Blog post by Maine Camp Experience Community Manager, Lea Kone.
Right now it’s 78 degrees, sunny with blue skies and the camp lake is glistening. I can hear the excited chatter and laughter of campers fully immersed in activities and I can smell dinner being grilled for this evening’s cookout. It’s July in Maine, and life at summer camp isn’t just good…it’s perfect. Camp days are long and full, and while campers know that parent visiting day is approaching, they are easily distracted by the rhythm of camp life. But back at home camp parents are not as easily distracted and are practically pacing in anticipation of the upcoming visiting day weekend.
Come this weekend and next, I-95 North will be especially full of cars with license plates from NY, NJ, CT, PA, MD and MA (among others) as camp families set off for their annual pilgrimage to Maine. You’ve probably heard the visiting day lore: hotels and dinner reservations booked a year in advance; virtual towers of games, snacks, candy, clothing and other gifts in tow, and parents who have trained for the foot race onto the camp property when the gates open. Yes, some of these are true. But no, this is not every parent and it is not every camp. The camp visiting day experience is just as unique and special as are each camp and each camper.
In addition, to visiting day activities, camp families take the opportunity to explore the beautiful state of Maine. Many families enjoy spending the weekend in the historical Portland neighborhood of Old Port with its first class shopping and dining options. Other families visit Freeport, the home of L.L. Bean or rent homes or B & B’s in the lakes communities of Naples and Belgrade. There are practically unlimited options for day trips as well: families can go white water rafting, sea kayaking, sailing, visit lighthouses, hike or just relax by the lake or beach.
But, visiting day weekend is so much more than simply a weekend trip to Maine. It is steeped in tradition and it is full of emotion. For parents, it can seem like the beginning, middle and end of a summer camp season all wrapped into 48 hours. The anticipation and planning are unending. There is the excitement of pulling onto the camp road and the tremendous feeling of joy when they see their camper smiling in the distance. There is the spirit and excitement and the programmed camp activities, and then the tremendous sadness when they again hug good-bye for the next three or four weeks.
Whether this is your first or your tenth visiting weekend, you can be prepared for anything except how you feel when your child (who has seemingly grown 2 years in 4 weeks) greets you with an enormous hug. Go ahead let your heart just melt for a minute. Soak up the visual reassurance that your child is both happy and healthy. Because above all else, we know that despite what you could see from the camp pictures, and hear from the camp director, that you drove 150, 300 or miles just to know for sure that your most precious item in the world was indeed OK.
Let them introduce you to their “world.” You spend all year chauffeuring and guiding them. Let them show you the way now. They are proud of their camp and they are allowing you to peak into their camp life just for this one day. It’s a gift they are giving you in exchange for the gift of camp that you gave them. Appreciate this gift. Let them not only show you their cabins and cabin-mates, but also who they are and how they participate in the greater camp community. Notice how different they may seem at camp than at school or at home. Notice how independent and confident they are at camp. Notice how they participate in and excel at activities they may have been apprehensive to try. This is what visiting day is all about. Let it all soak in, hug your camper tightly goodbye for the next few weeks, force away the tears and then go ahead and drown your sorrow in a lobster roll by the beach. This is what visiting day is all about at Maine camps.
Planning your visiting day weekend? Need some inspiration? See some of our other recent blog posts and resources.
A Visiting Day Primer (July 2012)
Our Favorite Things to Do in Maine (July 2013)
Camp Visiting Day in Maine-What More Could You Ask For? (July 2013)
Dining in Maine (see our top picks in the right margin)
Resources for Planning Your Trip to Maine
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful new tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (2-7 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 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.