The article below was written by one of our very own Kippewa parents in connection with Maine Camp Experience!
By Julie Mountain, a mom of Maine Camp Experience campers
“Clean and Healthy Living” – people talk about this a tremendous amount, but it means something different to everyone. To me it means taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally. From what we eat, to who we surround ourselves with – and generally the “health” of the decisions we make. Those decisions also change dramatically from those you make in your 20s to those in your 40s, etc etc etc. As my life and family evolved, “clean and healthy” became so important to me that I launched a business around it called The Granola Bar. The Granola Bar is a small chain of healthy and happy breakfast/lunch restaurants. I built the restaurant as an oasis for people, a “Cheers” (if you are old enough to know that reference), and to support a healthy lifestyle… whatever that means for each person.
While my business life reflects this drive towards “clean and healthy” – so does my home. Mom of two, stepmom to four other beautiful children, I have my hands full to help guide them and support their choices. As they got older, I knew that we were approaching that time when they would leave home for the summer – but it snuck up quicker than I could have imagined! How would I be able to find a camp that reflected the values and priorities that I had worked so hard to create? The warmth of home, the support of loving parents, the mindful choices and cleaner approach, and need to take cleansing deep breaths!
So many questions came up around sleepaway camp. How would I go about picking a camp? Would they go together to the same one? Would they be able to survive without me and my cooking? I knew that I should start looking, but truly didn’t know where to start. As a business owner I meet a lot of people – many of whom sent their children to camp. I heard so many names of so many camps with so many locations. What seemed to be consistent however was “Maine is SO beautiful.” “Yes, it is a bit further away – but it is SO gorgeous there!”
When I think about vacations I take with my family, we rarely decide based on proximity. We look at the facilities, the opportunities the place will afford us, and the overall experience to be had. I would have to look at camp the same way and ultimately decided that Maine was not just a stunning part of our country, but the perfect spot to send my girls for their camp experience. There was the physical landscape that reflected cleaner and healthier. Deep breaths REQUIRED in Maine!
Now that it is -7 degrees at home, we long for those crisp clear summer days. We long to pack up the bags and send the kids to the lake and to try new things outside! Being outside is what sleepaway camp seems to be all about – and the topography and environment that Maine provides is total summer perfection.
My fears however were about my little girls and how they would fare? Would they be happy? Would they lean on each other? Most importantly, WHAT WOULD THEY EAT!? As an owner of restaurants, I am always thinking about food! I have one daughter who eats EVERYTHING and tries new foods and takes some palate risks. I have another daughter who eats 4 things in a rotation and combines nothing, dips nothing, tries nothing!! How would they manage this time away from home and would they eat?
Well, my 7 and 9 year old girls went off to their Maine Camp Experience camp on that big bus beautifully, I was so proud. Some snacks in their bag and off they went! They first pictures of their smiling faces was proof enough that the decision to send them was the right one – and together. In many pictures, the girls were together. From sitting by the campfire to the Olympics – they were literally a team. Pictures speak 1000 words and that was good enough for me. The letters home were just enough information and the support we found at camp was more than I could have imagined. Wellness wasn’t just about the fuel (food) they put in their body, but the love and support they got while away from home. Their camp has become their summer home and now all I hear is “how many weeks until camp!”
Now I will say that my now 10 year old lost a few pounds at camp, but this year she is determined to TRY NEW FOODS. Best part is, she is encouraged to try all sorts of new things – and the beauty of Maine – with hiking, and lake sports, and crisp clear days – allows her all of the opportunity. If she loses a few pounds being without her daily brownie, she will still THRIVE!
Camp is now a part of our lives, and now we are the ones to tell people “drive the extra hour or two – it is WORTH it!!” It is absolutely everything to a parent to know that when your children leaves home, they are embraced in a space and environment of “clean and healthy” – which has been my experience in Maine through and through.