This week we released our newest promotional video. It’s short (under 2 minutes), energetic, captures much of what makes camp special. The song we chose to go with it is very catchy, and features the lyric “make my way…back home”. We loved this, because it speaks to an essential truth about MTC. Camp is home. For all who spend time at MTC, whether for the first summer, or their thirtieth plus (cough…Nigel…cough), MTC is a second home. See the video in full here, or on our website.
This is an easy idea to grab hold of for returning campers, staff, and camp alumni. But it’s a little harder to get behind if you are a brand-new camper or staff to MTC, so this blog is for you. The truth is that all of us were brand-new to MTC at some point, and yet it quickly became a second home. It speaks to the essence of Maine Teen Camp’s community that this second home, this place set apart from the world to help us find our place in the world, beloved by so many, is so welcoming to new campers and staff.
At MTC, we believe that part of what makes home “home” are a few core values and experiences that, with purpose and hard work, can be created at camp also.
Knowing you are always welcome – home is where you know you always have a place. Being made to feel welcome at camp, and making others feel welcome in turn, is a part of the camp culture. New campers are struck by it when they first arrive, and it makes a lasting impression. So much so that returning campers make a point of paying this welcome forward.
Feeling comfortable to just relax and be you – above all camp is a genuine experience. Coming to camp requires a commitment to being yourself, not pretending to be someone or something you are not. This of course means accepting each other for who they are. Unconditional acceptance is a hallmark of home, and MTC.
Familiarity – of course one thing that makes home so special is the familiarity with surroundings, routines, and people. We work very hard at camp to make sure everyone feels completely familiar with what is going on, where, when, and with whom from before they arrive, and within the first few hours.
Homesickness < Camp-sickness – we don’t see much homesickness at camp, it happens occasionally until we get to familiarity. We do see a lot of camp-sickness….missing camp after it ends. Campers and staff frequently report the difficulties that they have adjusting to post-summer life, missing the people, the surrounds, and routines. So, if being “camp-sick” is like being “homesick”, camp has become home-like. However, camp has a definite end date, the window of opportunity closes all too quickly. This adds a poignancy to the camp experience that creates richer, longer lasting friendships, and memories.
People – ultimately, the people who you share your home with are the defining factor that makes it a home. We know this better at camp than anywhere, because we get to see it play out over and over and over again. The friendships formed at camp are the most memorable, and enduring, legacy of the experience. We see friendships that form in a matter of days, go on to last decades. Camper and staff alumni remain close friends as adulthood approaches, and career and family concerns build. These friendships endure time and distance, and they remind us that whatever course life takes, we always have a home with each other. The saying “no new friends, just camp friends” is a cliché, but all clichés are grounded in truth.
We hope you enjoy the video. Whether you are contemplating camp for the very first time, are returning to us for another summer, or find yourself with other plans for the summer, we hope the knowledge that home is always there, in a little corner of Maine, wedged between two lakes, gives comfort and joy this holiday season.
Here’s to a wonderful 2020, filled with community, meaning, friends, and homes – both old and new. Happy New Year to all from Maine…