With no true “holiday weekend” in store for us this year due to a midweek Independence Day, here’s hoping that many of you have been able to string a few days together to enjoy one of Maine’s most festive times.
And here’s hoping that you were able to do that at your family camp, or at the camp of friends.
Camps, as we’ve pointed out in this space a few times over the past few weeks, are special places to many Mainers. Not long ago, I shared one of my family’s camp traditions. And I asked for readers to consider passing along their own.
Today, I’ll share a couple more submissions for readers who were eager to tell their own tales of times spent in the Maine woods.
From reader Dawn Lujan:
Camp was two rooms, a porch, a cabana, an outhouse, no electricity, no running water and the best memories of my life.
Our summer vacations were on Frazier Island on Big Indian Pond in St. Albans, Maine. There are two camps on the island, Camp Weona and the Green Camp. They are very rustic with absolutely no frills and it was pure bliss.
We woke up at dawn to the loons calling to each other. Dad would start the wood stove and make breakfast. We did our chores quickly then ran down to jump off the dock into the water. We spent our days swimming, water skiing, canoeing, fishing, sunning and floating.
If it happened to rain the trees made a canopy so we could play basketball on the pine needle court, play tetherball, horseshoes, or just explore the island. We found porcupine quills and birds nests with eggs we got to watch hatch. We saw cranes, loons, otters, beavers, turtles and chipmunks that we trained to eat peanuts out of our hands.
In the evenings we played games; cribbage, Tripoly, cards, or read by kerosene lanterns. With no TV we reconnected as a family.
Our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would all arrive and we would all spend time together. It was a great time had by all.
After college I moved to New Mexico to teach. I met my husband and we had four children. Every summer we were able to make the long trip back east to see family and we would make the journey up to camp. I am so grateful my children have the same wonderful memories as I do.
If I were given the choice of a cruise, a vacation on an exotic island or camp, I would choose camp. It is relaxing, quiet, a little piece of heaven on earth. Thanks, Aunt Alice!
And from reader Roger Ek of Lee, interesting camp memories with a cool twist:
Somebody inquired about the possibility of finding a “wake boarding camp” on Great Pond in Belgrade. I wondered whether there is such a thing as a wake boarding camp in Maine and wrote this in response:
I remember when Great Pond had salmon and trout. The guides took sports out in guide boats and the mail boat brought the mail to camps. A big kid named Ernie stayed at the camp next to ours. I watched some men build a boat house in the lake. It was legal back then. When the boat house was done, the owner moored his launch in there. It was powered by a naptha engine. Naptha was not rationed. My father had a one horse Elto motor. The gas tank took about a pint.
The biggest motor on the lake was a 40 horse Johnson and it was on a beautiful Lyman lapstrake boat. Some college kids went water skiing behind the Lyman and they zoomed by a guide who was trolling. The kids did it again, laughing and yelling as they went by. The next day they went out and the boat went on one side of the guide and the water skier went down the other side flipping the rope up over the guide boat. However, the guide picked up his 30-30 from the floor of the boat and fired a 170 grain flat nose bullet into that motor. It clattered to a stop. The water skier sank into the cold June water and the guide trolled by the Lyman.
“Won’t do that again, will yuh?” When last seen, the college kids were taking turns paddling the Lyman back toward their grandfather’s camp as the guide trolled up the west side of Hoyt’s Island. I never saw those kids again. I wondered where they got enough gas rationing stamps to run that big boat.
Fast forward to 1975. My father came in for breakfast after some early fishing. He had two salmon. Ernie came down to the dock and asked where my father had gotten them. “Right here.”
Ernie said he had seen salmon, but had never caught one and could he go fishing with my father some time. Dad told Ernie to be at the dock at 5 a.m. the next day. They went out and Ernie caught his first salmon. My father asked Ernie what he was doing these days. Ernie said he was a writer. My father asked him what he writes about.
Ernie said, “Well, I wrote ‘On Golden Pond.’” My father nearly dropped his pipe. “You’re THAT Ernest Thompson?” Yes, he was. He gave my father one of his books and wrote inside the cover, “To Ed and Barbara who lived this story.”
Hey, you can’t make this stuff up. You have to live it.
Now there are no salmon or trout in Great Pond. Somebody illegally stocked northern pike in there and they ate all the salmon and trout. People apparently go wake boarding on Great Pond. However, you can still find big deep salmon lakes in Maine where they have never seen a wake board if you know where to look.
John Holyoke may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-8214. Check out his blog at outthere.bangordailynews.com and follow him on Twitter @JohnHolyoke.