By Laurie, Maine Camp Experience, Maine Guide
Sending your child to summer camp in Maine is a much richer, broader and comprehensive experience than just going to camp. Your whole family becomes part of a bigger environment and community as you embrace the culture, relaxed pace, cuisine, outdoor adventures and more that the great state of Maine offers. I’m reminded of this each year when I go the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which I just attended, and get to interact with the Maine tourist industry community.
Upon arrival at the 2014 Governor’s Conference on Tourism held this year at the new Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine, I was happy to see familiar faces from the Maine Office of Tourism, Visit Portland, Northeast Charter (a Maine Camp Experience business partner, Maine Foodie Tours,, and others, as well as meet some additional representatives from Migis Lodge, Nova Star Cruises, Yankee Magazine, and The Boston Globe (which recently featured camp selection tips from Maine Camp Experience
I was also thrilled to meet and speak with legendary journalist Mark Orwoll, International Editor of Travel + Leisure Magazine and Executive Editor of American Express Publishing’s International Department, including Departures, and Food & Wine, while sampling pear wine from Winterport Winery and IPA beer from Penobscot Bay Brewery at the kick-off evening Welcome Reception & Awards Ceremony.
The following day, Mark delivered a wonderful keynote address, “Marketing Maine in the New World of Travel,” which was insightful, educational, and entertaining too. Sounds like Maine is well poised for what travelers want, including: arts and culture (Maine offers an abundance of festivals, fairs and special events such as the popular fall Harvest on the Harbor food and wine festival), culinary attractions (Maine has incredible experiences, including fine breweries like Allagash Brewing Company and restaurants like Fore Street), soft adventure (such as sea kayaking, hot air ballooning and rafting from companies like MCE business partner Adventure Bound Rafting), and multi-generational family travel opportunities (such as family camp at Maine camps).
Other speakers included Governor Paul LePage who shared his pride and love of Maine, and praised the hard work by Mainers – so many of whom are small business owner/operators who deliver unforgettable experiences to visitors (such as our camp families). He also thanked and congratulated 2014 award recipients, which definitely whet my appetite to visit myself and recommend to others attractions including: the Portland Museum of Art, the Abbe Museum, and Amtrak Downeaster to name a few.
Carolann Ouellette, the Director of the Maine Office of Tourism, shared Maine tourism initiatives and trends. Especially entertaining and enjoyable were videos from native Mainer actor Patrick Dempsey who talked about his love of Maine, and featured “Maine Insider” Herman Coombs, a lifelong lobsterman and his family’s contribution to the beloved and iconic state’s trade.
Let me not forget to mention the delicious local favorites served as mid-afternoon treats – oh my, whoopee pie!! I would’ve liked to have eaten all, but I stopped myself after one, rich, delicious treat!
In addition to gaining tourism insights and interacting with representatives from various entities, I enjoyed spending time with Kyle Tong, Camp Director from Camp O-AT-KA, a traditional Maine camp for boys, who joined me in representing Maine Camp Experience (MCE) at the Conference. As the Guide who provides personal guidance to prospective camp families, I always like getting to know the MCE directors and camps even better. From Kyle, I liked hearing about the strong camaraderie among current and former O-AT-KA campers, including those which continue as strong alumni bonds.
During the conference, I stayed overnight at the Hollywood Casino Hotel, located conveniently across the street from the conference center, and enjoyed their complimentary cookie at check-in, daily newspaper, and courteous front desk staff. I was transported by Custom Coach and Limousine (a Maine Camp Experience business member), which provided service that was on time and comfortable with a driver who was helpful, knowledgeable and proud of Maine … he even suggested that he take my picture with Paul Bunyan here, the state’s mascot.
Overall it was a great trip for us to highlight the importance of Maine’s youth summer camps, meet and collaborate with partners to bring our camp families great tourism opportunities, discuss ways to enhance the visitor experience, grow Maine’s tourism, and celebrate the special qualities and uniqueness of Maine.
Now is a great time for families to plan their 2014 summer visits to Maine for camp this summer, and to research and tour camps for summer 2015. We encourage you to use the resources on this Maine Camp Experience site, contact Laurie, our Maine Guide, for personalized information, and share information with your friends and relatives. As we just hit the 100-day countdown to camp … we look forward to welcoming back our camp families, as well as welcoming our first-time families whom we hope will discover the transformative and unforgettable experience of summer camp in Maine.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge®, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.