The early fall is a time of year that is full of new beginnings. For some, it is the beginning of a new school year, and for others a New Year. Whether you’re celebrating a holiday or simply getting in the swing of going back to school, now is a time to reflect on your summer and past experiences and try to build on them in a positive way.
Maine Camp Experience (MCE) camps, may differ in key ways – they may offer different programs or activities, they may differ in length of session, size, or the gender of campers. However, one commonality that ties our MCE community together is that each camp is dedicated, in its own way, to instilling positive values in the campers who attend each summer. As a camp professional said to me this summer, “we’re in the construction business, we’re building better kids.” Of course, there are myriad ways that camps achieve this central goal – they hire staff to be positive role models, and they may recognize campers and counselors who exhibit camp values or prominently display the camp’s values in different locations at camp. However, one major component of helping campers to grow into better people is the simple act of reflection that is present throughout the summer at camp.
Many MCE camps recognize that it is not enough for campers to hear about camp values –in order to truly embrace these principles, camps encourage campers to think deeply about them and what they mean to an individual and the camp community, and this can be done in a variety of different ways. One prominent vehicle for camper reflection is the traditional campfire.
Campfires are a staple across MCE camps – some camps will hold one or two throughout the summer, while others will hold campfires every week. Some camps have all-camp campfires, others have age-group campfires, and still others have small campfires attended by individual bunks or cabins. In any case, the campfire is a wonderful tool for reflection – campers will oftentimes hear stories that reflect the camps’ values, and may also be invited to participate and share their own stories.
Another opportunity for reflection found at MCE camps is in the form of weekly services – which can be religious or non-denominational depending on the camp. At the MCE camp I work at, each week a different age group leads non-denominational services that revolve around a different theme – common themes are inclusivity, leadership, friendship, or kindness. Each camper from the age group will write a speech over the course of the week about what the theme means to them, and they then deliver that speech to the whole camp community in the lakeside “Brook Hollow” where services are held. This provides yet another avenue for campers to think seriously about camp values and what they mean, and this active reflection will oftentimes lead them to be mindful of these values in their day-to-day interactions.
Of course, not every period for reflection is a formal part of camp programming. At many MCE camps, including the camp I work at, each bunk will have a casual circle where they get to share an aspect of their day or something that made them feel good. This allows campers to think back on their day, to communicate with their bunkmates, and to ultimately focus on building a stronger community – it leads to stronger relationships and more socially intelligent children.
So no matter how you are spending your early fall – we wish you and your family a positive period of growth and reflection, and a very happy September!
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.