Guitar class over Zoom! Earlier in July, we ventured into the world of at-home camp, and hosted a two-week, virtual and remote session called Everybody Camp! Over 200 families registered, and over 500 participants logged on from around the world to share in our camp community. We began each morning with a Courier Pigeon email that included announcements, the day's schedule, a gratitude to someone in our community, a suggested do-at-home offline activity, and a video message from someone in our community. Throughout the day, campers and families chose from many avenues of engagement that allowed folks to opt into how much screen-time felt best. In the early half of the day, campers played Dungeons and Dragons, learned guitar, sculpted masks, practiced camp leadership, danced, and even baked treats during programs run by Friends Camp staff members who Zoom-ed in from across the country. Families chose from 19 programs (and some chose to do many!) including two programs for adults! In the afternoon, campers of all ages could join in on electives which asked them to be silly, creative, thoughtful, reflective, and more. Over the course of the session, families participated in seven Evening Programs that brought some of our camp traditions home including the soiree, game night, and the variety show. Everybody Camp also offered folks the opportunity to engage offline, on their own time through do-along activities like making postcards and favorite camp recipes. We didn’t know what to expect when we decided to try Everybody Camp: would it feel like camp? would we feel connected? would it be fun? Thanks to the energy of the staff and the infectious smiles of the campers, each day provided optimism and light, reminding us all [...]
Letter to the Community, Monday, May 4th, 2020 Dear Friends Camp Community, With great sadness, we are writing to share that our youth sessions (Jones, Mott, Rustin, and Fell) have been cancelled for 2020. For the last few months, the Friends Camp staff and committee have been working hard to imagine how we could make camp work this summer. Last week, Governor Mills rolled out guidelines for the phased re-opening of Maine, including camps. These guidelines prohibit any overnight camp from opening before July 1 and, after July 1, allow a maximum group size of 50 and require a 14-day quarantine for anyone traveling from out of state. With these restrictions and the social distancing, healthcare monitoring, and sanitation procedures necessary during a pandemic, it has become clear that we will not be able to host camp sessions as we planned this summer. Since 1953, campers and staff have gathered to create a community built in love, belonging, and joy. Some of our favorite moments each summer are those where we are close together, shoulder-to-shoulder around a campfire, in calm silence at Vespers, and cheering each other on at the variety show. Simple times like lunchtime and rest hour even take on a special glow at camp. We will miss sharing these moments together in the coming months. Friends Camp is a haven of fun and silliness, and it is also a place of enormous growth, belonging, and community for our youth. Losing a year of camp is a big deal to our campers and to their families. Click here to see a video from our camp director for campers, acknowledging some feelings campers may be having. We will be in touch shortly by email with [...]
Sometimes you just need a break– from school, from your job, from your friends and family. Two years ago, exhausted and stressed out from a busy year, it was time to switch up my routine. Working in the Friends Camp kitchen was not a break in the traditional sense. I spent long hours on my feet, slowly wearing away at the soles of my clogs. Every morning I rose early, pulling on a dirty sweatshirt and stumbling into a quiet kitchen while the rest of camp slept. I finished out each day emptying trash cans and scrubbing countertops. It was hard work. But camp was still the break I craved. After years spent building my resume in the hectic world of political campaigns, I learned to approach work differently. Sometimes the political world can teach sly manipulation and encourage getting ahead at all costs. Until my first summer in South China, I had never been part of a community of people so committed to each other and so solely focused on creating a positive space. Friends Camp gave me a perspective I desperately needed. I reveled in the magic of the little things: a cooling midday swim in the lake, a round of knockout won on the basketball court, an imperfectly executed variety show routine. I laughed until my stomach ached and my jaw became sore. I cried at meetings for worship and fire circle messages. We prepared ridiculous amounts of pizza on Friday nights and felt an immense amount of pride when we finally mastered the newest friendship bracelet technique. Scrubbing pots and pans became an activity that couldn’t be completed without a shared smile and a dance party. For two summers, I lived [...]
When we remember being at camp this past summer, it can be easy to remember the ways you grew or changed and the way you felt when you were at camp. Sometimes we forget the little moments of joy and laughter that happen along the way. We collected clips (about one second each day) and put them together into one video to help us remember those little moments. Check it out, and share! https://youtu.be/SVkJ_ilNCSI
This summer we welcomed the inaugural group of Rising Leaders, counselors in training who joined us during Jones session. The Rising Leaders were guided by returning staff member Danny Raeder as the Rising Leader Shepard. Danny shares more about the program below: The program was designed with the intention of both creating space to honor the growth that campers do here, by allowing for them to step into the role of steward-leader, as well as giving a glimpse into the work we as staff do to create magic here at camp. Particularly, we wanted Rising Leaders to be able to learn more about Quaker leadership, experience working with our youngest campers, and most importantly find their own strengths as a leader with guidance and support."Every summer brings new songs, new friends, and new traditions here at Friends Camp, but this year we had a whole new way to engage camp with the introduction of our Rising Leader program! Eight young leaders in their final year of camp had the opportunity to come during Jones, our youngest session, to see what goes into being a staff member and what leadership means in the Friends Camp community. As a cohort, the Leaders had daily conversations about leadership and the process of creating a camp experience. These morning sessions were largely discussion based, co-led by the Leaders and myself, as well as guest speakers like Nia Thomas, the New England Yearly Meeting's Quaker Practice and Leadership Facilitator, and our very own Anna Hopkins. The Leaders also used this time to brainstorm and plan elective activities for campers that they independently led each afternoon. Additionally, living in the cabins with campers and a mentor counselor, Leaders became an integral part in the creation of the small cabin-family communities that are the building blocks of [...]
Maybe you’re starting school again and missing camp- missing the great friends you made, the fun and games, the supportive and accepting community, the hugs, the songs, the connection to something bigger that maybe you felt during vespers or morning worship. What if you could have all of that, during the school year? More about JYM (elementary school) More about JHYM (middle school) Schedules for JYM and JHYM More about Young Friends (high school) Young Friends Retreat Schedule 🌟Scroll to the bottom of this page to watch a video about Young Friends! We want to invite campers who are interested in diving a little deeper into Quaker community to try out attending Quaker youth retreats. These are weekend-long gatherings where communities of youth gather with their peers and adult staff to laugh, learn, play, explore their spirituality, and try on Quaker practices. Retreats take place in meetinghouses (Quaker houses of worship) all over New England, with 4-5 retreats per year for each program. There are three Quaker youth programs: Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM) for elementary school-aged youth, Junior High Yearly Meeting (JHYM) for middle schoolers, and Young Friends for high schoolers. Each program is a little different from the others, but they all center around Quaker values of lifting up the light in every child, building community based in love, equity, and inclusivity, and giving youth a safe space to grow in their spiritual journey and connect authentically with one another. Retreats begin on Friday evening and end after meeting for worship on Sunday around noon. We sleep on the floor in sleeping bags, eat delicious home-cooked meals together, and all pitch in with chores. Each retreat has an age-appropriate theme that allows youth to [...]
Common Ground Fair is a wonderful organic agricultural fair in Maine! We would love to have you stay over at Friends Camp to make your trip to the fair easier, more fun, and more social. Learn more here!
Your Meeting’s Gift to Friends Camp Inspires the Next Generation of Quakers: In 2019, over 400 different campers at Friends Camp will be loved for exactly who they are and honored for the Light of God within them. Campers who might be one of the only young people in their Monthly Meeting get to meet other young Quakers at Friends Camp. Campers help lead daily Business Meeting and learn the ways of group decision making while living in authentic community. Young people who didn’t know about Quakerism before camp are more likely to attend a local Meeting for Worship after learning about Quakerism through Friends Camp—whether this happens when they are 17 or 37. Campers participate in un-programmed Quaker Worship twice each day, once in the morning and once in an evening “Vespers.” Everyone deserves a chance to go to Friends Camp, not just those who can afford it without help. Your gift makes Friends Camp possible for families with low incomes! Campers and staff at Friends Camp engage in programming around racial justice and other movements inspired by the idea that all people are equal in the eyes of God. Young adult staff members learn about Quaker leadership through clerking staff meetings, seeking Truth together, and feeling empowered by giving back to their community. What other reasons would your Meeting add? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the conversation!
Did you know that camp directors attend conferences with other camp directors in order to become even better at camp directing?! It's true! This winter season, Friends Camp Director Anna attended the CampMinder Conference in Boulder, CO, conferences with the American Camp Association in New Jersey and New Hampshire, and even helped facilitate conferences in Michigan and Florida with The Summer Camp Society. At the Tri-State Camp conference (the biggest gathering of camp pros in the world) in March, three additional camp staff joined Anna. Abby, our Meetinghouse/ arts & crafts director for 2019, traveled from Rochester to attend. Danny, who is helping to design and implement our new Counselor-in-Training program, drove over from Philly to be there, and Malcolm, our watercraft director this upcoming summer spent his spring break from college with us at the conference! Read Abby's reflections on the conference below. Reflection by Abby Hoover on the Tri-State Camp Conference Recently I was on spring break from school and during that time I attended the Tristate Camp Conference in Atlantic City with Anna, Danny, and Malcolm. For the three days I was at the conference I attended sessions on diversity, gender inclusion, different camp activities, went to a meet and greet for other LGBTQ+ camp professionals, heard a talk from Sir Ken Robinson about finding your passion, and made meaningful connections with other camp staff! One thing that stuck out to me during the sessions I attended was everyone’s desire to examine their camps’ practices and make intentional changes when it comes to gender, racial, and neurodiversity inclusion. I was able to speak to other camps’ staff about Friends Camp’s experience with gender expansive practices and also get new insight into how to be more inclusive and welcoming. Through [...]
Last summer, we tested out a new gender-expansive cabin option at Friends Camp in addition to our girls’ and boys’ cabins. As a Quaker camp, we affirm our campers and families of all identities—this means we work hard to affirm every camper for who they are when it comes to family background, racial identity, religious beliefs, gender identity, and more. After the successful implementation of this option in 2018, we will be offering a gender-expansive cabin option whenever there is enough interest going forward. We are proud to be a camp for kids of all genders, where campers are free to make platonic friendships with others regardless of gender. At the same time, we value the opportunity for single-gender spaces, especially with our teens. Our young adult counselors are well-positioned to be role models and provide guidance to campers who are developing their identities as young people. To be with others experiencing similar challenges and joys around growing up can be an important factor in youth development. We value our girls’ and boys’ cabins and do not plan to eliminate this element of our program. While we value single-gender experiences in our cabins at camp, some of our campers identify differently than “boy” or “girl.” In order to offer a gender-identity affirming experience for all campers, we will offer a cabin for campers who identify outside the gender binary where they can be with campers and staff members who also identify outside the binary. Some campers might describe their identity as “non-binary,” others might use terms such as “a-gender,” “gender-non-conforming,” or “genderqueer.” An umbrella term used by many engaged in our society’s work for gender justice and inclusion is “gender-expansive.” We hope that by offering a gender-expansive cabin option, campers who are often targeted by misunderstanding [...]