No matter how gregarious your camper may be, the thought of traveling to a brand new place full of brand new people can be a little daunting for any child. Many first-time campers excitedly look forward to all of the incredible opportunities Maine Camp Experience (MCE) camps have to offer – from the daily activities, to songs and traditions, to campfires and cookouts. And, of course, the possibility of befriending other campers and spending their summer with cool counselors at their new summer home is high on the list. However, before a camper arrives and meets those future friends and role models, the prospect of arriving in a brand new place with brand new people can be a little nerve-racking.
Luckily, many MCE camps take specific steps to make sure kids have some sense of familiarity with the people around them before they set foot at their camp in Maine. Many camps will hold an event in the springtime that is either exclusively for new campers, or that soon-to-be campers are welcome to attend. This is a great opportunity for new campers to make their first camp-friends – and when a camper steps off the bus in Maine, seeing those familiar faces from that springtime get-together can help assuage some of the anxiety of transitioning to camp life.
Other MCE camps won’t hold these events, but have different approaches to forging friendships before summer starts. Some camps will specifically assign seats on the plane or bus to camp to ensure that new campers are seated next to someone who might make a good first-friend. Rather than allowing all kids to sit wherever they choose on the bus, chaperones will intentionally seat children of the same age, and especially new campers, next to or near each other so they have an opportunity to forge a friendship on the road.
Many MCE camps also assign big brothers and/or camp sisters before summer – this is a program in which a younger or new camper, is paired with an older, veteran camper who can act as a mentor for the summer. Many MCE camps encourage a phone call between camp “siblings” before the summer starts, so that the younger camper can become comfortable relying on their older friend for advice and support.
Families may also ask the camp director if there are other same-aged kids in their area in case they’d like to arrange to meet for ice cream or something similar. It should be a light, casual meet up so there are familiar faces at camp. The deeper friendships will likely be formed once the kids are immersed at camp.
Perhaps one aspect that truly distinguishes MCE camps is the way that camp directors and assistant directors personally invest themselves in the campers and camp experience. Many MCE camp directors will gladly arrange a meeting or skype call with a prospective camper before the summer starts, to make sure the camper feels they have an adult to turn to once they arrive in Maine. Recognizing a friendly, nurturing adult figure can make all the difference in the world to a camper who is leaving their parents for the first time – and these directors and assistant directors make sure to know each new campers name upon arrival, so that the relationship can be that much more personal and comforting.
There truly is no gift quite like the opportunity to attend an MCE camp – but that doesn’t mean the prospect of a summer away can’t be a little overwhelming to a future first-time camper. Luckily, MCE camps have well established practices to help campers forge relationships prior to the summer’s start, and to ensure that the transition to camp in Maine begins with a friendly face!
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
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.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.