Alford Lake Camp
258 Alford Lake Rd., Hope
At Alford Lake Camp in Maine, which has been running for almost 110 years, traditions are queen. Campers stay in Alford Lake's signature white canvas tents, every Sunday night campers share their "logs" (or journal entries) with one another, showers are three minutes long, campfires happen on Friday nights, and there's a camp-wide song contest each summer. Camp is open to girls from second to ninth grade, for four weeks or the full summer. Plus, Alford Lake hosts "global challenge trips," which can be coed, to places like Nova Scotia and the Alps, designed for returning campers who are completing eighth, ninth, or tenth grade.
1218 Pond Rd., Mount Vernon
Divided into 6 campuses—3 for girls, 3 for boys—with names like Kennebago, Acadia, and Sequoia, Camp Laurel welcomes 240 girls and 240 boys between the ages of 7 and 15 to it’s 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 clean-up, 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, sport 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.
60 Takajo Rd., Naples
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 age 7 to 15, and they also host a father-son weekend at the close of the season.
1750 Bear Pond Rd., Hartford
Camp Wekeela's beautiful campus is on Little Bear Pond (which is actually not so little) in Hartford, Maine, where the staff/camper ratio is about 1 to 2.5. 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 age 7 to 16, and camp sessions range between 2 (for "rookie" campers) and 7 weeks long.
19 Echo Lake Rd., Fayette
At Winnebago, all first-year campers under the age of 12 are assigned big brothers (usually 14 or 15-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 them the ropes, and make the transition all the smoother. The boys live in screened cabins and have 400 acres of forest land to enjoy off the shore of Maine's Echo Lake. Although there are non-athletic 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 8 to 15, for either the full summer or half.
Hidden Valley Camp
161 Hidden Valley Rd., Freedom
You won’t see any uniforms or color wars happening at Hidden Valley Camp. Run by the same husband-and-wife duo 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, or hiking and biking. The camp, which is situated on 350 acres in Maine, is open to kids from 8 to 14 years old, for 4- and 8-week stays, as well as a 2-week “introductory” session, which can be a good option for a first-time camper.
New England Music Camp
8 Goldenrod Ln., Sidney
If you have a serious young musician (ages 11 to 18) in the family, there's Maine's New England Music Camp, which was founded in 1937 and requires a video audition. For 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 electronic-free camp.
Robin Hood Camp
70 Robin Hood Rd., Brooksville
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 ocean-side. So for kids that 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 12-year-olds 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 2-, 4-, or 8-weeks long, for campers 8 to 14 years old.
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