phones and other devices are not part of the picture. That, according to Matt Pines, director of Maine Teen Camp in Porter, is a game-changer. Pines, whose co-ed camp caters strictly to teenagers, cites a number of benefits to getting away from screens. Benefits that carry over to non-camp life. The first, he says, is sleep. Kids who get away from the artificial light of their phones and computers before bedtime fall back into a natural sleep cycle, Pines says. The result can be nine hours of sleep instead of six. “Getting consistent sleep is a massive health benefit,” Pines...

The Unsung Benefits of Being a Camp Counselor

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Teamwork. Communication. Collaboration. Responsibility. All buzzwords for a good resume. And though the work may take place under the summer sun, camp administrators say camp counselors do it all. Being a counselor is supposed to be fun, and counselors may wear shorts and flip-flops, but their roles and responsibilities really do set them apart.
Why Are Maine Camps Special?

Why Are Maine Camps Special?

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Maine camps are steeped in history and nature, values we fear we are losing today. Children from all over the country have been coming to camp in Maine since the late nineteenth century. While Victorian parents may not have been desperate to unglue their children’s eyes from a tiny, all-compelling screen, there has always been a sense of the green world away, a place lost to us in our civilized state (which we of course do not want to give up entirely). Sending your child to Maine is like sending them into the best parts of the wilderness.
What Is So Special About Going to Summer Camp?

What Is So Special About Going to Summer Camp?

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Childhood lasts only a dozen or so precious years, a time of learning, growing, play and seminal experiences that will shape the course of a life. Each year of childhood is divided into two times: the school year and summer vacation. And while the school year is crisp and crackling with possibility, books with unbent spines, shiny shoes, and maps of the world, the summertime is magic. Summers are when real discovery happens, when children may run, and swim, and climb all day outside under a warm sun until late in the evening. It is a time to explore, create, and be free in a way that we chase forever after it ends. The months of June, July, and August...

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