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.

Why Camp? From Nature to Friendships to Skills, The Real Questions is “Why Not?”

Why Camp? From Nature to Friendships to Skills, The Real Questions is “Why Not?”

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There is still lingering snow on the ground. A brief respite from the cold is forecasted to end this weekend.  The vernal equinox is still three weeks away. But for parents considering their kids’ summer vacations, it’s time to think ahead. For many youngsters, summer means camp – day camp, or sports or arts camp, or traditional residential camp. Thousands of kids from Maine and afar enroll in Maine camps, and camp directors say the experience has a broad range of benefits. From reducing screen time, to sharing Maine’s natural beauty, to teaching communication and collaboration, camp offers time and activities that complement learning activities of the academic year. Catriona Sangster is a director of Camp Wawenock, a traditional, residential...
Pine Tree Camp: A Camp Experience for Adults and Children Facing Intellectual and Physical Challenges

Pine Tree Camp: A Camp Experience for Adults and Children Facing Intellectual and Physical Challenges

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“We never think about what we can’t do, we think about what we can do.” Dawn Willard-Robinson is director of Pine Tree Camp, which is operated by the Pine Tree Society, and is the only overnight camp in Maine serving adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities. Willard-Robinson says the camp “is really a traditional summer camp, just everything is barrier-free.” That means the adults and kids who attend get a true camp experience. Music, drama, arts and crafts. Boat, swimming, fishing. Even a challenge course. All on a mile-long stretch of North Pond in Rome. With seven six-day sessions, and between 80 and 90 campers per session, the camp – just like any other camp – can make...
Camps Giving Back: Identifying and Helping to Meet Their Communities’ Needs

Camps Giving Back: Identifying and Helping to Meet Their Communities’ Needs

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In small, mostly rural, communities throughout Maine, summer camps bring together thousands of youngsters for activities on land and water, in art studios and on playing fields, and through the mountainous regions and waterways of the state. But while these camps are hosting kids – helping them develop new skills and added confidence and independence – many are also serving the communities in which they reside. Take three summer camps in Raymond, for example. When Raymond town officials last summer were on the verge of canceling their recreation program’s summer swim instruction offerings because they had no lifeguard, several camps came to the rescue. The effort was spearheaded by Pat Smith, a former director of Camp Wawenock in Raymond, who...
Maine’s Oldest Summer Camps: Maintaining Values, Adapting to Change

Maine’s Oldest Summer Camps: Maintaining Values, Adapting to Change

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Scattered throughout the state, on pristine sites of woods and water, there are more than handful of Maine summer camps that were established more than 100 years ago. Many of them have been owned by the same families for generations, passed on in transitions that have demanded a delicate balance of maintaining decades-old traditions while adapting to an ever-changing culture. Camp Timanous-  Camp Timanous is celebrating 100 Years. On the shores of Panther Pond, in Raymond, Camp Timanous is a boys’ camp founded in 1917. Director Dave Suitor is a second-generation owner whose parents purchased the camp in 1942 from the Gulick family, a legend in Maine youth camping. Luther Halsey Gulick’s work with camps began in the late 19th century....
From Lyme to Lice: A Presentation on “Things That Bite At Camp”

From Lyme to Lice: A Presentation on “Things That Bite At Camp”

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Summer camp in Maine brings together thousands of kids from all over the world ready to enjoy all of the state’s beauty. Maine’s insects, however, can be uninvited but omnipresent guests. That’s where Laura Blaisdell, M.D., M.P.H., and her husband, Andy Lilienthal, come in. Lilienthal is owner and director of Camp Winnebago, in Fayette. Blaisdell is a board-certified pediatrician and medical researcher who practices in Yarmouth, and is Camp Winnebago’s medical director. On Tuesday they teamed up to conduct a webinar for Maine camp administrators on a topic all too familiar for anyone who spends time in Maine’s outdoors – bugs. The hour-long presentation reached about two dozen camp directors and focused on ticks, mosquitoes, and lice – all of...

Healthy Camp, Healthy Campers: Mental Health Issues at Camp

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Camp can be a world unto its own. Campers can unplug from technology, forge new relationships, take on unfamiliar challenges. For staff, too, camp can be a welcome escape into the woods and wild. But mental health issues – particularly anxiety – can arise for campers and staff alike. On Tuesday, Maine Summer Camps, a non-profit serving more than 120 Maine member camps, hosted a Boston-area clinician who shared wisdom with camp administrators from all over Maine. Robert B. Ditter, M.Ed., L.C.S.W., is a familiar face to camp personnel, and once again he imparted both knowledge and wit in a three-hour workshop at Portland’s Italian Heritage Center. The morning program, sponsored by Androscoggin Bank, brought together camp directors from a...

Camperships: Making Camp Accessible to More Kids

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Last week’s blog featured numerous camps throughout the state that offer free sessions to economically disadvantaged kids. Youngsters who qualify for free and reduced lunch under federal guidelines – kids often nominated by schools or social service agencies – may have the opportunity to attend a week or 10 days of Maine camp tuition-free. But what about families which don’t fall in that category, for whom the cost of many traditional summer camps is out of reach? That’s where “camperships” come in, financial assistance that can make a camp experience possible. Here is a sampling of what some camps offer. At Maine Audubon, in Falmouth, an endowment funds camperships for Summer Camp at Gilsland Farm, says Group Assistant Beth Pauls....
Tuition-Free Camp in Maine: Widening Opportunity for Deserving Kids

Tuition-Free Camp in Maine: Widening Opportunity for Deserving Kids

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Maine camps host thousands of kids each summer. But camp isn’t cheap. Tuition at some camps hovers around $10,000 for a full session. Yet the benefits of camp extend to kids from all backgrounds. That’s why a number of camps offer special sessions for economically disadvantaged youngsters, giving them a chance to experience traditional camp activities. The mission of these programs, however, is much more. These camps want to change lives. One such program began nearly 50 years ago at Camp Walden in Denmark. Founded by Camp Walden owner Helen Herz Cohen in 1968, The Main Idea is still held in partnership with Camp Walden and brings together economically disadvantaged girls from New York and New England for 10 days...

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...

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