Tour a Sleep-Away Camp in Maine… Make it a Vacation!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for mainecoast2.jpg 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:
• 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
• 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!

The Road to Independence

girl in canoe.jpg 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 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!

Summer Camp Blues: What to do when Your Child is Homesick

From the ‘Everything Summer Guide & Planner’ by Jill Tipograph
homesick.jpg 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.

How to Find the Right Overnight Camp for your Child

MCE lakepicture.jpg 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.

How to Prepare Your Child (and yourself) for Sleepaway Camp

bus.jpg It’s time to send your precious child away… to overnight camp. You did the tours, you found the perfect camp for your kid and now it’s the final countdown. Before you know it, you will be kissing your child goodbye and putting him or her on a bus or a plane off to have the time of their life! There is so much you have to do to prepare- physically, mentally and emotionally.
By now, the trunks should be mostly packed and ready with all the items neatly labeled with your child’s name inside. But just in case you are still working on getting everything together, here are some great tips from Jill Tipograph, the summer camp expert, straight from her book, Your Everything Summer Guide & Planner:
• Stick to the lists that camps provide. If your child has a tendency to lose or damage clothes, you might want to add some extra necessities like socks, underwear, towels and eyeglasses – but DO NOT OVERPACK.
• “Containerize” smaller items. Put similar things together in see-through travel bags, zip-locks or plastic units. Bunk storage can be very limited so consider packing collapsible baskets for bulky items (check with camp policies first).
• Put stationery/stamps/mail in large plastic envelopes or in a clipboard with a storage compartment; you’ll want to read letters again or in years to come, as your kids mature.
• Send nothing expensive with your child. Pricey mp3 players, cameras (if you do, you need to remove all video capabilities) or other devices may break or disappear – and many camps do not allow electronics at all. (Especially in Maine, where your child really has a chance to be “unplugged.”)
It’s not easy to just let your kids go, both figuratively and literally. But parents need to trust their decision that they picked the right camp and feel confident their child will feel right at home. After speaking with a few Maine Summer Camp Directors, they wholeheartedly agree. They are in the business of making children happy! The Maine Camp Experience is a community of premier American Camp Association accredited Maine camps that are dedicated to providing children with the highest quality summer camp experiences. They offer a very safe and nurturing environment where kids will gain independence and self confidence, make lifelong friends, learn new skills and most importantly – have fun! That is what parents need to hold on to as they feel the butterflies in their stomachs; you don’t want to pass along that nervousness to your child.
Not only are you busily preparing for the big departure, the camps are very busy as well! As an example, Camp Matoaka in Maine has their 22 department heads come up to camp a month before the campers arrive for extensive training. The rest of the staff then joins them for twelve days of training. They receive CPR, Red Cross certification, water safety, ropes safety, bunk management, etc. They have a parent panel come up to the camp to discuss what they want and don’t want for their children. They even have a company called “true to life training” where professional actors come and act out true scenarios with the staff in each age group. But one of the best things they do to get ready is receiving pictures of each of the campers from the parents and they memorize what they look like and their names. So when the new campers get off the bus they are greeted, by name, and welcomed to the camp. All of this goes on at many of the camps in Maine.
There are plenty of things you can do to get your son or daughter emotionally prepared for camp. Some camp directors will even make a visit to all the new camper’s homes to get to know them and answer any questions. Other camps have get-togethers in each community so your child will have some familiar faces when they first arrive. A few of the Maine camps I spoke with will set each new child up with a camp sister/brother or buddy that will reach out to them before the start of camp and tell them all about the amazing experience they are about to have!
If your child is still feeling really nervous and unsure, it may be a good idea to have them write a list of all the things they are excited about for the summer and what they are looking forward to the most. They can also make a list of things they are scared about and they will see how many more things are on the positive list! That should make the parent feel better too.
Richard Deering from Camp Birch Rock in Maine said it perfectly. The best thing the parents can do is let their kids “clip on their wings and fly.”
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.

Win a Luxury Maine Vacation & Save 25%!

Screen shot 2011-06-06 at 5.20.45 PM.png
There’s nothing like summertime in Maine! If you’ve never been to Maine, summer is a magical time to go. If you’re contemplating sending your child to overnight camp in Maine, you don’t want to miss taking part in this amazing opportunity! Migis Hotels, a collection of award-winning luxury hotels and resorts in Maine, is partnering with to give away two fabulous vacation packages AND offering 25% off new reservations throughout summer 2011 when touring a Maine Camp Experience member camp this summer. Migis Hotels and The Maine Camp Experience know that summers and camp belong in Maine…and they’re sure you’ll agree.
Thumbnail image for 4.jpg is a newly launched informational and resource-based website to help parents explore the culture and offerings as well as learn more about visiting overnight camps in the best state to send kids to camp. 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.
Migis Hotels is a collection of luxury hotels and resorts dedicated to creating an unparalleled world of relaxation and recreation at extraordinary waterfront settings in Maine. Breathtaking views, gourmet food, and attentive, personalized service distinguish Migis Hotel Group’s portfolio. Each property – including Black Point Inn, Migis Lodge and The Inn at Ocean’s Edge – has a unique and distinctive character that conveys a strong sense of place and ensures an authentic Maine experience. As one reviewer said “It’s like summer camp for adults!”
Visit Maine Camps this Summer and Save on your Stay
The best way to explore the wonder of camps in Maine is to visit them with your kids. Plan a family tour at Maine Camp Experience member camps this summer, because families won’t want to miss out on the 25% discount Migis is offering on new reservations (subject to availability). Stay at these quintessential Maine hotels and lodges, and tour our camps, to truly understand why Summers and Camp Belong in Maine! Call any of the Migis properties and mention Maine Camp Experience to receive this special offer.
Win a Family Summer Vacation in Maine
Also at, families can enter to win one of two complimentary luxury summer vacations valued at up to $5,000 at any of Migis’ three award-winning properties. Vacation packages include accommodations, food, and activities for up to 4 people. Families considering a Maine Camp Experience camp for their child in 2012, can schedule a camp tour of any member camp this summer, and be eligible to win the Tour-A-Camp Vacation (drawing will be held on September 1st, 2011.) Families with a child(ren) currently enrolled as a member of a Maine Camp Experience camp are eligible to enter The Camper-Parent-Appreciation Vacation (drawing to be held July 25th, 2011.)
For more information about qualifying and entering this exclusive Migis Hotel Group discount offer and luxury vacation drawing, and to learn more about visiting and attending some of America’s premier camps in the best state to send kids to camp, families can visit
For more information on Migis Hotel’s award-winning accommodations, visit Migis Hotel Group.
Thumbnail image for Wide view pool 3.jpg