A duck and her three ducklings hit the shore of Beech Hill Pond, looking for a free meal. Credit: John Holyoke | BDN

As best I can recall, I never received that tried-and-true writing prompt from a teacher, and I never got to write about my family’s summer adventures.

Like the time my parents took us to Prince Edward Island, all us kids got the flu, and we ended up getting smacked by the remnants of a hurricane (which made the ride back on the ferry particularly fun), and got a flat tire after pulling off Route 9 to let someone (me) hop out to pee in the rain.

Now that would have been an epic back-to-school tale to tell.

Last week, as I hope at least one of you noticed, I wasn’t writing much. I was, in fact, on summer vacation. And how did it go?

Well, I’m glad you asked! (And if you didn’t, bear with me. I’ve been waiting for decades to write this essay).

I didn’t go to Acadia, though I’m sure it would have been beautiful. Didn’t head to Baxter, nor Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which also would have been fun.

Instead, I did what I’ve been doing for nearly all of my 54 years: I headed to Beech Hill Pond. Or, as we much more simply call it: Camp.

Our journey is not Upta Camp, though some Mainers, likely fans of the Bob Marley comedy bit, believe that everyone who has one of these seasonal abodes goes “upta” visit it.

Not us. Our trip has always been “Out-To Camp,” probably because we don’t have to drive north (or “up”) to get there. Come to think of it, there’s even an opposite of “Out-To Camp.” Back when we were kids, living Out-to Camp all summer long, mom would load all of us back in the car once a week so that we could head In-Town (otherwise known as “home”) to do some laundry and stock up on fresh books at the library.

And what did I do while taking a few day trips Out-To Camp last week? Not enough to tucker me out, and nothing ambitious enough (like home repair) that would have made me bleed, but plenty to keep me busy.

I took a few leisurely paddles on the trusty sit-on-top kayak.

By leisurely, I mean this: Paddle a few strokes. Glide for awhile. Enjoy the sun. Fill my hat with water. Plop it back on my head. Enjoy.

Along the way, I stayed close to shore and exchanged greetings with all the smiling camp-dwellers that I encountered. Among them: A particularly rambunctious youngster who thought my 20-year-old (but still vividly purple) kayak was quite impressive.

“I like your kayak!” he shouted.

“Thanks,” I replied. “Me, too.”

I headed up the pond, crossing not far from Junk of Pork — the rock that is undoubtedly the most famous feature of Beech Hill Pond — so that I could return on the other shore.

On weekends, it might seem like you need a reservation in order to clamber up the ladder attached to the side of the rock, and you might have to wait for your turn to approach the edge, build up your nerve, and jump into the cool water below.

On a weekday, not so much. There wasn’t a soul around.

A few minutes later, I watched as a bald eagle soared in circles, getting lower and lower and making high-pitched chittering noises as it approached a tall pine tree. As it landed, I was surprised to see another eagle, apparently its mate, vault from a branch and take to the skies. Still another adult eagle also circled nearby, looking for a snack in the water below.

A couple times during the week, I sat at the picnic table and enjoyed a lobster roll in the shade.

And on three afternoons, I talked to my pals, the ducks.

It might sound a little bold, calling the mother duck and her three ducklings my pals, but listen: When I’m at camp, and a family comes waddling out of the water, up the steep bank, and walks under my lawn chair (while I’m reclining in it), I think they qualify as friends.

Either that, or they’re a bunch of desperate miscreants looking for a handout.

Since I was on vacation, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, even if they didn’t receive the snack they were clearly seeking.

And the best news of all:: After a wet, cold spring and a slow-to-arrive start to summer, a few weeks of sunshine have finally raised the pond’s water to the perfect temperature. Refreshing, but not shockingly so.

Yes, summer is finally here.

Let’s enjoy it while we can.

John Holyoke can be reached at jholyoke@bangordailynews.com or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter, @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” will be released by Islandport Press in October.

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...