By Liz, MCE camp alumna and mom of current Maine campers
This year my family and I have gone through some huge changes. The biggest is that last summer we moved from our home in the city to a house in the country, so an incredible amount has changed for each one of us, and we’ve been weathering the journey together. Recently, our oldest daughter was processing some of these changes when she realized something that brought some powerful relief. “With everything going on,” she said, “I’ve never looked forward to camp more.” She went on, “With so much that feels new and tough to adjust to, I know that camp is there for me and that it will be the same.” She felt comforted and I knew in that moment exactly what she meant because I went to the same camp when I was young. Of course, I was then reminded of those tasks I needed to cover to get my girls ready for camp. One is returning, one is going for the first time so lots to do. So we’re packing, reconnecting around what it’s like to be away from family, and doing lots of hugging. In my home we take a huge amount of pride in how we tune into ourselves, each other, and the outdoors. This was one of the many things I learned from my experience at camp in Maine. Our camp prides itself in creating a space to live in nature and keeping life simple.
For me, arriving at camp always felt a little strange, making that leap from home to summer camp, leaving parents and family to be on my own. Camp started right before my birthday, so when everyone was a little homesick, we’d be celebrating my birthday away from home. Turned out it was usually the exact jolt I needed to realize these people, my new friends who I could be at ease with, be silly or loud or quiet or shy with, were actually becoming my family away from home. We’d wander outdoors to our simple, in-the-woods bunks, listen to the wind in the trees, share our camp lives laughing and just be ourselves.
I learned other things at camp that helped me know myself and evolve in life. We wouldn’t travel around camp as a bunk, we’d feel our first real autonomy, the freedom and building the confidence of moving from activity to activity. Counselors connected with me, giving me space and safety to try something new, get it wrong, learn how to try again and improve, and master amazing skills. I had never felt confident in myself physically, had felt cautious about sports. But at this incredibly special and unique camp something shifted one day when a warm and zen-like tennis counselor explained just how I needed to move to get my forehand to be powerful, and I never felt so strong. Then I found myself rising on top of the water on water skis and never laughed so hard while feeling powerful (and figuring out how to hold on while undoing a wedgie). My most meaningful sport came in learning to shoot a paper target with a rifle from a gifted “gentle giant” who explained how calmness, positioning, and balance (not to mention SAFETY) were keys to excellence in marksmanship. Through my years at camp I helped our camp xx team win many competitions against local boys camps, achieved status of Distinguished Expert and found myself with greater pride and joy than I’d ever experienced.
Another part of camp that influenced me was how music was a beautiful part of every day. I loved singing with my camp sisters and counselors. I felt proud when I tried out for the musical during my first summer and ended up singing the lead in front of the whole camp. Sharing “home” music we loved in the bunks while we took pride in our cleaning jobs, and lip-syncing with my bunk to Prince during a warm night outdoor evening activity holds a strong memory in my heart. I became a song leader, where standing before the camp, everyone sang so proudly and the room filled up with music. Team Captain was a huge joy for me, to find for the first time that leadership came naturally because I loved getting to know and encouraging everyone on both teams to soar, and feeling the fun in healthy competition. I found so much of myself at camp and am incredibly grateful for what I learned and took with me in life.
My oldest daughter is going into her fourth summer. One of my favorite highlights so far was Visiting Day at my daughter’s first summer at camp, when she sat down and played Prince for me! Now she can’t wait to go back to her home away from home. She can’t wait to spend seven weeks with her “other sisters,” to do gymnastics in the open air, and to share it with her younger sister. Of course, our soon-to-be first-time camper is nervous to leave home for such a long stretch, but we’re working on our prep and will reassure her of all we’ve learned from this amazing summer experience. My Maine camp experience is a part of me and now I feel so happy to be sharing that with my three daughters.
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.