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.
The day before this happened, we took the campers to the beach. They swam, built sandcastles, played games on the sand, sang together, and just chatted and walked along the shore. Members of the public complemented our staff on how wonderful it was to see a group of teens playing, relaxing and enjoying the beach and the company of friends.
I bring these two examples up because they illustrate so vividly what we know, what camp shows us on a daily basis, and what the literature tells us is the case. Kids need nature.
When exposed to time outdoors, kids are more playful, more creative, and more social. They live wonder and joy. When they look up at the stars on a clear Maine night, their minds wander far and fast. When they are hanging out on the beach with friends, they open their ears and let conversation flow. Time spent in nature makes us physically healthier, helps us think more clearly, efficiently and creatively, and helps with regulation of mood and energy. We need to spend time in nature, we need to spend time around trees, and water, and see the stars. We’re built for it.
Importantly within the camp context, when campers are outdoors and open to these experiences, the absence of cell phones and other tech is noticeable. People who are looking down at a screen aren’t looking up at the stars. Someone with headphones in is not open to a conversation. A teenager playing a video game is not going to initiate a pick up game of soccer.
It’s not just that technology brings with it a host of negative side effects. It also interferes with the benefits bestowed by nature, or worse, robs us of time in nature entirely. Sometimes it’s not even a choice, it just seems easier to stay in and watch the next episode that Netflix cues up than to take a walk and look at the stars.
As with everything at camp, our hope is always that the campers take their lived experience here at camp and choose to apply it in the real world. If they can feel comfortable in the outdoors, if they can appreciate the increased concentration they enjoy after a quiet hour spent in the woods, the positive mood that results from playing at the beach; they may seek it out. Camp is all about learning skills to take back home. Being outdoors (again) is one such skill.
“As we head into our last week of the session over here at MTC, we have some great music events lined up to follow last weeks Coffee House. Sock Hop's blast from the past had the Staff Band performing an hour set of 50's covers including so more current tunes reworked into the old style. The camper's danced their hearts out and we were overwhelmed with the reaction from all the campers and staff that got dressed up for the night. Following Sock Hop we had a songwriting showcase of past and current songwriters, alumni Jesse Ruben will be joining us this evening alongside current staff members Chloe Jones and Ajay Henry to show their latest works from recent EP’s with an acoustic version of their sets. Later in the week we have Live Dance for our 3 week bands to show us what they’ve been up to this session for another great night of music! If this sounds like a lot of live music, then you'd be right. At the music department we like to take pride in the fact that pretty much anywhere you go in camp you can hear someone playing, feeling music as the beating heart of the camp experience. And of course, we have more of our talented campers heading into the studio to record new material and polish up their recordings from previous weeks. We’re a little too excited over here! Whilst we’re thinking about acoustic music, here’s a sample of Aidan S. with his new song “Cozy Vibes”
- Nicky & Sean
Second week of activities has ended. Today on activity day 6, we say good bye to our 2 week and 6-week campers. With a few tears in our eyes, we focus our energy on the amazing campers still with us for the rest of the summer. This last week of activities has even more new class offerings. Superhero Appreciation, Ski Show, Advanced Mountain Bike, Fit and Fun Healthy Cooking, and Snorkeling… I am a proud Program Director to say that a few of these new classes are created by our amazing L. T’s (Leadership Training). Everyone can’t wait to kick off the week. Festivus and end of camp will soon be upon us, pardon me as I get running to join in with the fun!
HALlo everyone! If you missed the LT dance last week, it was surly out of this world! It was held on the small tennis courts and was incredibly successful! The campers and staff alike loved the layout and execution! One of the Directors, Pinsey, even said a dance has never been done in this space and it looks nice! Food for thought for future dances and events to be held on the small tennis courts!
The LTs continue to co-teach new and exciting classes, and with the final week approaching, there are even more classes than ever before! Week two's Country Appreciation, Advanced Basketball and Feel Good classes were immensely successful and the campers and counselors raved about how much fun they were to take! The LTs are also going to Devils Den early this coming week for a reflection activity, having another camp's CIT's visit camp where they will show them around, and are preparing for campers departures in true leadership fashion. They have been living in their Buddy Cabins and enjoying the mentorship role for the younger campers.
Now that the LT Dance is over, the LTs are working towards their legacy project, a specialized clock for camp! The clock will be like no other clocks and instead of telling time hourly, it will tell time based off camps structure through periods of classes, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, free time, and Evening Programing. The LT cohort are currently gathering and figuring out how to achieve this complex masterpiece, so stay tuned!
The Camp staff and LT Coordinator are thankful to have such a bright, caring, compassionate, and creative bunch of LTs this summer and appreciate all their diligent work thus far. Let's make this final week one to remember!
Here at MTC we live in a diverse international community, which means we have the opportunity to learn so much about other cultures. Our staff and international campers worked together to create an International Street Fair, where we got to indulge in food, play games and share stories from all over the world!
We all got to chill out, relax, and sip coffee or tea while campers performed poetry, music and more during our very own Coffee House. We had our Fifties Soc Hop where our Staff Band played the greatest hits from the era and we danced the swing, the mashed potato and the twist! Our campers had an opportunity to do activities that bring them each a little more inner peace, whether that be Drawing, Creative Writing, Basketball, Meditation or Yoga, they can give it a shot at our Wellness Retreat!
We rounded out the week with a relaxing outdoor movie night next to Trafton pond, followed by our famous Pop Idol competition, in which Emerson cabin won the major prize with a heartwarming rendition of "The Greatest Showman - This is me". We have some exciting nights to look forward to during our final week of camp!
-Dylan & Gina
Greetings Families!!! What an amazing night last night at camp. We were fortunate to have an Evening Program featuring not only some of our very talented music staff, but former staff member and camp alumni. Last night we created ‘Campchella’ at camp… a music type festival setting for our campers to enjoy a singer/songwriter showcase of our very own staff Ajay Henry, Chloe Jones and former camper/LT/Staff member, Jesse Ruben.
Since the early days of Maine Teen Camp, music has played a truly pivotal role in our community. In recent years, we have been fortunate to have Professional Singers and Songwriters on staff to help teach and guide our campers. We have also had the chance to watch many of our campers develop into the music profession as well. ‘Campchella’ was brought together by the opportunity to bring Jesse Ruben back into camp to kick off his 2018 East Coast Tour. We invited our staff Ajay Henry and Chloe Jones to open for Jesse and showcase their own amazing talents as well.
Our campers were able to truly enjoy a captivating evening of three very distinct musical styles. Ajay Henry represents a R&B style of musical flow. Chloe Jones brings a touch of Americana to the stage and Jesse Ruben brings a true singer/songwriter present he developed along the shores of Stanley Lake as a camper at MTC. Ajay Henry teaches Group Vocals and Songwriting here at camp. Chloe Jones over sees our bands and leads all the Live Music Events.
The evening was a great success and the campers truly were an amazing and charming audience for our performers. We couldn’t provide such an awesome night for our campers without our incredible music staff!
You can also listen to them in our Maine Teen Camp Alumni Playlist on Spotify here:
If your camper has music on Spotify please send us a link to their Artist's page and we we add them into the playlist alongside Ajay, Chloe, Jesse and all the other MTC alum that want to share their music.
As the end of the summer draws to a close here at MTC, our summer of exciting trips has also come to a season’s end. From shopping in Freeport to taking on the white waters of the Kennebec River in our rafting trip, our campers have had many new and exciting adventures. Our Best of Portland trip saw beautiful weather while out the schooner boat in Portland Harbor, while the Best of Boston trip explored the city in a wet duck boat ride. Our last all camp trip day saw fun in the sun at Scarborough State Beach, with sandcastles built and ocean swimming galore. To finish off the summer, our new Rock Climbing trip will head out to climb Jockey Cap tomorrow!
Thank you to all for such a wonderful summer of MTC Trips! It’s truly been a pleasure getting to know your campers and sending them on new adventures!
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