Written by Abby Wilk, MCE Camper/Counselor Alumna and New Campcierge™
I love camp!
The summer of 1989 was a life-changer for me. That June, I boarded a bus at a neighborhood high school to travel to camp in Maine with 50 strangers. I wore the special camp shirt and name tag that I was instructed to wear. It shared the basics: my name, that it was my first summer, and that I was 10 years old. What it didn’t share was that I was TERRIFIED. I wanted to go to camp, it was my idea, and I even got to choose which one I went to, but all I felt was an overwhelming urge to cry. Please don’t let me cry in front of all these people. (Cue the waterworks.)
A sweet girl with long blonde hair and feathered bangs (it was the ‘80s) smiled at me and said, “We’re in the same bunk!” We started chatting and the 4.5-hour bus ride flew by. Getting off the highway, I remember the cheers started. They didn’t stop for the rest of the summer. Only I still felt as if I was going to cry. And I did. A LOT. My camp friends still rib me about it 28 years later. But that’s what friends are for, right?!?!
That first summer I stayed for four weeks. It was a blur of crying, writing sad letters to my parents, and professing my new-found love for my little sister at home with whom I constantly fought. Oh, and I did some gymnastics and waterskiing and tennis and windsurfing and arts & crafts and lots of cheering. I loved camp and I loved my 16 new best friends by the time my parents came to get me. Thanks to the many patient and supportive people who hugged me and told me it was okay, I didn’t want to leave. I never cried again at camp unless it was about leaving.
In fact, I loved camp so much, I attended six more seasons, all for the full summer. And in 2000, I found my way back to camp for four additional years in various office roles from Media Coordinator to Unit Leader to Special Events Coordinator to Assistant Director. To this day, my local camp friends—bunkmates as well as some younger campers I oversaw as a counselor—and I look forward to our frequent get-togethers, where our own children run around together.
Homesickness is a funny thing. It blinds you to all the amazing experiences you are having. But when you conquer it, you feel like you’re on top of the world. I learned a lot that summer. I learned how to get out of my comfort zone for the first time ever and how to make new friends; I learned that it was okay to miss home and that I could still have a good time; I learned how to play jacks on a wood floor and not get splinters; I learned that whoopie pies are delicious; I woke up to the loons on the lake or the sound of the bugle; but most important I learned HOW TO BE ME. Camp spirit was ingrained in me for the rest of my life. I was no longer the shy and scared girl who boarded that bus. I was more secure in the young person I was becoming, more outgoing and unafraid to try new things.
The summer of 2017 was a life-changer for me as well. I had followed the path I thought I was supposed to be on. In 2000, I graduated from Bucknell University where I had studied Economics. I then went to Northeastern University to pursue a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Accounting. I worked (a lot) for 14 years in public accounting. Here’s the truth: I’ve never been passionate about tax accounting. I have always been passionate about fitness and about camp. When I’m not chasing after my 3.5-year-old and 2-year-old boys, I am now happily working as an indoor cycling instructor at three Boston-area locations and as Maine Camp Experience’s newest Boston-based Campcierge™.
I’m so excited to share information about these incredible Maine camps with prospective camp families and help them decide which camp will be best for their children. It’s been great getting re-acclimated with all the amazing Maine Camp Experience (MCE) camps and directors. My own experiences in Maine as a camper, counselor and administrator made me realize camp is life-changing and I’m excited to help connect future campers with all that MCE has to offer!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help with research, enrollment, and/or tours for this summer and next.
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 Campcierge™ to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child. You can share your own Maine camps memories & expressions of gratitude on our Memories of Camp section of our website.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.