In July, AMC’s Echo Lake Camp will open for its 91st year, a stone’s throw from Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. Campers can expect many familiar staples, including lobster cookouts, square dances, and talent night, but there will be one big change. After 35 years, longtime managers Ned and Mary Mitchell will no longer be at the helm. In March 2014, the Mitchells made the tough decision to retire before the start of this season and to pass the baton—or the trumpet, for those who’ve attended camp—to the Cape Cod natives Scott and Elly Preston, who are no strangers to Echo Lake. Elly worked on the croo in the late ’80s and early ’90s and eventually brought Scott and their kids, Harrison and Roxy, to camp in 2014. AMC Outdoors caught up with both couples to see how the planning of a new chapter at camp, and a new chapter of life, is coming along.
SCOTT AND ELLY PRESTON
What are you most looking forward to in your first season?
Scott: Elly and I are excited to meet all the campers who are up for an adventure. We find that Echo Lake brings out the adventurous spirit in people. Sometimes they don’t even know it’s within them. It may sound hokey, but this is part of the magic of camp.
How would you describe the Mitchells’ legacy?
Scott: It is truly immeasurable! Beyond running a successful camp for 35 years, Ned and Mary made everyone feel welcome and special. Whether you were a first-time camper or a veteran, Mary welcomed each person like a long-lost relative. Elly and I understand we can never duplicate this experience. We can only strive to keep the magic alive and introduce a little piece of Ned and Mary in every new thing we do.
Care to share any retirement advice for Ned and Mary?
Scott: Don’t stop! You both have had an opportunity few others have experienced: to learn, share, and grow with so many interesting people in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Continue your journey together and share the special love and magic with others outside camp.
NED AND MARY MITCHELL
What will you miss the most?
Mary: This is serious and from our heart: We will miss our amazing, hardworking, and fun croo, and our fascinating and loyal guests. And we will miss all of the local folks who we have done business with and now consider great friends.
What are your plans for retirement?
Mary: Learning to grill; finding out what it is like to eat three meals a day—together, alone; and traveling south, stopping to visit our wonderful Echo Lake friends who have not been able to visit camp.
What advice do you have for Elly and Scott?
Mary: It is simple. Just keep the staff, the guests, and your kids happy 24/7.
Photos, from left: courtesy of Scott Preston, courtesy of Mary Mitchell