At Camp Chewonki, summer is about having fun in a community where campers and staff come together to develop their sense of place. Through the lens of our mission, we focus on three types of relationships:
- Relationship to Self – fostering a sense of self-discovery and developing a growth mindset so that we can take healthy risks and reflect on ourselves.
- Relationship to the Natural World – exploring the environment around us with a sense of wonder and deepening our understanding of how we connect to the plants and animals we share the world with, including following sustainable land stewardship practices.
- Relationship to Others – building a camp community that is accepting and affirming and learning about how to be an active participant in a group while practicing joyful service to others. We eat and sleep together, developing community agreements to live by, sharing family style meals, and unplugging from the wired world to connect more deeply with each other.
Our values of Self-Discovery, Environmental Stewardship, and Community Development are not isolated silos of practice, but rather overlapping ways of thinking and being that lead to a better understanding of sense of place and fostering the confidence in each individual to be able to say: “I belong here, there, everywhere!”
From the first moment you arrive at Camp Chewonki this summer, we want you to know you are a welcome member of the community! Your cabin leaders and cabin mates will greet you at the cabin and help you get settled in. In the opening days of camp, we establish community norms & expectations through collaborative work on the challenge course and through the creation of a cabin agreement. The goal: determine who we are as a group and how we want to be as members of the group.
Each day we will think about and work on a value or trait we wish to hold up in our community. At the end of each day, cabin groups will hold an evening meeting to share out how the day went and examine how the daily theme showed up in their experience.
In addition to our work as a cabin group, we build community through shared meals, weekly gatherings, and special events. In the dining hall seats are randomly assigned and we eat family style. We work together to make sure everyone gets the fuel they need, both nutritionally and socially, to maximize their enjoyment of the Chewonki experience. Each week we come together around the campfire and under the pines for entertainment and reflection to enjoy each other’s company while considering what the experience, at camp and on the trail, has meant for us.
At the end of each session, we spend our final day creating a cabin plaque and reflecting on our time together. The day culminates in a special banquet filled with songs, speeches and delicious food to commemorate our summer.
We aim to provide participants with food that is delicious, nutritious, and sustainably sourced, ideally from our own working farm. Farmers work closely with our kitchen, sharing a philosophy and mission to ensure that the food served at Chewonki fuels the busy bodies and minds of our participants, while simultaneously being yummy! Meals always include options to accommodate those with dietary restrictions.
Participants sit at tables by assignment, with specific staff members, ensuring the building of new connections between community members. Participants enter the dining hall quietly and begin each meal with a shared reading or song on a specific theme that aligns with our values. After being seated, participants are served first portions by one of the staff members at the table. The meal closes with community announcements.
At the heart of everything we do at Chewonki is our mission, and our desire to provide participants with learning in the natural world that carries on beyond their time at Chewonki. This includes our daily overnight camp activities. When not out on a remote trip, each participant takes part in a weekly rotation of activities that are at the heart of what we do. Here they develop the skills and values to prepare them for remote trip experiences, and to engage deeply in the world around them outside of Chewonki.
Farm & Food
Our food philosophy outlines the beliefs, values, and practices that guide how we engage in food systems and educate all of our participants. Through lessons, games, and activities on our working farm, participants build context and understanding around where food comes from and how it gets to our tables. Taking part in work projects in our gardens and pastures, and caring for livestock, helps to engage the hands, hearts, and heads of participants, building connections to the land, and to each other.
Our campus covers 400-acres of different and exciting ecosystems, from salt-marsh and rocky shore, to ponds and streams, and forest and fields. We believe that by building connections between participants and the plants and animals that live in the natural world, we can develop empathy, sense-of-place, and cultivate an environmental ethic, empowering participants to be stewards of the earth. Working closely with our Traveling Natural History Program team, our Natural History curriculum creates opportunities to interact with non-releasable wildlife, explore and investigate natural spaces, and develop the skills to make a difference in environmental issues that participants are passionate about.
Outdoor Living Skills
Our Outdoor Living Skills activity teaches participants essential skills for simple living in the natural world, preparing them for their remote trip experiences. Important skills such as fire building, axe and saw use, and map and compass skills give participants a sense of self-sufficiency, and challenge, as they work towards deeper mastery and understanding. The Outdoor Living Skills curriculum is informed by our years of experience teaching young people how to live in the woods, in programs including Chewonki’s Outdoor Classroom, and Leadership Expeditions (formerly Wilderness Trips). The Junior Maine Guide curriculum, whose standards for Junior Maine Woodsman and Maine Woodsman, inform the camp curriculum.
Our Watercraft Skills activity gives participants skills and experiences to spend time on the waters of Maine. Our Wiscasset campus is located on a saltwater peninsula, providing us with a unique and wonderful environment for campers to practice piloting canoes, kayaks, and sailboats through saltmarsh channels and along rocky coasts.
Our overnight camp programs offer time each day for campers to engage in a wider variety of activities, and provides room for flexibility and individuals’ interests and needs. They are designed to provide further structured learning in areas both inside and outside of our core curriculum, as well as provide a time to engage campers in spontaneous fun!
Activity areas that are regularly offered include:
- Visual Arts
- Performing Arts – (Chewonki Songbook)
- Sports and Recreation
A Day in the Life
Here at Camp Chewonki the days are packed with good friends, good food, and good fun. Each day offers the opportunity to try something new, meet a new friend, and push yourself to overcome healthy challenges in camp and on the trail.
Everyone follows the same schedule as we take part in activities, share meals in the dining hall, and enjoy ourselves on Chewonki Neck.
The Chewonki day begins even before the peal of the wake up bell each morning. Campers can get their hands dirty on farm chores, practice their skills of identification on a birdwalk, or experience the crisp morning jolt of a Polar Bear dip at the waterfront.
Wake-up Bell & Wash-up
Audible from just about anywhere on campus, the Chewonki bell signals the official start to the day. Make sure to hop out of bed, get dressed, and tidy your area before going to wash your hands for breakfast!
After a food fact and a reading introducing the day’s theme, enjoy a delicious breakfast of granola and yogurt, followed by scrambled eggs and bacon.
Singing & Morning Announcements
While campers and staff finish cleaning up after the meal, everyone gathers outside to sing a couple of songs to start the day followed by morning announcements.
Morning Chores and Cabin Clean-up
As a community, Chewonki believes in the power of meaningful work and collective effort. Part of being a productive community member is helping to make sure things are clean and working properly. Cabins will take turns completing chores like cleaning the bathrooms and shower houses.
Activity Period 1
Learn about how the milk you drink at breakfast started as blades of grass during the Farm & Food Systems activity.
Activity Period 2
Practice building a cooking fire and tying knots to construct a shelter for your group in Outdoor Living Skills.
Refuel at the midday meal with a fresh salad or a hearty bowl of soup filled with ingredients from Chewonki’s Salt Marsh Farm.
Gather outside for announcements about the Natural History Mystery and the offerings for General Swim.
Take a nap, read a book, write a letter home. It is important to take time to catch your breath, rehydrate, and reapply sunscreen on the hot summer days at Chewonki. Even when the sky is filled with clouds, it’s still important to prevent a sunburn that can get in the way of enjoying camp to the fullest.
Explore the saltmarsh and learn about how the plants and animals there rely on each other for survival and how humans fit into each of the ecosystems on Chewonki Neck.
General Swim & Free Time
Where else would you want to be in the middle of July, but the coast of Maine? Head down to the waterfront for a swim or hop in a canoe for a paddle around Montsweag Brook.
Enjoy a comforting evening meal of stuffed shells and garlic bread before savoring a chocolate chip cookie dipped in a glass of Chewonki farm milk.
As the sun nears the horizon, wind down your day learning about birds and reptiles at the Chewonki Wildlife Center or take an evening stroll along the Nature Trail to play a game of Camouflage.
Evening Meeting & Wash-up
So much has happened today! What have you learned? Take a moment to gather with your cabin to share your highs, your lows, and your hopes for tomorrow. Once the Evening Meeting is over, it’s time to brush your teeth!
Lower Field Lights Out
After “Minutes” are called, enjoy a cabin read-a-loud or use your headlamp to catch up on summer reading. Don’t stay up too late though. You and your cabinmates need sleep because tomorrow will be just as busy and fun-filled as today was!
Osprey Lights Out
Ospreys, the oldest Chewonki campers, enjoy a little extra down time at the end of the day, but everyone needs to get to bed to ensure they have the energy to fully enjoy tomorrow.
Wake up when it’s light, sleep when it’s dark, eat when you’re hungry. Life out on trips is much simpler in some ways. Learn to work together as a collective unit to make your way along the coast, over mountains, or down the river.
Up and at ‘em! Start the campfire, prepare and enjoy breakfast; review plans for the day; choose the leader of the day; break camp; depart on the day’s adventure.
Hike along the Appalachian Trail or paddle on one of Maine’s beautiful lakes, rivers, or bays.
Find a nice spot for a midday picnic. Don’t forget to hydrate and reapply sunscreen while enjoying the beautiful view!
Curl up in the sun, read a book, journal about the morning’s adventure, or learn about the local plants and animals in a new neck of the woods.
Continue hiking or paddling to your campsite for the night.
Set up camp, start a campfire, cook and enjoy dinner, chores, enjoy stories, music, cards, skits, and conversation around the fire.
Reflect on the challenges and successes of a day on the trail. Preview the itinerary for tomorrow’s adventure. Brush your teeth and settle into your sleeping bag with a good book.
While living in rustic camp cabins, participants are able to form a community to share their experiences with, from daily activities to meals, and remote trips. Cabin groups are called upon to work together to establish community guidelines, make group decisions, and keep the space clean and tidy. These experiences, combined with time spent in play together, make cabin communities spaces where participants can create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Cabin Leaders serve to support these communities with daily structures and systems, such as an Evening Meeting at the close of each day where participants are asked to share and reflect on their day, and take the time to look ahead to the next. Additionally, many cabins are paired with a cabin buddy, a support staff member who acts as an additional mentor to participants.
Cabins house 6 – 8 participants, with bunked beds, bookshelves, and space under beds. Bathrooms and showers are located nearby. Cabins are a space of sanctuary during rest hour and evening time, and books, journals, games, and instruments are commonplace.
Camp Chewonki is located on Chewonki Neck, a 400-acre peninsula located on the shoreline of Midcoast Maine. The land supports a diverse array of ecosystems including fields, forests, rocky coast, salt marsh, ponds, and farmland – a rich tapestry for experiential learning.