Camp Chewonki Program Updates

Rev. Nancy J. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President
for Organizational
Development and
Camp Chewonki

Welcome! Chewonki has a rich and long history of providing fun educational opportunities to young people. For over 100 years, we have facilitated our campers through transformative growth. The changes explained below reflect our desire and need to lead by example. 

We acknowledge that Camp Chewonki has not always felt like a safe and inclusive place for all people, and in order to create a community that lives up to the promises of our diversity, equity and inclusion statement, we will continue to grow and evolve. 

Each year we reflect on our programs and evaluate how we are meeting the needs of our participants. We have made the following changes to strengthen our curriculum and provide high quality, consistent experiences for our campers: 

The Camp Chewonki Progression:

Camp Chewonki for Boys and Camp Chewonki for Girls are nature-based overnight camps for ages 8-15 that take place on our Wiscasset campus for either ten-day or three-week sessions. They are designed to purposefully foster inclusive communities and a love of the natural world. 

Travel through remote places has long been a tradition at Chewonki. This starts in our overnight camps for children for ages 8-15. Campers of all genders, ages 14-18, travel across Maine and Canada on our Leadership Expeditions. These expeditions are organized into three groups that continue the age group bird names of the overnight camps, and aid in defining the Camp Chewonki progression. 

From Wilderness Trips to Leadership Expeditions:

We have changed the name of Camp Chewonki Wilderness Trips to Camp Chewonki Leadership Expeditions to clarify the programming and affirm our commitment to inclusion. We believe that the name Leadership Expeditions more accurately describes the program objectives and highlights the progression for campers from overnight camp to Leadership Expeditions as they grow in age and skill.

Additionally, the use of the term “wilderness” erases Indigenous history by promoting an idealized concept of an “unpeopled landscape” in the places we visit, whereas every route we travel is on former or current Indigenous territory. By suggesting that we visit “the wilderness,” we lose the opportunity to teach and learn about human history, colonialism, and the Indigenous peoples who live across Maine and Canada. 

Moving forward, we will center the human history curriculum of our trip itineraries more holistically around Indigenous people and their relationship to the land, past and present. We do not intend to entirely eliminate the word “wilderness” from our vocabulary but instead put it in context and commit ourselves to understanding the impact the word has and how we can use it appropriately. To learn more about the ways the word “wilderness” erases history, read more here.

All-Gender Leadership Expeditions:

In the past, the Girls Camp has consisted of a 10-day overnight experience for campers ages 8-12 and remote trip experiences for campers ages 11-18. With the expansion of the residential program for girls camp to age 15, which includes remote trip experiences, it has become redundant for us to offer trips for all female-identifying groups. 

Moving forward, our Leadership Expeditions are open to youth of all genders, ages 14-18.

The Junior Maine Guide Program:

We have added a new Junior Maine Guide program to our capstone Leadership Expedition offerings for campers aged 16-18. The program offers an intensive curriculum to prepare participants for the Junior Maine Guide test camp in midsummer. As these young people work towards becoming future camp leaders themselves, they will benefit from a course that strengthens and affirms their hard work and skill acquisition.

The Puffin Program:

The Puffin Program is our 10-day overnight camp experience for children ages 8-11,introducing them to a communal living experience and what may be their first time away from home. 

8- and 9-year-olds must complete the Puffin Program before advancing to a longer camp program to ensure their first summer is positive and they feel excited to return. 10- and 11-year-olds are welcome to join us for the Puffin Program or enroll in a 3-week Full Session if they feel ready.

Full Summer to Full Session:

We offer two Full Sessions (3 weeks each) for the overnight camp program that provide a consistent progression of skill development in camp and increasingly more rigorous trip experiences with each year they attend. Those wishing to stay for the full summer have the opportunity to enroll in two consecutive Full Session programs, rather than our former 7-week Full Summer program.

Gender at Camp Chewonki:

In an effort to be more gender-inclusive and expansive, we are intentionally changing the language that we use to describe our communities. While we have welcomed campers and staff who identify across the spectrum of gender for many years now, we believe it to be important to be explicitly inclusive. We are committed to addressing the experiences of individuals who have not felt safe or welcomed at Camp Chewonki in the past because of their gender identity and we will work to ensure that all individuals have a safe and inclusive experience. 

Camp Chewonki is inclusive of all genders and offers all-gendered programming as well as gendered programming. Our camp communities include:

Camp Chewonki for Boys
A nature-based overnight camp program for boys and non-binary children, ages 8-15.

Camp Chewonki for Girls
A nature-based overnight camp program for girls and non-binary children, ages 8-15. 

Camp Chewonki Leadership Expeditions
An expedition-based youth leadership program for all genders and all skill levels, ages 14-18.