MTC Blog

Why a Tech Free Camp for Teenagers?

6 min read time

Conceptualizing the impact of technology on adolescent well-being in the silicon age.

MTC is effectively a tech free camp for our campers, and largely so for our staff. Technology is not absent – campers can listen to music on an MP3 player, staff record camper music on computers, campers can access a limited email system to communicate home, staff will use phones for communication and weather monitoring. However all of these uses are intentional, serving a wider programming or safety goal. Technology that does not help advance the core camp values and programming is not allowed. The question often asked is why technology isn’t allowed in camp. We think this is the wrong question. Instead, we would ask, why would technology be allowed in camp?


How Does a Summer Camp in the Woods of Maine Foster The 4C’s of 21st Century Skills in Teenagers?

5 min read time

If you’ve spent much time around schools, after school programs, or read the education section of the newspaper, the term 21st Century Skills is no doubt a familiar one to you. For those who aren’t familiar, 21st Century Skills are the skills identified as being essential for successful and happy lives and careers in the 21st century and beyond. It is widely recognized that for the near- and long-term future, in both the workplace and community, today’s kids will require analytic and critical thinking skills, information literacy, communications and teamwork skills. The term Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is frequently used to describe the acquisition of these kinds of skills. There is a contrast drawn to the skills more traditionally associated with K-12 education in the 20th century, which involve more content knowledge acquisition and specific skill-sets for singular, life-long professions.


Reconciling Social Media: Online Marketing at an Offline Camp

3 min read time

Social media and digital methods like email have become the primary methods of communicating with the camp community year-round, and with parents during the summer. What does it mean for a proudly offline summer experience to rely so heavily on platforms like Instagram to put the comm in community? How does our use of digital tech resonate with what we teach campers and staff?


A Thanksgiving Note – The Science That Explains How GRATITUDE Improves Our Lives.

3 min read time

Of all the major holidays on the United States calendar, Thanksgiving is the holiday that totally “gets” camp. There are so many parallels – it’s not associated with any particular religion, rather, it’s all about getting together with the important people in your life. And there is lots of food (!), some sort of field sports, lawn games, or board games, and while sometimes the travel to get there is a hassle, when you reach your destination, it is so worthwhile. A huge aspect, of course, is being thankful. The expression of gratitude is at the heart of the holiday, and it’s also a core value at camp.

During the summer we talk about gratitude for a few reasons. It’s a good practice for any young person who is happy to be given an opportunity to thank whoever made that opportunity possible, more opportunities might come along as a result. We also remind campers (and staff) how the simple act of thanking someone for things big and small, extraordinary and mundane, does wonders for the person receiving the thanks. It’s a good thing to do, and it can turn someone else’s day around. On another level though, we talk about the practice of gratitude as another aspect of well-being. For not only does gratitude make the person being thanked feel good, it also makes the person giving thanks healthier and happier.


Are You Uncomfortable? Excellent!

3 min read time

A few recent conversations with camper and potential camper families got me thinking about an important concept at camp, and how we address it says a lot about what MTC is all about.

It’s the idea of comfort, and how a camper’s experience of comfort while at camp is a useful way of framing their summer.  

When a camper first arrives at camp, especially those who don’t know any one else at camp, it is natural and expected that they are going to feel quite uncomfortable and uncertain.  Our immediate job is to work on the aspects creating that uncertainty and remove them as quickly and fully as possible.


9 Hours, Why Sleep Matters

2 min read time

Snow is predicted for this weekend at camp.  Not a lot, and it’ll melt within a day, but still we’re putting up Halloween decorations and carving pumpkins!  It’s yet another reminder that at this point, summer is firmly behind us.

With this distance between what was a truly amazing summer at camp and today, I started thinking about some of the experiences we lived this summer, and how those experiences stick with us long after the summer ends. 

One of the most impactful yet under-appreciated experiences of the summer is sleep.  At MTC we turn lights out at 11pm and wake up at 8am.  9 hours.  Every night.  Which research tells us turns out to be the amount of that is the adequate amount of sleep for adolescents. 


Camp – It’s Not About Politics...

3 min read time


It would not be a particularly good idea to write a post about politics for a summer camp blog, especially in the toxic environment that is online commentary.  But the process of coming out of the woods after a truly wonderful summer, and re-engaging with the news cycle and the hyper focus on dysfunctional political systems near and far has been thought provoking. 

So while I won’t write about politics, it might be a good idea to think about how we interact with each other, how we got to this place, where it’s headed, and what role do summer camp’s play in the wider dialogue in a democratic society. 

To start, we need to examine some of the elements that both scholars and the architects of the American system understood to be essential to a functional, open, democratic society.


Not Just a Pretty Face

3 min read time

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.


Persuasive Technology and the Digital Threat to Wellbeing

3 min read time

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.


Let's Talk about Bugs!

3 min read time


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.

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Maine Teen Camp

481 Brownfield Rd,
Porter, Maine

Maine Teen Camp is the only accredited summer camp created exclusively for teenagers. Enjoy a summer of meaning, fun, friendships and memories to last a lifetime.