The End of the Season: Camp Directors Look Forward, Back

It has been two weeks since Mark Lipof, founder, co-owner and director of Camp Micah, said good-bye to 296 youngsters on the last day of camp. Lipof founded Camp Micah, a co-ed Jewish camp located in Bridgton, in 2001. Since then, hundreds of campers have descended on the shores of Peabody Pond each summer.

When the season is over, Lipof says, “I don’t get an after-summer lull.”

“If it’s good, and it went well, I’m really happy,” he says. A “good summer,” Lipoff says, means “people grew, staff and kids learned.”

“That makes me feel very good. And then I start over for next summer.”

Before that planning for next summer went into high gear, however, Lipof opened the doors of Camp Micah to 150 youngsters who belong to the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club. For the past 13 years, the Club has collaborated with Camp Micah and the Mark Wahlberg Foundation to offer Camp Northbound. The co-ed camp, for a tuition cost of $25, offers kids a week of camp activities. Lipof says he keeps 50 staff members on board, and another 25 come with the kids.

Lipof’s 2019 planning begins in earnest in early September, he says, when registration opens.

At Friends Camp, in China, Director Anna Hopkins says her first post-camp activities will include following up with parents and sending mail to each camper who attended this summer.

“I feel all warm and fuzzy at the end of the summer,” Hopkins says. “We had a great summer.” At the same time, Hopkins says getting a good night’s sleep – “knowing I’m not responsible for kids at that moment” – can be a good feeling.

Not that Hopkins’ work is done. As she starts to think about next summer, she is also hosting rental groups at the camp facility. School groups, Quaker groups, as well as a group from Wellesley College, will also take advantage of the Friends Camp site on China Lake. Hopkins said the camp will also host Common Ground Fair attendees, offering “beds, dinner and breakfast.”

Hopkins says 428 youngsters attended Friends Camp in 2018, more than 50 percent of whom were from Maine. From “bustling” with campers and staff, Hopkins’ fall will be a different sort of busy.  As the camp’s only year-round employee, however, she says she can work where she chooses. As fall turns into winter, she says she will leave China and may spend some time on the West Coast as wears all the hats demanded of planning for 2019.

Beigette Gill owns and directs Fernwood Cove, a girls’ camp in Harrison, ME with her husband, Jim.  Beigette says with the end of camp comes a sense of relief, stemming from the knowledge that girls had “such a successful summer, discovering a little better version of themselves.” Each session ended with a visiting day, Beigette says, which offered closure as well as a helpful opportunity to hear helpful feedback from parents.

The camp hosted 200 girls during its first session, and 180 during its second.  Upon the departure of those 180 girls, Fernwood Cove staff turned its attention to a 20th summer reunion and celebration of camp. The camp catered the annual meeting of the Lakes Environmental Association – and then comes wedding season, Beigette says. The camp is also site of Boxberry School, a private non-profit K-6 school. Along with her other tasks, Beigette said she was greeting teachers arriving to prepare for their own youngsters.

All of this activity helps with the transition from the pace of camp, Beigette says. “It’s easier to stay busy.”

Construction of a new Fernwood Cove dining hall begins later this fall, there are tours to offer for 2019 weddings, and a camp garden to harvest.  It’s a different kind of busy, but Beigette Gill isn’t complaining.  And while her days are still full, there is one advantage to the end of the season.

“I’m taking more swims.”

Kristine Millard

About Kristine Millard

Kristine Snow Millard is a free-lance writer from Portland and a fan of all things summer, including camp. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s degree (communications) and a law degree from Boston University, and, most recently, earned an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. She is currently helping to edit The Art of Outdoor Living, a guidebook used for Junior Maine Guide candidates, and is a regular contributor to the Maine Summer Camps newsletter. She has also contributed to the American Camp Association New England newsletter. Kris has written regularly for Maine Women and My Generation, both publications of Current Publishing. She has written features for the Maine Sunday Telegram, and is also a free-lance grant writer. A parent, she is also deeply committed to the subject of emotional wellness, and has seen how camp can foster whole and healthy kids. She is working on a memoir about living with clinical depression, and an essay she has written on that topic is forthcoming in an anthology to be published by Talking Writing, an on-line literary magazine.