General FAQ

Camp Chewonki maintains accreditation with the American Camping Association (ACA). Camp Chewonki and the ACA work together to undergo a thorough peer review of all operations-from emergency management to staff qualifications and training.

The ACA works with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at Chewonki reflect the most current, research-based standards in camp operation. ACA Accreditation is proof of our professional integrity and commitment to risk management. Accreditation is voluntary and assures families that Chewonki has made the commitment to a safe, nurturing environment for their children.

For more information, visit the ACA website

  • Activities during periods 1 through 3 happen in small groups, either by cabin group for Puffins and Owls, and through camper elective for Herons and Ospreys (Owls have the opportunity to switch to an elective schedule halfway through camp).
  • Period 4 is choice period and so group size is generally larger depending on the activities offered, and evening program varies from bunk nights with just cabin groups to All Camp where all campers on each side participate in a large group game on their respective side of camp. There are up to 10 other cabins on each side, meaning there could be up to 80 other campers on each side of camp. 
  • A few nights each session, we will have a Mixed All Camp, where all campers from both East and West side will come together for an extra special All Camp night. These nights are carefully planned by Camp Leadership and are intentionally designed to build camaraderie and friendship among all campers.

Our Puffin program is available for all campers entering the summer having just completed 2nd or 3rd grade. There are 2 or 3 Puffin cabins on each side of camp, with a ratio of 2 staff to 8 campers.

Our goal is to prepare you and your cabin to have a successful trip. We have designed our activities around team building, community, and teaching the cabin the skills they will need to go on trip. You will live, work, and go on trips with your cabin; while on Chewonki Neck, there is time to interact with other campers, and we like our campers to have some unstructured time so that they may interact with other cabins if they choose.

Generally, they do not interact, but as mentioned, we do have intentional Mixed All Camp nights where campers from both sides participate in the same activity. For siblings, we can arrange other meet ups throughout camp, or we can facilitate campers mailing their sibling on the other campus.

Not at all! We encourage every camper, at every level, to challenge themselves and support their peers. Our curriculum focuses on teaching campers who have no experience while staying engaging for campers with experience.

It varies depending on the cabin. Our first Puffin trips usually go out on day 5 and our first Heron/Owl/Osprey trips head out as early as day 4. The rest of the cabins have slightly staggered departure times for their trips after that.

No. Chewonki will supply all axes/wood processing tools when needed.

Not necessarily! It will always be more comfortable to have your own equipment, however we do have equipment for you to use for your trip and throughout camp. If you have questions about what to bring, please see the packing list for more detailed information.

Frequently, our meals are vegetarian. However, there is always a vegetarian/vegan option available. We get lots of fresh produce from our farm, and we love to cook healthy, delicious meals!

At Chewonki, we have two draft horses that work on the farm. We do most of our large farm-work with draft horses to be more sustainable, and they are very busy keeping up with the seasons! We do not offer horseback riding as an activity, but campers may get to help take care of the horses during their Farm and Food Systems activity period.

No, but we do have secure storage for camper’s valuables. We will collect all electronics, money, passports, etc. at the beginning of the program and these items will be returned to them at the end of the program.

Please review our Essential Eligibility Requirements. We would be happy to discuss the particular needs of your camper with you.

Cabin Life FAQ

Once we have worked together to determine which campus your camper will be placed on (Westside for boys and non-binary youth or Eastside for girls and non-binary youth), specific cabin assignments are based on age group. We generally have between two and four cabins per age group, which is then broken down further into older and younger subcategories of that age group. There is some nuance and room for flexibility based on your campers’ preferences and experience, and so open dialogue between your family and the camp team is crucial to set your camper up for success.

Cabin counselors are generally hired to work on one side of camp (Eastside or Westside) based on their preference and the needs of camp. However, there are several factors that influence specific cabin assignments such as staff preferences, experience, camper support needs, and group dynamics. Regardless of these factors, all cabin counselors are over the age of 18; complete an extensive interview and reference check process; are background checked; and complete a thorough orientation before any campers arrive. Further, for everyone’s safety, we operate with the rule of three, meaning no staff member will ever be alone with a camper.

All cabins on Westside require campers to climb a set of steps to enter and have built in twin beds. Cabins on Eastside do not have steps to enter and have built in bunk beds. If you have any questions or concerns about your camper accessing spaces, please reach out to us and we can share more information about both camp and trip accessibility options.

Cabins are configured as one room where all campers and staff sleep to allow for clear supervision. Staff have staff-only bathrooms and shower spaces that are separate from camper bathrooms

  • In all areas, we work with campers to ensure they understand that some spaces are always single-body spaces and that everyone has a right to privacy. Places such as beds, shower stalls, bathroom stalls, and changing spaces are always one body per space and this is strictly enforced; campers can be sure that they will always have somewhere private that is just for them. 
  • Cabin counselors work with campers to make sure they have the time and space to change in whatever way they are comfortable. Some campers choose to change in their bed while many prefer to go to the bathroom; we suggest talking with your camper before camp if this is something they might feel anxious about.
  • Switching cabins during a session can have a significant impact on camper experience and it is not a decision we ever make lightly. We use information shared with us by families and from previous years, where we have it, to intentionally build cabin groups and make staff assignments before campers arrive. 

  • However, there are times where campers do need to move cabins. There are several reasons a camper might need to move cabin, including group dynamics, the camper’s feelings around trip, or because a camper has shared that their assigned cabin does not match their gender identity. In cases where the camper shares that their gender identity does not match the cabin they were assigned, we work with them to understand whether supporting them in their current cabin is possible, or whether they feel they would prefer to be moved to a different cabin. If the camper feels they need to move, we would support the camper in moving to a different cabin where space allows. In this instance, we are not legally permitted to share this information with the campers’ caregivers without their permission. Please note that if we believe that any camper is in danger of harming themselves or is at risk of danger at home, we will follow all of the proper steps and alert the correct authorities.

Cabin Trips FAQ

Not necessarily! It will always be more comfortable to have your own equipment, however we do have equipment for you to use for your trip and throughout camp. If you have questions about what to bring, please see the packing list for more detailed information.

Our Puffin trips remain on Chewonki Neck, but all other age groups and our Leadership Expeditions venture away from our main campus and into various places across Maine and Quebec.

The weight of a camper’s backpack falls in a range depending on the individual. They usually end up weighing around 20% of their body weight.

This is dependent on trip and age group. A typical paddling day for an Owl would be between 2-5 miles depending on conditions while our Ospreys could potentially paddle up to 15 miles on a river. For backpacking, our Bigelow trip generally keeps the mileage low due to the elevation gain involved in that area. Trip leaders will be able to adjust itineraries to fit their group needs.

Leadership Expeditions FAQ

Most questions about our Leadership Expedition Trips are covered on this page: “Life on Trips.”

Groups will usually spend one day on campus at Chewonki Neck before departing. This time is spent learning more about the exact itinerary of the trip, getting personal and group gear ready, getting to know the people in the group and packing up the van and trailer to be ready to go! They will camp out in tents with their group and eat meals from our kitchen staff during these select days.

We sleep in tents during our Leadership Expeditions with 2-4 people per tent. Tent groups will rotate throughout the experience and be gender aligned. 

Staying clean while out on an expedition is an important part of the experience and doing this well allows us to operate in the backcountry for long periods of time. Swimming on a trip is often a time to really get the grime off and we have other methods to create a “backcountry shower” to introduce a little biodegradable soap to the mix if participants want to bring that with them. We also have some ways to do backcountry laundry to take the edge off smelly clothes. Our trip leaders are a wealth of knowledge and will help our participants through this!

Yes. We have dry bags, backpacks, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads to loan out. We have a small selection of clothing items to loan out but it’s best to come fully prepared with all of your own individual clothing items as outlined in the trip packing list. Upon arrival, we make sure that all participants are outfitted with all of the gear that they need and we lend out clothing the best that we can. 

We take our food seriously here at Chewonki and being out on a trip is no exception! We try to make meals that are familiar to our participants and that are nutritionally well balanced and appropriately portioned. Ingredient selection is adjusted based on the type of trip and how long the food needs to last while out on trail. We aim to have a good selection of fresh foods as well as foods that are lightweight and appropriate for backcountry travel.

We have had a lot of success catering to any specific dietary needs in the backcountry (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, specific allergies, etc). Be sure to let us know if you have any so we can adjust the menu accordingly! If we are not made aware of dietary needs, it becomes much more difficult for us to adjust menus last minute.

No, there is no experience requirement for many of our trips. Loon trips serve as a great first opportunity to truly experience the backcountry.

Participants will be out in remote areas for the vast majority of their trips. The best way to communicate with somebody on a Chewonki trip is to write them a letter. Most trips have an opportunity to receive and send mail during a resupply. We ask that this is limited to letters and not packages. If there is urgent communication that needs to be shared with participants, it can be communicated through our trips office and we can get the message to the trip leaders. 

Safety is our number one priority when out on a trip and we do a variety of things to manage and mitigate risk during any experience at Chewonki. Our trip leaders are certified Wilderness First Responders and also undergo our internal two week training every year. Our trip leaders have access to satellite communication devices and our on-call team back on campus checks in with groups daily.

A Guide to Gender Inclusivity at Camp

Every Camp Chewonki staff member takes part in staff orientation before campers arrive, which includes time dedicated to learning and practicing how to make Camp Chewonki a safe and welcoming place for all campers. We work with outside organizations, including OUTMaine and StrengthPerspective, to ensure that inclusion, equity and belonging are at the forefront of staff minds.

No: just like we wouldn’t share any of your campers’ medical information with other families, we respect the rights and privacy of all campers and staff.

Camp is a space where campers try lots of new things for the first time, and our staff are loving and supportive adults who are trained to encourage campers to practice independence, to exercise autonomy and to embrace curiosity. Sometimes, one of the new things campers try at camp for the first time is a different name or pronouns, and that is part of the journey of self-discovery.
Our staff will follow their lead and allow campers to express themselves. We will work with campers to support their wishes in terms of what’s shared with whom and encourage them to be transparent with their families.

No camper will ever be forced to do anything at Chewonki, including sharing their pronouns. However, they will be invited to share their pronouns during introductions.

No, these policies benefit everyone! All children deserve the same respect in being called the name they prefer, having a private space to change, and being surrounded by people who they feel comfortable with.

We love questions that come from genuine curiosity asked in respectful ways to the right people! Campers can always ask counselors or any other staff member at camp, or any other staff member. Trans* and non-binary staff may direct their question to a different staff member as we do not expect minority groups to carry the weight of educating others.

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