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Summer Camps

This slideshow contains 22 items
1
Lanier Camp, Eliot, ca. 1910

Lanier Camp, Eliot, ca. 1910

Item 9884 info
Maine Historical Society

The names of camps throughout Maine and elsewhere often provide a clue to the relationship of camping and ideas about Native Americans.

Many early camps were based on the idea that overcoming the ills of contemporary society (urban and industrial problems) required helping youths experience a more "primitive life."

Lanier Camp in Eliot identified American Indian life as the first of three stages that children or adults needed to understand before reaching the highest level of social organization (farm and home).

The "primitive community" was expected to awaken a sense of individual powers, which later would be developed into a sense of community.


2
Camp Winnebago truck 1940

Camp Winnebago truck 1940

Item 7415 info
Camp Winnebago

For the thousands of youths who attended 90-day -- or summer-long -- camps, getting to rural Maine with a summer's worth of gear was the first challenge.

Boys on their way to Camp Winnebago on Echo Lake in Fayette often traveled by train on special cars identified by flags set up on the platform. Once they arrived in Maine, the boys packed into the camp truck, which also was used for trips and other outings.

Camp Winnebago, founded in 1919, is now home to about 160 boys during the summer.


3
Rifle range at Cadet Camp, Harpswell, 1896

Rifle range at Cadet Camp, Harpswell, 1896

Item 7927 info
Maine Historical Society

Summer-long youth camps initially served as an escape from urban life and training in what was thought to be a more genuine "manhood" for boys from elite families.

But some Maine summer camps served other purposes. Here, cadets from Portland High School attended a different sort of camp. Boys learned military skills and discipline at Cadet Camp at High Head in Harpswell.


4
Summer Camp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summer Camp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Item 6593 info
Maine Historical Society

The lure of the Maine coast also drew students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Camp Technology, held in East Machias in about 1900.


5
Rosemary Cottage, Eliot, c. 1880

Rosemary Cottage, Eliot, c. 1880

Item 6190 info
Eliot Baha'i Archives

A Fresh Air movement sprang up in the 1870s, stressing health and morals and responding to changing social and economic realities in America. It spawned a number of camps that served underprivileged children, health-conscious adults, and many groups in between.

Hannah Shapleigh Farmer, a philanthropist and feminist, wanted unwed mothers and their children to escape from inner-city life and enjoy a healthy summer in Maine. In the 1880s, she opened Rosemary Cottage in Eliot for the women and their children.


6
Fresh air cottage, Eliot, c. 1900

Fresh air cottage, Eliot, c. 1900

Item 6472 info
Eliot Baha'i Archives

Eliot was one popular location for camps. Dr. Fillmore Moore operated Bungalow Camp, a health camp, there in the early 1900s He designed the fresh air cottages. The camp also served special meals aimed at the healthful rejuvenation of patrons.


7
Nutrition Camp, Casco, 1925

Nutrition Camp, Casco, 1925

Item 7692 info
Maine Historical Society

Malnourished children also became campers. Like more elite campers, they took advantage of the Maine weather and lakes for recreation. Their program featured good food as well as fresh air.

The Cumberland County Public Health Association held this nutrition camp in Casco during the summer of 1925.


8
Camping at Goodwill Pines, Clinton, 1911

Camping at Goodwill Pines, Clinton, 1911

Item 7458 info
L.C. Bates Museum / Good Will-Hinckley Homes

G. W. Hinckley, founder of the Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys and Girls, a home for orphans, believed in the benefits of camping for boys and in 1890 began taking Good Will boys summer camping.

He believed camping helped the needy boys become self-reliant. By the late 1890s, the Good Will program involved a month-long "Boys Encampment" in the Good Will Pines on the east side of the Kennebec River. The photograph is of the 1911 encampment.

Hinckley also called the camping program the "Boys Assembly." It included camping, speakers, sports, and natural history programs. Hundreds of visitors also traveled by train to Good Will to participate in these summer Assembly events.


9
The beach at nutrition camp, Casco, 1925

The beach at nutrition camp, Casco, 1925

Item 7697 info
Maine Historical Society

The 1920s and the 1950s were the peaks of summer-long youth camps. Both were post-war eras and the camps provided a stable environment in the midst of an unsettled society.

Campers were not just escaping, though. They learned about the outdoors, relationships, responsibility, and healthy moral values. Some camps had -- and still have -- more specific purposes, ranging from specific religious beliefs to ecology.


10
Girls playing basketball, Naples, ca. 1930

Girls playing basketball, Naples, ca. 1930

Item 6831 info
Maine Historical Society

The first girls camp, in 1892, offered girls one month at a boys' camp. Soon, camps were formed that were aimed at girls.

In 1902, three girls-only camps were in existence, including Camp Wyonegonic in Bridgton that advertised "freedom from enervating luxuries."

By 1940, forty-one all-summer camps for girls were in operation, many in the northeast.

Especially popular were sports activities. Healthful living, for girls as well as boys, included play and physical fitness.

By the second decade of the twentieth century, "primitive" living was on its way out at many camps, replaced by an emphasis on team play, sportsmanship, and loyalty.


11
Katharine Ridgeway Camp, Jefferson, ca. 1940s

Katharine Ridgeway Camp, Jefferson, ca. 1940s

Item 9869 info
Maine Historical Society

Katharine Ridgeway, the stage name of Katharine Hunt, a popular entertainer on the Chautauqua circuit, and Ella Harding Peffer, a vocalist whose husband ran the Redpath Chatauqua series, opened the Katharine Ridgeway Camp on Clary Lake in Jefferson.

The camp stressed the "physical, mental, moral, and social development" of the campers, ages seven to twenty-one.


12
Faculty at Camp Merryweather, North Belgrade, ca. 1920

Faculty at Camp Merryweather, North Belgrade, ca. 1920

Item 10083 info
Maine Historical Society

Camp Merryweather faculty pause for tea at the camp on Horse Point at Great Pond, North Belgrade. Henry (Skipper) Richards (1848-1949), front, center, director of Camp Merryweather in the early 1900s, poses with the "faculty," as counselors were called. The camp was primarily for boys -- many coming from Groton School in Massachusetts -- although one or two girls attended during the camp's early years.

The tea party in the woods suggests much about the style of the camp and the population to whom it appealed.


13
Senior Campers, Katharine Ridgeway Camp for Girls

Senior Campers, Katharine Ridgeway Camp for Girls

Item 9968 info
Maine Historical Society

An early camp brochure noted that "Health is the greatest purpose of camp life." Campers could learn to make wise use of their time, eat wholesome food, and enjoy good sanitation. The camp operated on Clary Lake in Jefferson from 1923 into the 1940s.

Because of the interests of the directors, dramatics played a big role in camp activities, although sports, crafts, music, and outdoor trips also were popular.

Campers wore uniforms at most camps until the 1940s. Girls' uniforms were the same at all camps: dark bloomers and sailor-style tops.


14
Archery at Camp Runoia, Belgrade Lakes, 1947

Archery at Camp Runoia, Belgrade Lakes, 1947

Item 10150 info
Camp Runoia

Archery remained a popular activity for girls, even though the outfits changed from the 1920s when the previous picture was taken to 1947 when campers at Camp Runoia posed for this photo.

The camp, founded in 1907 for girls ages 8 to 15, stresses building "life long skills." Like many summer camps, Runoia considers formation of lasting friendships an important benefit.

Campers are Molly Marble, Nan Hadley, Barbie Warren, and Katherine Anderson.


15
Lanier camper weaving

Lanier camper weaving

Item 9880 info
Maine Historical Society

"Living is the supreme art that all other arts should serve," Lanier Camp officials believed.

The camp Sidney Lanier Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Maude Masson Lanier ("Muzzie"), operated in Eliot beginning in 1908, stressed "responsibility as honor." College students served as counselors and played along with campers.

A full crafts program was part of the progression campers made from "primitive" or individualistic communities based on Native American life, to "tribal" or individualism within a group living based on American frontier life, and finally to "spiritual" communities, based on farm and home life.

Sidney Lanier Jr., who founded the camp, was the son of the poet Sidney Lanier. The camp began in 1906 as the Woodland Farm Home School in Connecticut, moved to Eliot in 1908 and began to focus primarily on youths.

In 1937, Theresa Ricker weaves as part of the Arts and Crafts program.


16
Basket weaving at Lanier Camp

Basket weaving at Lanier Camp

Item 9881 info
Maine Historical Society

Young campers and older mentors weave baskets in the Camp Office at Lanier Camp in Eliot in 1913 or 1914.

In the photo are Miss Ford, Miriam Coffin, Frances Elliot, Margaret Watkins, Perry Harlowe, Sterling David, Josephine Lanier, Charlotte McClareg, and Elsie Sarton.

Campers sang frequently during the day. Poet Sidney Lanier Sr. had written "Music will revolutionize the world."

Also important were festivals based on various farm activities such as haying, corn planting, and harvests.


17
Acting Out Bible Stories, Camp Lanier

Acting Out Bible Stories, Camp Lanier

Item 9972 info
Maine Historical Society

On Sundays, campers and staff acted out "primitive" Bible dramas that were written by Camp Director Sidney Lanier Jr. After his death in 1918, his widow, Elizabeth Maude Masson Lanier, and, later, Lanier children Sterling, John, and David carried on the camp and the dramas.

The camp's strict curriculum also included woodworking, folk dancing, nature study, and camping and hiking trips. The camp closed in the early 1940s.


18
Bungalow at Katharine Ridgeway Camp, Jefferson

Bungalow at Katharine Ridgeway Camp, Jefferson

Item 9969 info
Maine Historical Society

Every morning, girls at the Katharine Ridgeway Camp attended chapel and a hymn sing. Like many summer-long camps, Ridgeway believed that being close to nature helped develop character and that camp promoted "freedom of association in a wholesome democratic environment."

Girls of different ages participated in different activities.

At most camps, concern with the benefits of "primitive" living gave way by the 1920s and 1930s to camps as training grounds for leadership, group living, and an emphasis on mental, physical, social, and spiritual growth.


19
Camp Winnebago Bunk 1, 1947

Camp Winnebago Bunk 1, 1947

Item 7399 info
Camp Winnebago

Many youths attended the same summer-long camp for many years. Most camps accept boys or girls from ages eight to fifteen.

Camp programs are based on the idea that being outdoors promotes not only knowledge of nature and survival skills, but unique opportunities for group interactions and connections among campers and between campers and staff.

Private camps, like Camp Winnebago in Fayette, dot lakes and rivers throughout Maine. Other camps are operated by agencies or churches.

Groups such as Boy and Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls also operate camps throughout the state, although most campers attend those for a week or two, not the whole summer.

These campers from Bunk 1 posed on the steps of their bunkhouse in 1947.


20
Bunk 1 occupants  from 1947, Camp Winnebago, 1995

Bunk 1 occupants from 1947, Camp Winnebago, 1995

Item 7398 info
Camp Winnebago

Forty-eight years later, three of the 1947 Bunk 1 campers returned to Camp Winnebago in Fayette for a reunion, posing on the same steps. Winnebago, like many camps, has an active alumni association so campers can stay in touch with one another and with the camp.


21
Camp Merryweather Farewell Message,  1938

Camp Merryweather Farewell Message, 1938

Item 10085 info
Maine Historical Society

Camaraderie and enduring friendships are not just for campers. Former faculty members of Camp Merryweather, North Belgrade, many of whom also had been campers, bade a touching farewell to Henry Richards ("Skipper") when the camp closed for good.


22
Waterfront, Camp Runoia, 1951

Waterfront, Camp Runoia, 1951

Item 10153 info
Camp Runoia

By the later decades of the twentieth century, many of the summer-long camps began encouraging attendance by youths of different races, social classes, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and youths from other countries.

Most of the camps that once sought to teach elite boys to be "men" now have much broader visions of what it means to get along in today's world.

Bibliography:

Jeff Clark, "They Took to the Woods," Downeast Magazine, v. 39, no. 6 (January 1993), 52.

Eleanor Eells, History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years (Martinsville, Ind.: American Camping Association, 1986)

Maine Youth Camping Association A Handbook of Summer Camps 1926: An Annual Survey (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1926)

Maine Historical Society Collections: The Yellow House Papers; Lanier Camp Papers; Peffer Redpath Chautauqua Collection


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