Close your eyes and picture a huge crystal clear lake surrounded by tall pine trees. Take a deep long breath and fill your lungs with perfectly fresh air. Now, walk out onto the dock and and leap forward into the crisp, clean, pristine water… ahhhhh, how nice is that on a summer day? Just think, your children can experience that amazing feeling each and every day all summer long at overnight camp in Maine. As Henry David Thoreau said “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is the earth’s eye, looking into which we measure the depth of our own nature.”
Maine has 5,785 lakes, many of them are larger than 1 acre, covering 1,762 square miles! Nearly half of these are classified as “Great Ponds”, meaning larger than 10 acres, a term that dates back to Maine’s colonial days. It’s the perfect place for an abundance of water sports every day. Most sleep away camps in Maine have canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, row boating, water skiing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, and of course swimming at least twice a day. Kids learn safety skills and the wonderful feeling of swimming in a lake. Rich Deering, Director of Camp Birch Rock said it best “The Lake is invigorating for a kid’s soul and spirit.” This is a key reason parents choose camps in Maine over other states… there is just no comparison when it comes to the waterfront and all the activities that are associated with it on a daily basis.
Learning how to waterski at camp was a huge thrill for me. I can still remember the feeling of getting up on the skis for the first time and everybody cheering for me! I am so thankful to have that skill so I could continue to waterski throughout my life. Campers also learn survivor skills while canoeing and kayaking on their camp lake so that they can go on fantastic camping trips. From canoeing down the Saco River to sea kayaking on the Atlantic Ocean; Maine offers endless water adventures. These age appropriate trips allow campers to master and accrue skills to use on longer and more challenging adventures as they mature. Campers love to look forward to these exciting escapades!
Anyone can swim in a pool… but mastering swimming and water sports in a bountiful and beautiful lake is something special. The lake provokes a calming feeling and provides a stunning backdrop to many campfires and special activities. Overnight camps in Maine pride themselves on their beautiful waterfronts and phenomenal opportunities for water activities. To find out more about sleep away camps in Maine, visit www.mainecampexperience.com and start planning your child’s experience of a lifetime.
We all want our children to be active and eat healthy, but it’s not so easy when they are home watching TV, playing video games and snacking on heaven knows what. One of the biggest benefits of sending your child to overnight camp in Maine is they will spend all their time outside in nature; running, swimming, hiking, playing and breathing in the most amazing fresh air! Not to mention eating delicious and nutritious meals all together, family style like the good old days. As Ronald Hall, director of Camp O-AT-KA says, “All meals are sit down, the way family meal time used to be.”
It is so important to teach kids from an early age about nutrition and how to eat healthy. One of the best parts about going to camp in Maine is that a lot of the fresh produce and other foods all come from local farms. Most camps now have a salad bar option with tons of fresh food and the camps try to teach kids about eating in moderation and having a well balanced diet all while enjoying the food experience.
Pam Cobb director of Camp Runoia says they have a farm program where kids can get in touch with farming and learn about composting. Some of my favorite trips when I was in camp in Maine was when we went blueberry and strawberry picking. Then we were able to eat the blueberry pie they baked from the blueberries we picked! Talk about fresh!
While fitness is a given at most sleep away camps, in Maine, the kids are outside playing sports and swimming all day long. With more acres of land at Maine camps, kids have the opportunity to take healthy walks to their activities. In Maine, there are amazing day trips like mountain climbing, white water rafting, canoeing and more! There are so many ways for your kids to be active.
Throughout the school year our children can be overscheduled, stressed out and plugged in to some or multiple electronic devices. It is pretty unavoidable; between iTouches, iPads, computers, video games and TV, kids spend a good amount of their day “plugged in”.
Summer is the ideal time to literally unplug your child. There is no homework and the weather is perfect for outdoor fun and learning. When you send your child to camp in Maine, the majority of camps do not allow any electronics whatsoever. At some camps the older kids can listen to music during quiet time in their bunks… but for the most part it’s all about enjoying the beauty and nature surrounding them. Ronald Hall camp director of O-AT-KA feels “When you are enjoying what Maine has to offer, you don’t need any outside distraction. You learn to appreciate the sounds of the wilderness.”
Kids these days have a lot of pressure on them, whether it’s academically, socially or even when it comes to material objects; there is always competition over who has what. For those glorious weeks they are at overnight camp, they don’t have to worry about all that. Everyone is on the same playing field. Pam Cobb, Director of Camp Runoia says “Some campers feel relieved to not be plugged in. They have a chance to decompress.”
When you give your child the gift of sending them to overnight camp, they grow in so many ways, and unplugging them for that time is priceless. Interacting personally with peers and staff, connecting with the incredible water and nature, encouraging self-discovery and skill development, are all the rewards of unplugging at Maine camps. To find out more about all the amazing overnight camps in Maine, please visit Maine Camp Experience and start planning the best summers of your children’s lives now!
The state of Maine’s geography is like no other state in America. From its magnificent coastline, to the tall mountains, to the huge lakes and long rivers; Maine has it all. What could be a more perfect setting for overnight camps? One of the absolute best parts and highlights of going to sleep away camp in Maine, are the trips!
Let’s start with the mountain climbing trips… whether it’s watching the sunset from Cadillac Mountain (1, 528 ft. high) or reaching the peak of Mount Katahdin (5,268 ft. high! The highest mountain in Maine); there is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get when you reach the top! All the campers from youngest to oldest get to experience that magical feeling, it builds amazing self-confidence. Making a camp fire, cooking your own food and pitching tents are all skills you learn on these trips.
Now onto the lakes! Maine has 2,200 beautiful big lakes and tons of long rivers. Canoeing and kayaking trips are very popular among the campers. Some of my fondest camp memories are canoeing down the Saco River and camping alongside it. Androscoggin River and Sebago Lake are popular trips as well. The list goes on and on. As an older camper you get to go white water rafting which is a huge thrill!
Not only does Maine have gorgeous mountains and lakes, but a spectacular coastline. Many camps in Maine take trips to the beach. Ronald Hall, camp director of O-AT-KA says “the variety of outdoor activities and trips does not compare to other states. A big hit with the campers is sea kayaking on the Ocean!”
A former camper fondly recalls, “The trips that we took around Maine were amazing. The amusement/water parks, like Funtown/Splashtown and Aquaboggin, were every kid’s dream. Overnights were spent at campgrounds, such as Blue Rock and Acadia, where we went hiking on beautiful mountains and swam in clean lakes.” Most camps also have non-camping or “pleasure” trips where they go to country fairs, visit Freeport, Ogunquit beach, Camden, Boothbay Harbor and my personal favorite, Portland, where there is whale watching. Jason Silberman, camp director of Matoaka said the kids can take a photography class and then go on trips and take pictures of all the natural beauty Maine has to offer.
From quaint seaside villages, cultural experiences and experiencing the wonders of nature; Maine has it all. To learn more about overnight camps in Maine, where your children can enjoy these amazing trips and more… visit Maine Camp Experience and get all the information you need to find the perfect camp for your family.
The summer is flying by and it’s already time to think about your plans for next summer. If you are planning to send your child to overnight camp next year, the best insights on whether or not a camp is the right fit come from touring camps while they are in session. So plan your tours now! The concept can seem daunting, but with the help of Maine Camp Experience, you can easily schedule a camp tour AND experience a wonderful Maine vacation while you’re there!
“Maine is the Eden of camping. Maine sets the bar,” says Jim Gill, Director of Camp Fernwood Cove who suggests planning your tours/vacation mid-week if you can because it’s a little quieter and less crowded. According to Peter Kassen, Director of Camp Hidden Valley, “The best time of day to tour is the morning when the campers are there. You can even sit and have a meal with them to really get a feel for the community.”
Full of useful tips, the Maine Camp Experience website offers the following advice to prospective camp families:
SCHEDULING CAMP TOURS
• Always call the camp first to inquire as to availability and best times to tour
• Our summer camps provide personal tours and the directors want to spend time with you
• Organize your questions ahead of time
• Ask how long the tour will last
COMBINING SUMMER CAMP VISITS
• Call ahead for driving times between camps and your hotel
• Book one tour in the morning and one in the afternoon
• Dress comfortably! You’ll be doing a lot of walking and will spend much time outdoors
Once you figure out the locations of the camps you’d like to tour, start planning your vacation! 26 million people vacation in Maine each year. You can find a list of recommended hotels on the website as well. When you click on the “explore” section, you can learn more about the top places to vacation in Maine including Portland, Freeport, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Camden, Kennebunk and Ogunquit, just to name a few.
Acadia National Park offers a treasure trove of amazing experiences for the entire family. Do not miss watching the sun set on Cadillac Mountain. The views are incredible and the kids will love climbing the rocks. Two more must sees in Acadia National Park – Jordan Pond – where you can go on a nature hike and then relax at the restaurant where you’ll enjoy the best popovers in the state. Then, take a drive through the park and stop at Thunder Hole – where you can listen to the waves that crash into rocks made of granite and the sound that erupts bears a striking resemblance to thunder. Or you can check out Freeport Maine, home to the original and largest L.L. Bean store and fabulous outlet shopping. Parents and campers love to go there and explore the area. The website also provides a list of tourism links.
Whether you make the road trip part of the journey (which many families love to do), or hop on a quick flight, you will learn why it is easy to get here, but so hard to leave Maine!
Don’t just take my word for it. Read these true stories from camp parents and alumni who are all in on the secret…summers and camp belong in Maine!
It’s hard to let our kids go. From the moment they’re born, to letting them take their first steps on their own, even if they fall, to sending them off on the bus to sleep away camp; the guilt and fear that runs through a parent’s mind when giving a child the chance to assert their independence never ends. We all want our children to grow up to be strong, confident, independent people. Part of that process begins at overnight camp. Children learn invaluable life skills, such as how to take care of themselves and to do things on their own.
Sometimes it’s easier for us to do everything for our children, like make their beds, put away their things, brush their hair, etc. At camp, kids build self esteem by making their own beds each morning, keeping their area neat for inspection, doing their best to maintain good hygiene and importantly, helping others. Marcy Isdaner, director of Camp Mataponi in Maine, has three daughters and feels “camp fosters independence and confidence. You learn RESPECT and how to compromise.”
Living day and night with their peers may be challenging at times, but kids learn to deal with conflict on their own, or with the help of counselors. It helps build character when they don’t have mommy and daddy to lean on and go running to.
Another way that children gain incredible independence and confidence is by climbing mountains, canoeing down rivers, whitewater rafting, building a camp fire, pitching a tent and more! One of the most beautiful places to experience all that nature has to offer is in the state of Maine. Maine has so many wonderful overnight camps. All boys, all girls, co-ed and they all offer so many amazing opportunities for your child. When I was at camp in Maine I was so scared of mountain climbing and did not want to do it. With some encouragement from my bunkmates and counselors I was able to climb the highest mountain in Maine, Mount Katahdin. It is an experience that I will never forget. Over 20 years later I can still remember that feeling of accomplishment. I was, and am still so proud of myself. That feeling stays with you.
To read personal stories by real camp parents who believe that sending your child to overnight camp in Maine will be the best decision you ever made, visit http://www.mainecampexperience.com/camp-memories. Summer is the perfect time to tour the camps and see the kids, staff and programming in action. What are you waiting for? Start your kids on the road to independence and confidence today!
For many families, sleep away camp in Maine has become the ultimate tradition. “I started at Camp in Maine at age 8 and was a camper and then a counselor until my last summer at age 21. In large measure, all those summers in Maine impacted my ultimate decision to move to Maine and raise my family here. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted. I sent my daughter to the same camp when she was 8, and last summer, at age 27, she was an assistant director. Both my sons went to camp in Maine as well,” comments Jody Sataloff of Camp Runoia, who agrees that overnight camps in Maine and tradition go hand in hand. So many camps in Maine have been around for several decades (even a century) and their core stays true to its original form. Maine was, and still is, the perfect place to build overnight camps, with miles and miles of crystal clear lakes, tall pine trees and many mountains; providing the natural backdrop to beginning and sustaining traditions.
Jim Gill, camp director of Fernwood Cove said they tweak old traditions to make them more modern; evolving traditions so that every summer will be better than the last. Even though each camp is unique, the underlying traditional feelings are the same. Most have some form of “color war,” they all teach good old fashioned values, and show children how to have a deep appreciation for nature. Alex Goodman was a camper at Camp Cedar and says, “Camp Cedar is still to this day a huge part of my life. I have fond memories of my time in Casco, ME and look forward to the day when my two daughters have the same memories about Camp in Maine and when my son calls Cedar his summer home.”
Traditional Maine camps teach kids how to expand their horizons. If you send your child to a specialty camp, you are limiting their exposure to new things and the ability to benefit from being with nurturing staff, and amazing friends, who really get to know you. As Ronald Hall director of Camp O-AT-KA said, “By allowing kids to do only what they are comfortable with, there is no growth.” When they try new and different things, they gain self confidence. As Peter Kassen, Hidden Valley Camp put it, “Children like structure. They can relax knowing that they are safe.”
There is something beautiful and sacred about the traditions at Maine camps. Knowing that past generations sang the same songs, climbed the same mountains and canoed the same rivers, is a special and unique feeling shared by scores of children who have shared lasting memories by spending their summers at camp in Maine.
To find out more about Maine Summer Camps and to enter to win (http://www.mainecampexperience.com/visit/) an unforgettable family vacation at Migis Hotels (the quintessential Maine hotel properties) – and how to save money on this summer’s stay – visit the Maine Camp Experience website today (www.MaineCampExperience.com).
From the ‘Everything Summer Guide & Planner’ by Jill Tipograph
Homesickness… The feeling of sadness due to separation from one’s home or parents is very normal. It can last a few days, go away and return again, or continue until kids see their parents on visiting day or their homecoming. Typical times during which homesickness can set in, are when families are normally together at home such as waking up, meals, and going to bed. Homesickness can also occur during times of inactivity at camp. Use these tips to help your child, and you, cope with and overcome those lonely moments when you wish you were back home with your family.
1 Review the director Identify coping strategies available at camp. Homesickness assistance is part of staff training. You can expect counselors to listen, encourage friendships and busy-ness, play ice-breaker games with kids (especially in the first few days of camp) and promote letter writing. Additional strategies include touring the camp in detail on the first day for familiarity; volunteering to help in the dining hall or office; keeping a journal of feelings.
2 Ensure your child knows to turn to camp staff for assistance. Reassure your child that the camp will call parents if necessary. Explain when you will talk to your child, and how often you will write. Be sure these match your camp’s policies. Discuss how your child will personalize his/her bunk space, so the newness does not feel so strange.
3 Send small reminder items from home. These may include photos, a favorite pillow, books, mementos, encouraging notes or cards or a special box of feel-good items a child can turn to in times of sadness to make him/her smile and feel better.
4. Keeping busy, not spending time alone, participating in activities and traditions is very helpful. Remind kids that going to camp is not much different from succeeding at other new experiences they tried, such as moving, enrolling in a new school, or staying overnight at the home of a friend or family member. The difference is the distance, length of time, and that they cannot immediately turn to their parents for support.
5. Remain positive at all times. Parents play an integral role in helping their kids overcome homesickness. You made the overnight camp decision jointly with your child. Do not send mixed messages. Do not make any promise to pick your child up – kids then lose the encouragement to succeed at separating and benefiting from the camp experience. Instead please remind your child that you collectively made this commitment, and you will work through this together (parents, child and camp).
Remember that kids may write sad letters in the moment of homesickness or a time of being hurt. Documenting their feelings is therapeutic and the negative thoughts pass quickly. Don’t over-analyze it. Pick up the phone and call the camp at any time to check on any concerns you may have. Write funny, upbeat and encouraging letters and cards. Send frequent e-mails as well if your camp allows this so your child hears from you often. Don’t dwell on home activities; focus on what’s going on at camp. If homesickness is lasting, break down your child’s expectations into small pieces so he/she can get through each day. Tell your child to write home that night about his/her day, noting his/her efforts to make one new friend or try a new activity; that you will call the camp in two days to see how he/she is doing. Each time your child accomplishes one step, he/she is committing further to getting over homesickness.
‘Camp Sick’ parents also need to adjust to their kids being away, but be sure to separate your own anxieties from those of your kids. As referenced previously, familiarize yourself with the camp, director, your child’s routines and all camp policies ahead of time. Technology today helps with the transition, since parents at most camps can view photos on a secure, password protected website while their kids are away. But do not call the camp requesting to see your child. Most photos are taken randomly to reflect different activities and types/ages of kids. The viewing process itself is a strategy that brings you closer to your child and his/her environment.
Remember that sleep-away camp is one of the most wonderful experiences a child can have, and sometimes life’s greatest lessons and memories are not easy, but well worth the hard efforts.
The time has come… your 6, 7, 8 or 9 year old child says to you, “I want to go to sleepaway camp!” Now what? If you are sure they are ready, you need to begin picking the best place to send your most prized possession. While, the thought of selecting an overnight camp for your child can seem overwhelming, where you send them is all about the right fit – to meet their and your needs.
Here are some wonderful tips for starting the touring process from Jill Tipograph, the summer camp expert, straight from her book, Your Everything Summer Guide & Planner:
• Tour the camps in the summer to observe kids and staff in real time.
• Call ahead! Tours are not available at all times. The first and last weeks of overnight camp are often closed to tours and many camps do not allow visits on trip days, either.
• Weekends are the most popular time to visit camps but you will receive the most attention on a mid-week tour.
• Do not over-schedule. Two tours a day are ideal; one tour in the morning and one in the afternoon.
• Tour when the family is rested and fed.
• Do make sure everyone in your family is appropriately dressed with comfortable shoes, a hat, water, etc. to optimize the tour experience. Evaluate whether or not a younger child can handle all the walking and traveling involved.
• Have realistic expectations. Depending on the time of day you visit, activities could be altered due to weather or scheduling.
• If you are not taken to an area which has interest to you or your child, ask if the specific area can be included in the tour.
The actual location of the camp plays an important role as well in your sleepaway camp choice. Many parents share that they want their child to meet kids at camp from different communities, states and countries. And to have the opportunity to explore the wonderful outdoors; participating in activities they can’t do at home. Others feel the destination should offer parents and families summer vacation options as well.
As one parent who sends her sons to Camp Androscoggin said, “Pine trees, beaches, lakes, lighthouses, and deep blue skies are all welcoming sights when you arrive, not to mention the vast wildlife. Maine camps are the best of the best with years of experience behind them. Generations of families return to the same camp because it is such a positive life experience for their children.” And Matt Pines camp director of Maine Teen Camp said; “Maine is clean, safe and pristine.” You can’t say that about most other states!
To help narrow down your options, plan tours and even a vacation while you’re there, visit Maine Camp Experience. The Maine Camp Experience is a newly launched informational and resource-based website to help parents explore the culture and offerings in Maine, as well as learn more about visiting sleep away camps in what is touted as the “most peaceful state” in the country. The website is represented by a community of premier American Camp Association accredited Maine camps that are dedicated to providing children with the highest quality summer camp experiences.
Here are a few more helpful tips when deciding the best camp fit for your child from summer camp expert, Jill Tipograph…
• Match the environment to your individual child. Do NOT assume that because a friend, relative, or sibling went to a camp that it’s right for your child. Every child has different needs!
• Speak with the camp director about your child in person or on the phone. (The advantage of an in-person meeting is that you can see how the director relates to kids.) Pay special attention to staff training.
• Involve your child; participation helps him/her prepare for the experience (especially first-time campers).
To find out more about Maine Summer Camps and to enter to win an unforgettable family vacation at Migis Hotels (the quintessential Maine hotel properties) – and how to save money on this summer’s stay – visit the Maine Camp Experience website today.