Although winter is just approaching, I’m thinking ahead to next summer—and you may want to soon. Most of AMC’s camps start registration in January. Our daughter, who recently turned 5, is already clamoring for us to return to Echo Lake Camp. With its waterfront location, volunteer-led hikes throughout Acadia National Park, and comfortable camp living, it’s a great place for families.
Last summer was our first visit, since children must be 4 years old to attend. The camp made an outdoorsy vacation easy, with meals provided, hikes at varying levels offered daily, and fun contests in which our daughter won prizes. (In one competition, she was asked to imitate a loon—and did so pretty well, since we could hear them each night from our tent.) I even sang with her in the talent show.
More than two months after our one-week stay, I looked through some photos with her and asked what she remembered about camp. Here are some of her reflections, with a few explanatory notes from me in brackets.
“I liked all the sweet food.” [Dessert was served after both lunch and dinner daily, unheard of in our house.] “I liked all the food—not just the sweet food.”
“I liked swimming in the lake with my water wings. I swam from the dock to the other dock in the water.” [She really improved in one week of daily swimming. I think she was inspired in part by the older kids.]
“I loved to camp in the tent. I fell on the side” [out of her bed while sleeping, onto the wooden platform of the tent] “and almost fell into the forest and almost rolled into the water.” [This is a dramatic retelling. The tent wall was actually quite sturdy and she was in no danger of reaching the lake.]
“I liked going on the hikes. It was really fun. I liked hiking Cadillac because I got a popsicle at the top. The hikes were kind of hard.” [We went on the easier level of hike, usually about 2 or 3 miles but with up to about 1,000 feet of elevation gain, and one day went on a nature walk that was even gentler.] “I liked the hike leaders.”
“I loved the views. I liked to scramble on all the rocks, but we couldn’t go too far away from our group. I saw boats even though we were up high.”
“I had to drink lots of water so I wouldn’t have to stop” [hiking]. “We went to the bathroom in the woods. Sometimes Mom would let me have special treats if I did a good job on the hike, like raisin boxes.”
“I loved the popovers” [at Jordan Pond House]. “We got them with jam and butter. We went around Jordan Pond and saw the two Bubbles” [two rounded granite hills at the north end of Jordan Pond, which make for an easy family hike].
“We saw caves from the ocean floor” [on the nature walk, when we learned about the geological history of the area]. “I loved that.”
“I loved all the rocks” [by the water’s edge]. “The ocean was a little too wavy because it was windy. There were so many bubbles” [in the spray when the waves crashed against the rocks] “you could see if there were pictures in them, like you do with clouds. The rocks sounded like thunder” [on a cobble beach, where basketball-sized stones were tumbled in the waves].
The Only Negative
“There were not enough kids my age, because school started for those kids but not for me.” [We went the very last week of August.] “Me and” [a 7-year-old girl from the next tent] “went on the same hike. I played with her. I wish she was with me right now.”
Here are some more resources for your summer planning:
Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an Appalachian Mountain Club blog, written by Heather Stephenson.