Written by Jake, MCE staffer and current Head of Land Sports at an MCE camp
In all of my life, I have never had any experience that matches the pure energy and spirit of the end of camp. For the vast majority of the summer, camp in Maine is a place of routine. Of course there are surprises scattered throughout the summer, and no two days are exactly alike – but as the days and weeks pass, it is easy to get into the rhythm of camp: campers wake up to reveille, eat their meals, clean their bunks, and embark on days filled with the wonderful activities that the best-in-class Maine camps have to offer. The menu, activities, and special events may change – but for most of the summer the ebb and flow of camp is undeniable. Until, of course, the end of summer approaches.
At most Maine Camp Experience camps, the final few days of camp will be starkly different than the many that preceded them. Every camp has its own end-of-summer traditions and events in store – full-session camps may dedicate a week and a half to end-of-summer activities, while half-session camps spend a few days wrapping up each session – but in almost every case, there will be competitions, ceremonies, and events, and hopefully every child’s summer will end with a bang.
We Want Color War!
One traditional end-of-camp experience that is found at many Maine Camp Experience camps is the Color War competition, sometimes known as Olympics, that envelopes camp for several days. Some of my most-vivid camp memories are of the pie-eating contests, the camp-wide relays, and the sporting and swimming contests that all ultimately determine the competition’s winner. At some camps, Olympics or Color War will begin with a surprise “break,” which can range from intricate performances to simple announcements. In any case, the mere mention of Color War or Olympics will have the entire camp in a state of enthusiasm and excitement for the duration of the competition.
At the MCE camp I currently work for, Color War actually breaks towards the beginning of the summer, and lasts a full six weeks. However, there is still a special schedule set aside for the last ten days of camp, and the final week includes a number of Color War competitions – including swim meets, archery meets, and track & field relays – that ultimately go a long way towards determining a winner.
Showing What You’ve Got
The last several days of camp are also often filled with a variety of shows and showcases that allow campers to demonstrate the skills they’ve developed over the course of the summer. For example, if a camp offers horseback riding, they may present a choreographed horse show. Similarly, dancers, singers, water-skiers, gymnasts, and the myriad of other talented campers will often have the opportunity to put their skills on display in a supportive and encouraging environment. Among the cheers and chants, it’s always wonderful to see a deserving camper take a bow.
After a full summer of memory-making, camps will generally hold one or two ceremonial events in order to provide closure on another wonderful summer. Sometimes, this will take the shape of a final banquet, during which summer highlights are recollected and individual and team accomplishments are recognized. Camps may also hold a final campfire ceremony, which provides one last opportunity to sing camp songs, share camp stories, and feel the tangible presence of camp’s spirit amidst the cackling of the flames. These are certainly some of the most emotional moments of the summer, particularly for those older campers who are completing their final camp summer, and many tears will be shed by camper and staff alike during this final chapter of camp.
Until Next Time
Eventually, another summer will come to a close. The last day or two of camp generally involves a great deal of packing, and many tearful farewells. After a fun-filled summer – and particularly the whirlwind of the final few days – both campers and staff are likely to be exhausted, and there’s generally no extensive programming in camp’s final days. Ultimately, the very end of camp provides us with an opportunity to connect with the people who have made our summer special – the campers who we have watched grow and the staff we worked alongside.
And while it’s certainly hard to see another spectacular summer come to a close, I like to remember that, hopefully, it’s not goodbye, but “see you next summer.”
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.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.