A Letter from Summer Camp

On my return home for the Christmas holidays, my sister and I found ourselves in the basement of our house rummaging through boxes of things that my mother had stored away. Among precious old photographs of when we were younger, I happened to stumble across an old piece of paper, which to my surprise turned out to be one of my letters home from when I was a 12 year old camper. Sitting on the floor of my basement I was immediately transported back to some of the happiest memories of my life: as a camper at Wyonegonic. I laughed at the simple things I had written about, like cabin overnights and advanced sailing, and then realized that nothing has changed. As a counselor, I still enjoy trips as much as I did back then and I now take my campers to the same campsites that my counselors took me to years ago. I also now teach sailing at camp, and I got to teach the advanced sailors that were as enthusiastic about sailing as I was as a camper. I even sent two twelve year old campers to a regatta, which were some of my fondest memories at camp. The letter I found was hilarious to me especially with the excessive amount of abbreviations and scribbles, but also very comforting because camp hasn’t changed at all, this summer, seven years later I was still struggling with the broken watch dilemma. Camp life for me was fun and easy, and most importantly, it was safe. At camp, you could be who you wanted to be, and gladly nothing has changed. This letter was just a small reminder of how much camp means to me now, which is just as much as it meant to me back then as a twelve year old camper.

So, do you have any old letters or pictures hidden somewhere in your house? What does camp mean to you? Leave a reply below.

Written by Olivia Gebelein
Camper 2002-2008, 2010, Staff 2012
Currently a sophomore at  University of Southern California


Discover Share Preserve

“Discover, Share, Preserve” is proudly displayed at our camp welcome gate and in Wyonegonic’s dining hall. My father, George Sudduth who was director from 1965-1991 was passionate about educating campers and staff regarding their relationship with the environment.  January 7th would have been his 75th Birthday. It is a great day to remember George and his commitment to camping, the outdoors, and these three meaningful words.

Spending a summer at camp in Maine is the perfect way to help instill a deep appreciation for the outdoors in kids who spend so much time inside. They can “Discover” through camp programming in outdoor living skills, ecology and overnight camping trips in Maine and New Hampshire. Girls learn to build a fire and set up a campsite using Leave No Trace Principles. They identify trees, collect frogs from streams and learn about the ecosystems that surround them in the Maine trees that are hundreds of years old. These programs weave naturally into the Wyonegonic camp culture and campers develop a bond with the earth that they can bring home with them and “Share” with others. For many of our camp alumnae, staff and campers, this passion for the outdoors becomes a lifelong journey. woods. Other camp activities enable kids to enjoy the beautiful clean waters of Moose Pond and the towering pines.

The question on how to “preserve” is constantly evolving. As a camp we can reduce our waste, recycle materials and minimize our energy consumption. In 1988, George had a simple idea of preserving the waters of Moose Pond. He invested in a septic system that eliminated leach beds along the shore by pumping effluent uphill and away from the pond. This was the one of the first systems of its kind in Maine and we continue to use it today. George would be proud to see the new solar panels on the Cobb Lodge dining hall and learn how they supply 110% of the energy needs for that building.

Counselors-in-Training maintain the Southwest Ridge Trail on Pleasant Mountain in partnership with Loon Echo Land Trust. This was George’s favorite trail on the mountain and his mark is left behind in the form of the wooden tipi and rock cairns along the Southwest Ridge he constructed with the help of Wyonegonic campers.  George hiked and maintained this trail 12 months of the year.

In the 1980’s, George’s volunteer services for the summer camp industry included serving on the Executive Committee with the American Camp Association New England Section and also for the American Camp Association (ACA) National Board of Directors. He was part of the committee that revised the ACA Accreditation Standards, which camps continue to use to this day. George believed strongly that service went beyond our camp and local area.

Each Sunday, at Grove Services, the entire camp community shares thoughts on a chosen theme each week. “Discover, Share, Preserve” is a theme used historically each summer. I love hearing what everyone has to say; from the youngest Junior campers who are discovering camp and friends for the first time, to the veteran staff who have spent so many summers on Moose Pond helping us share the beauty of camp with others.

We are proud to continue on George’s path to sustainability by furthering the mission of “Discover, Share, Preserve”  to the camp community. What do the words “Discover, Share, Preserve” mean to you?  Reply below with your thoughts.

Susie Sudduth Hammond

Assistant Director Wyonegonic Camps

Upper Saco Valley Land Trust

Miles of trails and woods roads, unparalleled scenery next to the Saco River, and 1,846 acres of floodplain forest and wildlife habitat in Western Maine are now protected for recreation, wildlife habitat, and sustainable forestry, the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust recently announced.

After more than four years of collaboration with Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy in Maine, the trust finalized its largest land protection project to date. Conservation easements on several properties in Fryeburg, Denmark and Hiram comprise the project, which is located at the center of nearly 10,000 acres of intact habitat near the Maine-New Hampshire border.

This preserve will continue to be managed for wildlife habitat, public recreation and benefits such as flood protection. The property includes mature silver maple floodplain forest, wetlands and 11,000 feet of frontage along the pristine Moose Pond Brook.  Moose Pond acts as the headwaters for the brook that spills into the Saco River.

We are very lucky to have the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, along with Loon Echo Land Trust, working hard to preserve the open spaces here in Western Maine. We utilize several of their preserves and easements for our tripping program such as Pleasant Mountain and Bald Pate Mountain Preserve.

Solar Energy

Wyonegonic Camps solar energy Fronius Revision EnergyIn celebration of Earth Day 2012, here is a shout out from an Alumnus of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. The school’s Aiken Center Building is well on the way to achieving a LEED Platinum rating. It was through a Rubenstein School  newsletter, that I learned what company was contracted for the solar energy improvements incorporated into the Aiken Center.

When I was referred to a partnering company here in southern Maine, a perfect storm type of opportunity was presented. The outcome is that Revision Energy recently completed a photo voltaic 17.5 kilowatt energy generating system for our Camp Dining Hall. This should cover 110% of the annual energy demand for the building. We have added a Sustainability page to our website where you can view the daily production of our system.

As Wyonegonic prepares for it’s 111th summer, our solar panels are already hard at work. Our commitment to “green initiatives” ties to our sustainability pledge made as members of Maine Summer Camps. Thanks Rubenstein School! Steve Sudduth

Children in Nature with Fairy Houses

I recently departed Atlanta where the the American Camp Association (ACA) National Conference was held. Each year, I attend this conference to meet with other camp owners and directors, attend presentations on the latest trends in camping and youth development and also continue my volunteer work as the chair of the Governmental Relations and Public Policy Committee.

One of this year’s key note speakers was Richard Louv,  author of Last Child in the Woods which launched the Children in Nature movement. Having heard him speak before, I was curious if there was anything new or was this a repeat performance. This time he spoke about ten ways that camps can have a positive impact in reducing the growing social Nature Deficit Disorder.

What struck me was something quite specific. “Fairy houses” came to mind. Junior Camp at Wyonegonic has been a haven for creative play for as long as I remember. The myriad of fairy houses, tucked in between tree roots; stumps, rocks and thickets surrounding the Junior playfield and the banks of the Junior creek are testimonial to our young campers creatively and actively engaged in nature. Often times, the creation of these fairy villages is not part of a programed period, but part of their free time play.

I encourage you to consider Richard’s concept of providing your children the opportunity to spend unstructured time outdoors. The Family Nature Club Tool Kit is a valuable resource for you to share with your children. He reminds us that a grass roots approach to cultural change is a good idea, for ourselves and our future generations. Best wishes, Steve Sudduth.

Can summer camp help prepare a child for college?

Can going to summer camp as a child make you more prepared for college life? Certainly there are many factors, but being homesick and missing parents is a natural thing for a child who goes away from home for the first time. Camp kids are given the opportunity to practice coping at camp in a supportive environment. Maybe these kids are more able to hit the ground running when they step onto their college campus freshmen year? They have independence, confidence and social skills gained from their summers at camp. They know how to make decisions on their own, make friends and miss home and family in a healthy way. At Wyonegonic we help girls experience all of these things and more! For more information, please read this article from Psychology Today.

Wyonegonic and Winona January Gatherings!

Please come join us for gatherings through-out the east coast in January.  New Campers and prospective families can learn about our programs, meet the directors Carol and Steve Sudduth, ask questions and meet other campers and staff.  Currents campers, families, staff and alumnae are welcome to come visit and share in the fun.  Enjoy the Wyonegonic & Winona  slideshows and pictures from summer 2011!

Locations and dates are listed on our online calendar.

Staff lunch in Lexington prior to gathering. Staff dinner in New York following gathering.

Questions? Contact us at 207-452-2051 or [email protected]

Healthy Kids Outdoors Act

The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act that is being introduced in congress. For those of you interested in following along please visit the American Camp Association website to read the information, download a copy of the act, and see the American Camp Association’s position.

Wyonegonic is proud to encourage active lifestyles, outdoor exploration and appreciation of nature!  We hope their time at camp creates a lifelong love for the outdoors!

Article on the Values of Camp Counseling

Read the interesting article written by a camp counselor working in Washington State about the value of working at a camp for future careers and endeavors.   Everyone at camp learns life skills!  Whether they are first time campers, returning veterans, staff or directors.  Living and working in a community like Wyonegonic is a valuable experience that helps us all grow.


Pleasant Mountain site of Loon Echo Landtrust Fundraiser

The annual Loon Echo Landtrust Hike and Bike Trek occurred on a beautiful fall day, Sept 17th at Pleasant Mountain. Bikers departed from Shawnee Peak Ski area in Bridgton for 25, 50 or 100 mile fundraising rides.  Wyonegonic director, Carol Sudduth and a few Wyo alums participated in the 25 mile loop.

Hikers were transported from the ski area to the Southwest Ridge Trail in Denmark by Wyonegonic vans and volunteer drivers Chris Wentworth and Ceidleigh Bryce.  Hikers then traversed the entire length of Pleasant Mountain ending at the ski area for the celebration BBQ. Thanks and congratulations to all who participated and helped raise money for such a worthy cause! We are all so grateful that so much of Pleasant Mountain is now a protected preserve due to Loon Echo.

Generations of Wyonegonic campers and staff have loved hiking the trails of Pleasant Mountain and enjoying the beautiful views from the top!

Wyonegonic was also the host site for a recent Loon Echo board meeting and luncheon in August.  It is fun to share our beautiful view of Moose Pond and Pleasant Mountain with the people who volunteer their time for Loon Echo.

Wyonegonic mentioned on the floor of Congress!

Wyonegonic is honored to have been recently mentioned on the floor of the House of Representatives. Representative Pingree of Maine recognized the 150th Anniversary of Camping on September 13, 2011. Wyonegonic, founded in 1902, was highlighted as a pioneer for girls camps, remaining the the oldest continually run camp for girls in the country.  Please read the Congressional Record and help us spread the word!

Wiggie Chairs 2011

Wiggie Chairs were presented to the newest members of the Wyonegonic 10 year club on the final Sunday of camp in the pinegrove.   Congratulations to Karen Grey, Paige Powell, Elizabeth Shribman, Barbie Cobb and Jane Barnard (not pictured).  We look forward to many more summers at camp! Who will be getting their wiggie chairs in 2012?

Storm Update

Storm Update: Family Campers departed Sunday morning and our staff are all fine. No power in Denmark at the moment. If you try to call camp you may or may not get through and we have no answering machine. Please send messages via email [email protected] and we will respond once we have power back on! If urgent email [email protected] and I will try to help you from Mass.

Our Wyo family camp staff and work crew did a great job prepping for Irene by getting boats inside, taking tents down and getting property and equipment ready for high winds.  They then had a slumber party at Carol’s farmhouse to ride out the storm.  Thanks again to our wonderful staff who were here to help!  The horses are all fine too – they depart for the winter homes this week.  We are cleaning up today – some trees down on roads but so far reports are that things are fine in camp.  We’ll keep you posted. Thanks everyone & Kiyi!

Junior Maine Guides

Ten Wyonegonic Senior Campers just returned from five days at Junior Maine Guide (JMG) testing camp in Rangley Maine. The girls spent the first three weeks of the summer learning outdoor living skills, studying the map of Maine, identifying trees, honing canoe strokes and chopping and splitting wood for the famous “wet day fire” test. We’d love to congratulate all of the girls for their hard work and dedication to continuing the tradition of JMG at Wyonegonic. Next week our younger campers participating in the Junior Maine Woodsman (JMW) and Maine Woodsman (MW) programs will enjoy their culminating trips and skill testing. Perhaps they are future JMGs! For more information on the JMW, MW and JMG programs please visit Maine Summer Camps’ website.

Two Wyo JMG candidates practice lighting their wet day fire

JMG candidates return to Wyo

Blow Wind Blow!

We had a wonderful windy day for the Wyonegonic Sailing Regatta today.  Congratulations to all of the sailors who participated and a huge THANK YOU to the Wyo sailing staff – you did a great job hosting the event!

Happy July from Wyo!

Sending you happy July wishes from Wyo! We had a great July 4th celebration starting with traditional wake up from our CITs and horses, a delicious chicken BBQ at the farmhouse for lunch and a campfire at Teepee Point after dinner where we awarded five year paddles and recognized campers and staff from other countries with a flag ceremony. We hope you all had a great Holiday!

In the Lake!

We are enjoying beautiful weather this week at Wyo. The crew is hard at work getting camp ready for the summer. Here are some photos of the docks going in the lake after spending the winter in the Inty parking lot. We are also picking up sticks and branches blown down by the winter wind, cleaning cabins, and prepping the Cobb dining hall for our first meal. Did you know the Wiggies act as boat houses in the winter? We will be ready for staff certification courses that start this week and can’t wait for our 2011 campers to arrive June 29!

Here comes a dock

In the lake!

Wyo docks moving into place

Wyonegonic Alumnae AT Thru-hikers

Appalachian Trail markerLiz Staley (Wyo 97-06) and Aislinn Smith (Wyo 97-06) made a pact when they were twelve years old at Wyonegonic to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail someday. Well, that day has come. Before they move to far distant lands, start careers and families, they are going to walk 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, in 5 million steps, having awesome adventures, and creating incredible memories. They are joined by Avery Forbes (Wyo 95-01, 05, 10) who is also hiking to raise money for Beardsley Elementary School and Teach for America. She is providing lessons and games for her former students to follow along with her on the trail.

They are about 300 miles into their journey. You can follow their adventures at their Ais, Liz, and Avery’s AT Thru-Hike 2011 blog. Feel free to send them messages of encouragement and support through their blog.

New Wyo Blog Coming Soon!

The new blog to keep campers and parent in the loop about the latest news and events at Wyonegonic is coming soon!