Newsletters

Word Around the Campfire #7 - 7th August 2019

With 

 

-Matt

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Word Around the Campfire #6 - 2nd August 2019

With the end of the summer barreling down on us (2 weeks left?  How does this happen!!??), it was wonderful today to have a reminder of one of the most astonishing aspects of the camp experience, something to savor while we have the chance.

I had a post dinner conversation with one of the music instructors at camp.  He was talking about how cool, and confusing, it is to see how quickly the campers in his class are learning what he is teaching. About how he’s had to adapt and move forward at a much more rapid pace than he had anticipated.  What is going on?  Is it really talented, smart campers?  Well, sure, but the same could be said for his students outside of camp.

What is going on is something more fundamental, and worth acknowledging, because it holds lessons for us for the whole year.  Campers learn quickly here at camp because all the things we know about optimizing learning line up here.
Campers sleep well.  9 hours a night.  We know our brains need 9 hours (or more) to learn efficiently.  No stress.  Stress is like kryptonite to learning.  The two things are mutually exclusive, but at camp, campers are relaxed, having fun, and free of the pressure imposed by the academic year.  Speaking of pressure – there is no pressure to perform, no worries about grades at camp.  Campers will try new things because they aren't worried about the consequences of failing, or feeling like anything less than perfect will count against them.They will try things they may be primed to learn, given the chance.  And finally there is just so much support.  Campers get so much encouragement, a ton of external belief that transforms into self-belief in a pretty short span.
We know how lucky we are here at MTC.  We get to see our campers grow and thrive, and this remarkable learning curve is but one aspect.  It is worth acknowledging at this point though, as the lesson is a valuable one.  If we can learn it…

-Matt

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Word Around the Campfire #5 - 24th July 2019

It takes a lot of guts to go away to summer camp. We were reminded of this multiple times this past weekend, when we started our Second Session Summer 2019 under hot and humid Maine skies. The heat broke the next day, but the admiration we gained for so many of our incoming campers has not fallen. We forget, as adults, how awkward and hard it is for a teenager to go to a brand-new place, where they don’t know anyone, or even know a whole lot about their home for the next 2 – 4 weeks. Many of our campers arrived with a look on their face that said “huh, I wonder if I am doing the right thing”. Some even say so out loud. They were greeted by enthusiastic staff, and senior campers, who were acting like this was the best day of the year. Because to them it is. To the new camper – it looks a bit like walking into someone else’s class reunion. But there is promise there. The new camper knows – these other campers were new campers once. Maybe a month ago, a year ago. For some of our LT’s (Leadership Trainees, more below), it was several years ago. But no matter who and when, they were all new campers at one point. Full of doubt. Questioning themselves and their parents, wondering whatever possessed them to think this was a good idea. And here those returning campers are now, on a hot and bright opening day, crying tears of joy at seeing old friends, and requiring ice packs to soothe hands sore from high fiving so many new friends. A new camper sees this, sees someone who looks kind of a lot like them, and (ideally) asks themselves – “how do I get to that place?”. The fact that they are here shows a level of courage that many kids and teens entirely lack, those who simply will not push their comfort zone at all. They are then asked to do something else that we feel is incredibly brave…say hi to a total stranger, a peer their age, but who they don’t know from a bar of soap. It takes a huge leap of faith, not unlike jumping into a pool of water of unknown temperature without first dipping a toe. But, and this is the wonderful part, they find that once they take that big, bold, scary step, the water is fine. The person they are greeting wants to make friends too. So do all the other campers. Staff too. Activities are not just engaging, but fun multipliers. The more you put into them, the more you get out of them. It all reinforces. And it all starts with that big, brave step. Our session is off to a great start, and we’re looking forward to every minute of it.

-Matt

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Word Around the Campfire #4 - 19th July 2019

It is with somewhat of a sense of disbelief that I write this on the night of First Session Departure Day. The calendar says Thursday has just become Friday. Where did the time go? Well… The last 4 or 5 days have been a happy, intense, tiring, relentless series of wonderful camp events, the culmination of a month of hard work, top notch instruction, wonderful weather and community support. The camper bands playing at Live Dance on Sunday; the Camp Show, Video Show & Dance Shows on Monday; Festivus (Harry Potter themed), Art Show, Banquet & Last Chance Dance Tuesday; Packing Day Wednesday saw Tennis Finals, Rock Climbing competition, Ski Show, Session Video, Closing Campfire and Midnight Blues. It has been, in the most literal sense, awesome. There is among the staff a genuine sense of awe at the amount of courage, talent, hard work, and loving support on display. Campers performing/playing/showing their work in front of a large group for the first time have all of us asking the question “would I have had the guts to do that as a teenager?” I’m not sure I would. Yet there they were – singing, playing (everything from drums to tennis), acting, sharing, supporting and being supported.
All of this reminds us as to how lucky we are, and what a huge responsibility we have. We get to see our campers for some of (if not the) the best weeks of their year. They are relaxed, unstressed, safe and happy. We have an obligation to them to provide a place that gives them the opportunities to learn, to take risks, and to trust themselves.
It has been an incredible summer so far, we can’t wait for the rest.

-Matt

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Word Around the Campfire #3 - 11th July 2019

Greetings on another beautiful day in the state of Maine. We’ve been graced with a tremendous spell or perfect Maine weather, warm but not too hot, with a few stunningly clear nights. Perfect camp weather, and a quick glance at the national weather map with it’s heat and humidity reminds us of why Maine makes most sense for summer camp.
This is also the sort of weather that I most associate with my favorite part of the summer, when everyone is just in the rhythm of camp. No one is really sure of what day it is in the outside world, or really even what time of day it is. We go by the bell, and that is enough. We play when it’s time to play, rest when it’s time to rest, eat when it’s time to eat. The campers and staff become fully present, entirely immersed in what is happening here, now. We see campers learning new skills at an unbelievable rate, friendships forming and deepening, stressors melting away. The mood in camp is often described as chill, but I believe that during these timeless days, it’s something more than that. It is not the absence of stress that defines the camp experience, it is the presence of a positive focus on the present.
These days fly by all too quickly, summer will be over before we know it. But, these timeless days will not be easily forgotten. Campers will have vivid memories of their experiences in camp on these days. They won’t really know what day it was, and it won’t matter. We’re in the rhythm and flow of the summer, and there is no where else we would want to be.

-Matt

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Word Around the Campfire #2 - 4th July 2019

Happy 4th of July from beautiful, warm, sunny and happy Maine.

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Word Around the Campfire #1 - 27th June 2019

When the days are being filled with the sounds of nature, and especially in our case, the sounds of the campers arriving, you know summer has arrived! And what better time to send out a newsletter than when you're filled with that summer spirit?!

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Word Around the Campfire #8 - 16th August 2018

Thoughts from a closing campfire... 

Tonight was the closing campfire for summer 2018.  The last, until next June, in a chain of campfires in that same space that stretches back almost 100 years.  It is an event that is joyful, emotional, often hilarious and always poignant.  Campers and staff quietly contemplating, and sharing, a part of their summer experience.  It’s an event that is never recorded, a moment in time that is known and shared only by those who were there.

But there is some ideas and thoughts that came up and resonated very strongly with what we all experienced this summer, and those themes seem appropriate to share.

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Word Around the Campfire #7 - 8th August 2018

 A great dose of nature.

Two nights ago I had one of those amazing camp director moments.  It was after evening program, and as I left the office, I couldn’t help but notice Mars shining brightly in the South Eastern sky, and casting a wonderful, weird orange glow onto the lake.  Gathering a group of campers from one of the boys cabins, I pointed out Mars, and left the rest to them.

The sense of wonder expressed by the kids (and staff) was immediately obvious.  Questions were asked about why Mars was so bright, how we knew that was Mars, was that the Milky Way, where is the Big Dipper.  Random thoughts and observations followed, including chatting about the future of a Mars colony.

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Word Around the Campfire #6 - 31st July 2018

This week at camp feels like the right moment to talk about one of the under-appreciated resources the campers all enjoy, and benefit from, here at camp...  Time.

The middle week/s of a session are often just the best weeks of the session.  Campers are familiar with the culture and fully involved members of the community.  We’re not yet into the somewhat manic schedule of events that kicks off the last week of the summer, and are instead able to enjoy some chill, fun, easy going summer days.  We get a chance to enjoy some of the stuff that takes a bit more time.

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Maine Teen Camp

481 Brownfield Rd,
Porter, Maine
800-752-CAMP
mtc@teencamp.com

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.