A Time for Tidiness: Cleaning Up at Maine Camps
October 10, 2017, by Jake
A Time for Tidiness: Cleaning Up at Maine Camps
October 10, 2017, by Jake

While every Maine Camp Experience (MCE) camp has its own unique way of handling scheduling, activities, focus areas, bunk assignments, and other social or programmatic aspects, they do share one thing in common – their kids are expected to clean. Each morning, campers start their day (either before or after breakfast), by cleaning or “bunk ordering” their cabin. And while you may not believe that your child could possibly be capable of cleaning, the same kids who consistently leave a minefield of Legos strewn about the carpet floor manage to rise to the occasion each summer and contribute to cleaning their cabin. So how do they do it? It’s one of many great lifelong skills kids acquire at Maine Camps.

The first area of focus for every camper and counselor at clean-up time will be their personal space and areas. Beds must be made, and shelves rearranged. Cubbies may need to be reorganized (those shirts manage to magically unfold over the course of a day), and any stray laundry must be thrown in the appropriate hamper or laundry bag. Of course, campers (especially those who are younger and new to the whole “cleaning” thing), might require a little extra assistance from counselors, and they are generally happy to help. Oftentimes, those campers who are a little more adept at cleaning will also be willing to help their bunkmates, and this clean-up time is oftentimes integral to developing a bunks cohesion and chemistry.

Once this personal cleaning has been taken care of, it’s time to move on to the communal areas. At most MCE camps, each cabin will have a job wheel that specifies the various chores that need doing. These may include sweeping, taking out the trash, removing dry items from the clothesline, managing the dustpan, or tidying the bathroom. At many MCE camps, the heavier-duty cleaning – such as mopping, or scrubbing the toilets and sinks – will be handled by a professional cleaning staff. However, the campers are responsible for general tidiness, and each day they make sure their bunk is in a suitable living condition.

If you are like many camp parents, you might be wondering how your camper is motivated to clean their cabin when making their bed, or cleaning up their toys, seems like an insurmountable task at home. The answer is quite simple: kids are rewarded for cleanliness. At most MCE camps, after they have cleaned, kids will be given a score (oftentimes on a 1 to 10 scale) to determine their cleaning effectiveness. At some camps, cleaning is competitive, and the highest scoring bunk in each age group over a given week will win a pizza party or a trip to the local ice cream shop. At other camps, a bunk is only competing against itself – at the camp I work at, once a cabin has received ten “perfect 10’s,” they earn what is called “Ten 10 Ice Cream,” which is given irrespective of how well other bunks have cleaned. And as kids continue cleaning, receiving twenty, or even thirty “perfect 10’s,” they are rewarded with more scoops, and more toppings! When I was a camper, cleaning was taken so seriously that some campers would bring a Swiffer from home to give them a competitive cleaning advantage!

Cleaning each morning is one of the many ways that camps help campers develop a sense of maturity, independence, and accountability each summer. Campers generally work hard to clean, because they want the potential rewards, but also because they do not want to disappoint their fellow bunkmates who have spent time and effort in creating a clean living space. And sometimes, when the sun shines through the windows of a perfectly well-kempt cabin on a beautiful Maine day, you might even see your bunk sparkle!

Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools

You can share your own Maine camps memories & expressions of gratitudeon our Memories of Camp section of our website.

Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child?  Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks).  It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates.  Then you can research these camps in more depth.  

Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.

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Copyright © 2019 Maine Camp Experience

Copyright © 2019 Maine Camp Experience