We get a lot of visitors at camp – families coming to tour, former campers and staff coming by to say hi, newly engaged couples looking for the perfect wedding venue, vendors dropping off supplies or making repairs. Without exception, and regardless of how many camps they have seen, all our visitors comment on the amazing natural beauty of MTC. A comment made frequently enough to be our unofficial motto is “it’s not the biggest camp I’ve ever seen, but it sure is the prettiest”.
It’s good that visitors, campers, parents, and staff remind us of how lovely MTC is, because we sometimes get so focused on programming, on staff training, on camper and parent concerns, that it can be easy to take our beautiful setting for granted. But we shouldn’t, and not just because it is an aesthetically pleasing place to be. We apply the same amount of intentionality to our camp grounds and buildings as we do to our activity schedule.
Last month, Richard Freed, child and adolescent psychologist, published an eye opening and damning article on the unfettered use of psychological research and understanding in modern technology.
While Freed was mostly concerned with the stance the APA (American Psychological Association) needs to be taking in response to the use of child psychology for ends other than those of helping people, he offers a lot for those of us simply concerned about kids.
The basic premise is simple – that the use of psychology by big tech companies (device manufacturers, social media, internet companies, game and app developers are all included) has not been given the level of scrutiny it deserves. Tech developers have been learning about how we are motivated, how behaviors are triggered and how we respond to rewards, to manipulate user behavior beyond the tipping point from choice to compulsion. The use of these understandings in technological design is called persuasive technology, or behavior design. These names say it all. The game is rigged, against all of us users, and in the case of child users, rigged against their parents.
Ticks and tick borne illnesses are now endemic to all of the lower 48 states of the USA. While the wider public perception of illnesses is more recent, ticks themselves have always been around, and we have been minimizing camper and staff exposure for many years. Indeed, at Maine Teen Camp in summer 2017 we only had 2 ticks found crawling on a member of camp reported to the health center.
We take a two-fold approach to tick management. The first, and hardest part, is maintaining the camp property to reduce the tick population. We do this in a systematic way that involves eliminating habitat (so cutting back of scrub, keeping lawns mowed very low, eliminating weed growth), encouraging natural predators (specifically – chickens and wild birds that eat ticks), minimizing squirrel and chipmunk habitats in areas where campers will frequent, and environmentally appropriate, highly targeted application of tick controlling organic pesticides/biopesticides.
Spring is here! Well, technically spring is here, and I’m sure for much of the country it even feels this way. As for the great state of Maine…we will get there. Spring will come and go, and summer will be here before we know it.
With spring upon us, for many families of teenagers, it’s now crunch time in deciding what to do this summer. While many teenagers might like to get a job or simply hang out for the summer, these are often not viable options – jobs can be difficult to find or have strict age limits and demand specific qualifications. “Hanging out” is great in small doses but is not always an ideal plan for an entire summer. This leads many families to think about a summer camp, trip, or “program”. Today, we’ll consider some of the main differences between a summer at a real camp, like Maine Teen Camp, versus a summer program on a college campus or similar.
The shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas HS in Florida this past week is a tragedy beyond our ability to comprehend. So many wonderful lives gone, for no point. So many families irreparably torn. So many kids and teachers witness to events that have no place in our modern society.
This has happened before, of course. And for many of us, a feeling of pessimism and resignation has taken hold, that nothing will change.
But this time something is different. It has been widely noted that the use of social media during this mass shooting event has hammered home the reality in a way not seen before. It is hard to argue against this fact. It is also that the older students at Majory Stoneman Douglas are more capable, more willing, and have the right to be heard.
The fourth guest blog in our parents perspective series is from Laura C, of Catania, Italy. Her two oldest sons will be returning for their 2nd and 3rd summers at MTC in 2018
On 1st October 2001 my first son Stefano was born; after all the doctors and relatives had gone and we were just the three of us for the first time, my husband holding and staring at our newborn told him: “When you will be 14, in the summer, you will go to the States for one month”. Being a Sicilian mother having just delivered her first son I said “WHAT???”, he gently replied “When you will be 14, in the summer you will go to the States for one month”, I said:”NO WAY!”.
In Defense of Winter – Part 2
Or, in other words, the reasons why a really cold winter is part of glorious summers in Maine….
Several years ago (2011 to be exact), I published a blog post titled In Defense of Winter, which extolled the virtues of the harsh Maine winters. Mostly I argued from the perspective of “harsh winters = less people want to live here = more open space and undeveloped land = clean air and water = the perfect landscape for a summer camp”. All of that is still true, and for interest sake, you can read the full blog here:
(We will be featuring a series of guest posts on the MTC blog over the coming months. This post is contributed by Todd B., camper parent 17/18).
I am the dad of a thirteen year old, strong willed daughter and this is my story.
From the age of seven to sixteen I went to a renowned summer camp down south. Not only did my two sisters go to the sister camp down the river, my wife did as well. All of us lived for this camp. We thrived in sports, earned ranks as we mastered these sports, belted out camp songs year round and made a few memories along the way. It was a no brainer for my wife, my sister and I to send our children to the same camp where we spent our summers. So we did.
The question, “You do fully elective, teen-appropriate activity choices? How? Why?!?”, is among the most frequent questions we get asked by other camp directors, mostly because other camps schedule campers by bunk, or some other grouping. Some may allow a couple of electives per day, or give a limited selection to some campers, some of the time. But every camper choosing from every activity, every period? It isn’t really done in traditional summer camps. How do we do it? And more importantly, why do we do it?
We’ll start with the, “How?”, and reveal a bit of an MTC secret. The campers do all the hard work…Our understanding of teenagers tells us that given the choice, our campers select the activities that interest them, challenge them, that look like fun, that their friends are doing, that their parents would like them to do, that their parents would not like them to do (I’m looking at you, “Beginner’s Drumming”), or that just sound intriguing (I’m looking at you, “Yas Queen”).