88 Wavus Point Rd, Jefferson, Maine
Just four miles north of its brother camp, Kieve (but a thirty-minute drive—it’s on the other side of the lake), Wavus won the location lottery, occupying a two-mile peninsula on the shore of Damariscotta Lake. Summer can be spent fully submerged in water, whether that means afternoon swims or zip-lining straight into the lake. But there’s plenty of activity on land, too: archery, riflery, an obstacle course, pottery, and improv theater. The packed itinerary and open community provide a safe space for girls to run wild. Summer highlights? Wilderness trips, ranging from one-day overnights spent canoeing and backpacking to a twenty-one-day trek on the Appalachian Trail. (Campers are sorted by age and experience.) Girls leave their three-week session with dirt under their nails and confidence in their hearts, which is why many adopt Wavus as a second home, returning as campers and counselors year after year. Campers are ages eight to seventeen years old, but if you think they’re ready for it, Junior Wavus offers a ten-day session for girls in grades two to four.
42 I42, Nobleboro, Maine
The Celtic verb “kieve” sums up the notion of working hard to improve knowledge and moral character. And that’s exactly what to expect on the shore of Damariscotta Lake, where a tight-knit brotherhood has been forming since 1926. This is old-school camp: flag raise at sunrise, morning chores, intramural sports, rustic cabins, and afternoon swims at the lake. The mix of breathtaking wilderness—Nobleboro, Maine is all mountains, rivers, and lakes—and inspiring male mentorship lays the foundation for boys to become curious and compassionate men. Competition is consciously downplayed (the focus is team-building, not ego-building) but on thirteen-day wilderness trips to mountain ranges and river rapids, campers find untapped determination, resilience, and courage. The camp offers two twenty-six-day sessions each summer for boys ages eight to seventeen, and two ten-day junior sessions for boys in grades two to four. For girls, Kieve’s sister camp, Wavus, is just a thirty-minute drive away
Salt Water Farm
Salt Water Farm Rd., Lincolnville
At her farm on the Maine coast, Annemarie Ahrean takes a hands-on approach to instill resourcefulness in the kitchen, teaching you techniques to cook instinctually with what’s seasonally available.
1750 Bear Pond Rd., Hartford, Maine
Camp Wekeela's beautiful campus is on Little Bear Pond (which is actually not so little) in Hartford, Maine, and the staff-to-camper ratio is about one to two and a half. Kids partake in the typical camp land and water activities, but they also have the opportunity to strike out on weekly camping trips around New England, day hikes, whitewater rafting adventures, etc. Teen campers can also go on longer trips—like a surfing expedition along the coast or to cities like Boston and Montreal. Wekeela is open to kids ages seven to sixteen, and camp sessions range between two (for "rookie" campers) and seven weeks long.
Robin Hood Camp
70 Robin Hood Rd., Brooksville, Maine
There are a lot of great sleepaway camps in Maine. One thing that’s cool about Robin Hood, though, is that it’s both lake- and oceanside. So for kids who love to be in the water, it’s ideal. Their water activities include but are not limited to ocean yachting, sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, and even scuba diving. (Yes, it is still Maine—but kids twelve and up can register in advance to get scuba certified, which is pretty rad.) There are also plenty of land activities happening here, too, like golf, tennis, squash, and soccer, along with a big arts program that includes dance, drama, singing. Also worth noting: Campers are interviewed before being accepted to Robin Hood (to ensure a happy fit), and the camp is electronics-free. Sessions are two, four, or eight weeks long, for campers eight to fourteen years old.
New England Music Camp
8 Goldenrod Ln., Sidney, Maine
If you have a serious young musician (ages eleven to eighteen) in the family, there's Maine's New England Music Camp, which was founded in 1937 and requires a video audition. For a half or a full summer, campers receive daily one-on-one coaching and perform weekly at an outdoor amphitheater. Meals are enjoyed family-style in a lodge dining room. Note: This is an electronics-free camp.
19 Echo Lake Rd., Fayette, Maine
At Winnebago, all first-year campers under the age of twelve are assigned big brothers (usually fourteen- or fifteen-year-olds) a month and a half before camp. Some talk before camp, but regardless, upon arrival, these big brothers are the ones to show the new campers the ropes, making the transition all the smoother. The boys live in screened cabins and have 400 acres of forested land to enjoy off the shore of Maine's Echo Lake. Although there are nonathletic activities (writing for the camp newspaper, photography, acting) happening here, the athletic facilities are arguably the most impressive part of campus. The field house alone is 12,000 square feet and home to hockey, basketball, volleyball, and short court tennis courts, plus a rock climbing wall. Another highlight of camp: The overnight hiking and camping trips to some of the region's most picturesque places. It's for boys ages eight to fifteen, for either the full summer or half.
60 Takajo Rd., Naples, Maine
Camp Takajo is another traditional Maine camp with some serious staying power. Founded in 1947, the current owner started coming to Takajo when he was just nine years old. When you enter camp, you’ll pass through the Takajo Arch, a wood log structure where the Arch Ideals are posted on horizontal wood boards: integrity, sportsmanship, courage, faith, and so on. They have all the athletic games you’d expect along with fun “pioneering” options (backpacking, white-water rafting, camping trips) and specialty “hobby” options (radio and electronics, journalism, digital photography, nature study). It’s a full-summer camp for boys ages seven to fifteen, and they also host a father-son weekend at the close of the season.
1218 Pond Rd., Mount Vernon, Maine
Divided into six campuses—three for girls, three for boys—with names like Kennebago, Acadia, and Sequoia, Camp Laurel welcomes 240 girls and 240 boys between the ages of seven and fifteen to its Maine campus every summer. Camp life here is what you think of when you think of a storied Maine sleepaway camp (Laurel was founded in 1949, although originally in another location). After wake-up and breakfast, there’s a campus-wide meeting, called Cove. Then cabin cleanup, three morning activities, lunch, and rest, followed by a few more activity periods. After dinner every night, there’s some kind of programming—theater productions, sports leagues, group games—and an evening snack. And every fifth day is “special event day,” which is sometimes a trip off-campus. Laurel is a full-summer camp only.
Hidden Valley Camp
161 Hidden Valley Rd., Freedom, Maine
You won’t see any uniforms or color wars happening at Hidden Valley Camp. Run by the same husband and wife since 1988 (and founded by another couple in 1948), Hidden Valley has a decidedly nice vibe. Each camper’s program is tailored to his or her own interests—whether that be playing the guitar, caring for llamas (which reside at Hidden Valley's farm, along with donkeys, rabbits, ducklings, and more), dancing, hiking, or biking. The camp, which is situated on 350 acres in Maine, is open to kids from eight to fourteen years old, for four- or eight-week stays, as well as a two-week “introductory” session, which can be a good option for a first-time camper.
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