Life at camp
The following paragraphs describe what camp here is typically like. Due to COVID, 2021 will look different. We will have fewer staff, fewer campers, and fewer program options. While we do not deny that this will lead to a very different experience for both campers and staff, our goal is to preserve the spirit of camp by keeping the most important aspects of life at camp. We will not stop:
Learning by doing
Practicing inclusivity, kindness, and respect
In a typical year…
Tanglewood & Blueberry Cove are both unmistakably beautiful places to work, nestled in the woods along the Ducktrap River and overlooking Tenants Harbor respectively. Our communities are friendly ones, for we recognize that every individual who works here plays an equally essential role in carrying out our mission.
Everyone who works here has the opportunity to play different roles from time to time; for example, our instructors often help out in the kitchen, or work with our facilities crew. And members of our facilities staff include an educational component to their work, which allows them to occasionally work with children.
One thing anyone who works here will tell you is that no position is easy! Our staff always works hard, but the important part is that we feel good about what we do, and have fun doing it. Nuannaarpoq is an Inuit word we use often here, meaning to take extravagant pleasure in all that you do.
“Tanglewood was the best camp experience of my life. My peers and mentors are some of the greatest people I have ever met, and I hope to offer a similar support system for everyone there, either camper or staff.” — summer counselor
Tanglewood & Blueberry Cove are centers for environmental education. That means not only do we teach children to respect the earth and their surroundings, but that we also practice environmentally friendly methods of running our programs.
We eat healthy and often local food. We run “leave no trace” camping trips. We compost and teach about the benefits of creating less food waste. Not everyone is used to these practices, but we ask everyone who works here to respect them and become familiar with them. The message we want to put forth is that living this way is not only possible, but can be enjoyable too! Being a counselor at Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove is not about blowing whistles and being “in charge.” It is about teaching and sharing, and making sure kids learn that it is OK to be themselves, because they are the innermost (and most important) part of their environment.
Choosing to participate as staff or a volunteer in a University of Maine 4-H Camp program involves a commitment to living together with trust, honesty and integrity. The development of a healthy and vital community is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove programs. Failure to live by these community commitments is a contradiction to the spirit of the camps and may result in dismissal. The whole of our philosophy would fold if we did not have policies based on integrity and commitment.
In addition to the community commitments, each staff member must understand the general standards which the camps must maintain. Please bear this in mind before agreeing to undertake the substantial responsibilities of a staff member. As counselors and professionals, we must realize that campers are going to be “hero-worshipers” and imitators. This implies a responsibility for you to lead a lifestyle that is worthy of being imitated.
All programs at Tanglewood require participants and staff to “disconnect” from digital devices to be truly present to programming and community needs. An important facet to leadership success is the development of true “social networks” among young people in real-time, to have peers with shared experiences that they are able to connect with and find support through outside of camp.
While we don’t have a strict dress code, we do expect our staff to look healthy, clean and professional while at camp. Some parents are leaving their children with us for the first time and we want them to be as comfortable with that as they could be. A cheerful counselor excited to meet campers on the first day of camp is what parents and their children expect to see. Also, sharing your space with many other people requires tolerance and communication. Being responsible, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping healthy and alert are absolute musts.
Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove have non-smoking and no-alcohol/drug policies that we expect all staff to abide by while any program is in session. This is both for safety and because you will be a role-model to many very observant children.
While we do our best to make sure staff are comfortable while living at camp, our facilities are rustic and it’s not what everyone’s used to.
Everyone living in camp gets their own living space in a shared cabin, which consists of your own bed, some shelves, and the surrounding area. It’s not much, but we encourage you to be creative and make it your own. The majority of our cabins are non-insulated, with screens rather than glass for windows, so at night it can sometimes be a cold, but during the day the lack of windows can be very welcome! There’s also no electricity, so flashlights are a must.
The cabins are arranged into living units, each with a simple bath house. There is also a modern bathroom facility with showers, and a staff-only bath house with extra showers and cubbies for you to store toiletries!
We encourage staff to leave their valuables at home, but understand that this is not always possible, especially if you are coming from a long distance away.
The staff-house has a number of lockers for staff to use, and we are able to provide padlocks if necessary.
We are mostly “unplugged”… while we do our best to keep up with modern technology, we do not indulge in it. While the staff house has wi-fi Internet for you to get online, and there’s a stereo and DVD player, the majority of camp is electricity-free.
Campers are not allowed to bring electronic equipment to camp, as we feel it will distract them from the experience of appreciating and learning about the outdoors. We have found that minimizing technological dependence allows us a greater overall experience at camp and creates a better environment for teaching and learning. Because of this, we expect staff to keep their use of electronics outside of the staff-house to a minimum.
The exact schedule of time-off you receive will depend on your position in camp, although as a general rule you can expect to have 2-hours of downtime each day (in two 1-hour blocks), one night of “half-staff” each week, where half of the staff get together to check-in and do something together in-camp, and one night off with three hours off each week, which is completely free for you, and you may leave camp if you wish. Trips staff, who are on-duty for the duration of their trips, receive additional time-off during their weeks in camp to compensate.
Some examples of what staff have done on nights off include:
- Going to see a movie
- Going for ice cream
- Watching DVDs
- Playing games
Each week of camp is also split with a “weekend” of time off between Friday afternoon (approx. 6:00 PM) and Sunday morning at 10:00 AM.
Other fun weekend outings:
- Hitting Popham Beach for some sun and sand
- Hike the trails in Acadia National Park
- Go on shopping trips to Freeport, Maine
- Cook special meals together
- Spend time at the homes of local staff for some “family time”
Most weeks follow a Monday-Friday schedule. Depending on the programming of the week, evenings may or may not be free as well.