Have you noticed subtle pleasant but odd changes since your children returned from summer camp? Have you peeked into your son’s room and noticed that he made his bed? Were you tempted to take your daughter’s temperature the other night because she volunteered to clean up her room? Maybe they just seem calmer or are better about sticking to routines about which you went hoarse more than once preaching to them before you put them on that bus or plane headed to their favorite summer zip code. Perhaps they’re better about saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ or spend less time all out at war with each other over little things like the remote control and whether they’re going to watch The Voice or Modern Family. Did they really mature that much at summer camp?
Not that you’re complaining. It’s a nice, unexpected bonus. When you initially enrolled them for camp, you were thinking it would be good for them to spend their summer working on arts and crafts projects, learning how to sail, going swimming, doing the silly things that kids do at camp, and playing sports instead of using up your entire cell phone data plan during twelve hour texting marathons or playing the Kinect so much that you can no longer tell whether you’re watching a video game or an actual television program. You thought, ‘Maybe they’ll even make a few new friends.’ But, oddly, it’s the smaller things they seem to be bringing away from their summer camp experiences that you find yourself enjoying the most.
Sure, you read all about the benefits of sending children to summer camp before you decided to send them. But you didn’t allow yourself to actually have expectations that your children would come home friendlier, more dutiful, more flexible, able to manage their time better, and generally happier–in short, more mature. Those are the special changes that you enjoy seeing and that make summer camp that much more valuable your eyes.
It’s easy to think, when you leave Maine at the end of the camp season, that nothing happens there the rest of the year. Waterskiing, sailing, lacrosse – it’s all over.
Yet the state is a year-round sports haven. And nothing says “Maine” more than winter sports.
There are nearly two dozen ski resorts in the Pine Tree State. Sugarloaf and Sunday River may be the best known, but there’s a mountain for every ability – with your choice of downhill, snowboarding or tubing – throughout Maine. Many high schools sponsor ski teams too, but not restricted to alpine skiing. X-Country is a staple at many schools! Pretty unique – lettering for 4 years on your HS X-Country Ski Team.
The big spectator sport is hockey. The University of Maine men’s team is a national powerhouse. But nearly every town has its own rink, so there are great hockey games everywhere from the coast to the Canadian border. Ice fishing is big. Cutting a hole in the middle of a lake sounds like an acquired taste. But add a bunch of friends, amenities like a heated cabin, and competitive “ice fishing derbies” – a winter staple – and the result is a truly impressive way to spend a beautiful winter day.
Last year, Camden played host to the U.S. National Toboggan Championship. Two-, three- and four-person sleds raced down America’s only 400-foot wooden chute.
And in 2010, the World Biathlon Championships came to Presque Isle and Fort Kent. The competition – combining cross country skiing and rifle shooting – rivaled the 1965 Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston heavyweight championship fight as one of the biggest sports events in Maine history. An estimated 120 million Europeans watched the televised races.
Maine also hosts a 100-mile sled dog race – one of the top such events this side of Alaska.
It’s easy to think that when the buses pulls away in August, the state goes to sleep.
But as any Mainer can tell you, winter sports are an important part of the fabric of the state!
Raise your hand if this sounds familiar… Your child comes to you and says, for what seems like the billionth time, “Ask me more about camp.” It’s now December and you’ve heard some of the stories so many times that you can actually recite them along with her. You wonder what odd but amusing little story your little one has managed to scour from the back of her mind that somehow involves the solitary five minutes of summer camp about which you haven’t yet heard. While you’re doing this, your child only grows more impatient, “Go ahead. Ask me,” this time becoming so excited that she hops up and down a couple of times and appears to be choreographing her own little “ask me more about camp” dance, which somewhat tops the bemusement of the time she sang for you to ask.
You can’t resist her enthusiasm because you think it’s great to see her this excited about anything other than the latest episode of iCarly, so you cave and wait for her mile-a-minute relay of some cute story about that time she held hands with six friends and they all jumped off the water trampoline and made a really big splash, which was really funny because it made so many waves that it almost tipped over a paddleboarder nearby…No, really it was SO funny! Or the time they went on the nature walk, and it started raining, and they were trying to hurry back to camp, but they slipped in the mud…THAT was the funniest! You’re still trying to get the stains out of the shirt she was wearing that day, but you get an image in your head, having seen the photographs of your child and her friends covered in mud the camp posted on its website, and knew from the ear-to-ear grin that she was obviously having the time of her life, and you have to chuckle because, yes, it’s funny.
Your child starts a new story about a soccer game and how her friend had really wanted to score a goal all summer at camp but really wasn’t that good at soccer, so she blocked another player so the friend could try to score. And you realize that even though you might get asked to quiz her about camp a few hundred more times before the line turns into “I can’t wait to go back!” you don’t mind because you realize that hearing about little moments like this is nice. Not only did your child just have the time of her life, her enthusiasm in sharing her experiences with you adds great value to your decision to send her to camp because not only is she having fun but she’s learning valuable life lessons.