Tag: maine

Pleasant Mountain One Month at a Time

Recently, I celebrated my 30th birthday, and I’m pleased to say I’ve still spent over half of the summers of my life at Wyonegonic. Like so many other girls, Wyo has always been my special place. Over sixteen summers, it’s where I learned to love the outdoors, to challenge myself, and how to have fun. It’s where I made lifelong friends and formed many of my fondest memories. I started going to Wyo as an 8-year-old camper in 1992; nine years later I got my wiggie chair as an AC, and I only took one year off before spending six more summers as a senior counselor. As both camper and counselor, I especially loved going on trips or hanging from the ropes course. Wyo is also where I developed a strong love of hiking and of the outdoors, passions I’ve carried throughout my life. It’s been about five years since I’ve spent the summer “on the shores,” but I’m looking forward to more Wyo summer adventures in my future.

Unlike most Wyo girls, I have the rare pleasure of calling Denmark, Maine 0-4-0-2-2 my hometown. I grew up on Moose Pond, and I spent my first two summers at Wyo as a day camper. Sometimes, my parents even dropped me off by boat! After several years away, I am now living back in my hometown with my partner Chris and our golden retriever Zoe. This is my first year teaching 8th grade math in Fryeburg. I am lucky to be able to see Wyo throughout the seasons, and Zoe and I often take walks through camp during the fall and winter months. It is a unique pleasure to visit Wyo during these quiet times; it is usually empty and yet it always retains the warmth and spirit of summer. Pleasant Mountain always stands stoically in the background, and the sunsets are just as beautiful.

Inspired by Pleasant Mountain’s everlasting presence at Wyo, this year I made a New Year’s resolution to hike Pleasant during each month of 2013. December 28, Zoe and I finished our last hike! Over the winter, we hiked the cell tower road and telemark skied down; though I won’t say I looked good skiing in the backcountry, I put some turns together! In the spring, we enjoyed the lengthening days and warmer weather. In June, Zoe and I did a solstice sunset hike and watched the moonrise from the summit, and in July/August we enjoyed munching on fresh blueberries. One of my favorite hikes was in September, when Chris, Zoe, and I all participated in the Loon Echo Trek and hiked the whole traverse. The event raises money for Loon Echo Land Trust, a group that has been amazing stewards and caretakers of Pleasant Mountain. We also enjoyed seeing many Wyo folks that day, both on the mountain and driving our drop-off vans!! In the fall, I enjoyed beautiful foliage and the crispness of autumn, and I’ve rounded it all off with two cold and snowy hikes to welcome the return of winter. You can read more details about all of my hikes on my personal blog.

Wyonegonic has always been an influential part of my life, and I’m so thankful for the experiences and relationships I’ve built there over the years. The threads of Wyo are interwoven throughout the rich fabric of my life, and I’m lucky I can visit camp whenever I want. As I begin a new decade, I am looking forward to the ways Wyo will continue to be an important part of my future, and always to my next hike.

Managing Summer Camp Drop Off

Dropping your child off at summer camp for the first time can be one of the hardest things a parents does. In one of our staff training sessions the other day, an experienced camp mother explained to the counselors their role in greeting and welcoming campers on opening day.  This not only includes meeting their excited or nervous new campers but also understanding what parents are going through. She said “dropping my children off at camp was much more difficult for me than dropping them off at college…we are entrusting our children to you, and we ask you to love them and keep them safe and happy.”  As a parent you have to trust that the camp you chose will do this for your child, and that the adventures, friendships, self esteem and independence they encounter throughout their camp journey will be well worth your time apart.

You can also make this process easier for both your child and yourself by planning ahead and following these tips.

1) Arrive with your paperwork in order. It will make your check in easy and quick!

2) Plan ahead with your child how they would like to manage drop off.  They may have an opinion!  Read this article on one child’s requests.

3) Help your child settle in, but keep your visit short and do not linger to long at camp. They will participate and make friends more quickly once you have said your goodbyes and departed. This may especially help children who are worried about saying goodbye and the separation, the longer it drags out, the more anxiety may build up.

4) Meet your child’s Counselor and Unit Director/Leader. Seeing these important role models will help you envision their time at camp after you have departed.

5) If you or your child are worried about homesickness – do not make promises for “opt outs” or early pickups. Instead tell your child that you are proud of them for taking this step, and that you know they can do it!  Showing your confidence that they can make it through their camp session and that you will see them at closing day (or for a planned visit) will help your child believe in themselves.

6) Save your tears for the parking lot if possible.  Camp Directors and staff understand and will help you!  Try to wait to let your own emotions out after saying goodbye to your child. You do not want them worrying about you! But instead focusing on themselves and their own adjustment to camp.

Enjoy these additional resources for summer camp families.

Dr Chris Thurber:  Resources for Families

Psychologist Michael Thompson: Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow

We cannot wait to see our campers arrive!

Susie Sudduth Hammond

Assistant Director – Wyonegonic Camps