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Camp Androscoggin is an all boy’s camp in Wayne, Maine which is 20 miles west of Augusta, the state capital. The camp grounds cover over 120 acres on the shores of Lake Androscoggin, and Androscoggin is the only camp on the lake. Every summer, we have 275 campers between the ages of 8 and 15, the large majority of whom are with us for one seven-week session, and a staff of 75.
Each staff member is a specialist who teaches one of the activities Androscoggin offers. Campers travel to activities with other boys from their age group and, over the course of the summer, are scheduled for every activity in the program. Consequently, each staff member will work with every age group and ability level. As skill development and exposure to new activities are key elements of our program, it is important that staff members have experience in their particular activity. As important as one’s competence or experience, however, are enthusiasm and a desire to teach.
The activities offered at Androscoggin include: tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, golf, street hockey, flag football, archery, riflery, arts and crafts, pottery, woodworking, animation, nature and camp craft, ropes, radio, video, dramatics, music, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing, sailing and water-skiing. Androscoggin also offers an extensive day and overnight tripping program in addition to the on-campus activities.
In addition to being an activity specialist, each counselor has responsibility for a bunk with 5 or 6 boys. Our male staff live in the building with the boys, and our female staff are assigned to help supervise a bunk. While the amount of time spent in the cabin is not as great as time at an activity, a counselor’s efforts in the bunk are perhaps the most important and potentially rewarding. The bunk is a camper’s home away from home for his 7 weeks at Androscoggin, and the rapport a camper develops with his bunk counselors is one of the key ingredients in the success of everyone’s summer.
In short, a counselor is a combination teacher, confidant, disciplinarian and friend. To be a good counselor, one must be patient, caring and enthusiastic, and we are looking for individuals who not only have qualifications to teach an activity, but also have an interest in and commitment to children. Finally, each prospective counselor must have completed at least one year of college, or the equivalent, as we do not have a CIT or Junior Counselor program.
The contractual period for staff runs from Thursday, June 15th to Saturday, August 12th. While the campers do not arrive until June 22nd, the staff assembles for an orientation program on the 15th. This week together enables us to explain the logistics of the daily program, discuss the philosophy of the camp and talk a little about what to expect once camp begins. It also gives the staff a chance to relax and get to know each other before the boys arrive.
As for time-off during the season, each counselor has 4 days off during the summer and is off duty every other evening. We expect a lot from our staff when they are on duty and recognize the need for ample time away from camp in order to do a good job throughout the summer.
With all our campers and counselors living and playing on a single campus, Androscoggin is a close-knit community in which every camper and every counselor is recognized and treated as an individual. We hope that within a short period of time everyone at camp will know everyone else and take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with such a diverse group of people. In addition, we hope that both campers and staff will learn to use and enjoy all the activities and facilities that we provide.
To summarize, we try to create an environment in which every camper can improve their skills, gain an increased sense of independence and self-esteem and form strong and lasting friendships. Camp offers a setting in which campers can learn and grow and have a great time in the process. We also believe it offers staff members a unique opportunity to work with children and have a positive impact on their development. It’s a lot of work, a lot of fun and, we believe a very satisfying way to spend a summer. We hope you agree and look forward to hearing from you.
Peter & Roberta Hirsch