Then & Now: How Maine Camps Have Changed (and How They Haven’t)
October 25, 2016, by Jake
Then & Now: How Maine Camps Have Changed (and How They Haven’t)
October 25, 2016, by Jake

This summer, the Maine Camp Experience camp I work at held their biennial Mother-Daughter Weekend, and so I had the opportunity to meet the mothers of several of the campers I had come to know during the summer. While meeting the campers’ parents is always something to look forward to in its own right – this particular meeting was unique as I began talking to a child’s parent, only to discover that this parent had held my job at camp, Landsports Director, decades earlier. As we discussed the nature of the job in the dining hall, I came to realize the many ways that camp had changed over the years, and the many ways that it had stayed the same. While the spirit of camp has certainly been maintained, camp has consistently evolved, and it was fascinating to discuss the differences in camp between then and now.

Twenty-First Century Facilities

One of the most noticeable changes that many Maine Camp Experience (MCE) camps undergo over time includes upgrading facilities to ensure that the quality of the construction matches the quality of the programming at these top camps. Different camps have different approaches to these upgrades: some populate their camps with almost entirely new buildings, while others simply fortify the existing construction, and keep rebuilding to a minimum.

The camp I work at falls into the latter category, and several of the buildings on the campus – including the dining hall in which I spoke to this particular parent – are the same ones that have stood since camp’s inception. However, I found it fascinating to learn that when this parent was Landsports Director the large top field, where we play soccer & lacrosse, was nothing more than a continuation of the Maine woods. Instead, soccer was played on the sloping lawn in front of the Main Bunk, and the inclination of the hill factored into the campers’ strategy during gameplay. My camp has also added a brand new, state of the art gymnastics facility – and I know that other camps boast impressive rec-halls and dining halls, well-appointed health centers, and a myriad of other facilities that make Maine camping the best-in-class.

Options Like Never Before

As different activities have grown in popularity in the United States, MCE camps have evolved to offer these activities to eager campers looking to try something new. When my predecessor ran the Landsports department, there were five staff members running five sports: softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball and field hockey. Nowadays? Lacrosse, the fastest growing sport in America, has been added to the arsenal of core team sports, and archery, karate, a ropes course, and gymnastics are also offered through the Landsports department. As a result, the Landsports staff has doubled in size, and we are able to ensure that everything is operating to the standard of this prestigious camp.

Different camps will, of course, offer different activities. However, some activities offered at various MCE camps that may not have been around twenty years ago include paddle-boarding, cooking, yoga, weight training, jewelry-making, video production, and the ever-popular gaga ball. And this list of extraordinary activities grows every year as MCE camps continue to provide kids with the opportunity to do the things they love.


I’ve written before about camp’s traditions, and what it’s like to experience them as a new counselor or camper. However, when discussing the elements of camp that have changed, it’s vitally important to discuss those that haven’t. Many of the mothers who I met were camp alumni themselves, and they were able to prove their mettle by singing along to songs in the dining hall or finding their names on old bunk plaques. Their descriptions of campfires and Color Wars resonated decades later, and it was very clear that the camp they attended is the same one I have the privilege to call my summer home. And so, while MCE camps evolve over the ages, it’s vital to remember that the aspects of camp that make them special, are the aspects that remain unchanging from year to year.

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.

You can share your own Maine camps memories & expressions of gratitude on our Memories of Camp section of our website.

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