When you think of camp in Maine, you might think of campers swimming in beautiful blue lakes, or playing sports on sprawling green lawns under sunny skies – and of course, Maine Camp Experience (MCE) camps offer campers these wonderful opportunities. However, sometimes a change of pace is needed – whether it’s a rainy day or campers just need some time to recoup – and there is always a great back-up option: old-fashioned indoor games!
For today’s kids, indoor activities are all too synonymous with screen time. However at camp, apart from occasional movie nights or videography programs, most indoor activities will be completely screen free. Some indoor activities are part of the regular camp program – they just happen to be held inside. These include the visual and performing arts drama offerings that MCE camps provide, as well as more niche activities like journalism and gymnastics.
However, one of my favorite parts of camp are those indoor games that aren’t formal activities, but are popular choices during rest hours or rainy days or evenings. You’d be amazed to see just how far a deck of traditional playing cards will take kids – at the MCE camp I work at, campers love playing card games during rest hour or at night before light’s out. Of course, this is not a new development – in fact, I have distinct memories of nights during my own camp days when we would play “Presidents” every night until our counselors made us get in our beds. Campers will even play old-fashioned games like jacks and marbles, which continue to be popular at camp even if they have long since gone out of fashion in the “real world.”
Other parlor games, like Bingo and Apples to Apples, provide great distractions for kids on rainy days. However, my personal favorite choices are the traditional board games that fill the cabinets at many MCE camps. Again, these games bring me nostalgically back to my own camp days. One of my very fondest camp memories is of playing Risk during rest hour – a friend of mine made a giant Risk board in woodworking, and one summer we spent every rest hour incrementally playing through the hours-long game. We meticulously calculated where we were at the end of each session, cleaned up, and reset the game again the following day to keep our progress.
This past summer we had a thunderstorm one night, and to ensure the campers stayed warm and dry, we held an activity that we called “Weather the Weather” – in short, we opened the camp’s massive games cabinets, assigned counselors to oversee different stations, and let kids play the games of their choice. As a board game enthusiast myself, it was wonderful to see campers get so enthusiastic about these games. Some chose traditional games like Monopoly, Sorry, and The Game of Life, while others opted for newer options such as Headbandz, Banangrams, and Ticket To Ride. In fact, this evening activity was such a success that, when the forecast predicted rain again the next evening, campers approached me and requested another night of “Weather the Weather” so that they could continue playing the games they had started – and we were more than happy to accommodate.
Of course, these games are not simply rainy-day substitutes for other activities, and there is real value to opting for analog indoor games. They don’t require excess energy, and can be more inclusive then activities that demand coordination. They are not reliant on beautiful weather (though we do get plenty of that during the summers in Maine), and can allow campers and counselors of different ages to participate in something together. Beyond that, these games really do encourage campers to interact – they are not simply staring at the same screen, but instead are playing with one another. They strategize together and compete with one another, they talk to one another, and they connect with one another.
So this summer be sure to pack your cards and practice your dice rolling – because there are plenty of opportunities to play indoor games at camp!
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.