Camp today is a different place than it was just a few months ago. The warm breeze of July is now a chilly wind and the soft grass has been replaced by crinkly leaves. That seasonality is one of the most beautiful things about Maine, and we cherish sharing it with campers experiencing the closeness of nature for the very first time.
On the very last day of our 2014 season, our outgoing campers boarded buses that took them back to their homes in New England and New York City. Home is a very different place for each of our campers and we work hard every year to ensure that camp provides stability, tranquility, and a safe space for everyone, no matter the route their lives take. Part of that universal comfort is fostering an environment of cheerful introductions to things that are entirely new – some geared toward education and others designed to be just fun.
One of those new things was a program we designed internally, led by two counselors with backgrounds in teen nutrition and exercise, called “Food, Fun, and Fitness”. We served 346 campers this summer and each of them passed through that curriculum, receiving tips on how to make healthy after-school snacks and integrate active play and fitness into their lives. We model that philosophy ourselves by using more local produce and fresh fruits in our kitchen, exceeding the guidelines of the Federal Food Program. Through our ongoing collaboration with Hardy Girls Healthy Women, we continue to improve our programming to better target aspects of girls’ lives that often go neglected due to socioeconomic constraints.
As there are seasons to every year, there are themes to every summer. One of our themes this year was visitors – we had special guests every session, including members of our own Board of Directors during session three for an extended retreat. Our other summer visitors included Federal Food Program inspectors, health inspectors and representatives of the American Camping Association for our biannual accreditation inspection – and I am pleased to note that we passed all with flying colors! As much as I believe passionately in what we do and how we do it, it is deeply gratifying to see our methods and the quality of our processes validated by outside bodies. To me, what we teach campers is often intangible and unique to each camper; I am proud that some of the other things we do well has also been confirmed, from records management to kitchen hygiene to waterfront safety.
Speaking of the waterfront, we added our very own pontoon boat this year After full days of archery, dance and canoeing, sunset pontoon cruises and fishing were big hits! The girls relished the chance to relax on the water. We look forward to sunset fishing expeditions on our new boat for many summers to come.
Mentorship and exposure to healthy adult role models will always be a mainstay of The Summer Camp experience. Our counselors continue to inspire and surprise me every year with their passion, patience, idealism and happiness in working with girls. Our Counselor-in-Training program continues to grow, and our sixteen CIT campers this year benefited tremendously from the strength, caring, and work ethic of our counselors.
I would like to thank each and every one of you for your incredible support. I see the changes we make in girls’ lives. Our program thrives because of your tireless efforts and together we create a community that changes lives every year. Wherever the next few seasons take you, I hope the lessons and joy of camp accompany you all the way.
Sending my best,
Tracy St. Onge-May
The Summer Camp Director