FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT FRIENDS CAMP
What makes Friends Camp a unique and special experience for young people?
We offer a wonderful blend of create activities and zany fun in a caring community. We consider it very important that the campers have ownership in the running of the camp through the establishment of cabin rules, speaking at community meetings, working together to keep the camp clean, and having the opportunity to share from the heart about important things in their lives.
When is the right age to send my child to camp?
The simple answer is: when both parents and child are ready. To give you an idea of when your child is ready, you can see how she or he does during an overnight visit at the home of family or friends. You can also ask yourself, “How well does my child adjust to new situations like day care or school, or day camp? Some children need a little encouragement to take the step toward attending an overnight camp. To make this step easier, please consider visiting Friends Camp.
What are the qualifications of your counselors and what is the ratio of counselors to campers?
Each of our staff members is carefully selected and screened. They must have completed one year of college before becoming a counselor. Our waterfront, drama, arts, and health hut counselors have additional training and/or certifications. Each summer we hire one counselor for every five campers.
What are the Cabins like?
All of cabins at Friends Camp have bunk beds, electricity, screens, and “yes” some camper graffiti on the walls. Our smaller cabins house one counselor and seven campers. Our larger cabins house one or two counselors and 7 to 10 campers. We have two centrally located bathhouses with hot and cold running water, toilets, sinks and individual shower stalls.
What is the food like?
Our tasty meals are served buffet style. We offer vegetarian options at each meal. Our breakfasts include fruit and cereal in addition to traditional morning fare, such as eggs and pancakes. Our lunch and dinner meals are complemented by a full salad bar. Friends Camp has a long history of offering quality, healthy food that keeps the campers coming back for more.
Can you tell me more about how you will keep my child safe at Friends Camp?
We believe that appropriate supervision and enforcement of a few important rules are the key factors in maintaining a safe camp. We offer very few activities that have any element of risk. We have a very safe waterfront area with five trained lifeguards and clear safety rules. We look to all campers to set a tone of safety, respect for rules and kindness to each other. We also use our daily business meeting and cabin meetings as teaching moments about how we can best interact among ourselves to maintain a caring and safe community.
May we visit our child during the camp session?
Our sessions are only two weeks long and are full of activities, so parents and family members and friends are asked to refrain from visiting or calling. You may visit Friends Camp during our spring Open House on the third Sunday in May from noon to 4 PM. You are also welcome to have a special tour of the camp. Please call the director to set a date and time for a visit.
What sort of medical facilities do you have at Friends Camp?
Our newly renovated Health Hut is staffed with a part-time registered nurse and by our paraprofessional staff of Wilderness First Responders and/or EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technician). A local physician is also on call for consultation and treatment. Local ambulance and paramedics are just 3.5 miles from camp and the nearest hospital in Waterville is only 14 miles away.
Does our child have access to computers, electronic games or TV at Friends Camp?
Except for a movie or two, campers have no access to the electronic world of cell phones, e-mail, video games, and television.
What happens in the evenings?
Most evening activities involve the whole camp. The evening programs include: group games, singing, variety shows, dances, skits, and a closing campfire.
Do you have off-camp trips or an outdoor camping program?
We do take campers on fields trips and short day hikes, but during our regular sessions we do not do overnight wilderness camping. Once each session we give campers the opportunity to sleep out under the stars on one of the islands in China Lake. We are now offering two Outdoor Experience Camps in June and July. These camps are designed to introduce and teach young people about the fun and the challenges involved with living in the woods.
How are the boys and girls grouped?
Boys and Girls have separate cabins and bathrooms, but all activities are co-ed. We do not have a dress code, but clothing with inappropriate messages or clothing that is overly revealing is not encouraged.
How do you deal with homesickness?
Camp counselors have a variety of skills to engage your child with interesting activities and help them connect with other campers; new friendships will develop during the first few days of a camp session. Counselors will always listen carefully to homesick children and comfort them. We hope that parents and campers will write letters to each other by snail mail or by e-mail. Phone calls to campers, however, are discouraged.
How can we communicate with our child?
Parents should send at least two letters and/or e-mails to their children. To send an e-mail or fax to your child, please note your child’s full name and the cabin name in the subject line. i.e., Anna McLeod-Murphy – Loon Cabin. You can send e-mails to FriendsCamper@gmail.com . Campers are encouraged to send letters home. Phone calls to and from home are not allowed. If you have a question or concern about your child, please call or e-mail the camp director. If a camper is staying at Friends Camp for more than one two-week session they can make a call home between the sessions.
How are campers assigned to cabins?
Children are grouped in cabins by what we call “family grouping” so that youth of different ages are in each cabin. We also mix new and former campers in each cabin group. Please do not request that your son or daughter be put in the same cabin with a friend. Friends Camp is about making new friends, so being in the same cabin is not critical because your child will have lots of time to spend with their friends from home during day.
Tell us about your counselors?
Each summer we hire or rehire about twenty-five interesting and thoughtful young adults to work at Friends Camp. The counselors range in age from 19 to 27 years old. They mostly come from colleges in the northeast; we also have two or three international counselors each year. We screen our counselors with extensive application questions, an interview, three references, and a background check of state and national sex offender registries. The screening and training of our staff continues throughout the summer with; daily staff meetings, enforcement of child safety guidelines, supervision, and observations.
How will our child choose camp activities?
There are four regular activity days for each week of camp. For each week at camp your child will be able select an activity from eight to ten creative options that are offered. In the afternoon they will have waterfront time for swimming, canoeing, sailing, ping-pong, volleyball, badminton, tetherball, reading, and hang-out time with friends. In the late afternoon the campers get to pick one of several elective activities that are offered.
We are not Quakers – would our child be welcome at Friends Camp?
We welcome all youth at Friends Camp. Quakers or Friends, have a long history of offering excellent Quaker camps and schools to the wider public. The Friends Camp experience offers young people a loving community without doctrine or religious rituals. The majority of youth that attend Friends Camp come from Protestant, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, or Catholic backgrounds, and from families with no formal religious connections.
What do campers say about Friends Camp?
From a letter home: “I am having an awesome time. My cabin is great and my counselors are the best.” - Brenna
“Friends Camp helped me realize at an early age that being different is beautiful” - Nina
From a camper who did not want to come to camp “I’m having so much fun, I’ll probably leave out the best parts” - Max
What do parents say about Friends Camp?
“My child came back very much enriched by the experience” - Parent
“I am grateful for a wonderful camp where my daughter gets to live Quaker values every day” – Parent
“Our son was very resistant, did not want to go to camp and once we got there, he did not want to stay after we left. We were worried that he would be miserable. We were extremely happy to hear that camp was fun (except for the island trip) and that he definitely wants to return next year. He made lots of new friends and he enjoyed learning about silk screening.” - A Camper Mom
“Every year for seven years our daughter has cried when camp ended. The inner peace, special friends, and enlarged sense of self, all supported by gentle Quaker wisdom have demonstrated the rich experience she has received at Friends Camp.” - Parent
“She returned home relaxed and thoughtful, already talking about returning to camp next summer” - Parent
“We would like to thank you for providing such a positive and enriching camp experience. Our daughter had a fantastic time! But more than that, she came away feeling more confident in herself and proud of her accomplishments. She believed that people “accepted me the way I am”. What a major feat for a girl that has always struggled mightily in social situations! Because she felt successful and supported, we plan to send her back next year and hopefully, one of her siblings as well. Thanks again for your efforts and hard work.” - Parent
Does religious education happen at Friends Camp?
Quakers teach tolerance and respect of all faiths. Quaker camps offer a values-centered environment based on equality, truth, simplicity, community, harmony, and peace. It is these values that guide the actions and decisions of the counselors and the campers at Friends Camp. There is no preaching or proselytizing. In following the Quaker tradition of worship, we do observe a daily 20 minutes of silence as time for reflection.
What do Quakers believe?
The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, believe that there is that of God in every person and we often refer to God as the Light within everyone. Quakers strive to live their testimonies of equality, peace, integrity, simplicity, and community. Quaker worship is one of silent waiting for the Inner Spirit to offer guidance. Because of some confusion about Quakers, it is important to note that Quakers are not Amish, Pennsylvania Dutch, Anabaptists, Shakers or Puritans. Quakers do not dress like the man on the box of oats anymore, and they hardly ever call people "thee." For more information about Quakers please ask our director or visit these informative web pages: www.quakerinfo.org or www.neym.org.
Will a gay/lesbian teenager or a child coming from a gay or lesbian family feel welcome at Friends Camp?
We do everything possible to make Friends Camp a welcoming place for all gay and lesbian youth. We do not tolerate bullying or any kind of hate speech. We are open to talking about homophobia and dealing with issues of homophobia when they come up at camp.
My child has a learning or social eccentricity. Would he or she fit into life at Friends Camp?
Our camp does not specialize in one type of camper and we do not have counselors that are trained to deal with children who have a high level of problems or complex social issues. Each session, we welcome a few youth who sometimes find it hard to fit into the traditional classroom and/or the social scene outside of school. We are a tolerant community that looks for the light of goodness in each person and we are very proud of our campers’ ability to love and care for each other. If you have any questions about how your child would fit into camp life please call our director.
How do we get to Friends Camp?
From Portland on Interstate 295 to Interstate 95 take the third Augusta Exit #113 across the Kennebec River Bridge to Route 202 North and Route 3 East. Drive for 14 miles to South China. Go through the blinking light in South China and at the next left follow Route 202 (Lakeview Drive). From the Route 3 turn-off the Friends Camp driveway is 3.5 miles on the right.
If you are traveling south from Bangor on Interstate 95 take Exit 127 onto Route 137 (Kennedy Memorial Drive) into Waterville. Go about a mile and half and turn right after you have crossed over a small bridge. Travel 2.2 miles and turn right, then go 6.1 miles to the light at China Village. Go straight at the blinking yellow light. You are now on Route 202. From the blinking light drive 3.5 miles toward South China on Route 202. Friends Camp is on your left.
We would like to talk to parents who have sent their child to Friends Camp. Can you share some names and phone numbers with us?
We have a reference list we can mail to you, or you can find it on our web page here
Would you like to know more about Friends Camp?
Please call or e-mail our Director, Nat Shed, at 207-873-3499 – firstname.lastname@example.org