Ok, so after our Thursday Thanksgiving celebrations we’ve already had Black Friday and Cyber Monday, marking the start of the holiday season, and a significant uptick in the number of SALE! emails in your inbox. But today is probably my favorite way to kick off a holiday season that should be more about what we give – not receive or buy – every year. That’s right, today is #GivingTuesday!
#GivingTuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City, as a response to the growing number of days dedicated to shopping and consumerism surrounding the holidays. Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving supported by social media, when people shift their focus to charitable giving, arguably one of the best parts of the holidays.
In honor of the day, I talked to a bunch of our Maine Camp Experience member camps, to see how they talk about giving and give back with their campers during the summer and beyond. Social responsibility is a big part of the Maine summer camp experience, and all of our Maine camps make it a priority to teach campers about giving back through involvement with social action initiatives and causes. Here are a few ways that some of our camps go about teaching this important lesson:
On Friday, November 13th, Camp Matoaka was a proud supporter of the American Camp Association’s Camp Champions Celebration, which sends hundreds of children in need to camp every year. This year, Camp Champions honored singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb, herself an outspoken summer camp alum!
Matoaka campers helped raise money for this organization by spending time over the summer earning points for various activities. At the end of the summer, the camp requested a donation based on the number of points earned. With combined support from their alumni 65th Reunion and the campers hard work this summer, Camp Matoaka had the honor of being a ‘Home Run’ Sponsor raising more than $5000 for this great cause!
The directors of Camp Cedar, like all our MCE camps, believe that giving back is an important part of their camp culture. Throughout the summer, Camp Cedar sends their older campers on a variety of different missions, from cooking and serving at Portland soup kitchens, to volunteering their time to families of children with special needs. The staff participates each year in a blood drive on camp premises, and after the summer session is over, Camp Cedar runs a four-day scholarship camp for inner city kids, as they have for the past 18 years.
One of Camp Cedar’s directors was also a big part of starting the aforementioned ACA Camp Champions event, which garners a lot of support from Camp Cedar families for the cause of raising money to send children in need to camp. Such great ways to keep the spirit of giving alive throughout the whole year!
This all-girls camp located on Echo Lake finds lots of ways to give back, both in the summer and throughout the year. While camp is in session, the girls participate in small service projects during the summer, like building a bridge for a local outdoor non-profit, volunteering at MCE’s Camp Sunshine – a very special camp that supports children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families – and participating in the annual Dunk Your Kicks campaign, in support of pediatric cancer research. As an extension of that summer effort, Camp Vega did a social media campaign last holiday season called #VegaGivesBack. Using that hashtag, for every photo Camp Vega received showing members of the extended Vega family doing something charitable, they donated $10 to MaxCure for the Dunk Your Kicks foundation. The directors of Camp Vega are also proud supporters of the Camp Champions event each year.
The campers and staff at Camp Manitou for boys have had a busy year of giving back in a variety of different ways. First up, one of their counselors was on Ellen recently! Taylor Zischoltz – a junior at Elon University, as well as current tennis instructor and counselor at Manitou – and a friend of hers raised over $10,000 for an employee at their school’s coffee shop, a move that garnered positive attention, spirit, and a few tears for the community. Check out what happened when they visited Ellen!
Each August, Camp Manitou hosts the Experience Camps for Grieving Children, aka “the best week of the year.” These week-long experiences are for children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver and are a wonderful opportunity to just be a kid, surrounded by people who have been through something similar. In addition to hosting the camp each year, five of Manitou’s CITs were among the volunteers, and are excited to be involved again this year!
During the summer, Manitou campers and staff participate in community service projects throughout camp through their leadership program. But even after the summer is over, Manitou Nation continues to find ways to unite in the spirit of giving. Just a few weeks ago, the Manitou community came together in cities across the country for the Manitou Fall Service Day Weekend. Campers and parents volunteered their time and energies in revitalizing gardens, dog play areas, cleaning local beaches, and running in 5K teams to benefit cancer and other research.
At Tripp Lake Camp for girls, the campers give back in lots of ways all summer and throughout the year. Here is a whole list of things!
- The oldest campers volunteer at MCE’s Camp Sunshine – a very special camp that supports children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families – during the summer to help with the children.
- The 15-year-old campers volunteer at the Good Shepard Food Bank, where they organize supplies and pack boxes of food for families in need.
- Tripp Lake, like many of our MCE member camps, participates in the Dunk Your Kicks charity for pediatric cancer. Throughout the year they collect sneakers for the MaxCure Foundation during reunions, parties, arrival day at camp, visiting days, and departure day. Many Tripp Lake campers and their parents have started sneaker collections at their schools or at mud runs.
- For the Mitzvah Project, the entire camp skips four desserts over the course of the summer and Tripp Lake donates the money to charity instead.
- Tripp Lake alum have gotten involved with the Making Headway Foundation, organizing charity bike rides to raise money and awareness, events that are wholeheartedly supported by the Tripp Lake Camp family. Other efforts include the Brain Freeze for Brain Cancer fundraiser, launched this summer during Tripp Lake Camp’s 105th Anniversary Reunion.
- The Tripp Lake Camp community also supports Charley’s Fund, the Tutu Project for breast cancer, and collects food donations at all their reunions and parties.
- Before camp starts, the Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice uses Tripp Lake Camp to host a Bereavement and Grief Support Day for their families. The camp provides, lunch, staff to run programs and the facilities, and a loving, peaceful place to gather.
Whew! That’s a lot of giving!
We are so proud of all our Maine camps and how committed they are to teaching their communities about social action and giving back. Now let me ask you … how will you celebrate #GivingTuesday? Tag @MaineCamps with #GivingTuesday and let us know what you’re doing!
Happy Giving everyone!
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.