MTC Blog

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.

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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.

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Camp vs. Campus


4 min read time

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. 

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Let's Listen: Why "March for our Lives" is as much about empowering Teens as it is about Gun Control


2 min read time

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.

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In Defense of Winter, Pt 2


3 min read time

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:

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A Space for Teens in an Age of Anxiety


3 min read time

The last month seems to have marked a watershed in public awareness of an underappreciated epidemic: The rise in anxiety and related disorders, particularly among teenagers.

A widely shared, deeply reported feature article in the New York Times http://nyti.ms/2zeWXLa lays out the current worst-case scenarios.  A significant minority of incoming college freshman feeling overwhelmed, a doubling of hospitalizations of suicidal teens, a crisis of confidence and resilience that cuts across demographics.

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Digital Detox and Post Summer Re-Entry...


3 min read time

In the 5 days since camp ended and the last of our 2nd Session/Full Summer/LT campers returned home, we’ve received lots of feedback from campers and parents.  In addition to the usual comments about how much their campers loved camp, miss their friends, came home relaxed and happy etc. – a common sentiment seems to be how nice it was for campers to be off their devices for a few weeks, and how to keep this going at home.

Of course, being device-free is an intentional part of Maine Teen Camp, and something we insert into the camp experience for multiple reasons (see prior blog posts).  As with any intentional outcome of a summer at camp, we work hard to align what we do at camp with what we want the impact to be on campers.

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Identity - The Most Important Achievement of Adolescence


4 min read time

Outcome # 1 – Identity

In this somewhat more detailed post, we will look at the role MTC can play in the teenage development of identity.  Identity is a coherent and resilient sense of self that forms the basis of a personality and reputation, and provides the foundation for additional growth and learning.  We view identity formation as the single most important achievement of adolescence.

The importance of identity formation in adolescence is hard to understate.  For the pre-eminent Development Psychologist Erikson, identity formation was not only the most important goal of the late childhood – adolescent years, it was an essential task that must be completed for the individual to grow into a healthy and successful adult.

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The Most Radical Concept In Teen Summer Programming - FUN!


5 min read time

Fun – The roof over the whole structure is the institutional commitment to fun and the ideal that having fun and engaging in favorite activities is an essential part of a healthy life.  A firm belief that forgetting how to have fun is leading to a great deal of unhappiness with modern lifestyles, unhappiness that manifests in a host of unhealthy behaviors. 

At camp, we talk about fun, and happiness as a natural result of fun, a lot.  We talk about it in many different ways depending on the situation.  Silliness, playfulness, joy, or just being at camp.  However we talk about it though we are talking about a state in which we find enjoyment from activity or interaction.  The context of camp is important, because when we talk about fun, or it’s physical manifestation play, we most frequently talk about it in a social/group setting. 

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Camp - (Re)Learning To Take Some Risk


6 min read time

Managed Risk – the mere act of attending a camp without a bunch of friends is a huge risk.  Additional managed risks at camp provide valuable chances to test limits and learn how to continue operating even under stress or anxiety.  Camp is removed from the dual pressures of parents/school and social media, allowing teens the opportunity to try something that they may well fail at, free of the fear of long term academic or social consequences.  The unhealthy obsession with perfection can be safely challenged by a camps relaxed, ‘come as you are’ atmosphere.

Of all the stereotypes associated with teenagers, the one that is most favored by authors, musicians, and TV producers is the allure of risky behaviors.  Of course, it is only the negative, potentially damaging risks that make it onto the page, or big screen.  The depiction in pop culture makes a lot of sense – it is a shared experience by the viewing public, everyone was a teenager once, and it is “fun” for adults to observe these behaviors, tsk tsk at “kids today”, and miss the bigger picture entirely.

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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.